• Wallows
    6.2k
    I was wondering about thoughts about mind altering drugs. Cannabis is now legal in my state, and there hasn't been a rise in crime or drug addiction. Actually, in most cases drug addiction among opiod users has reduced. Suicide rates have dropped as well, which is a curious phenomenon associated with marijuana.

    Apart from that, what's the lure of mind altering drugs to a person? Is the prejudiced belief that people are hedonists or want to 'escape' from reality for a brief while, actually the case?

    There seems to have or is occurring a pragmatic shift not as viewing non-addictive drugs as an issue anymore, and instead trying to find their utility, which I welcome.

    It's quite amazing that you can get prescribed methamphetamine in the US, under the brand name 'Desoxyn'; but, marijuana is still a Schedule I drug.

    Anyway, apart from the feel good message, I am interested in knowing what others think about psychotropic drugs. Is there some benefit or utility to be derived from them, and if so, what are they? I've seen and heard amazing stories about Ayahuasca and San Pedro. Psilocybin is quite an interesting drug too due to its potential utility for treating depression, OCD, and phobias. I have no idea what use LSD has, other than micro-dosing, which purportedly increases creativity and stamina, along with energy levels. MDMA is being investigated as a tool to help treat PTSD. And so on.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    I have far too little experience with marijuana, and none with the other popular mind-altering drugs to say anything about it. I can say this, however: people have used psychotropic drugs for a very long time. Much of that was use was in ritual settings, meaning people used the drugs as part of a search for meaning. (Granted, they might have enjoyed the drugs as well). The Eleusinian Mystery cult, which held its rituals at Eleusis. was connected with Demeter and Persephone, used hallucinogens as part of the effort to achieve visions of an afterlife.

    The principle risks these days are connected with a) impure drugs, b) reckless mixing of drugs and alcohol, and c) over use. If a little LSD is enlightening, acid trips every weekend are not necessarily going to be a good thing.

    I take Rx mind altering drugs -- have for years. My chief complaint about them is that even when they are highly effective, they tend not to be enlightening or amusing. I also drink caffeine, have inhaled nicotine, and drink alcohol -- all of which have mind altering properties. Life without coffee would not be worth living. Ditto for alcohol, and maybe ditto for cigarettes, even though I haven't smoked for 20+ years.
  • gurugeorge
    517
    Generally speaking, I think all the (relatively safe) psychoactive drugs can be valuable in giving insight and getting the ol' noggin' joggin', but they all have considerable downsides too - some have high tolerance, some have other adverse side-effects, etc. And often, at some point you notice that the insights get a bit samey after a while (at a meta level, the different drugs have their own "groove," induce particular types of thoughts).

    On the whole, I think it would be better if they were folded into society in a more ritualized context (as with ayahuasca, etc.), rather than "wild" usage, but I'm not sure that's feasible in the current social context.
  • Pattern-chaser
    655
    We use drugs for all kinds of reasons, some therapeutic, some merely for the pleasure of the experience. The main problem I see with drugs (albeit not the only problem) is the laws we have against them, and the enforcement of those laws. They seem to me to cause so much more harm than the drugs do, to the individual or to society.

    I have MS, and use cannabis to moderate the rather unpleasant experiences that MS can deliver. No other substance that I know of can offer the benefit I get from cannabis. And I like the feeling of being stoned; I find it enjoyable. And it helps with the pain. Win-win. :up:
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    Much of that was use was in ritual settings, meaning people used the drugs as part of a search for meaning.Bitter Crank

    It's interesting that one thinks that drugs will give them more meaning in life. It depends on the drug obviously, but I don't think this is a safe idea to profess or be lured into.
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    We use drugs for all kinds of reasons, some therapeutic, some merely for the pleasure of the experience. The main problem I see with drugs (albeit not the only problem) is the laws we have against them, and the enforcement of those laws. They seem to me to cause so much more harm than the drugs do, to the individual or to society.Pattern-chaser

    Yeah, I guess then we ought to be more pragmatic about the issue then? Why haven't we already adopted this attitude?

