Sunday, March 11, 2007

A valuable lesson learnt: Drugs ARE bad

For the last 5 years, I've been a frequent cannabis smoker.

It began when I first moved away from home. I'd led a quiet, normal life until that point.

I moved to an area where I knew no-one except one or two new colleagues. In particular, I grew close to one person I worked with.

Initially, I began smoking cigarettes. People were talking about "dope" and I decided to give it a try. If I'm honest, for two reasons:

  1. Curiosity.
  2. I guess I thought I would make some friends this way.
I enjoyed it and did make friends with a number of people.

Since then, I've smoked it most of the time.

Last summer there was a "drought", this made good quality skunk or resin difficult/impossible to find and increased the price.

Its been a sellers market around here since then.

Getting sick of scumbag dealers and the "hassle" of obtaining a supply, I'd began looking into legal alternatives.

I found Spice Gold. This mixture reproduces some of the effects of cannabis but does not contain the active ingredient (THC).

I've been smoking this (mainly in a bong) for the last month or two.

Last week I felt like trying something totally new. I opted to buy Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds. They are described as:

LSD-like effects, but less intense, with less visuals. Trip lasts 6-8 hours; tranquil feelings may last additional 12 hours. Sleep is deep and refreshing after trip, however some users may experience a hangover characterized by blurred vision, vertigo, and physical intertia.

The active ingredient is LSA.

These are legally available in the UK and cost around £3 for five seeds

I'd never taken anything of this type (or even close) before.

At 17:30 i opened the pack. I'd bought 10 but being new to these, I decided to take four (generally recommended number to 'try').

Using a penknife I removed the outer layer and scraped off the white bits as best I could.

I then gave each a quick burn with the lighter.

Again using the penknife, I crushed the seeds then split them in half.

At 17:40 I placed one in my mouth, checking i could stand the taste.

I could so I put the rest in.

I chewed then held them in my mouth for maybe a minute or two then swallowed.

This wasn't on an empty stomach and for the first hour, I thought nothing was going to happen.

As 19:00 approached I was feeling very intoxicated, similar feeling to being very drunk. I found my interest was in random things and would start laughing for no reason. I was watching TV and it felt like the programme was jumping out of the screen.

Shortly afterwards I lost most cognitive function. I guess I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I remember it was after 20:00 and I'd received an SMS message. I tried to respond but was clearly in no fit state to do so. I felt being in contact with anyone at that point was probably a very bad idea so switched the phone off and put it away.

I watched Rory Bremner and found it hilarious (to be fair, it always is anyway).

During the show, I noticed time seemed to slow down. I felt tens of minutes had passed in just a minute or two. This lasted for many hours.

I watched BBC 4 who had some shows on about 1997. I remembered many details about this time, things I've not considered for years.

I was concerned about my breathing for a short while and was concious as to whether I was breathing or not. This passed after about 30 minutes. I would also find myself one minute running my fingers through my hair, the next biting my finger nails then dropping my arms down again. I suspect this would have looked insane if someone else had seen it.

Around 23:00 I opened the window to get some fresh air. I leaned on the window ledge looking out. I felt totally detached from everything going on outside.

Around 30 minutes later, I started to feel a little more "with it" and resolved to go to bed - in a bit.

My mind drifted onto the negative parts of my life and i felt pangs of anxiety and a little fear. Then I'd feel euphoric and all would be great.

At 00:30 I went to bed. Thinking I might have been in for a long sleep, I set my alarm - I never normally do this on a Sunday.

I couldn't sleep so after what seemed like an eternity (was only an hour), I got up, had something to eat and went back to bed.

I must have finally drifted off around 02:00.

This morning, I woke around 08:45. I almost felt hungover, just without the sickness.

