The Truth About Drugs

Alcohol's plus is that it takes a long time to become physically addictive, and that it can do a good job as social lubricant and sense-duller. Its downside is that its "high" isn't a real drug high. It also interferes with medication, damages your digestive system, impairs both your driving and your ability to notice or care about said fact, and it's psychologically addictive at any point, depending on your own personality traits — which are well beyond your control. If you're Native American you're likely to find it physically addictive much faster. It'll also take less to get you drunk every day, which is both good for your wallet, and horrible for your life, since drunks tend to get abusive and hostile when they get where they need to be. It's a social drug, but not once you fall into physical addiction. Then it makes you terrible company, and can easily ruin any relationship you're in, and traumatize any children in your care. And get you kicked out of places. Overdosing on alcohol is fairly easy to do if you're unused to it and drinking liquor as if it were beer or wine. Burning out your body with long-term use is pretty inevitable once the addiction gets going. So is a lifelong relationship with vomit.

Weed's plus is that it isn't exactly physically addidictive, ever. Going from heavy, constant use to abstinence tends to lead to sleep problems, loss of appetite, and of course the normal problems one goes through in early sobriety: anxiety, rage, restlessness. And that goes away after a week or two. This is the addiction that, more than any other, demands constant attention. (It's also the only one that really allows for it.) Other than getting you locked up, it can't really get that bad. If you need to choose between weed and food, that's a problem. Or weed and rent. Some people really take to it. It's very psychologically addictive. As a drug, weed can be a strong experience, though the more years you go as a smoker the less and less you'll get from it. As a rush, it's never more than marginally intense, compared to hard drugs, which is probably the only reason those other drugs are getting used at all. If there were slightly less reason to go to them, weed would probably be all people needed. One hundred dollars should buy you about a week or two of usage, unless you do it occasionally. Then more like a month or two. Or you're into partying and/or lots of sharing. Then a day or two. It has no physical comedown, and overdosing is impossible, though if you mix it with too much alcohol, you could get very sick indeed. Mixing it with hard drugs tends to be like throwing lit matches on a bonfire, but it helps when the comedown sets in. It doesn't interfere with medication, and it isn't likely to lead to hostile or abusive behavior. On its own, I mean. People are the way they are, for the most part. But if drunks are mean, potheads tend to be gentle. Too focused on something no one else really bothers thinking about, but mostly harmless. Until they can't get it. Then their aggressive desperation seems oddly inappropriate given the gentle nature of the drug. Weed is not a gateway drug, by the way. That line of thought is a myth. Most people smoke weed exclusively, and if they don't, it's because they've made a bad choice about not smoking weed exclusively. The cause and effect isn't there.

Cocaine's plus is that it's a strong rush. It inhibits the re-uptake of norepinephrine, dopamine, and seratonin, all at the same time. It's extremely psychologically addictive in the short-term, and, with enough use, extremely psychologically addictive in the long term. It's not physically addictive, from what I understand, but it wouldn't matter either way. Cocaine exemplifies the Louis C.K. line, "Drugs are so good they'll ruin your life." A hundred dollars will typically last an hour, and you will not be ready to stop when the hour is over. You'll want to go until you can't go any further, and that could take days, which you won't be able to afford. It isn't that easy to have a heart attack with casual use, but it's possible, and heavy use is never that far away on a night when coke is around. It almost completely saps your will to escape its grip, especially when its legendary comedown kicks in. If drunks are mean, cokeheads are desperate. Even if they have all the money in the world. And if they don't, there's no life more degrading and sad. How on earth does a poor person chase addiction at a rate of a hundred dollars an hour?

Opium derivatives not only kill physical pain, but in higher doses emotional pain as well. In even higher doses they provide a strong rush. The upside ... well, that was it. The downside is horrifying desperation and suffering. Some people may choose pain-killers thinking, unconsciously perhaps, that it makes them into a special type of person. Any romance associated with pain-killers is ridiculous. People quit their jobs as EMTs because of the stuff they see when the junkies get in trouble. If you either hate needles, having the flu (in terms of withdrawal), or the constant presence of shit and vomit, it probably isn't your thing. I'm not sure how much a hundred dollars would get you. I expect about a day or two. Opium derivatives are psychologically addictive in the short and long terms, and, after maybe a month of regular usage, extremely physically addictive. Their overdose potential needs little introduction, and is an easy way to accidentally kill yourself.

Methamphetamine is speed, but more than that it's poor man's cocaine. The rush is somewhat similar, if not closer to ADHD medicine. A hundred dollars should last a few days. Its biggest downside is that the comedown is just as bad as the coke downer, but it lasts twice as long. Also, meth has a weird habit of never getting more intense with further usage. The more you do it, the longer it lasts. That's all. It acts like medicine in that way. Also, the longer you're tweaking, the longer you fall. And it will hurt. I messed with this shit once to see what it was like. I ended up in the ER, having already endured a four-day panic attack from the comedown. I had gone so long without sleep I was hallucinating freely, so I had to go, no matter what. I got to that ER just in time, because at that point I was screaming. Shittiest drug out there. Some people take to it, and that's a sad thing. Very glad I didn't. I have no idea about its addictive qualities, as it wasn't something I felt a need to do again. All I know is what everyone else knows: that being a meth-head is awful.