    I have MS, and use cannabis to moderate the rather unpleasant experiences that MS can deliver. No other substance that I know of can offer the benefit I get from cannabis. And I like the feeling of being stoned; I find it enjoyable. And it helps with the pain. Win-win.Pattern-chaser

    Yeah, I used to use cannabis for treating my ADD. I can't really utilize it though due to its psychoactive effects. If you could remove the psycho-activity, then it would be the most promising ADD drug possible, due to not being able to develop tolerance to the positive effects. Other drugs like stimulants develop tolerance to some degree, or their effects are too rewarding in general.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    Where I mentioned drugs and meaning, I was speaking of drug use in a ritual context where there was more than mere drug-taking going on. The drugs were intended to enhance the ritual at a particular moment.

    Otherwise, I totally agree that drugs, alone, do not give meaning any more than Coca Cola gives meaning.
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    Where I mentioned drugs and meaning, I was speaking of drug use in a ritual context where there was more than mere drug-taking going on. The drugs were intended to enhance the ritual at a particular moment.Bitter Crank

    So, the process of taking drugs themselves has a attained or undergone ritualization, which is a sort of unrealistic idealization of their use? Hence, the false lure that they have attained?

    Not, the same kind of morning ritual of making coffee, taking a shower, and pumping yourself up with positive feedback or thoughts?
  • Ying
    213
    So, the process of taking drugs themselves has a attained or undergone ritualization, which is a sort of unrealistic idealization of their use? Hence, the false lure that they have attained?Posty McPostface

    He's talking about the entheogenic use of mind altering substances.

    Not, the same kind of morning ritual of making coffee, taking a shower, and pumping yourself up with positive feedback or thoughts?

    Not unless you take a near lethal dose of coffee every morning. Most of those entheogenic uses come down to ordeal rituals (like sweat huts, dancing until exhaustion, fasting for extended periods etc).
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    He's talking about the entheogenic use of mind altering substances.Ying

    What's that, enlighten me(?)
  • Arne
    295
    I do not believe in drugs for non-recreational purposes.
  • Wallows
    6.2k


    What do you mean by that?
  • Wallows
    6.2k

    Ah, a smiley face. Here's one too: =]
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    When I came of age in the sixties, cannabis was hugely fashionable, so too LSD. But my perspective on them was, it wasn’t simply about cheap thrills and the desire for a rush, but about heightened awareness. Listening to music became a much more intense experience because you would notice details that you otherwise had never heard and it would spark amazing internal vistas. Ideas, humour, and many other things, took on an intense kind of reality that you felt you had never noticed before. [Of course, wisdom says that much of this is imaginary. There’s the legendary story told by Betrand Russell about the man who managed to write down something whilst high from nitrous oxide, and when he looked at it later, it said ‘the smell of petrolieum prevails throughout’.]

    Of course there is also a hedonistic side to cannabis along with the fact that it’s too easy to become dependent on it; it’s true that cannabis dependency interferes with your ability to mature and get on with life. I’ve seen it happen to friends. But it’’s not only that. Recently, after many decades of abstinence, I encountered some ‘edibles’ - cookies. Again, there was a sense of a heightened appreciation of reality. It’s totally different from the effects of liquor.

    Cannabis use is being legalised in many countries now, and I can’t see too much wrong with that, with the caveat that it really ought not to become highly commercialised and certainly not advertised. But it’s a very benign drug compared to crystal meth or cocaine and even alcohol. I can’t imagine a group of twenty-somethings brawling in the streets after smoking pot. They’re more likely to be giggling.
  • Wallows
    6.2k


    So, I'm going to point out the elephant in the room and ask to you or anyone else, why has these ethnogenic rituals been outlawed by so many governments and societies instead of others given how profound and important they are to some?
  • Ying
    213
    So, I'm going to point out the elephant in the room and ask to you or anyone else, why has these ethnogenic rituals been outlawed by so many governments and societies instead of others given how profound and important they are to some?Posty McPostface

