Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Happydale travelogues: Drug stories produce a fake contact high

This is the sixth part of a series in which I had been on a road trip and decided to put some fictional stories together based on persons and adventures I had on my voyage. Naturally I used no one’s real name and changed the names of places I went. We continue with The Happydale Travelogues;

One day at Happydale, I sat on the porch of an old druggy friend. We all got to telling “war stories” about our past drug use.  Just as with me, Alice, a young thin-red-head in her late 30s.
While Alice had the same taste as I, some of her friends did not. Melody, a close friend of Alice, was sitting in a chair. She was on a lot of painkillers for some leg injuries. Yet she told us she got no high from them at all and never did. She wanted some tranquilizers that neither Alice nor I were too fond of.
Suddenly some guys Melody knew came over and we were all trading our favorite drug stories. For narcotic users there are the usual prescription pills that come under fire today, such as Lortab, Percodan, Percocet and the big one, OxyContin. There are always the big name ones such as Dilaudid. The other day at the hospital, I heard some old man tell his 20s something kid that he doesn’t need powerful painkillers such as Dilaudid.
“Motrin or Tylenol can work just as good,” he said. “You don’t need those narcotics.”
If he were my dad or what-ever, I would have told him to mind his own business. I would have told him it is stupid to linger in pain over some protestant-ethic that opposes anything that might make a person feel good. But I’m older and that is just me.
Back on the porch with my friends we began exchanging recopies. We talked of ways to make the best of street opium, as well as ways to improve on pills.
After a while it seemed as if I was on a contact high, just from listening to the stories. None of us actually had any drugs on us. Yet I could almost feel a drug induced stupor.
After a while I got to thinking. Why do some people get pleasure from certain drugs that seem to have almost no affect on others?  Melody got no euphoria at all from any narcotic or pain killer. I’ve met other people like that. Some people can try heroin and get nothing out of it. They have no desire to ever use it again. Others find themselves addicted the first time they try it. They’re not physically addicted, but their brain wants the stuff and many of these people know they won’t stop the first time they tried it.
Why do drugs affect people so much differently? Is it something to do with our own brain chemistry?
Our society treats alcoholics as people with a disease. Most AA member will openly admit that they can’t handle drinking alcohol. But alcohol is legal and there is no law, other than drunk driving, to stop an alcoholic from drinking.
There are those people who say they have stopped drinking and have had no problem stopping. Alcoholics are quick to point out that such people are not alcoholics. They point out that such people can’t understand the drive to drink no matter what the consequences are to the drinker.
“You’re not an alcoholic.” This woman told such a man, at a forum on alcoholism. “If you were, you would have had a lot of trouble stopping your drinking. You would need help.”
Yet there have been an average of 100,000 heroin addicts or more, in New York City, since the year 1900. There are no doubt similar numbers of addicts in other large cities and there have been some in Wichita, Kansas. Clearly a small percentage (probably no more than 1%) of people are attracted to euphoria oriented drugs, and we could include cocaine and some types of amphetamines in that category.
Despite the history of these people and their drug problems, we don’t treat them as alcoholics in this society. We treat them as felony criminals. In treatment centers, such as NA, they can get treated as having a disease, the same as alcoholics. But if caught by police, they get felony convictions and if they do go through a court ordered treatment program, the conditions are so strict that many just end up either in prison, or they spend years in a system that keeps extending their time if they make any mistakes.
The use of addictive drugs did not start out in the 1960s as some folks would like to believe. William S. Burroughs wrote two books, Junkie (1953), and Naked Lunch (1959), about using heroin in the 1950s.
And such drug use was written about earlier in the century, as in this article, taken from Can You Pass The Acid Test? By Steve Otto;

“The Dope Menace,” in Good Housekeeping (Feb. 1935), was a good
example of the type of yellow journalism that helped create the failed
policies of drug prohibition. In an example in the article:
“Only a few states are making the slightest effort to run down the dope
peddlers and lock them up. In most of our states the local illicit narcotics
peddler is permitted to carry on his hideous trade openly. Indeed, the
statute books of most states provide no punishment whatever for the crime
of dope peddling.”
Statistics were given that seem remarkably similar to those in the
1960s through the 1980s.
“Hon. Harry J. Anslinger, United States Commissioner of Narcotics,
warned us that there were more than 100,000 confirmed addicts in this
country, each a potential creator of other addicts.”
The emphasis on youth was also present. According to Dr. Walter L.
Treadway, the article quoted:
“Youth is especially susceptible. Addiction is usually found between
the ages of twenty and thirty-five. Fifty percent of all our drug addicts
were established in their vice before the age of twenty-five; and three fourths
of them before the age of thirty.”

One thing seems very clear to me. Drug addiction is not well understood by this society. It has been in the US almost as long as alcoholism and yet no scientist or doctor can really say why some people are drawn to these chemicals while others aren’t. Those who are drawn to them seem to be willing to risk anything, including their own lives to get and use such chemicals. So far all this society really wants to do is shoot the problem down as we would a bad-guy in an old John Wayne movie. -សតិវ អតុ

Needle And Spoon - Savoy Brown

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