Drug wars? Just say no

The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - Viewpoint - By PhilliP adams

The TV se­ries Pa­trick Mel­rose be­gins with Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch do­ing his best to kill him­self with drugs or to get killed buy­ing them. The wealthy young Lon­doner goes to the nas­ti­est peo­ple in the most dan­ger­ous places in New York City to buy them, in­jects god knows what into him­self in squalid dives with dirty sy­ringes and spends the en­tire episode writhing in var­i­ous de­grees of agony, ec­stasy and mad­ness. It’s hardly a puff piece for drug cul­ture and re­minded me why I’ve largely avoided it. Can’t stand nee­dles.

It might have been dif­fer­ent. I was, af­ter all, a nico­teenager, and re­mained hooked on ci­garettes un­til my late 30s. But the other nas­ties held no charms. Cross my heart, I’ve only been drunk once in my life – aged 16 – and en­joyed it far too much to risk it again.

I hate los­ing con­trol. Which is why I also turned down an of­fer to try LSD in a per­fectly le­gal sci­en­tific ex­per­i­ment or­gan­ised by a Mel­bourne shrink: not be­cause I feared a bad trip so much as a good one. Years later I spent a week­end driv­ing Ti­mothy Leary around Syd­ney and re­sisted his psy­che­delic se­duc­tions. (Leary died not long after­wards. Hav­ing first con­sid­ered cryo­genic freez­ing, he fi­nally agreed to cre­ma­tion – and I like it that some of his ashes were launched into space along with those of Gene Rod­den­berry, the cre­ator of Star Trek.)

More re­cently, the highly re­spected US au­thor and food ac­tivist Michael Pol­lan tried to per­suade me to join his cam­paign to have LSD and other hal­lu­cino­genic sub­stances wel­comed back to the world for med­i­cal and tran­scen­den­tal pur­poses. One again I re­sisted. Chem­i­cally in­duced mys­ti­cism might be too en­joy­able. More “los­ing con­trol” is­sues.

Some­one once of­fered me white pow­der at a Hol­ly­wood party. Didn’t know what it was – snuff? tal­cum? – but I sniffed it obe­di­ently. The ef­fect was more den­tal than men­tal. All co­caine gave me was numb teeth; I pre­ferred the nice gas you could get

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