The whole experience has proven to me two very important things which I guess I've always know but have convinced myself isn't the case:

  • Messing with our bodies and minds in such a way is potentially very dangerous. I can't help thinking what i must have looked like/been like last night. I'd never want to see anyone in that state - ever.
  • On a more fundamental level, using cannabis doesn't become a problem the first time you smoke a joint. Nor is it a problem if you smoke it once in a blue moon. Regular use of this creeps up on you and before you know it, you need it. You tell yourself "I don't need it, i want it". That isn't true. I am pleased I took the seeds for this reason. It was a short time in my life showing me what I've done over the last few years and where its led to.
I have now thrown the remaining seeds down the toilet.

I will not take them or anything like them ever again.

I have no intention of buying cannabis or any substitute again.

I can sum up the experience as: enlightening but scary. I never want to feel that out of control ever again.

Before I started smoking (anything) I used to enjoy life, be full of vigour and be reasonably level headed. I feel I've thrown caution to the wind over the last few years. My career has probably not progressed in the way It would have had I not smoked it. My personal life is certainly not what It should be or what it was.

Drugs of any kind are bad.

But. As a country, its not the drugs themselves which need to be tackled, its the supply of drugs.

Cracking down on dealers doesn't work. There are always ways and means of obtaining them.

We must discuss this important subject as adults instead of being lectured to like children.

The problem for most people in the UK with drugs is the associated crime. The crime is typically one of the following -

  • Drug induced crime - People committing crime under the influence of drugs.
  • Dealer related crime - Violence against anyone who might cross them (turf wars, creditors, etc)
  • Economic crime - Crime to obtain funds to purchase drugs.
The first you will only ever eradicate if no-one takes drugs. Quite honestly, that is never, ever going to happen - but we can reduce the numbers.

Dealer crime will go once the "dealers" are licenced chemists.

The last one is in my view, the biggest crime related to drugs use. The problem is that in a black market economy, demand is always high, supply always low. This means people have to pay a lot of money to get whatever it is they are after.

In a regulated market, you can control pricing, quality, supply & identify those in need help - intelligently directing resources where they are needed.

Dealers can't exist without customers. They will eke out a living for as long as they can, but when demand dries up, they have to move on.

I know this won't be popular with many people. But the fact is, drug use is so endemic amongst the younger generations of this country that action must be taken soon. The so called war on drugs has only managed to cause inconvenience for drug users, It has never reduced the demand.

Finally, I could go on to make a case for alcohol being prohibited due to the effect it has on the health of people and the effects on society, but we know prohibition doesn't work - Just ask the Americans!


Chris M said...

I would find it easier to swallow the usual argument for legalisation of drugs if there was no black market for cigarettes and alcohol. Unfortunately there is, and it is largely to do with the tax burden that has been placed upon them.

The same would happen with drugs. First would be legalisation - when this increase in supply, and possibly reduction in price increases access to drugs, and most likely usage, the solution proposed would be tax.

Once a critical point in the taxation of drug supply is reached, it again becomes profitable for the black market - only this time there are likely to be many more users thanks you the previously increased supply and access. Plus you then have the complication that legalised supply makes detection of illegal drugs on someone impossible.

On top of this, even if drugs are somehow magically cheaper and usage is down, there will still be addicts, and addicts who have to commit crime to pay for their addiction. If, as I predict, the cost of their addiction is going to rise due to taxation, then they are going to have to commit more crime to pay for their habit.

I don't know what the answer is, but I really doubt legalisation would help even in the short term.

Cinnamon said...

Count yourself lucky that your drug of choice was cannabis because you just take that or leave it (as your newfound sobriety demonstrates ;) If it was alcohol or heroin you'd be lost by now.

Good luck with staying sober, get your compulsive personality trait sorted out with a decent psychotherapist, because you have a problem with yourself and not with drugs.

The question you need to answer is why you need to be out of it so much that you will try anything you can lay your hands on.

Anonymous said...

chris, with alcohol and smokes you have a choice. You can buy them from the black market or you can do what almost everyone does, which is to buy from a licensed outlet. With prohibition there is only the black market. Some sort of licensed outlets selling drugs would naturally shrink the black market substantially. I think that is a very good thing.

