Drugs

Facts about drugs

There are different kinds of LSD that create different kinds of hallucinations. If you are drugged with the visual kind, the first signs you notice are “tracers”, like your hands leaving trails if you wave them in front of your face. There is a real danger in LSD and people have been altered by the drug and never came back, like schizophrenia. Sometimes however you make a leap to enlightenment and feel the benefit for a while, but when it wears off, you leave behind the feeling that you can’t take with you to the next day.

You are not guaranteed to replicate the same experience with LSD, unlike when you drink beer or whiskey. Instead, the experience can be very different from time to time with Pot or Gin (which was the original LSD).

Victims of LSD are for example Peter Green and Brian Willson, who have over many decades worked their way back to a stable albeit shattered self. There were times when John took LSD and felt the cold hand, because the trip he was on was taking a left turn. LSD is not like Ecstacy. It doesn’t make you want to be sexual, but it makes you tactile and you enjoy touching each other. When a trip starts to take a turn, your friends can not do anything, because your mind goes where it wants to go, no matter what! (RW60)

Alcohol

In 1994, John quit drinking at the age of 26, at the same time when he stopped taking drugs (RL182).

Doing drugs

John was doing a lot of drugs until the age of 26, when he quit drugs and drinking. (OJR) Brett interjects that as an introvert musician, drugs and alcohol are the only way to survive being close to other people in a van for weeks at a time. Brett's musical career ended when he became clean. John pretends to be drunk all the time, because he is dis-inhibited. He lacks the filter that allows others to numb out their ability to go deep and get intense, meaning John is in a constant state of dis-inhibitedness which is equal to having 3-5 drinks and that gets him in trouble a lot. Everybody can pretend to be drunk and get up on stage, which is much better than having to be drunk in order to get up on stage. (OJR)

Dosing people (RW60)

Dan asks if it was a real thing that people put acid in others food or drink (“dosing” them) and the unknowing victims then get tested for drugs in school and were expelled. John explains that there is no way to test for LSD in the principals office, but you have to be in a hospital and test the blood.

Besides LSD-dosed acid, there is PCP-laced Pod, but people would not do that to other people, because PCP was expensive and you wouldn’t even be around for the hilarity when it kicks in. LSD however got very cheap in recent years, maybe $2-3 a hit, much cheaper than cocaine, and it can be easily manufactured by somebody who knows their chemistry, therefore being dosed with LSD was much more common.

You could buy acid in liquid form in a dropper, like a medical dropper. Acid is made in liquid form, but then you soak it into a piece of paper, the so called plotter paper. You could drop a little LSD on the paper and dose somebody for cheap. It was much more a thing at the time when people were doing drugs regularly. Nowadays if you would dose somebody who had never done drugs, that would be a very strange or even religious experience and wouldn't have the hilarious effect you were hoping for.

John being dosed (RW60)

At the time when John didn't have his own address, he would go into his friends’ houses and sleep when they were at work. It was in the 80:s during college time and not everybody locked their door. John was sleeping in somebody’s bed and his friends came home after they had scored a bunch of acid on a casual Friday afternoon. They dropped the LSD into John’s open snoring mouth. When John finally woke up, in addition to the ordinary disorientation after waking up, he felt really “wow”, but he knew immediately that he got dosed. When John finally sat up in bed, he could see them giggling outside the window and it was hilarious. They went out and walked along the railroad tracks, which was a thing back then. It was just a weird and fun day.