    Wat.

    https://thethirdwave.co/legality-ayahuasca/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_status_of_psilocybin_mushrooms
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_status_of_Salvia_divinorum
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    Wat.Ying

    Yeah, why is cannabis illegal or other Schedule I drugs in that category or status, at least here in the US?
  • Ying
    213
    Even better, you can get some entheogenic substances straight from your local garden center. The number of those go up if you're in for particularly harrowing experiences too, since they sell the really hard shit; deliriants mostly. Why? Because they look nice (sold as ornamentals). Not particularly nice highs though, from what info I've gathered. Not something I would like to try anyway.
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    I mean, highly addictive drugs like amphetamine, methylphenidate, and methamphetamine are available through prescription in the US; but, it's punishable by law to posses non-addictive (comparatively) Cannabis or MDMA or LSD. Why?
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.2k
    Humans have been self-medicating since time immemorial... Incorporating some sort of psycho-active substance or inebriant into diet or rituals is absolutely ubiquitous among traditional contemporary and ancient cultures.

    Though I'm not convinced by it, stoned ape theory deserves a mention. It's entirely possible that psychoactive substances did play a direct role in the evolution of intelligence, but there's no proof for this.

    I do however see plenty of evidence showing the general fragility of human minds, and everywhere I look I see humans consciously and unconsciously doping their brains on semi-regular and regular baseis. Nicotine, caffine, and THC (three of my favorites) don't even need to be mentioned to demonstrate the truth of this: sugar alone is psychoactive and we consume it not just because it tastes good, but because we like the short term effect it has on our minds (energizes).

    Alcohol is almost never consumed for the taste alone, it is consumed only for the effect it has on our minds (some exceptions exist), many of us compulsively consume it on a regular basis, and almost every culture and people known to man consume some form of alcohol. Of the aboriginal groups who aren't a fan of fermentation, instead they have other substances: ayahuasca, poisonous frogs, peyote, tobacco, mushrooms, etc...

    Since we're all so dependent on regulating our minds by constantly self-administering substances which affect how and what we think and do, I can only imagine that it is of net benefit rather than a net detriment. I'm forced to imagine that regular inebriation can somehow bring stability or fortitude to an individual mind: perhaps inebriation helps to destroy malformed or weak or detrimental beliefs and models/understandings which then makes minds subsequently more robust; perhaps it simply endows us the ability to manage arbitrarily large amounts of stress, allowing us to achieve more. By all accounts Winston Churchill (and all of our great grandparents) drank and smoked constantly, and by his own account they were of religious importance to him.

    And maybe this touches on one of the proper functions of religion as a whole in addition to drugs: the emotions we feel near the sacred altar are absolutely psychoactive experiences, and something about this mental shakeup is probably a good thing given the hard hardships of life (toil, tragedy, rejection, failure, death). There's too much stress and confusion in the universe to endure and reconcile it all, which is why the euphoria of inebriation seems to be requisite.

    Until now I think I've failed to realize just how similar the effects of drugs and religion actually are. They both seem to have come from the same place: arguably schizophrenic/schizotypal shamans with neat ideas about nature prepare the inebirant for the rest of their tribes, and transport us on guided trips through the ineffable self and the imagined worlds.

    Religion isn't the opiate of the masses, it IS an opiate, and it makes sense why modern religions air against mind altering substances: it's uncontrollable competition against their refined product. Drugs provide the feel good aspect that we all covet, and they even yield some of the "enlightenment"/self improvement effect that religion has claimed as tangible raison d'etre.

    Personally I do not like being severely inebriated whatsoever. If I cannot think with some clarity then all I have to gain is nausea instead of relaxation. I'm definitely not after enlightenment when I smoke tobacco or marijuana, but I am after some kind of psychoactive alteration that either makes thought easier, more interesting, or more enjoyable. I very much enjoy learning for its own sake, and chemically altering my perspective on a regular basis seems to be some kind of bulwark against exhaustion.

