Why we really do drugs
We are destined to live colourful, spontaneous and cosmically connected lives, and we are supposed to be expressive, eccentric, independent and uncaring of what the rest of society thinks of us. There is a way to get altered states, enhanced senses, a pow
We are destined to live colourful, spontaneous and cosmically connected lives, and we are supposed to be expressive, eccentric, independent and uncaring of what the rest of society thinks of us. There is a way to get altered states, enhanced senses, a powerful feeling of belonging to a community and to the cosmos, without drugs.
WHAT DID YOU get right on drugs? It’s not the standard first question to clients at a drug recovery clinic. In fact, it’s such a radical departure from the standard script that I usually get a blank stare. The recovery industry revolves around the idea of malfunction, but if nothing actually went wrong, that approach doesn’t work.
There is a new drug-using demographic – people aged anywhere from 12 to 60, who are rich, poor, old, young, happy, unhappy, male, female, successful, failures, from broken homes or from happy homes – who just like to feel good. With this as a starting point for drug use, it makes sense to look at what went right.
‘Revolutionary’ is probably the best word to describe this approach, because it does entail overthrowing the old model. And it’s old. Most current recovery programs are based on ideas that emerged over a century ago. We no longer ride around in horse-drawn wagons or tap away on typewriters, so why use equally outdated approaches to recovery? It’s high time for an overhaul.
Debunking the old myths about why you take drugs is a good place to start. As everyone who has been through counselling or a rehab program knows, identifying ‘why’ you did it is always the focus. As it is automatically assumed that something must have gone wrong, the answer is inevitably one of the following: you were trying to escape reality, or cope with pain; or you are diseased, self-destructive, have low self-esteem or other psychological problems. ‘Drug users are just escaping reality’, is usually stated in an accusatory tone, as if there is something wrong with this. But reality, as most people experience it, is generally so ordinary that, in my opinion, there is something wrong if you don’t want to escape it.
When the police catch runaway prisoners they never say to them, ‘ Oh, you’re just trying to escape prison’. It is expected that you’d flee if you got the chance. But if you take drugs or indulge in any other activity to ‘escape reality’ everybody gets upset. I believe it is our duty to escape reality and seek an extraordinary life. How we do this should be the issue, not why.
The idea that drug users are trying to cope with deep-seated pain – usually the ‘unhappy childhood’ variety – is another flawed assumption. If that were really the cause of addiction, I think there would be many more addicts. Growing up can be an unpleasant process, for anyone: you’re short, powerless, and your true nature is being systematically suppressed so that you can fit into the accepted limited version of reality. But not everyone takes drugs as a result. Over the years I’ve treated people for every condition imaginable. Some who adored every moment of their childhoods became heroin addicts. Others who had terrible, abusive childhood experiences never even tried a drug.