I have no idea about ecstasy. So I'll just be up front about that. That came into vogue right after Gen X had their day. (Although I guess we get to claim the Madchester scene on the Risk board.) To my mind, if I were to find myself the only person in a room who wasn't on ... whatever they call it ... I'd leave the room, before I had to endure some wandering, faux-positive nonsense about sensual connectedness, foam, or Charles Manson's hidden wisdom.

Hallucinogens aren't addictive, and they can open you up in really interesting ways, and show you really interesting perspectives, but they also do weird kinds of damage to your brain. They're not meant to be done more than once in a while, so a hundred dollars wouldn't even be necessary. A couple hits of LSD should only cost about twenty dollars, although I haven't bought acid or mushrooms since the early 90s, so that could be wrong. It's very easy to get bad acid, too. If it's hurting the tendons in your inner thighs, it's laced with some cheap form of speed, for whatever bizarre yet ubiquitous reason. "Bad" shouldn't imply "bad trip", by the way, as that's more due to getting too high and having a panic attack. "Bad" in this context just means crummy. Low-quality. You can't overdose on hallucinogens in the sense of dying, but you can in the sense of messing up your mind. With hallucinogens, long-term usage could end up being the same as overdosing, since it never leaves your system.

If you've got to take something, and you're into weed, lean hard into that one. That's your extreme good luck. If you don't really need to, well, gasoline may taste like pumpkin pie, but we shouldn't be drinking that bullshit, to misquote Tarantino. Drug use is a kind of stupid that feels at first like undiscovered genius, until you realize it's just stupid. But, again, if you smoke weed, you shouldn't have to think of yourself as wandering too far out into no-man's land. You haven't wandered too far from safety. At least if it's legal. (It's legal here.) I've only done four days in jail, once, but I can tell you, it's the fact of its brutal unfairness that drives home the ultimate point: it doesn't matter if what they do to you is right. It changes your perspective anyway. So if you can't do the time, consider that. You'd hate doing any time. It's like the town turns into the one from "2,000 Maniacs" and suddenly everyone is laughing at the possibility of your own harm.

Which leads me to the last drug: power. Never included with the others in a discussion of drugs, yet its use is just as widespread, and it destroys more families than all the other ones combined. A hundred dollars will get you nowhere. Achieving a professional position is the usual means of scoring. It was George W. Bush, in warning us about one of his successors, who told a reporter that power is a drug. I expect he feels penitent about having been in its throes. (He knew about cocaine addiction back when he was young.) Addiction to power is hard to avoid, since, as we all know, most people in positions of power will fuck with you just to do it, but if you're caught in that cycle of needing to twist the screws on someone to get off, being aware of what you're "taking", and how you're doing it, is a crucial first step in helping keep people safe from your behavior. From what I've observed, one will always need a better high, and not necessarily need any other drug at all. Other drugs seem to be accessories at best to the power addict.

If addiction makes your life untenable, 12-Step does the best job with helping you manage your abstinence. With the Program it's about cold turkey, working the steps, staying vigilant about not letting your worst instincts get the better of you, etc. Talking it through with an eye for avoiding bullshit. Life work, essentially. It tends to be dull and gossip-ridden, but if you can succeed, the results are more than you may think possible. Narcotics Anonymous meetings are hard to find, and poorly attended, which is why a lot of drug addicts end up going to Alcoholics Anonymous and describing themselves as "cross-addicted" — whether that includes alcohol or not. There's a bit of a don't ask don't tell in that area, I think. I don't go to meetings. They aren't really appropriate for the mentally ill, although anyone there would consider that statement needlessly discouraging. (It isn't. It's needfully discouraging. If you go in there without the ability to properly communicate, keep your wits about you, and/or keep your head above water, they'll fuck you up like any other social scene. Truth.)

Rehab is either for people who need serious help right away, or for people trying to do their Program without wanting to. Don't go near that shit unless it's for the first reason. If you don't want to work your Program, it will fail you. If you've hit your personal lowest point, then you have a good reason to be there. Otherwise you're simply risking life in a halfway house.

Court-ordered recovery is cruel, but certainly a valid reason for rehab and/or attending meetings. And it could turn things around for you, so if you have to, swallow your pride in the service of a more hopeful long-term.

Nicotine doesn't get you high, and has no benefit other than alleviating its own withdrawal. Its addictive power is colossal. That's why so many people smoke — aside from the fancy smokers, with their fancy reasons. Always avoid it, in any form. If it's already got you? Good luck. I know from that.

Driving drunk is a recipe for disaster, and you shouldn't do it, even if you can't get a ride home. It's as easy to make the wrong decision or to lose track as it is to sell a TV to a coke dealer. You also might be blacked out and not realize it. Just sober up first. Driving loaded, otherwise, tends to be less dangerous, though obviously not safe. People driving high tend to stick too well between the lines, shying from the speed limit, and driving so carefully the pattern is obvious to any officer on the road. It's extremely stupid, in any case. If you have absolutely no choice, don't do it drunk, and otherwise go one mile an hour over the limit, keep your mind on point and get out of that situation as fast as possible. If you're a kid, it's better to get outed to your folks than to take that risk. Either call them, or if you were forced to drive home on your own, stop sitting outside in the car. It's better to face your folks than get busted. Driving impaired is a legitimate reason for getting locked up. There is nothing unfair about protecting the roads. Even if you lose your license and don't get it back for a decade.

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