    To condense this down to a brief evolutionary perspective, individuals who regulate their minds with psychoactive stimulation (achieving relaxation and perhaps greater "awareness") can endure greater hardship and thus be more reproductively successful, which is why nearly all humans today do so.
  • Ying
    213
    I mean, highly addictive drugs like amphetamine, methylphenidate, and methamphetamine are available through prescription in the US; but, it's punishable by law to posses non-addictive (comparatively) Cannabis or MDMA or LSD. Why?Posty McPostface

    Yeah, why is cannabis illegal or psilocybin mushrooms or other Schedule I drugs in that category or status, at least here in the US?Posty McPostface

    "You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities," Ehrlichman said. "We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."
    -John Ehrlichman, former Nixon domestic policy chief.
    https://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/23/politics/john-ehrlichman-richard-nixon-drug-war-blacks-hippie/index.html
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    But my perspective on them was, it wasn’t simply about cheap thrills and the desire for a rush, but about heightened awareness.Wayfarer

    The beatniks became hippies, the hippies became yippies, and then the yippies became staunch neoliberals or yuppies. What does that say about 'heightened awareness'?
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    Humans have been self-medicating since time immemorial...VagabondSpectre

    True, though I don't know if it has actually changed is in any manner of form.

    Since we're all so dependent on regulating our minds by constantly self-administering substances which affect how and what we think and do, I can only imagine that it is of net benefit rather than a net detriment.VagabondSpectre

    Yes, being pragmatic, psychoactive substances have their use; but, the point is that it has to be directed of governed (medical professionals, etc.) by someone who has figured out what benefit it actually has.

    I'm forced to imagine that regular inebriation can somehow bring stability or fortitude to an individual mind: perhaps inebriation helps to destroy malformed or weak or detrimental beliefs and models/understandings which then makes minds subsequently more robust; perhaps it simply endows us the ability to manage arbitrarily large amounts of stress, allowing us to achieve more.VagabondSpectre

    Funny that you say that, because most people realize that achievement is an illusory concept imposed by society to maintain it. So, you're faced with a dilemma, in some sense.

    There's too much stress and confusion in the universe to endure and reconcile it all, which is why the euphoria of inebriation seems to be requisite.VagabondSpectre

    So, drugs are for the weak minded? I'm pretty sure psychoactive drugs are only for the strong minded.

    I'm definitely not after enlightenment when I smoke tobacco or marijuana, but I am after some kind of psychoactive alteration that either makes thought easier, more interesting, or more enjoyable.VagabondSpectre

    So, hedonism?

    To condense this down to a brief evolutionary perspective, individuals who regulate their minds with psychoactive stimulation (achieving relaxation and perhaps greater "awareness") can endure greater hardship and thus be more reproductively successful, which is why nearly all humans today do so.VagabondSpectre

    I don't know if that's true. If it we're then why did the all hippies die out or recede into irrelevancy?
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    The beatniks became hippies, the hippies became yippies, and then the yippies became staunch neoliberals or yuppies. What does that say about 'heightened awareness'?Posty McPostface

    Nothing.

    It's true that addiction and hedonism are destructive behaviours, but there's also a sense in which society taboos such substance because it calls the consensus reality into question.
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    Nothing.Wayfarer

    So, drugs we're just another 'fad' of the 60's, so to speak?

    It's true that addiction and hedonism are destructive behaviours, but there's also a sense in which society taboos such substance because it calls the consensus reality into question.Wayfarer

    Well, yes, the aberration of reality or perversion of it though psychoactive drugs is not natural. Therefore, society knows better, I think.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.2k
    Yes, being pragmatic, psychoactive substances have their use; but, the point is that it has to be directed of governed (medical professionals, etc.) by someone who has figured out what benefit it actually hasPosty McPostface

    Medical professionals might not be intimately acquainted with our individual emotional ups and downs, and when to have a beer, a smoke, or a toke is probably better decided by ourselves so long as over-use isn't an issue.

    because most people realize that achievement is an illusory concept imposed by society to maintain it. So, you're faced with a dilemma, in some sense.Posty McPostface

    Most people aren't so cynical about it I reckon. Wanting a fancy car or romantic gratification might be partially illusion-infused drives, but we still enjoy achieving them profusely. Enduring greater stress to achieve these ends with the crutch of substance seems to be in our nature, else we might have been content in a more primitive state.

