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My Experience of Substance Abuse
Member Name: spacelamb
My Experience of Substance Abuse
Date: 02/06/01, updated on 02/06/01 (753 review reads)
First of all, as this category is quite specifically about my *experience* of substance abuse, I will tell you a couple of tales.
The most frightening experience of my life was looking after a friend who had taken too much speed – base in fact, which is a particularly strong form of the drug. We went out to a club on a Friday night and he ‘bombed’ some powder (ingested it, wrapped in a rizla) and about an hour later he couldn’t walk. We had to carry him back to another friend’s flat, and he spent the next 48 hours hallucinating, convulsing, screaming, spewing, crying, and generally acting like a madman. We fed him water (which he spat straight back at us, wide-eyed and angry), took him to the toilet, tried to stop him falling unconscious. Not a pretty thing to watch.
One of the best nights of my life was at this same guy’s stag night four years later (yeah I know, I’m a girl, but all my friends are blokes so I get to infiltrate these things). We all double-dropped some pills (Es) as we went into a club, and continued necking them on the hour until 6am. The music was fantastic and I was with all my favourite people. We came out of the club and had a spliff on the bank of the Thames, and I was at peace with the world. I am not for a second advocating this kind of thing – if I told you about the comedown the following day I think you would be thoroughly put off anyway – but there are two sides to every debate. For every yin there is a yang and all that.
I’ve chilled out a bit recently. After a while you get sick of people gurning at you, or acting like they’re your best mate when they’ve known you 30 seconds. You get sick of ruining your good shoes (clubs
will mysteriously do this). And you get sick of feeling like a pair of old pants on Monday mornings, which are harsh at the best of times. A glass of wine and joint will generally now satisfy my hedonistic cravings (rock ‘n’ roll or what?) – with the occasional burst of madness and ensuing regret.
Here comes the rant.
You cannot tar all substance abusers with the same brush. We are not all junkies (and there is a difference, I think, between drug ‘use’ and ‘abuse’ - apart from the ab- prefix). The term junk actually relates to heroin – and addicts, to my mind, are ill and should be treated as such. These people have a need for smack, not a desire. Have you ever heard of recreational heroin use? Nope, me neither. There is no such word as ‘drugs’ (although the OED may wish to enter into debate on the matter) because each is so vastly different. I think the Government would do well to note this, and get rid of that objectionable old spoon Keith Hellawell.
Obviously cannabis should be decriminalised right away; I have already written an op on this subject and don’t wish to repeat myself. All I will say is this: unlike alcohol, that lethal but socially acceptable intoxicant, it won’t turn you into an obnoxious fool (blokes) or weepy tart (girls). It will enhance your sensory experience of the things around you and make you think about things in a different way. We only use 1% of our brains in day-to-day life; personally I would like to know what I can do with the other 99%, and cannabis starts to tap at this. (Medically this might be an outright lie, but you know what I mean).
There are about eight ecstasy-related deaths each year in this country, although over a million people take Es every weekend. I think it’s also worth noting that there are several thousand alcohol-related deaths in the UK each year. The figures are not even comparable, but the media get
s hysterical over a fatality when it is related to an illegal drug. The reason for this is a lack of understanding. It’s very easy for those who have never experienced the drug first-hand to wax lyrical about its perils.
We are subjected to front-page pictures of young girls with bleeding noses and tubes in their mouths. Of course it is horrific, and tragic, but then so are a lot of accidental deaths. We are not made to look at images of people who have recently been run over. I think the public would have plenty to say if The Sun plastered a photograph of a hit-and-run victim on its cover with the message “tell your children never to cross the road” – which I genuinely believe is an equivalent statement. Ecstasy deaths are caused by the user, which sounds like a dreadful and harsh thing to say, but hear me out.
Ignorance killed Leah Betts, not ecstasy – she panicked when she became overwhelmed by the sensations of the drug, and had obviously read somewhere that it was advisable to drink water when you’re ‘pilling’. So she downed two pints of water, which flooded her brain, and she died. If only British schools would take a more rational approach to drugs education, this heartbreaking story need never have happened. Rather than hammering home the ‘just say no’ message, we need to accept that drugs are a massive part of youth culture today and give young people information instead of preaching.
The remaining deaths I think are caused by adverse reactions, in much the same way as people can react badly to prescribed medication. The risk with an illegal pill is far greater of course, because there is no way of knowing how much MDMA it actually contains (if any), and what it has been cut with. There is a machine that will test the purity of ecstasy tablets – these are installed in several nightclubs in the Netherlands – but unfortunately our Government thinks that to insta
ll them here would be to condone the use of the drug, which is just crazy.
Back to the point of adverse reactions: the recent lime-green death pills only killed one student. I doubt very much that they were the only two of that brand in circulation, and I’m sure the rest of the batch was equally as strong. In my yarn about the overdosing friend, three other people had necked the same amount as him and were kind of wired, but basically fine. There are very few genuinely ‘lethal’ Es out there – it is hardly in the manufacturers’ best interests. And it is not, as the tabloids would have us know, a ‘killer’ drug.
I think the point I am really trying to make, and I apologise if I have made it rather long-windedly, is that what we are lacking in Britain is knowledge. The middle classes like nothing better than to shout their mouths off about ‘druggies’ (I mean no disrespect, I would consider myself middle class), but often have no facts to back up their tirades. One man’s meat is another man’s poison – or, in a slightly less sinister turn of phrase – at least *try* to understand something before you write it off.
(I feel like I have missed out a lot of points I intended to make - feel free to put my op to rights in the commentary).