Drugs: I'm Against Them
I have a libertarian attitude when it comes to recreational drugs. I think for the most part they should be legalized or decriminalized for adults and people should be able choose to fuck up their lives if they want to. The sociological literature has convinced me the War on Drugs just costs everyone. However, I don't actually think anyone should use drugs if they want to be the best person they can be.
When I speak of drugs I am including tobacco, alcohol, weed, coke, heroin, etc. AND the vaunted entheogens (a fancy name for hallucinogens). I don't even date people who drink caffeine regularly. When I read someone's OkCupid profile and it lists “coffee” under the “Six Things I Could Never Do Without” Category, my translation is, “I am a person who is unhappy/unhealthy enough that I am addicted to a substance to give me feelings of aliveness and purpose and I'm proud of that and not going to do anything about it”.
My relationship with drugs has always been a bit tenuous. The first time got drunk was when I was camping with my cousins when I was 16. I returned home unapologetic about my hangover and my parents did nothing but utter a slight protest. My body was more punishing. I'd never been able to lose sleep without wanting to vomit, and since drinking also makes me want to vomit the next day and also so often involves losing sleep, there has always been this natural deterrent.
In high school when my girlfriends started smoking and drinking and partying on the weekends I found it sleazy and cliché. I gravitated more toward a group of straightedge guys and we would do fun, goofy stuff like make movies. I myself was never straightedge in the sense of declaring myself a member of the movement and becoming aggressive and condescending toward those who chose to use drugs, though I guess I'm getting pretty close these days.
At that time my best friend Jake was kinda a stoner and I'd hang out with that group of boys too. I've always been more of a man's woman. Had they ever offered me weed I probably would have tried it, but they seemed to assume I was too good for it! When I finally tried weed in college it failed to impress me. I didn't experience any giddiness or relaxation or euphoria, just annoying perception issues, sometimes nothing at all. I kept trying, different amounts, different settings, but I could never get it to do what it did for other people.
In my 20's, due to my chronic fatigue, painkillers were my drug of choice, though I was never addicted to them. There was even a time where I used the legal painkilling herb kratom, from Thailand, everyday. But everything I tried always had too many side-effects. I knew it wasn't a real solution. I even worked in the medical marijuana industry for several years, but I never smoked it then. I'd wager there are times when medical marijuana is in the highest truth for treating some disease, but let's face it, the industry is a complete sham, anyone can get a medical card and almost all the weed being grown by in California is being shipped to other states where young black men sell it on the streets and get caught and put in jail for years.
I'm not angry at the world. I don't care what people do in general, but I do have strong boundaries about whether or not I will hang out with them. Even if they use drugs on their own time, I'm not interested in subjecting myself the mindset and energetic ramifications of that choice. As for myself I'd like to say it would be fun to enjoy a good glass of whiskey a couple times a year, but my sensitivity is too high these days to even enjoy chocolate. Whether that is due to my illness which will heal and leave me more resilient, or due to a fine-tuning of my energy body that will only get more nuanced, I'm not sure. To give you an idea of how sensitive I am, I once ate a weed cookie that left me high for three weeks, and it wasn't a good kind of high. I've also accidentally overdosed on valerian, melatonin, and alpha lipoic acid.
Naturally, with all my chronic fatigue problems, I've been drawn to anything promising miraculous psychospiritual healing. But, my experiences with entheogens have ranged from nothing at all happened to a six month dysfunctional psychotic break. It's difficult for me because mushrooms and ayahuasca are popular these days amid progressive, liberal, academic thinkers. Of course, this started in the 50's and 60's with researchers like Timothy Leary and they've been popular among westernized spiritual seekers ever sense.
But you see them being openly promoted again in psychology, anthropology and among environmental visionaries at places like the Bioneers conference, as an avenue to planetary transformation and the raising of consciousness. They've become downright trendy and endorsed for creativity purposes amongst CEOs, entrepreneurs, and wealthy baby boomers whom we can imagine also get a little taboo thrill out of what they are doing. It is a chance to let loose, in the same way that security and clean-up crews report that Jimmy Buffett concerts are the worst, even worse than Insane Clown Posse.
While I admit, just about everyone who takes these substances, including me in my bad trips, has a “spiritual” experience that expands their conception of reality, I view embracing them as a bit of a step backward. As a primitivist I would have said, “Practically all of the indigenous societies had these rites of passage and ceremonies that involved mind-altering substances and the only problem we have with these drugs today is the sessions aren't guided by an experienced shaman and supported by the rest of the community.” As a futurist I would now say, “I think plant medicine is a blunt and imprecise and unsophisticated technology, much like a stone hatchet, and we can do better than it.”
Guru Kevin would explain the problem as, “Drugs shut part of you down to open part of you up”. I would say, “Magic comes with a price”, which is the refrain of the television series Once Upon A Time. I don't actually think ALL magic comes with a price, but I think drugs are lazy magic. Some spiritual thinkers will tell you these substances do weird damaging things to the aura, rip and tear it or crystallize it. I don't see auras, but metaphorically it makes sense, I see that people who use ayahuasaca, for example, often become obnoxious and imbalanced, fluffy, flaky, egotistical, and intrusive. Instead of doing their own work, they become addicted to the next hit of divinity or insight, or healing, hoping the plant will someday purge them of all their sins. It doesn't work like that.
I also find the “profound” insights rendered by these plants low-level, muddy, twisted, and incomprehensible. I feel as if the chemicals temporarily open a person to material from the subconscious and collective consciousness and the brain does what brains do best: cobbles it all together into a story, and this is all attached to legitimate ecstatic feelings from the higher realms which people are unaccustomed to accessing which then makes them believe they've just experienced the ultimate truth when in reality it was just an elaborate dream. And we all know other people's dreams are, despite being somewhat meaningful to the dreamer, unimpressive and hard to follow.
I'm certain that this same direct line to the soul can be accessed from a clearer, cleaner, more grounded place, that it can, in fact, become a stable everyday reality. I don't see spiritual seekers depending upon plant induced highs to open up their consciousness as any more evolved or healthy than a heroin addict chasing the dragon. Plus all that vomiting and shitting is really unattractive.
xoxo, -Emily, The Super Sensitive Human