    So, drugs are for the weak minded? I'm pretty sure psychoactive drugs are only for the strong minded.Posty McPostface

    There's a great deal of neurodiversity within human groups, so different types and dosages of substances could be more or less beneficial/detrimental for a given individual and the environment they are in.

    I think that regular periods of chemically assisted relaxation or pleasure can make an otherwise stressed mind more robust by giving it reprieve. Certainly some substances in some dosages can damage minds, and predicting the effects of harder drugs on individuals can be difficult (there is some risk). When it comes to things like THC, nicotine, caffine and alcohol it's not so dangerous. People who do physically demanding labour seem to like how alcohol relaxes their body; people who do mentally demanding labour seem to enjoy how nicotine relaxes their mind; people who do work which requires consistent or extreme focus seem to enjoy caffeine, and people who smoke THC seem to enjoy it for it's own sake (or some combination of the aforementioned effects).

    I think that psychoactive substances when properly consumed can make individuals more robust, some more than others, weak and strong alike

    So, hedonism?Posty McPostface

    Pleasure is inexorably why we do anything isn't it? In this case I enjoy the different ideas which occur to me because of THC. Marijuana is not a drug that puts you into some kind of orgasmic comatose state such as with injecting heroine (chemical hedonism if it exists).

    Inexorably we all chase the dragon, but no I do not chase him directly.

    I don't know if that's true. If it we're then why did the all hippies die out or recede into irrelevancy?Posty McPostface

    Hippies were less about drugs as they were about peace, free love, and like, cool ideas, man. But my point is more broad than experimentation with recreational drugs. It's about a broader underlying reliance on consuming substances and performing rituals which psychoactively impact and regulate our minds, and that we have naturally done so for thousands of years. The hippies didn't die our per se, their tie-dye faded and many of them went back to church and booze. Marijuana stuck around though, and it's edging/crowding out other substances and rituals much vigor.

    Culture can change somewhat rapidly but human biology is more constant. Apparently our biology is such that we cannot stand to face the world straight and sober 100% of the time, and those who pretend to do so are usually those who derive the most emotion and happiness from non-substance psychoactive rituals (prayer, prostration, worship, exercise, competition, sex, poetry, prose, music, hippy drum circles, political rallies, etc...).

    Where we get our fixes, how, and how much, are matters which fluctuate with the times, that we inexorably get our fix, however, does not.
  • ArguingWAristotleTiff
    3.2k
    @Posty McPostface
    Have you ever held a hand blown German Christmas ornament?
    If you are any thing like me and I have asked everyone from my Psychiatrist to those with decades of experience what affect am I missing out on in not taking mind altering drugs like MDMA or Mushrooms and every one has agreed with what my Dr. said.
    He said that I have a loose enough grip (which is a plus in western pleasure horse back riding) on reality, that he just wouldn't do it if I could stay away from it.
    As a recovering meth addict with this Sunday marking my 10nth year anniversary of my first Full Day of an Opiate free life, I can only speak from my own withdrawal experiences, which proves there is always a down for every up.
    The first 45 days I functioned at 15% of my pre opiate addicted body. I had atrophy of my muscles and it was as I said 45 long grueling days, feeling a blunt razor shaved every nerve in my body raw until I got my first Dopamine dump. The first signs of life that my Dopamine receptors were needed to function again as they had been supplemented for 5 years was fucking amazing! I broke down crying knowing that I had walked through the worst of the storm and saw the tinyist light a bit further ahead and that kept me going.
    My Dr is right, for me, to advise me against toying with my sense of reality, as it is too delicate to mess with. My OB Dr. warned me 19 yrs ago that my youngest son should be my last pregnancy. Interesting wording, I pressed on. He said the degree of Post Pardom Depression I have is treatable now. He openly said he didn't think my psyche would respoond if I were to.have another pregnancy.
    Years later I told my OB/Gyn what happened with my.Opiate addiction he looked at me and said you are one lucky lady to have made it through the other side of the storm
    And and normally I tell people that "luck" had nothing to do with it but seeing as he delivered my kids, while the Cubs broke my heart, I let it slide.
    It was love and.support that if I jumped off this Dr. prescribed 'ride' there was a network of people who were around me to hold me up, including Dr's as well as family and friends.
    I have had to find humor in other people's intoxication.
  • Janus
    6.1k


