There are many reasons people use drugs and many reasons people avoid using them. Could I list ten factors underpinning my bone deep commitment to drug avoidance?
I wasn’t sure, but it was worth a try.
After all, there was a time when avoidance was not exactly my game. During my teens and twenties, I smoked occasionally (wimpy menthol filtered Salems, roll your own Bull Durham, or rum soaked Crook cigars, whatever was handy) and drank to excess. Growing up in rural Montana during the 1950’s and early 1960’s, other drugs were relatively unknown–to me, anyway–but I racked up my share of booze-raddled war stories.
What? You want examples?
Well…okay. Smashing up my 1952 Chevy in a freeway fence while passed out at the wheel, waking up to the crunch of gravel and facing a busted fencepost that crashed through the windshield just inches in front of my face. Acting inappropriately with a girl I’d just met at a dance, never mind that I was in an alcoholic blackout for most of it. Spending a night in jail for being drunk and disorderly on a public sidewalk. Waking up at first light with my head pillowed on a railroad grade, three feet from the rails. Passing out on guard duty in the United States Army, circa November 7, 1964, my 21st birthday. Barfing on–
What? Now you want me to stop? That’s enough?
Yeah, that’s enough, all right. In fact, it’s enough for the basis of several of those reasons for avoiding drugs today:
1. When I’m not drugged up (alcohol), I look much less like an idiot.
2. When I’m not smoked up (cigarettes), I stink less and offend fewer people in the olfactory sense.
3. When I’m not drugged up (alcohol), I’m less likely to end up in jail, the military stockade, or the mortuary.
4. Too much booze leads to loss of self control, i.e. giving the Dark Side free rein.
5. If I’m blasted when it comes down to a fight, a need to practice self defense at the physical level, I’m toast.
6. Avoiding drugs (regardless of type) is cheaper; it gives me a better chance of ending up with a bit of money in my pocket at the end of the month.
Regarding reason #6, the improved finances from drug avoidance involve more than the mere cash outlay for the product. I had to pay to repair that freeway fence, pay to repair my car, pay, pay, pay….
One thing I never did do was get into a fight when I was drunk. I got pounded on, once, by another fellow who was less impaired than I was, but I couldn’t say I was “in a fight”–because I was so bombed, I literally could not lift my hands, courtesy of my fair share of a bottle of Bacardi rum.
However, none of those reasons stopped me from using drugs. Nor was alcohol, with its nicotine flavored sidekick, my only vice. I hated serious head colds, often could not shake a bad one for weeks or even months on end. Thus, over the counter cold medicine and antibiotics became my drugs of choice.
Contac and Penicillin, yum!
It wasn’t the horrific head cold that stopped me cold one night in December of 1963 when my fiancée and I were trying to get it on. It was the Contac. I’d taken down four Penicillin pills and four Contac pills…and everything else was determined to stay down, too.
7. Failing to avoid drugs affects sexual performance, be it in the bedroom or in the back seat of a 1952 Chevy.
“Free” birth control, right there.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against people using prescription and/or OTC medications when they need them. My wife is a case in point. Without her meds, a regimen we’ve carefully crafted over the last 17 years, she’s unable to walk. Her pain levels are incapacitating. Her mind does not function well. Her attitude sucks–and if I had half of the health challenges going on that she does, my attitude would suck, too.
No, I’m not preaching to anyone, not judging any other individual. I’m just talking about what works, or does not work, for me, personally.
I also discovered early on that imbibing alcohol had a direct and devastating effect on my health. By the time I’d turned eighteen, a good blackout binge drunk was enough to wipe out my immune system for a time. The hangover never lasted more than a day or so, but a few days later, along would come The Flu From Hell to lay me low.
By the time I was in my late sixties, the noose had tightened. It no longer took a serious drinking bout to flatten my resistance to disease. A single O’Doul’s would do the job.
8. Drug usage wipes out my immune system and opens me to head colds and influenza.
And…on to street drugs. I never tried anything stronger than marijuana, and that only twice, but the results were spectacular.
The first time, shortly before Christmas in 1973, my second wife and I joined our next door neighbors for an evening get together. They had a bit of pot, just enough for a single joint, which the four of us shared. Thus, I toked no more than 1/4 of a normal sized roll your own–no doobie, just a skinny little thing.
I will say one thing in favor of that bit of a hit. It makes Cheech and Chong tapes sound really, really hilarious.
Unfortunately, there was a side effect. Later that night, I was off in the dream state, flying fast. Out of control. Backwards. This showed me another reason for avoiding drugs.