Another time John was in Durango, Colorado, an unfamiliar town with unfamiliar people. He didn’t like the dark vibe and he had taken somebody else's LSD. There was no safe harbor to fall back into and after feeling the effects of the drug, John got this feeling of “oh no” and went into self-protective mode, got away from these people, walked through the forest and was consoling himself (“it’s cool man”). While he was sitting in the forest, there came a dog, a medium sized Husky and when John had greeted the dog, the dog stayed with him for the next 6-8 hours. They went back to town, knocked on someones door and there was a party going on. They were able to join, hung out and talked to the people. John kept his cool until he "came out on the other side". Despite sounding like a dumb Hippie story (“got high and found a dog”), when the fear is on you, you are not afraid of anything except what is in your head and experiences like that are not to be underestimated. As soon as John was fine however, the dog went away again. John is certain that it was a real dog and not a hallucination. Even back in Alaska, Huskies used to come, stick around for an hour or two and form a quick bond. But when you take the dog somewhere to a third location, the dog just goes and you won’t see it again. Huskies always have a loyalty in the distance, they have their senses on the horizon. When they hear a call, they want to go.

Leglization of marijuana (RW72)

People claim that marijuana will lead you down the path to other drugs. The same people do not acknowledge that being overprescribed on some painkillers because of a minor injury once sustained and then continuing to take those painkillers long past the point where they had any medical justification is the primrose path that leads you into drug addiction. No, it is marijuana, the killer weed! Because of Texas belonging to the Southwest, the Colorado wave will infiltrate Texas and marijuana will be legalized sooner than one might think.

Already in 1980 when John was reading the editorial pages of High Times magazine, he wondered why we were and still are punishing marijuana infractions. During the years of the three-strikes laws, people have been sentenced for life! The fact that marijuana has been illegal for many decades has destroyed so much! We have spent billions on the interdictions of marijuana smuggling and the hypermilitarization of the cops. It started to be about pot, but became about cocaine, which was the justifications for the cops to become a military force and the war against pot had become a criminal enterprise by the government. John hasn't done drugs in a long time and doesn't smoke pot anymore. Legalizing it in Seattle has had absolutely zero negative effects except that people now think they can vape in parks with impunity because it is legal, but there are kids around here and you are a fucking stoner, so fuck off! This is only a minor social infraction being committed by young people who have not learned to have empathy for others. It is however flooding money into the tax base to allow for putting books into schools. The people who smoke pot would have done it anyway. It is no problem and we don't have to think about it anymore, because that is how it should have been all along and how it should be everywhere.

Texas is going to look at Washington and Colorado (who are still a bit embarrassed about it), while their own sheriffs continue to stand at crossroads with their arms crossed busting some teenagers. Marijuana is still considered a drug, but as soon as Washington will start to report on 20 billion in tax revenue from it, all those other states are going to go "What???". All Washington had to do in order to get this money is write some stupid law forbidding pot stores in a circle around schools and churches, which left only 4 spots in downtown Seattle where you even could put a pot store. There is a fear that there would still be dealers with trench coats standing across the street from schools, handing out joints. The first pot store they built on Capitol Hill was right next door to a traditional African American church and somehow the city got away with it. The deacon and the congregation are furious and totally offended, but it is just one more example of a double standard. When Dan was in San Francisco around 2012, he saw someone in the park area clearly and openly smoking weed. While the buying and selling of pot might have been illegal, having it and smoking it was apparently not a problem, which surprised him. Since then, many states have legalized it for different reasons, even Florida has legalized it for medicinal uses now, which is always the testing ground.

Marijuana vs alcohol (RW72)

Fighting against the legalization of marijuana is silly. The lives of so many people have been disastrously affected by alcohol and alcohol is much worse than marijuana. You cannot really smoke yourself to death like you can drink yourself to death and no one beats their kids because they have smoked marijuana. There are a lot of marijuana apologists that will bore you to tears arguing that it is not addictive, while they in reality try to convince themselves that it is effectively harmless. They want to believe that you smoke it and it just enlightens and relaxes you, it is supposed to be a mild medicament on the level of having an after-work cocktail. And it is not! Marijuana is powerful stuff, not in a single dose, but it is a habitual drug and habitual users do suffer for their dependence tremendously over time, if not physically then at least emotionally. Still, alcohol is 1000 times worse! It is a poison! Of course, 99% of the people use it in moderation and just poison themselves a little bit every day and that is fine. There have been tons of studies showing that there are tremendous medicinal benefits for cannabis, CBD and THC. Alcohol on the other hand has no medicinal benefits! Red wine might help your heart, but we are still in the stone age when it comes to things like this. John adds that alcohol is an emotional medicine. Your whole relationship to intoxicants is being transacted in an emotional language. We use them in the form of Anxiety medications, relaxants and disinhibitors.

