The drug talk
If you don’t know how to talk to your kids about drugs, just have them read this.
At some point in your life you’re going to have the opportunity to do mind altering drugs like tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, heroin, meth, crack, etc., and you’re going to have to do the cost/benefit analysis to decide whether or not you should do drugs. Some people would tell you that you shouldn’t do drugs because drugs are bad, and if you do drugs then that makes you a bad person who deserves to be punished accordingly. That philosophy is vague to the point of being useless and doesn’t address any of the subtle realities of drug use.
People don’t do drugs because they’re bad, and doing drugs doesn’t make you a bad person. Doing drugs certainly doesn’t warrant punishment. So what does cause people to use drugs? The number one cause of drug use is the fact that life sucks. Life doesn’t suck because existence is an inherently pointless and painful experience. Life sucks because the world our elders designed for us is inhumane, and countless people suffer from poverty, abuse and abandonment as a result of the faulty systems that control our lives. If you grew up in a loving, nurturing household where all of your needs were taken care of then good for you. You’re less likely to get addicted to drugs because your life is full of experiences and opportunities that make life enjoyable and fulfilling. But if you grew up in a broken home and got stuck working as a disposable wage slave at the bottom of a heartless corporation with little to no options for career progression then the cost/benefit analysis of doing drugs will look more tempting to you.
The harder your life is the more tempting and gratifying drugs will be, and if you live and work with broken people who are trapped under the glass ceiling you’ll be more likely to make friends with people who have discovered that habitual drug use helps manage their own pain and anxiety. No matter what strata of society you come from, the people most likely to offer you drugs will be your friends. A creepy looking stranger in a black trench coat probably won’t walk up to you and ask you in a raspy whisper if you want to buy some dope. More likely you’ll see your friends having a good time using drugs and you’ll think to yourself, “I want to have that good of a time too.” And your friends will be more than happy to share their drugs with you because they care about you and want you to have a good time too.
An interesting thing about drugs is that they don’t affect all people the same way. While your friends may be having the best time of their lives while on drugs you might get a mild kick or even get sick from it because your body processes the drugs differently. If you experiment with drugs a few times and find that they make you feel absolutely amazing then you need to be extra cautious about using them again. If drugs don’t do much for you then you may be able to use them recreationally from time to time without ever becoming an addict. Just be careful about judging people who use drugs more often than you, because their situation is very different from yours.
Drugs are dangerous because they damage your health, and they’re addictive, but the most dangerous thing about drugs is that they’re fun. They’re more fun than reality. When you feel happiness or pleasure you’re feeling the effects of chemicals in your brain. Drugs affect your brain in ways that make you experience levels of happiness and pleasure greater than is possible to achieve through sobriety. When adults tell children not to do drugs because drugs are bad and children go onto use drugs and discover how absolutely wonderful drugs are then those children are likely to lose regard for the opinion of puritanical adults and continue on with their drug use unprepared for the dangers ahead of them.
It takes time to get addicted to drugs. The first 1–100 times you use drugs you may not be an addict. You may just be enjoying the moment, but over time the addiction will creep in, and you won’t notice it’s there until it’s too late. So if you’re going to experiment with drugs you need to be vividly aware that you’re not just enjoying the moment. You’re courting addiction, and once your body becomes dependent on drugs you won’t be able to just quit any time. You might be able to quit, but it’s going to be painful…and not just the one time you decide to quit cold turkey.
Habitual drug users tend to start out using drugs simply for the sake of experiencing euphoria, but as you become addicted your body craves the drug all the time the same way your body craves food, water or sex. When you don’t have it you get this unexplainable sense of hunger for the drug, and your brain will want it so bad that it will help you make excuses why you should spend more money to get more drugs. This sounds dramatic, but the way it feels to fledgling addicts is deceptively common place. There’s just a thought in the back of your head that says, “Hey, a cigarette or beer or joint or line would sure be nice right now.” Then your brain answers back, “What the heck? Let’s get some more.” Then you do.