On your comment about addicts. If an addict was able to buy his vice when he needed it he might be able to create some stability in his life which would allow him to resume a position as a productive member of society, not unlike those addicted to tobacco. It is not the drugs themselves that cause crime it's prohibition.

I'm sure we can at least agree that prohibition is immoral in theory and unworkable in practice. What fills the void once prohibition is repealed is open for debate :).

Anonymous said...

for practical help with cannabis dependency:

uk-events said...

>Once a critical point in the taxation of drug supply is reached, it again becomes profitable for the black market - only this time there are likely to be many more users thanks you the previously increased supply and access. Plus you then have the complication that legalised supply makes detection of illegal drugs on someone impossible.

A valid point. This is why I think its essential that we can have this type of discussion.

I think its becoming more generally accepted that prohibition has failed.

I don't have all the answers, no one individual does but as a nation, I'm sure we can come up with something which helps the situation rather than making it worse - as at present.

>If, as I predict, the cost of their addiction is going to rise due to taxation, then they are going to have to commit more crime to pay for their habit.

The drugs themselves are abundant and cheap, the costs on the black market come from markups from everyone involved and the costs involved in getting it into the country.

Even with a moderate tax I can still see most drugs being substantially cheaper. In addition, quality would be controlled making it nonsensical to use a black market dealer.

If the supply is controlled, there is no reason not to consider limiting the amount of a substance available to an individual.

Again, not perfect but still better than the current system imho.

>The question you need to answer is why you need to be out of it so much that you will try anything you can lay your hands on.

What I took away from the "seeds episode" is that it was equivalent to smoking many months worth of dope in one go (i.e. showing the potential affects of the substances on my body and mind in a short time) - quite frankly, it was a shock.

I've already made quite an impressive start in putting things right (can't really go into that on a blog though).

Anon - I find your comments refreshing and accurate.

Anon2 - Thanks for the link, an interesting read!

Crosby Stole my Stash said...

A modern de Quincy. Very interesting.

I met a lot of regular dopers over the years and many are very delicate individuals. Danny in "Withnail and I" was certainly a fair representation of all the dealers I ever met.

I gave it up in 1973 after a particularly bad experience. It is probably not a good idea to drive or walk near a window when stoned.

Anonymous said...

I hear every word you are saying there, after having been in a marriage wrecked by drug taking and dealing and being forced into dealing cannabis I know the dark side of it.

I have heard what you are saying many times. Normally alcohol, tobacco and prescription, and even over the counter pharmaceuticals are bundled into that conversation.

Great observations!

Anonymous said...

From the sound of it, you tried LSA without really reading into what it does, other than it being similar to LSD, which you said you have no first hand experience with. So you didn't know what to expect before trying the seeds.

Granted, the trip you can get from those seeds can be very powerful, if not overwhelming for some people depending on the dose. I've not used it, but I've spoke with others who have, and they describe having better experiences with it simply because they were a little more educated about the intended effect of the seeds.

The seeds, and the psychedelic experience that is produced by them, should not be thought of as a danger or as something toxic to your body or mind. They are windows, or looking glasses into your subconscious mind; alternative perspectives, suppressed thoughts and thinking, confrontation with ones own identity. This is likely what jarred you the most. That, and the paranoia one can induce when then start asking useless questions like, "Am I going to be like this forever? Will I ever be normal again?" Of course you will be, you always will be. Tricking yourself into thinking you never will be is a good way of securing unnecessary stress and fear that produce nothing useful once you are sober again.

Your overall statement of "drugs are bad" is, in my opinion, is naive. Some drugs are very bad. Others can be very good. Better than you may be willing to give credit for, but that's part of the language barrier we humans suffer from using a double-edged word like "drug" to describe some of the most beautiful things on the planet. The psychedelic experience is a gift, and a learning tool, if you are willing to use it and expand your tolerance for the wild side of your imagination.

Anonymous said...

Boo. Drugs aren't bad, your choice of drugs were bad.