"I wtntiur why be it so l>jng, and where he ha« gone. It is very uncomfortable, waiting, with nothing tody. I should like a duse. The tablet has not made me sleepy; it ««urns to have calmed me. It hea taken the edge tiff that hateful restlessness. I can bear it .is far as that goes, if only 1 had something to do to take my mind off things. My mind keeps prowling around the little ¡jacket of paper [heroin] in my h«g. It urn a thousand corners; but it is always waiting behind all of them. There is something terrifying about the fatality of the stuff. It soems to want to convince you (hat it's useless to try to escape. One's thoughts always rucur to Iota of other subjects, which we don't think of as observing. Why should we have this idea in connection with dope and he unable to do anything to throw it off? What's the difference?"
Aleiitor Crrwley '■¡ury of a ,'iruj, Frond, 1932
assumption that certain drugs cause addiction. This assumption is demonstrably false. If drugs caused addiction, anyone who regularly used a so-called addictive drug would become addicted to it. But not only don't the majority of heroin users-lhe "addictive" drug par excellence -become addicts, neither do the vast majority of drinkers. Over 100 million people in this country drink alcohol on a faitly regular basis, and a large percentage use it daily, but less than 10 percent of the total number of drinkers are alcoholics. What obviously causes addiction, therefore, is not drugs but the way some people use drugs.
This may seem a distinction of little importance. After all, what difference does it make whether drugs are to blame or whether the fault, lies with how people use them? Either way you still have addiction. True, but according to one understanding, there is nothing that can be done about addictlon-as our history of attempting to cure it demonstrates. On the other hand, understanding that addiction is not caused by drugs but by the way we use drugs is not only an accurate description of the situation, it is a useful one. If nothing else, it gives us a way to avoid having problems with drugs, by using them in a way that eliminates problems-by using them wisely.
There is nothing mysterious about this. From this writer's experience, from that of knowledgeable physicians such as Andrew Weil, and from studying cultures which use drugs and don't gel into trouble with them, four things are evident..
(/) Knowledge of the drugs you use is a necessary condition for using them wisely. If you didn't know, for example, that tolerance is built to the opiates, your ignorance could get you into trouble; The best teachers are those who use drugs regularly and don't abuse them.
(2) The less potent the form of the drug, the fewer the problems with it. Fewer problems are associated with opium than with heroin, with coca than with cocaine, with wine than with distilled spirits, and so on.
(3) Unnatural routes of administration are associated with more problems than natural routes. The chief culprit. here is intravenous injection. As noted eaulier, the veins form a dosed system, and violating them leads to a number of undesirable results.
(4) Compulsive drug use causes many problems, rimal use very few. This is the most important thing to learn if one intends to use drugs wisely. Those who adhere to rituals seldom gel into trouble with their drugs. Drinkers, for example, who confine their intake to the cocktail hour, to wine with meals and so on do not become alcoholics. Rituals can be self-made or developed by the whole culture. In either case they should define the purposes for which the drug is taken, and the appropriate time, place and emotional state for taking it.
"Degradation By Opium," from British amiopiinn propaganda brochure
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