Drugs and Brain Hugs – a Recollection of Sobriety

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.

(Hunter S. Thompson)

It’s still interesting to look back on my life are realize that far too many of my role models were drug fiends. Jim Morrison and Hunter S. Thompson – two rather influential figures in my development, both with historical personas fully ripped to the hilt on psychedelics. As were Pink Floyd and Jefferson Airplane. Howard Hughes was addicted to his meds and his need to succeed. There’s a Richard Feynmen and an Ursula K. Le Guin thrown in here and there for balance, and a Lynn Hill opposite a Mia Hamm, but the big influences were famously portrayed as drug freaks.

I’ve often wondered why I never got into the drug culture – that mythical component of society we hear about, are at times fascinated by and sometimes want to imitate. Would Pulp Fiction be half as cool if John Travolta was on a sugar high instead of pumping heroine into his body.

Oh, lord, set me free of my worldly senses and drop my mind down a rabbit hole that I’ll never want to crawl out of.

The thing is, although there’s some sort of dangerous allure, like wanting to take up smoking cigarettes – rage against societal conventions, it just seems like too much work to really get into drugs. Even the dead-head culture, those hippy souls born twenty years too late that wear their colorful drags and talk in aluff tones, the ones you see at the University of Michigan head shops and trip over at any number of open air concerts – that look isn’t by accident. It takes thought and determination to appear that spaced out.

I’ve seen some of the drug scene – you have to go to parties and know people to buy drugs from, and then there’s the paraphernalia investment.

Accessories like three foot Joker bongs don’t come cheap, and what kind of gutter college kid degenerate wants to toke from a plastic pipe? Yes you "can" fashion a pipe from an empty tube of M&M-mini’s (or an apple), but why go to the trouble? If you’re going to take a hit, you want to do it in style – and I’ve seen the prices of those colorful handmade glass smoking accessories. The thought of dropping $50 on a piece of glass to smoke from just doesn’t compute.

Probably the allure is so docile in my brain because I do more or less act like I’m "on" something from day to day. Nothing serious, it just looks like I’m on a mild tranquilizer most of the time. The thing is, I’m just naturally mello, probably due to low blood pressure and a weak heart.

Maybe my body is too sensitive, if you’ve never gotten into drugs in the first place, then a cup of Star Bucks still gives your heart a stiff kick and one beer makes the head swim like a nymph in Bacchus’s cup of ale. So what’s to be gained from escalation?

"Dude, I’m taking drugs to expand my mind."

"Oh, really?"

I’ve actually heard a searching-for-purpose prelaw student drop this line before. If that’s the argument, wouldn’t you want to be expanding your mind on a continual basis? If it’s really to gain some new perspective, wouldn’t it be better to have that ability all the time, not just after you pop a pill? If you rely on a drug to do all the work – you’ll never have any hope of reaching Nirvana, just brief windows of enlightenment that close before you can crawl your lethargic mind through the opening.

I suppose you have to get into the habit of taking drugs. I tried this with cigarettes. I was stressed out doing a Master’s in Materials Science and thought I’d take up smoking to bevel the edges of my twisted head – but I’d never finish my pack of American Spirits and the cigarettes never really fit that well between my lips.

I also smoked cigars for a time – and never inhaled again after nearly vomiting my brains out one fine afternoon while sunning myself on the outdoor patio.

All of this doesn’t really make sense, my parents both smoked for over thirty years and both my sister and I grew up in a smoking environment. Most kids I know in such a situation grow up puffing with their parents, or hiding it when they go home for Thanksgiving. Is this undesire to get my head twisted around a drug addiction just my quiet way of rebelling against my parent’s cigarette habits?

I hear it’s more colorful to get twisted in this world, but my mind has too many turns as it is. I pity the fool who need a hit to see the light – and the equally uninspired pious minion who never even considered the option.

"My attorney had never been able to accept the notion — often espoused by former drug abusers — that you can get a lot higher without drugs than with them. And neither have I for that matter."

-Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Movie Script

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