    You are indulging in gross generalizations!
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    Medical professionals might not be intimately acquainted with our individual emotional ups and downs, and when to have a beer, a smoke, or a toke is probably better decided by ourselves so long as over-use isn't an issue.VagabondSpectre

    Then they are poor medical professional, at that. That's why I always would ask for a second or third opinion.

    Most people aren't so cynical about it I reckon.VagabondSpectre

    Or not cynical enough?

    Wanting a fancy car or romantic gratification might be partially illusion-infused drives, but we still enjoy achieving them profusely.VagabondSpectre

    Yeah, it's the placebo effect manifest in reality. Quite a phenomenon if you ask me.

    Enduring greater stress to achieve these ends with the crutch of substance seems to be in our nature, else we might have been content in a more primitive state.VagabondSpectre

    Then, you open up the can of worms, that we are really weak if we need that crutch. I have always felt impotent whenever I have indulged in stimulants to treat my ADD.

    I think that regular periods of chemically assisted relaxation or pleasure can make an otherwise stressed mind more robust by giving it reprieve. Certainly some substances in some dosages can damage minds, and predicting the effects of harder drugs on individuals can be difficult (there is some risk). When it comes to things like THC, nicotine, caffine and alcohol it's not so dangerous. People who do physically demanding labour seem to like how alcohol relaxes their body; people who do mentally demanding labour seem to enjoy how nicotine relaxes their mind; people who do work which requires consistent or extreme focus seem to enjoy caffeine, and people who smoke THC seem to enjoy it for it's own sake (or some combination of the aforementioned effects).VagabondSpectre

    I guess we can reduce the issue to a matter of taste. But, nobody gives you informed consent that what you may be doing is actually bad for your health or mental stability. It all smacks of some wishful thinking, and some such matters.

    I think that psychoactive substances when properly consumed can make individuals more robust, some more than others, weak and strong alikeVagabondSpectre

    Yeah, this is interesting. College students are always looking to get an edge on their peers at college through the consumption of various stimulants. Just one manifestation of the above sentiment.

    Hippies were less about drugs as they were about peace, free love, and like, cool ideas, man.VagabondSpectre

    I wish I knew a Hippie that didn't have to indulge in drugs to propound such noble goals. Did they sabotage themselves/their message in some sense?

    It's about a broader underlying reliance on consuming substances and performing rituals which psychoactively impact and regulate our minds, and that we have naturally done so for thousands of years.VagabondSpectre

    Not everyone, some yes.

    Apparently our biology is such that we cannot stand to face the world straight and sober 100% of the time, and those who pretend to do so are usually those who derive the most emotion and happiness from non-substance psychoactive rituals (prayer, prostration, worship, exercise, competition, sex, poetry, prose, music, hippy drum circles, political rallies, etc...).VagabondSpectre

    Sleep is enough of a trip for me, every night. I heard DMT levels rise during REM sleep or something like that.

    Where we get our fixes, how, and how much, are matters which fluctuate with the times, that we inexorably get our fix, however, does not.VagabondSpectre

    Depressing, really.
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