It’s an old topic and the favourite haunt of adults. Every single person has heard the “how drugs are bad for you“spiel at least once in their life from someone who was in an authoritarian position.
But the problem is, everyone’s only heard about the bad effects of drugs. No one’s heard the whole story.
While most drugs are addictive and cause destructive behaviour in people, there are a lot of drugs which are actually helpful and conducive to people’s mental state.
We all know the story of Albert Hoffman who discovered LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) popularly and colloquially known as Acid. It was synthesized initially as a circulatory and respiratory stimulant, an analeptic. Coffee too, which contains the stimulant Caffeine, is an unregulated and widely consumed psychoactive drug. And by widely consumed, I of course mean most coffee addicts drink as many cups as they can lay their hands on in a day.
A psychoactive drug is defined as one that crosses the blood brain barrier and acts upon the body’s central nervous system and the brain causing visual, auditory and other effects. Acid and Marijuana are both psychoactive drugs as is Peyote. The problem in society is just a spectacular lack of knowledge. Most people do not know anything about drugs in general and when they hear the word drugs, they conjure up the images from the movie Trainspotting or Requiem for a Dream.
This lack of knowledge is what causes addiction in the first place. It’s considered almost normal to go to college and experiment because before college you’re too busy working to get into college and after college you’re too busy working. People, especially the ones who have never been exposed to drugs in any way tend to scream in horror when they hear about them. But that’s just not done. If knowledge is power then simply learning about something allows us to make a fully informed decision rather than loudly vetoing something because we’re scared of it.
Drugs and narcotics are two separate categories. Narcotics are a type of drug, and drugs can mean anything from cocaine to antacids. It is very important to know the distinction because it is this knowledge that will keep you from becoming an addict if you ever indulge. I personally believe nothing is truly addictive until you let it become that way. In any case, not all drugs are addictive.
It is widely known in scientific circles that psychoactive drugs are generally the least addictive of all the drugs and leave absolutely no lasting effects on the body. In fact some of them are used to treat illnesses. Antacids are actually addictive and withdrawal from antacids causes severe problems in the body.
LSD was used in the 1950’s as an experimental drug for both mind control, and to treat mental illnesses like schizophrenia. The unfortunate issue there was that while normal mentally stable people who knew they were ingesting acid enjoyed their “trip” – as the hallucinogenic effects of acid are known- the ones who didn’t know underwent severe mental duress and tended to become paranoid and delusional.
There are communities in the world that frequently use psychoactive drugs, referred to as entheogens in this context- as a rite of passage, and to help receive spiritual awareness. The Native Americans have been recorded as having used peyote, a small cactus-like plant to combat spiritual, social and mental ailments, referring to it as “sacred medicine”. The Native American Church is a religion which involves the use of peyote in its religious practices.
Even in India, drugs have been used as early as 600 to 800 BC. There are numerous references to drugs liberally sprinkled throughout the sacred texts. Some of the deities in our culture are very obviously hinted as indulging in drugs. Certain festivals incorporate drugs into the celebrations till date. The traditional drink during the festival of Holi, is Bhaang (a herb) which is a form of tea typically cooked with milk, spices, cannabis leaves and flowers. Marijuana is one of the most popularly used drugs and is the mildest and safest of the drugs.
One of the misconceptions about recreational drugs is the latent belief that they are all chemical or designer drugs. This is not true. Marijuana is medically used in many countries to treat illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome and to help cancer patients overcome their nausea and to help them eat. Tests have shown that HIV patients who use marijuana are more likely to gain weight than others. Similarly consuming certain mushrooms can produce psychedelic effects. These mushrooms are colloquially referred to as magic mushrooms or shrooms. They are used to treat obsessive compulsive disorders and migraines. They are also used as entheogens. Most psychedelics are not addictive and simply affect the visual and auditory centers of the brain allowing the person to experience a fun “trip”.
Chemical drugs are generally harmful and addictive. That doesn’t mean if you tried any of it for the first time, you’d get addicted to it. It takes a while for the body to become dependent on a drug. Most drugs affect the pleasure or reward center of the brain giving the person a constant feeling of happiness and euphoria which in turn release high amounts of endorphins into the body. Eventually the body becomes dependent on the mood altering hormones and enzymes that are released by the drugs to regulate the mood and emotions, and other metabolic processes of the body. That’s how addiction works.
Generally drugs like barbiturates and amphetamines are the ones that can lead to addiction, overdose and death. Most barbiturates and amphetamines are mood regulators and frequently abusing them will cause irreparable damage to the body and brain. Alcohol addiction works in a similar way. These drugs tend to reduce the natural inhibition of a person. Substance abuse issues arise because a person is mentally or emotionally unstable. Peer pressure contributes equally to this but at the end of the day if you have no control over yourself you have no business going anywhere near drugs or alcohol or even cigarettes for that matter. While most people feel that you should just jump into the whole thing that’s a very wrong approach to this. The choice to indulge in a vice, any vice should be your conscious choice and yours alone. And you must exercise extreme caution and discipline otherwise they will rule you. There’s a reason they are called recreational drugs, they’re only meant for recreation and not daily consumption. Of course anyone who wants to do drugs is going to find a way. Warnings and threats won’t really help because that’s the human mentality.
We are beings that naturally rebel against any kind of dominance. Most parents just tell their children “no” without giving them any kind of reasonable explanation. They are human beings and not dogs after all so they’re not going to say how “high” when parents say “jump”.
If we want to help end substance abuse issues and help drug control and regulation it is best to be well informed and knowledgeable about them so you have something intelligent to say when people ask you why they’re bad instead of “because I said so”.
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