At the same time as this is going on your mind is also getting accustomed to experiencing an unrealistically euphoric reality. So normal life becomes boring and dull, which makes you want to do drugs more often. Then, the more drugs you do the more damage you do to your organs and deplete your vitamins. If you damage your organs long enough and starve your body of essential vitamins you won’t be able to experience the fullness of sober reality anyway. In fact, you’ll start developing minor aches and pains that will motivate you to do more drugs to erase those pains. And since you’ll feel like you’re starving when you don’t feed your body’s addiction then the nature of your habit will gradually change. Instead of using drugs simply to chase euphoria you’ll use drugs to run away from the pain of withdrawals. You’ll tell yourself sobriety just sucks, but in reality you’re making sobriety suck.
The longer you do drugs the more likely you are to come to the “logical” conclusion that if life is extra fun while you’re high then why not just be high all the time? Then you’ll be happy all the time. Technically that’s true, but the prize comes with many costs. If you’re a wealthy trust fund baby who will never have to work a day in your whole life then spending your life as a self-destructive hedonist is your choice. You’re going to die someday anyway. Whether or not you live a long, sober life or a short, euphoric one is an interesting philosophical question, but your addiction might not amount to more than that. However, if you’re from the working class then the consequences of addiction are far more serious.
Long before you develop health problems from your addiction you’ll suffer the consequences of having to pay for your addiction. Legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco are priced as high as possible and taxed as high as possible on top of that. Businesses price their goods high so they can make as much money off of killing people as possible, and governments make sin taxes as high as possible to discourage substance abuse (supposedly), but an addict will pay whatever they have to in order to cope with home much life sucks, ward off withdraws and feel euphoric. High sin taxes do more to punish people for having a serious medical condition than they do to curb substance abuse. Illegal drugs are also as expensive as possible since there’s so much risk in selling them. Either way, it’s ultimately governments who make addiction as expensive as possible, but I digress.
Doing anything every day becomes incredibly expensive very quickly. Doing drugs every day requires you to set aside a significant percentage of your income. This means you’re going to have to sacrifice something else in order to free up room in your budget for drugs. At first you might not go out to eat as much or not buy as many new clothes, but the more addicted you become (and the more substances you become addicted to) the more money you’ll have to budget for drugs and the less other things you’ll be able to do and buy.
As I said earlier, life sucks for billions of people in this world through no fault of their own. They’re victims of a heartless economy, and they’re victimized most at work. We grow up in a world where the average worker is paid as little as possible to do as much work as possible while being treated with as much indignity as is it takes to get workers to meet their quotas and please their customers. Living like this our entire lives we take it for granted that this is the natural order of things and anyone who doesn’t like it is ungrateful and lazy. People who use euphoric drugs know how good life can be, and they know they don’t need to climb to the top of the corporate ladder to make their dreams come true. They don’t even need a fancy house or new clothes. All they need is a case of beer, a bag of weed or a needle of heroin.
Drug addicts tend to become disenchanted with the promise of a lavish retirement after a lifetime of being treated like shit at work. After using enough drugs you may even come to the conclusion that since you’re not going to live to old age you don’t need to save for old age or impress petty, sadistic bosses. The fact that your brain is skewed sideways from so much drug use it become easy to justify decisions you would have found illogical when you were sober, and since you’re feeling euphoric all the time anyway you don’t feel the consequences of rash decisions the way you normally do. So the more drugs you do the more likely you are to give up on traditional career paths and simply find whatever work will cater to your drug use. Ironically, most of the jobs that don’t care about your employment history and don’t make you take drug tests are inhumane minimum wage jobs that don’t offer benefits or retirement options.
So long term drug use increases the likelihood that you’ll end up broke and working at a shit job. This will make you want to do drugs more, and since you won’t want to do anything during your free time unless you’re high you’ll spend more money on drugs. And since you won’t be able to function normally while you’re high you’ll tend to just stay at home and do drugs, and that will become your life. The scariest part is that you won’t feel bad about this. In your mind you’ll have reached Shangri La, but to the outside observer you’ll be a poor junky living in a sparse house who wasted your potential.
That’s a worst case scenario. There are billions of people who have used, are using and will use drugs who won’t end up anywhere near that point. But the ideal life is nowhere near that end of the spectrum. I’m not saying that nobody should ever use drugs. When done in moderation you can experience majestic highs without selling your soul for it, but every time you use drugs you need to be aware of the fact that you’re warming your feet at the gates of hell.
If you liked this post, you may like these:
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- Reason vs faith: part 1, part 2
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Originally published at thewisesloth.com on April 14, 2013.