Disclaimer: The Rival does not promote the recreational use of illegal substances.
Drugs are pretty awesome, or so I hear.
My experience with drugs ranges from things as benign as aspirin to that wicked-awesome local anesthesia they gave me when they took my wisdom teeth out. I didn’t feel a thing, but I was unfortunate enough to undergo the latter process in a place where knock-out gas is not as popular as it is in America (at least not at the dentist’s office). That being said, I have seen the videos on the Internet, and I’m sure that, had I been so thoroughly sedated with whatever it is they give you here, the experience would have been quite amusing.
This range of experience is rather limited, so when I read the editorial about this individual’s first experience with LSD, I immediately called up some of the smartest people I know to see if they could corroborate the experience. It was interesting to me that the smartest people I know are also the ones who seem to have experimented with drugs the most. The drugs they have used go well beyond marijuana (which is well on it’s way to being legalized anyways) and molly, acid, cocaine, salvia, shrooms, and the various forms that these drugs can take and can be taken in are some of the substances we discussed. Their views and opinions offered insight as to why smart people do drugs; some of the reasons listed were productivity, altered-thinking, relaxation, and to alleviate boredom.
They also offered insight as to how they used drugs. The answer was different than you would expect: they did drugs safely.
It seems kind of ridiculous that someone could say that they are using drugs like acid, opium, and cocaine safely, and it takes a special individual to experiment with those drugs in a controlled sort of way. I spoke to them about their experiences and asked if they would like to share them with college students. Even with the guarantee of anonymity, most of them denied.
One, however, agreed to talk about “tips” on how to experiment with drugs safely because, as he sees it, abstinence-based drug education is just as ineffective as its sex-oriented counterpart.
He has allowed me to say that he is an older gentleman with many years of life experience, and few responsibilities now that he has moved into the golden years of his retirement. For this article, we will call him Queequeg, after his favorite character in Moby Dick by Herman Melville. His experience, he points out, is not entirely unique, but it is his own — which leads him to his first point:
1. Drugs might not be “right” for you.
One of the most important things, which Queequeg talked about at length, was that drugs aren’t for everyone — and it works out that way for a variety of reasons.
“Some people just aren’t born with the ‘stuff’ to handle certain drugs. Some people can handle smoking pot everyday, but cocaine tears their life apart. Others can do opium on a pretty regular basis and still be functioning members of society, but just a sip of alcohol throws them off the wagon.”
Let’s not forget that many drugs (especially the ones discussed in this article) are illegal. For many people, breaking the law is just not worth the experience.
“These are pretty drastic examples, obviously,” Queequeg says, but his point remains. Some people, be it out of “something they were born with,” or just the lack of interest, simply should not do drugs. He agrees largely with the philosophy of Russell Brand(link to vid where he talks about it) who, once a famous substance abuser (now sober), argues that some people are physically capable and have lifestyles that allow them to be functioning members of society with a drug addiction, and others do not. He discovered he was part of the latter group.
For many people, breaking the law is just not worth the experience.
Queequeg also points out that certain people who have a history of mental illness, or come from families with a history of mental illnesses that fall under the classification of psychotic should also avoid certain drugs. People with heart disease, tachycardia, and arrhythmia should avoid most unprescribed drugs as well. “These are just general guidelines, obviously. People need to do what they think is best” — which brings us to his second point.
2. Due diligence.
This boils down to DO YOUR RESEARCH. This is in reference to various parts of the process for doing drugs. Obviously, as mentioned above, you want to learn how the drug you wish to try is going to affect you with your individual medical history. This is important because if you have a history of heart problems, you may not want to try “uppers” or “downers” depending on what kind of issues you have.
Same goes for mental illness. While psychotic disorders aren’t helped at all by drugs likes acid, mescaline, and shrooms, there is evidence (although on the fringes of medical treatment, that hasn’t been extensively tested) that has shown these drugs to help immensely with depression and anxiety disorders. Of course, there is also marijuana and its many claimed benefits, but let’s not crack that old chestnut.
If you have a history of heart problems, you may not want to try “uppers” or “downers” depending on what kind of issues you have.
The difficulty with doing research is finding unbiased sources. There are many sources on the side of “drugs are dangerous, don’t mess with them,” and a plentiful amount on the side of “it’s totally cool, man,” not to mention all of the personal testimonies out there. Take what you read with a grain of salt, make it part of your decision, and don’t be afraid to read things that go against what you’ve been told and what you believe. It’s important to remember who your source is and where your information is coming from.
