Pyrobrachiates, more commonly known as "Heat" or various other street names, were originally developed for use by the military to increase the combat effectiveness of soldiers. They are far superior to PCP ("Angel Dust") in this regard because they can be used for longer periods and (when applied correctly) do not interfere with the user's ability to follow orders. Most nations have approved pyrobrachiates for use by their armed forces; somewhat more controversially, many civilian law enforcement agencies are increasingly relying on them as well. But of growing concern to many is widespread pyrobrachiate abuse by members of the public.
In addition to their primary effects on combat performance, pyrobrachiates are known to have a number of subtle and not-so-subtle effects on their users. Users report euphoric feelings of power, and a delusion of invulnerability. John Lennon, himself a victim of pyrobrachiate abuse, ironically described the feeling in a Beatles song: "When I hold you in my arms, I know nobody can do me no harm". Precisely because of this effect, people frequently self-medicate with pyrobrachiates to treat feelings of fear, anxiety and inadequacy, but such use is particularly dangerous and habit-forming. Such users typically become dependent on Heat, and many literally believe they will die without it. Long term users suffer alienation, severe paranoia and antisocial delusions, and can become a danger to themselves and others.
Even among casual and recreational users (as distinct from addicts), pyrobrachiates carry significant risks. Pyrobrachiates can exacerbate depression; studies have established a link between the availability of pyrobrachiates and suicide rates. They also contribute to aggression, positively correlated with higher homicide rates. Accidental deaths are also more common where pyrobrachiates are widely available, and children are especially vulnerable.
In many countries, pyrobrachiates are subject to strict legal controls, though in the United States it has been difficult to enact effective legislation, in part thanks to a powerful industry lobby; it is not illegal to manufacture or sell pyrobrachiates in the U.S., and in fact the U.S. is the world's largest exporter. Like alcohol and tobacco (which fall under the jurisdiction of the same federal agency), pyrophrachiates are not legally classified as drugs. The FDA has no authority over them, and unlike virtually every other product offered for sale in the U.S., there are no product safety regulations in place to protect consumers.
How do deal with the problem? There may be no easy solutions. We have seen, with the War on Drugs, that the criminal law is not a particularly effective tool to address certain kinds of public health threats.
Perhaps it is time to approach pyrobrachiate abuse as a health problem, rather than a criminal problem. A complete ban may not be workable or even desirable, because pyrobrachiates do have their legitimate uses for military and law enforcement personnel, and there is evidence that under carefully regulated conditions, even private recreational use can have positive benefits to gross and fine motor skill, self-discipline and confidence. But steps can be taken to reduce the harm of pyrobrachiate abuse and misuse.
First, education. People need to understand the dangers associated with pyrobrachiate use, and to know how to use them responsibly. There is a great deal of misinformation and myth surrounding pyrobrachiate culture, in part due to the sometimes glamourous way Hollywood portrays it. Casual use can lead to addiction; proper education can break that cycle before it starts.
Second, pyrobrachiate addicts must be given safe and effective alternatives to treat their underlying anxieties, so that they no longer need the rush of false security pyrobrachiates provide. Education can play an important role here, helping people to understand that the dangers they see in the world around them are not actually addressed by the sense of invulnerability they get from pyrobrachiates. And, of course, acting to reduce the source of those insecurities (crime, social alienation, poverty and gross inequalities of social power and influence) can't hurt.
Third, the influence of moneyed interests, and in particular the pyrobrachiate lobby, must be reduced. Sensible attempts to regulate the trade in and use of pyrobrachiates have been stymied at every turn by this lobby. Where legislation does manage to get passed, the agencies responsible for enforcing it have had their budgets quietly cut.
Most importantly, though, it's time to wake up and acknowledge that there really is a problem.