The detrimental effects of marijuana (RW72)

A lot of the time, a drug actually has a physical effect on you that is the opposite of what you think. We think of cigarettes as being relaxing, but when you measure your body you will see that tobacco actually increases your heart rate and is not relaxing you physically, but only emotionally. Alcohol and pot are the same. Being stoned is a much more anxious state than being not stoned. The experience of being high is coming along with a heightened awareness of different things. The number one contraindication of pot is paranoia, in some cases very strong! It also interrupts your linear process of thinking and turns it into a more fractal process. John could for example not smoke pot while he worked as a short-order cook, because that job is like spinning plates on poles: You have to walk around and keep them all going. Pot was absolutely not a friend of this job! When he smoked pot, he was much more ready to get creative about something than performing intricate tasks. He could have been sorting BBs into little boxes. But even when you are just working on something creative, it is interfering with the higher level listmaking that your brain is trying to do and that is why stoners forget their wallet all the time and it is why there is the cliché of a stoner, like "Wow, the carpet really ties the room together!"

Being high is a wonderful state to be in, but it is a mistake to describe it as a state of relaxation. People come home and want to get high to relax and listen to good music or watch a good movie, but then it feels like its effect is a impediment to relaxing. Drugs have more effects on you than just washing your cares away, they will take authority over your emotions! When you had a terrible day at work, you could process your day or you could get high. Taking drugs means you are not processing what happened, but you are putting that processing through a pretty dramatic filter set that chemically alters your emotions. If you see habitual use of drugs or alcohol as escapist, then you are not doing the processing you need to be doing on your own life in the long term. More shit will happen the next day and it sets you up over time. We end up with alcoholic or pot addicted people who don't develop emotional maturity, become less and less dependable, and become more fragile and brittle. As it goes, they are also confused, like "Why is this happening to me? Why is everybody against me?", but they are not conscious about why it is happening. Those drugs are amazing medicines for the same reasons, as they do allow you to sidestep or take another take on what's happening above the red line in the actual life.

John's own history with marijuana and becoming an alcoholic (RW72)

John would never take back the drugs he has done. In all the things he looks back on and regrets, he does not regret one drug he did. The experience of living with them, of listening to Prozac, Mescaline and all the other stuff provided him with a lot of insight. Nobody, not even a crackhead ever tells you to listen to crack, because it is only giving you bad advice. With the distance of time, John is glad it happened and he is grateful for the exposure to it, because it made him understand the results. It is in the habitual use that all the cascading waves of shit start happening. It is perfectly possible to only occasionally smoke pot without it becoming habitual. We put a lot of stock in the difference between physical and whatever-else addiction, but all drug-addiction is primarily emotional, including crack. There is a physical addiction in the sense that you have real physical consequences and powerful cravings as soon as you stop using it. Even John and a lot people he knew had very powerful physical cravings for pot. He would go out on missions and scavenge the town, ringing doorbells trying to find somebody with some fucking pot today. There were dry spells where nobody had got any pot and he would burn a whole day in tremendous agitation, trying to find some freaking pot. Whether or not that is being driven by a physical or emotional need is unimportant because those distinctions are only useful in a lab context.

People become habitual users because it is a good feeling and you do start making room for it. You will do it again with the same friends and little by little those friends become the people that you do that stuff with and pretty soon every time you are with those friends you do that stuff, because those friends are no longer just the friends you do that stuff with, but they are the do-that-stuff-with-friends. Then you get another group of pot-smoking friends and it starts to get normalized because it feels like everybody is doing it. You carve out space for it little by little until it becomes the little fort you are building. Nobody gets addicted to something the first time they try it. John had a predisposition to this stuff because it runs in his family and by the first time he got drunk on alcohol it was very clear that this would not be the last time. Honestly, he never doubted for a single moment that he would be an alcoholic, even before he had his first drink, because it was talked about in his family very frankly (his father had it, his brother had it, his grandfather had it) and everyone was looking at him at 14 years old, wondering if he was going to have it. John wasn't aware of it, but subconsciously he knew he had it, because that was where his interest was.

