Tell me why… you take drugs.
Ask me roughly a year ago why I took drugs and I could offer you a plethora of clichés: lots of my friends did them, the inhabitants of whatever grimy London club I was in were doing them, a hearty chunk of London was and is doing them. Not to mention it felt fucking incredible when suddenly I could go out and exhaustion didn’t hit me like a double decker bus at 2AM on the dot. It didn’t seem feasible to be able to stay up until breakfast time and still feel like doing an Irish jig whilst travelling back home alongside a tube full of pissed off commuters. And yet…there I was – going out four of five times a week, refusing to stop, let up or come crashing down; ignoring this awful sense of inevitability. Roughly a year ago, THAT was why I did drugs. Because I felt like a gravity-defying, grime-y, gritty, glorious goddess. Going out and taking coke straight after the doctor told me that the rashes all over my body was an amoxicillin reaction and I was not to smoke, drink or take drugs wasn’t something I questioned (lets reference back to the aforementioned sense of invincibility at this point). However, if you were to ask me why I take drugs now, you would be answered with an awkward silence. Evidently, because I have no fucking clue. I’ve reached the point where I don’t crave them, I don’t need them and I can be in a perfectly good mood without them. Which doesn’t explain why the other night, despite the fact I – to quote Fitzgerald – ‘felt just as good on nothing at all’, when the offer for some good ol’ Mandy arose I flew into the toilets, debit card in hand.
Tell me why… You don’t take drugs
We’re going to start with a little confession. I’m 18, and I’ve never taken drugs. Ok, so I had a couple of puffs of a spliff years ago when I didn’t properly understand that you had to inhale for it to work, but I think we can all agree that doesn’t count. I’m not high and mighty about this; I don’t shove it in people’s faces in order to make them feel bad about their own choices. No. In fact, it’s rather out of a lack of opportunity and connections that I haven’t taken drugs before. Or rather, that’s what I like to think.
We all have an image of ourselves as a sort of Joan Jett type figure: flagrant disobeyer of the rules who will piss on any image of authority and look damn fine in a leather jacket whilst doing so. I’ve come to terms with the fact that this certainly isn’t my reality. Not the leather jacket part, I still do look damn fine, but I’m just as cowed by the rules as the next person.
The other day, I watched Amy, the new documentary examining Amy Winehouse’s rise and fall, and I got round to questioning why it is exactly that I don’t do drugs. And I think it’s because I’m genuinely frightened of the effects. Not stuff like mushrooms or weed or even cocaine: you take that, you’re pretty assured of what you’re getting yourself into. I wouldn’t mind doing any of those, because the way that your body reacts to those drugs is relatively easily predicted. But I’m shit scared of pills. Nobody knows what that’s been cut with, how pure (or rather impure) the drug is. And it’s precisely this uncertainty which keeps me away from certain drugs. I hate not being in control of my own body, and I hate the thought that, as a result of certain drugs, (a) something is affecting it in a way that I am not able to prevent, and (b) I am so far removed from my own actions that I’m barely myself.
So yes, I am basically one big, terrified, quivering coward when it comes to pills. I’ve accepted this, and I’m coming to the point where I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of. But who knows, I haven’t even started uni yet.
From the first time I heard about drugs they have pretty much been used consistently in association with antisocial behaviour, depression and, unfortunately, death. I’m sure nearly everyone has had the mandatory sustained eye contact with the “drugs are bad” line, be it from their parents or RE teachers; the only part of the “religious” education course that was remotely interesting to me was when we were shown drug documentaries that were practically tripping over themselves to make drugs seem as menacing as possible. Secured by the fact drug possession is forbidden by law, my unwillingness to be a “bad” person was the reason for my unwavering certainty that I would never take drugs. It wasn’t even a decision I had to make, it seemed instinctual; if I were to say yes to drugs, my fate would be as certain as if I had agreed to walk off the edge of a cliff. Now I’m at University, drugs are cast in somewhat of a casual light. In my first term every now and then I’d hear it thrown coolly into conversation that someone had taken some drug and how much of a laugh the night was; I was waiting for the second half of the sentence to be “ended up in hospital” or “was found in the street lying in their own urine”. These fates are probably heard more often when the start of the sentence was how someone had “had a lot to drink”, but the same consequence for some reason sounds more horrific when drugs are the cause. It’s funny to me how with the knowledge that there are more deaths from alcohol, socially it doesn’t fall under the ‘drug’ category, although scientifically it more than certainly does. You probably wouldn’t even mention to a friend the consequences to your health from a night of heavy drinking, but if they were smoking a cigarette you’re almost definitely thinking about the “imminent” lung cancer. I suppose the reason I don’t take drugs is the public perception of them as a criminality and a leading cause of disease and death.