DRUGS Part 2: I might want to use drugs.
For a guy that’s never done drugs, boy do I love drugs. Almost everyone I’ve looked up to, from the cool older kids, to the rock bands I listened to every day, were consuming tons of booze and/or drugs. Drugs are an integral part of the creation of much of the worlds great art, and most certainly when it comes to the Rock n Roll that speaks to me so deeply even after all these years. Without drugs and alcohol we simply don’t have albums like Appetite For Destruction, Dirt, Paranoid, and so many other great milestones of human civilization. Having played in bands consistently since my teen years, I’ve certainly seen some of the the pros and cons to drugs and alcohol up close. And there certainly are pros and cons. Despite the deep integration drugs have with so much of what I love, it’s never been enough to convince me that I should actually take part. Only in recent years have I given any serious thought to using drugs myself.
Let’s start with the word itself; drugs. It’s so vague. I’ve always been somewhat averse to taking medication, but when I have a physical pain that’s too difficult to deal with, I take an Advil. When I need some dental work, I let the dentist shoot me up with a local anesthetic. When I wanted to streamline my diet and increase my level of fitness, I consumed Whey Protein and some BCAA’s. Do these count as drugs? I certainly could have lived without them. Sure, they’re different than substances like cocaine and heroin because the people in power have decided that those are illegal. But what about cannabis/marijuana/the pot? That’s legal in some places, and as time goes on, more places will surely follow suit. And do I really care enough about what’s legal and what isn’t to let that be the sole determining factor? Hell no! I love breaking some laws, and I have no real moral connection to them whatsoever. My views on what is right and wrong don’t shift when a law gets changed.
So, legality aside, what separates something like marijuana from any other prescription or over the counter substance? There’s tons of evidence piling up that marijuana helps people with pain, nausea, seizures, cancer, glaucoma, arthritis, and many other issues. And get this, unlike all of the other medications that doctors and pharmacies sell you, it’s a plant. It’s a plant that grows from the dirt, just like tomatoes and apples and peppers. But let’s not pretend that everyone out there smoking pot has some medical condition that they’re desperately fighting off. I’ve heard that it can also make you feel kind of good in a funny way, just for the hell of it. I bet there’s probably a few people doing it for that reason too. When you think about it, it’s pretty wild that there are so many intense, dangerous, mind-altering drugs out there, made from God knows what concoction of crazy chemicals, and they’re all perfectly legal. They’re being prescribed to ever-increasing numbers of people, and no one really seems to mind. But the battle over marijuana rages on.
What do I want from my theoretical drug use? In the broadest terms, I want to feel better. I deal with some pretty constant back pain from the time a drunk driver smashed me to hell as I sat at a red light in my Jeep. I’m also depressed. I don’t spend much time thinking about or caring about that, but it’s true. My therapist has made it very clear that she recommends some medication (the concoction of crazy chemicals kind) to help deal with that. I’ve always refused it. I’ve always preferred to suffer, struggle, and do things the hard way. And after a few decades of that, maybe I’m starting to consider an alternative to the most difficult path. When I view the world, the people in it, and think about my own experience, the general vibe is pretty negative. It’s full of pain, disappointment, frustration, anger and sadness, all for nothing. And what happens when it ends? Nothing. No Heaven, no afterlife, no virgins. Just rotten meat in the ground, or in the fire. I don’t expect everyone to understand that, but for me, that’s what life is. That’s what it’s always been.
I’d like to escape. Some people move to a different city, state or country to escape their problems. Due to the many limiting circumstances in my life, I can’t do any of those things. My only true escape from the constant barrage of pain and negativity would be death. But because I have a son (one with “special needs” in fact) I feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility for him. Again, limiting my options. So, as I’m forced to trudge through this deeply unsatisfactory existence, drugs enter as an option for some temporary escapism and relief. Rather than sit alone at my desk with clenched teeth and fists, fighting off the urge to smash everything into oblivion, perhaps I could drift off into a temporary euphoria instead. Hell, maybe I could even “expand my consciousness” or something. Honestly, a decent nights sleep once in a while would be a great start. But make no mistake, I’m not ignorant to the potentially devastating downside to drugs. I often romanticize figures like Layne Staley, but I know how that story ends. And of course that’s not to say the only options are Straight Edge or Layne Staley. I just need to allow myself to acknowledge all possibilities.
Where does this leave me? I’ve established that I already use drugs when I see fit, and that I don’t care about the legal status of, well, anything. I guess I’m left to make individual judgement calls about anything I put into my body at any given moment, just like I always have. But moving forward, the list of available options is a bit longer than it ever was.