Over time, John was watching how alcohol created a tremendous amount of drama. But his dad quit drinking a long time before John was born, so he never saw him drunk. Alcohol played a huge role in John's dad's life and in his relationship with his oldest son, John's brother. There was something about the drama it created and the way that it was able to come into a room and wreck everything without even being present. How do you tangle with this ghost? Somebody asked John in his early drinking years during his mid-teens if he had tried having only a few drinks socially instead of getting drunk. It had never even occurred to him that you could have only a couple of drinks, in contrast to "as many as you can". Dan still knows people like that, having two sixpacks a night. Why would you have one beer or one glass of wine? That is why John is not drinking now because he still can't get how you can only have a few drinks! If you start to get that buzz, why would you stop it? Go where the action is!

Dan's view on alcohol (RW72)

Dan has never been someone who does things to excess, whether it has been drinking or really anything (John interjects that Dan is going to the doctors in excess). Dan had been drunk, been sick, thrown up, all that stupid stuff you do in college, but as an adult he never really got into that. He enjoyed getting home from a long day at work, mixing a Martini for him and his wife, having a beer or a Scotch, but it was more about the enjoyment of the beverage and the perceived relaxation. The idea of having a third drink was absurd. That would be the point where he would start to feel sick and really tired, which might have kept him from it.

John finds this an extremely lucky situation, but Dan didn't feel lucky in college when all his friends encouraged him to continue drinking but he just couldn't do it. For them, five drinks was the sound of a good evening. For John, if you can have a social drink or two and never chase the dragon, you are the luckiest of all because social drinking is a key thing around the world. It is a major part of knowing people and being social with people. If you are able to have a drink but not needing a fourth drink, you are in the sweet spot of life. A lot of people are like that and John evies them. He does not envy those who can drink all night. The question is what the goal is: Is it liking the feeling after a drink or two, but not the feeling after four or five drinks? If the goal is to get drunk because you like feeling drunk, then why would you stop? It would just be endless foreplay!

At Dan's house, a bottle of wine is going to last two or three nights. One of Dan's friends in college tried to get into a fraternity. He didn't really drink and none of the frats wanted him because of that, which hurt him quite a lot because he was not used to getting rejected for things he wanted to do. At one time, Dan successfully built up his tolerance, calling it his Rasputin time period. He was working in sales and they were often drinking, so in the end he could maybe take 4 or 5 drinks. Dan is not a large person. He and John have different heights and you could put one Dan Benjamin inside of one John Roderick and it wouldn't really displace that much. Dan could sit in a little basket weave chair with a leather helmet and goggles on and he could drive John from inside if there was a control panel, like a Master Blaster Thunderdome kind of thing. Dan could just putter around and see what it is like to be John for a while. Thump, thump, thump.

2017-August: Support for an organization opening a drug clinic (RW79)

A team of people contacted John recently and invited him to a meeting at the Seattle Center. They are trying to open a clinic where intravenous drug users can get needle exchange and a place to safely shoot up. It will be a clean, well-lit, safe place with drinking water and a medic. The drug addicts will not be under a bridge and nobody is going to stab them. The clinic does not provide the drugs (although John thinks they probably should), so the addicts still have to go out and cop something, but then they can come back to this place that has clean needles and resources for them. The group has already opened one of those clinics in Vancouver and it has reduced overdose deaths by some astronomical percentage, like 80% or more. If somebody takes an overdose in this space, all the equipment and the people are there to save them. The project wants John to be part of their campaign.

