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How Your Hangover Could Change the World

21/12/2015 20:06 | Updated 21 December 2015

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I'm hungover. My mouth feels like cardboard and my head has a frog with a hammer inside it. But it's the festive season and most of us will be getting a little worse for wear at some point. It's how we celebrate life and get through the winter.

I chose to get drunk last night so my hangover is 'legitimate' in the eyes of society. But many people prefer different ways of letting it all hang out - a joint, a line or a pill. Just to help make the party pop that little bit more. We call them recreational drug users. There are at least three million of them in the UK and chances are you are one of them - though you don't think of yourself that way. You smoke a bit of weed now and again because it never hurt anyone - and in fact, it might mean you drink less and spare yourself a hangover. Or you pop a pill because it makes you love everything. And like you want to dance. It's mostly harmless. And it's fun.

Which it is. Until you get arrested for it. Then it's not so much fun. But the chances are, you won't get arrested. Certainly if you're white and middle class. The people who are far more likely to get caught with drugs (though not necessarily more likely to use them) are young, poor or black.

This is just one of the many insidious consequences of current drug policy - also known as the 'war on drugs'. It's not actually a war on drugs. It's a war on some people, who use some drugs.

Then, there's the other end of the spectrum: the people who run into difficulty with the drugs they use and become addicted. An estimated 10% of those who use drugs (including alcohol). Addiction is a disease that is effectively criminalised. And with criminalisation comes stigmatisation and with that - a whole heap of barriers to getting help. Fifty people a week in the UK die from a drug overdose. Fifty. A week.

"Thing is, we're all in denial - until we get forced into realising that this IS an issue that affects us. But by then it's often too late."

And that's just the UK. In other countries, the consequences of the war on drugs reach further. In some countries in Africa, police brutality is common against drug users - and especially women. A woman can be raped and murdered - and if she is a drug user, scarcely anyone will bat an eyelid. Because she was engaging in an illegal activity, the rest of her human rights are effectively stripped away.

In Mexico, over 150,000 people have died in the last 10 years and 65,000 have disappeared. All this since the government re-declared its war on drugs and the cartels got an even firmer stranglehold on the drugs market. A drugs market that is left in the hands of criminals because governments refuse to do anything about it, because their citizens are either in denial that this is an issue that affects them or are in hiding, because they carry the stigma of knowing that - now and again - they indulge in a little bit of something 'extra'. Thing is, we're all in denial - until we get forced into realising that this IS an issue that affects us. But by then it's often too late. As the families in this film show.

There's a new campaign this Christmas to highlight this. Connecting the dots and showing the misery that the drug war wreaks on so many lives. It's from a group of families and it's called Anyone's Child. I'm one of them, though I'll save that story for another time. We want people to realise that anyone's child can be affected by the war on drugs - lots of our children already are. We are supported by the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, who have spent the best part of 20 years researching and demonstrating how it could all be different. And it really could.

So I ask you to watch this film. Hear these stories. And dig deep. Even the price of a pint or a joint will help. By supporting this cause you will be transforming more lives than you can imagine. And chances are, yours is one of them. Even if you don't want to think about it. Or can't because your head is pounding.

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