8. Pot made me unable to control my Soul travel on the inner planes.
Perhaps others don’t mind that. Perhaps others don’t even experience that; I know some folks who seem unable to get control of themselves, especially emotional control, without taking a hit every now and then. But at my core, I’m all about self discipline. Rank hedonism isn’t in it.
Beyond that, I’ve had a chance to study Kirlian photography. This technique measures the energy aura around any living thing, be it a leaf on a tree or a hand on a human. Kirlian studies have been done that show a human hand before and after the owner smoked marijuana. Before smoking, the hand’s aura looked like an even blue Bunsen burner flame. This is the protective aura we all have. That’s the way it should look.
After smoking, the aura is no longer blue. It’s more of an angry red–where it exists. There are holes in that aura now, places where forces you don’t want accessing your inner self can infiltrate your entire system.
9. Avoiding drug use works as a spiritual security measure, keeping my protective aura intact.
These nine are all good, solid reasons for me to avoid using drugs…but #10 is the big one.
10. The awareness factor.
Only by avoiding drug use entirely am I able to be fully aware of the state of my mind, my body, and, um, my awareness. That’s crucial.
Let’s start with the mind. As I use the term here, it includes emotions. Were I to be on Paxil or Prozac or some such (which I’ve thankfully never needed), I’m pretty sure getting a clear reading on my “real” state of emotional being would be a tad difficult. Even puffing on a cigarette as an emotional crutch is enough to taint my awareness. During my late twenties, I used to toss back “a beer or two” after work to unwind in the evenings, and that didn’t make for precise clarity, either.
It’s important to me to know where my head really is, all the time, 24/7, 365. That way, if something is bothering me, I can address the issue directly instead of focusing on “better living through chemistry”.
I can work on seeing the future or the solution to a present problem in my dream state, too, if there are no drugs in my system. If there are drugs making the rounds, a lot gets misinterpreted or just plain missed.
But more than anything else, avoiding drugs allows me to be aware of my body in all its flawed glory.
Why is that awareness factor so crucial? Let me count the ways, or at least cite a few examples. After all, both psychological and medical issues are involved.
1. A year or two ago, I realized the arrhythmia (skippy heartbeat) that had first surfaced in 1995 was ba-ack! It hadn’t been noticeable for quite some time. Why…? It only took a few minutes of pondering the question to realize I’d done it to myself by failing to keep up with certain supplements known to help the heart, most especially Acetyl-L-Carnitine with Lipoic Acid. I got back on the regimen I’d worked out a decade earlier, stuck to it religiously, and within a matter of days, the arrhythmia was once again “barely there”.
2. One morning a few months ago, around 3:00 a.m., I was lifting weights in front of a mirror and noticed a thickness on the right side of my neck. It didn’t take long to figure out that my lymph nodes were acting up in ways they’d never done before. It took a little experimenting, but within a week or two I’d found out the way to knock them back to normal was simply to walk around our property. Nothing else was easier, and nothing worked better.
3. Simply paying attention to my body has allowed me to identify numerous allergies. Chocolate is now on my absolute no-no list, for example, and dairy is in the “not too much at a time” group.
This sort of do it yourself medical fine tuning is practiced by millions of people around the globe; I’m hardly the Lone Ranger in that regard. However, the point is that I couldn’t do it if even one drug were regularly inhabiting my body. When I’m involved with a drug, even a lone cigarette or a single glass of wine, the drug distracts me, pulls my attention to the drug experience. I miss other things, little things like a less than disciplined heartbeat or a small lump on the side of my neck.
Do I ever miss the occasional glass of blackberry brandy on the rocks, you ask?
Truthfully, I used to…but not so much any more. Living in reality 100% of the time can be massively painful at first, but–for me at least–it pays off handsomely over time.
So far (knock on wood), my health is excellent. In fact, it’s better than it was fifty years ago.
Okay, some of my skin is wrinkled like the hide on a Shar Pei, my pate is bald and my teeth are gone, but I can still outwork any twenty year old I know, and it looks like I’ll continue to be on top of my game for a good long while yet. At seventy years of age, with a sixty-two year old wife who’s extremely disabled on a number of fronts, that’s better than good news. It’s essential. My girl is never going to a nursing home; she will be able to live here at home with me for the rest of her days.
Could I stay in caretaking shape while using drugs?
That answer to that question is not only no, but Hell, no! Something would “get” me sooner or later. That’s unacceptable, and that’s why, of all ten reasons I avoid using drugs, the awareness factor is the most powerful reason of all.