This whole project seems counterintuitive to a lot of people because it goes against their Calvinism: ”They are enabling drug abuse!” or ”Why should public funds be directed at these low-lives shooting up?” or ”You shouldn't provide this service to people unless they are seeking treatment or unless they are seeking Jesus or unless they are meeting the following 25 requirements!” It is incredible how difficult it is to convince a large number of the people in America that this project is a clear benefit to everybody. It isn't perfect, but it doesn't punish people unnecessarily and just from a cost-benefit analysis it is cheaper for the city than it is to send ambulances around and pull overdosing people from under culverts and take them to the emergency room over and over until they finally die.

It relies on convincing the majority of the people that you shouldn't punish junkies for getting high and that the solution is not to make life really hard on them. There is a clear dividing line between people of one stripe and people of another. It is a tough pill to swallow for a lot of people, even for wellmeaning intellectuals. Hypereducated people still believe that there should be some contingency or some requirement for those junkies to be treated. Maybe there should be somebody there lecturing them or they have to go to an AA-meeting or something other than giving them a clean well-lighted space where they can sit down, shoot up and get a cup of water while people have their eyes on them in case they take an overdose. It is really hard to convince people that this is an overall positive step for everybody involved: For the city, the junkies themselves and for the whole community. Whatever the visible benefit is, it doesn't immediately outweigh what incites this indignation on the part of people. "Why does he just get to sit around drinking beer while I have to work?" And especially when you extend this to intravenous drugs: "Why does that person get to sit around addicted to Heroin, copping out on the street, while I have to work?" Really? John doesn't think you would trade!

Alcoholics Anonymous (RW82)

There was an article in The Atlantic about Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). They called the organization some kind of cult and claimed that we need to use science in order to solve the drug- and alcoholproblem. They questioned why AA has an abstinence-based program while there is evidence that counseling and new medication has a statistically better result in keeping someone from drinking. You hear this kind of thing all the time! Penn & Teller both did Internet screed against AA. It is all based on the same misunderstanding and all the criticism is misapplied: AA is not a proselytizing group and it has never once said that it is the only cure for alcoholism. AA isn’t responsible for the recovery movement. It didn’t ask to be the system that judges and social workers use. All it is is a group of people who are trying not to drink.

There are lots of different ways to be a heavy drinker and many people are heavy drinkers their whole lives without ever having a problem with it. They love their kids and get their job done. Other people are heavy drinkers when they are young and they just naturally mature out of it. A lot of people only drink on New Year's Eve and each time they black out and wake up in Las Vegas three days later. The point is that there is no scientific cure for alcoholism. If all it took was to take a pill and go to two counseling sessions, John and everyone in AA would rejoice, but it isn’t that! In this article the young writer took the same exact tone as everyone else and asked why we believe in this cult. You are not a chronic alcoholic who has tried everything! That is all AA is for! If you desperately want to stop but can’t, you have tried every pill and every counseling and you have lost your friends and family, there is this thing to try that’s called AA.

Nobody wants to be there, nobody likes it, you don’t join it for the friendship or because you lack ritual in your life, but you join it because it is your last resort! John wrote two very long replies to the listener who sent him this article. He even cleaned up one of those replies and sent it to The Atlantic. They will surely not publish it, because it was 11 paragraphs about purple dinosaurs and not very concise.

Excuses for drinking alcohol (RW85)

Not drinking alcohol makes the experience of John's life different from most of his fellows. He doesn’t get to unwind with a drink, he doesn’t get to go out sometimes with his other middle-aged friends and tie one on, he doesn’t get that experience of bonding with strangers over the common experience of getting shitfaced together, but he also doesn’t spend an untraceable amount of money on getting drunk. The money people spend on booze never seems to make it into their accounting. When they are drawing up a budget, alcohol is never a category in their pie chart, but it goes into entertainment or something. John also doesn’t spend cigarette money anymore.

John does not have any commonality with many of the things people do in order to be able to drink. They go out to the cabin, but not to fish, hunt, boat, read, or write, but because they are on vacation and that gives them the right to drink at noon. So many things that we think of as human culture are just an excuse to drink alcohol, like a baked potato is an excuse to eat sour-cream, butter and bacon-bits. Vacation, leisure and sports are masks for getting to drink at noon.

