You Don't Know Drugs

I think that "drug" is the single most poorly defined and misunderstood word in the English language, which is a shame, cuz drugs are awesome. There may never have been a time where drugs didn't play a pivotal role in human life. These cave paintings suggest that people have been shrooming since before recorded history.

I can only imagine how crazy it must have been to watch your buddy make fire out of two sticks when you were high out of your rational mind. Then you've got wine being used for religious rituals, acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain relief since the 1800s, and coffee being the second most-traded commodity in the world (behind oil.)

Your definition of "drug" is bullshit.

"Whoa whoa, hold on" you might say. Caffeine and Tylenol aren't the same kind of "drug" that shrooms and Alcohol are! Well, think again, asshole. I'm using the perfectly accepted definition of drug: any non-food substance that affects the functioning of your body. Tylenol fights everyday pain, psilocybin gives you a whole new appreciation for kaleidoscopes, and alcohol radically alters your perception of that chubby feminist in your Philosophy class.

The other common definition of drug is vague as fuck, saying that they are merely a chemical substance used to enhance physical or mental well-being, which any housewife on Oxycontin can tell you that they certainly do.

You're a hypocrite

I'm going to tell you about a drug. Users use it very frequently, often several times a day. It modifies your brain chemistry by acting as an antagonist to the neurotransmitter adenosine. While difficult to OD on, it's much more dangerous and fatal than THC or mushrooms, and symptoms include everything from euphoria, excitement, and rapid heart beat to delusions, hallucinations, and muscle tremors.

I knew someone in high school who was addicted to this drug. He took a hit (double the normal dose) at lunch every single day, and if he didn't he'd quickly get a splitting withdrawl headache and violent hand tremors. He was a fucking junkie.

For caffeine.

Go look caffeine up on wikipedia. It's a "psychoactive stimulant," deeply affects brain chemistry and structure, and all sorts of other shit that only "real" drugs are supposed to do! Fuck, it's almost like the distinction between caffeine and "real" drugs is blurry, gray, and unclear.

Everything is toxic

Let's talk a bit about toxicity. When we talk about drugs, we want to look at two things. First, what amount of the drug is effective at achieving the desired result. If I'm trying to get drunk, my effective dose is about 5 drinks. I'm a bit of a lightweight, sue me. Having one sip of beer is not an effective dose, because it doesn't alter my functioning in any meaningful way. The same thing is true if you took 1/10th of a Tylenol or snorted 1 grain of cocaine.

The second is the lethal dose. What amount of this substance will kill me?

Now, the best way to determine how safe a drug is is to look at how far apart these two numbers are. If the effective dose is 1 pill and the lethal dose is 2000, it's pretty unlikely that I'm going to die when I do it. The ratio of this drug would be 1:2000. The higher the ratio, the safer the drug.

Now here's the deal: pretty much EVERYTHING is toxic and deadly at a certain dose. Even water leeches electrolytes from your synapses and mildly alters the pH of your blood. If you drink too much water, you will die. Many people have died from hyperhydration before: it's just very uncommon.

Caffeine's effective and lethal doses are pretty far apart. To die from caffeine, you'd need to drink around 100 cups of coffee in a short amount of time. It has happened though. I remember reading about some kid dying from a caffeine overdose after using it to play Star Craft for 30 hours straight. Caffeine's ratio is around 1:100.

Alcohol is rough. The effective and lethal doses often overlap. What may be effective for a 220 pound Irish dude could easily be lethal for a 100 pound Asian girl. Alcohol, which is perfectly legal and socially accepted, is one of the most toxic drugs around. It's a 1:10 drug. For comparison, cocaine is about 1:15, or 50% less toxic. For real.

The lethal dose of THC is equivalent to smoking 1500 pounds of pot within 14 minutes. No one has ever died because of smoking marijuana. Ever. The same is true of consuming magic mushrooms (although a few people die because they consume a similar-looking poisonous mushroom.) To die from shrooms, you'd need to eat almost 2 kilograms dried, or 20 kilograms fresh. Again, this has NEVER happened.

MDMA (Ecstasy) was used for many years in the US and Europe as a safe tool to increase communication and reduce repression during therapy. It's remarkably effective in couples therapy as well, probably because the desire to get naked and dance is far more powerful than the urge to fight about who lost the toothpaste cap. Most studies on E are flawed, failing to separate the effects of E from the effects of going to sleepless, overheated, and fluid-deprived raves all the time. Newer studies absolve E from most of the serious risks attributed to it.

You Don't Know Drugs

Everything is dangerous when you consume too much of it. Even coffee and water. There is no meaningful or rational distinction between substances like alcohol, THC, caffeine, psilocybin, and MDMA: they are all neuroactive chemicals that alter perception, brain chemistry, and physical functioning. The difference is that some (like alcohol and coke) are incredibly toxic while the others (like weed and shrooms) aren't.

Your definition of "drug" is likely flawed in some way. So the next time you're at a kegger and someone offers you a joint or a pill, I hope you have a better reason to refuse other than "I don't do drugs" (you do) or "it's bad for me" (so is the alcohol you're drinking, and probably moreso.)

Before you do any drug, you should do your research and approach it in an unbiased way. Don't do shit that seems stupid and dangerous, but liven up your life with substances that are safe and effective. It'd be a shame not to.

Stay safe, get high


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