Another important thing our friend Queequeg points out?
3. Know where your drugs are coming from.
Getting drugs is a bit of a conundrum. It’s not like drug dealers have storefronts and advertisements in the paper. Most drug trade happens through networking. “Know where your drugs come from” implies a couple of different things:
- Who, specifically, are you getting the drugs from? Do you know them personally? Can you trust them?
- Where (in the world) are the drugs coming from?
- How much do they cost?
As Queequeg says, there is a bigger picture. All drugs are traded on a black market, meaning that lack of regulation provides consumers with little knowledge of the product and its origins. Before marijuana growth began to occur in the United States and Canada, most marijuana was imported from Mexico where a fierce drug war between cartels and the Mexican government has claimed over 160,000 lives.
It’s not like drug dealers have storefronts and advertisements in the paper. Most drug trade happens through networking.
The moral issue might not bother you, but for the idea that the money traded for drugs is connected to a bullet in a body somewhere is troubling for some. The idea of “Blood Weed,” as ridiculous as it seems, is much closer to the reality than we realize. This is all without mentioning the fields of poppy grown in the Middle East for opium which has its own violent practices attached to them as well.
The idea of “how much” is pretty straight forward. This will obviously depend on what the drug is and how you are taking it. Do your research. Listen to people with experience. Don’t dive too deep.
4. Set and setting.
This, Queequeg says, is the most important part about actually doing the drugs. Once you’ve done your research, have assessed the risk factors, decided that you’re willing to try a drug, have acquired it from a source that you trust, all that’s left is to do them, right?
This is where it gets interesting. According to Queequeg, there are two more things to consider: set and setting. Just like in the article about the individual’s first experience with LSD, set and setting take an important role in an individual’s experience with any drug. This includes things like what music you’ll listen to, where you’ll be, and when it will be, who you’ll be with, etc. The individual in the other article was with close friends, in a safe environment with people who had experience with acid; pretty solid set and setting. According to Queequeg, who you are with and, above all, your motivations for doing the drug are the two most important factors.
“Don’t do drugs because you’re bored, don’t do drugs because you had a rough day, don’t do drugs because you’re mad, don’t do drugs because someone at a party and you felt like ‘fuck it,’ don’t do drugs and sit in front of the TV all day — do them to dig into yourself.”
This includes things like what music you’ll listen to, where you’ll be, and when it will be, who you’ll be with, etc.
This is where Queequeg perhaps differs from others. He refers to himself as “an armchair psychonaut.” A psychonaut is someone who explores the human consciousness and self by doing activities that induce altered states of mind and thinking, often with a spiritual intent. Although he agrees with most of it, Queequeg rejects the notion of drug-fueled spirituality. His use of drugs, he says, are a way for him to get in touch with himself.
“Maybe there is something bigger than all of us out there, but I’m more interested in what I can find in my head when I’m not working through normal my normal ‘pathways’ of thought […] all kinds of crazy ideas.”
Queequeg agrees that his motives for doing drugs might not appeal to everyone.
“Whatever your motives are, they’re fine, but remember that if for a moment you feel doubt… not the fear of trying something new, but a sense of cosmic doubt that you can’t put your finger on, then maybe reconsider — maybe now is not the right time.”
Secondly, Queequeg suggests the buddy system. “Bring a friend. If you can, bring someone with experience, someone who knows what to do if things go wrong.” It’s common for people taking drugs on the more psychedelic side to bring along a “trip sitter”— someone there for the sole purpose of making sure everyone turns out okay. Aside from that, Queequeg suggests that you relax and find somewhere you won’t be disturbed where you can truly enjoy the experience.
5. Know when to recognize addiction.
It’s the simple truth. If you chase the dragon, expect to get burned. The truth is that addiction to drugs is much less common than we have been led to believe by health class and programs like D.A.R.E. Even heroin, perhaps the most addictive drug, only has a 13% addiction rate among first time users. However, you obviously have to question how valid that statistic is, where the data is coming from, etc. Also consider that the more you do a drug, the more likely you are to develop psychological dependence, even if the drug is not physiologically addictive.
If you chase the dragon, expect to get burned.
Addiction and treatment is still a difficult field. It wasn’t until recently that the United States started considering drug abuse a medical issue and not some kind of fatal moral shortcoming on behalf of addicted individuals. Portugal, on the other hand…
So go out, enjoy, explore the world around you, try drugs if you want, don’t if you don’t. If you do: know your limits, know the danger, and calculate the risk you want to take.
Featured Image: Public Domain