When John was a heavy drinker, any excuse to drink at noon was welcome, but eventually his excuses got smaller and smaller. Without that being part of his life anymore, a lot of vacation- and leisure culture makes no sense to him until he contextualizes it. As soon as he recognizes it as just another drinking excuse, he is liberated from having to pretend to having any interest in it. Sitting at the pool makes sense if it makes it acceptable to drink. John is often on flights that leave at 9am and you can see the crowd up in the section where they get free drinks making different decisions. Some of them set their watch forward to the destination where it is already 2pm. You can see them each making their decision at what point it is okay for them to get drinks on the airplane, because being on an airplane is an excuse for free drinks and the people flying in the front are oftentimes people looking for a reason to drink, which is a big part of being rich.

Dan does enjoy sports, especially baseball and football. As he was living in Colonialtown in Orlando by the lake, his friends would invite him over to watch the games, but there was no talking and nothing fun happening. They would not cheer for a team, but just silently flip between the two or three channels that showed the games while drinking beer. Having a drink is a universal way of expressing both celebration and mournfulness. You get a drink both when you got a promotion and when you got fired.

There is a lot of social consternation around people who don’t follow the rules surrounding drinking culture, like having a drink at 9am. At age 25, John once bought a 40oz (1.2 liters) of Old English at a convenience store at 8am because he was up all night and felt that he still wasn’t done. The guy behind the cash register asked him if he was serious because nobody drinks at 8am, not even if they have been at work all night. There is this threshold you have to meet in order to be allowed to have a drink and nobody in the world would say that losing your job or getting a promotion would not be enough.

Whenever Dan was at a family dinner as a little kid growing up, they would always pour out a little Manischewitz, or later whatever wine the adults were drinking, into a port- or sherryglas (John thought Dan would be saying they were pouring one out for their dead homies or for Elijah. They always had a chair and a cup for Elijah!). Dan’s association with alcohol was not some kind of forbidden thing or something you have to do to extreme, but it was part of a good meal and a different wine would go better with a different kind of meal, but that wasn’t a major topic of conversation. Dan did not connect alcohol with rebellion in any way. In fact, when Dan wanted to try some beer, they would get one for him at the grocery store, he tried it and it was fine. Dan never connected the ”having fun part” with the rebellious part of drinking to excess.

Of course Dan has been drunk and sick multiple times, but he would then not say that he would never drink again and then fall back like other people do, but he would then really not drink as much ever again, because getting really drunk is not a pleasant experience. Dan is not a person who needs his inhibitions lowered. He probably already spoke his mind too much and too openly and he overshared his opinions already. For a lot of people, alcohol is a way to feel more relaxed and feel more comfortable in social situations, not so much in the sense of streaking and jumping in the pool, but alcohol loosens them up and in a social environment or enables them to ask a girl out on a date. Dan always thrived in those situations without alcohol on top of it. He doesn’t feel awkward and is not concerned what other people think. If anything, the alcohol inhibited his ability to enjoy this kind of situations.

John is just as nervous when he has to perform for 4 people or for 15.000 people. It is much easier to play for 5000 people than it is for 5 people. John doesn’t stand next to the stage and says ”Oh no”, but he dreads going out there because he wants to do good and he is never 100% sure if he is going to live up to what he is aspiring to bring. That feeling gets worse and worse the closer he is to walking out on stage. When he gets back from his performance afterwards, he always feels good about it, but then on the next day there is new dread for the new show he has to play the next day, until he really gets into the tour mode where he knows the level on which he is delivering. That is usually the time when he starts smoking again, partly just to cope with the day in and day out of traveling, but also to cope with those feelings. It is why so many musicians end up resorting to drugs, because the daily up and down ends up something you have to try to smooth out. Drugs are one of the way to make it seem more even. It puts a compressor on life and puts the lows up a little and the highs down a little. There are rare times when John comes off stage and says that it sucked.

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