“My Brain on Drugs”
Update: 10 October 2009
Update: 24 March 2010
Update: 10 October 2009 Have a way of seeing my website "hits" and amazed at how many hits this particular write, words, gets. Think it says something about humans, or some humans at least, wanting to understand their own mind, brain, this reality and other realities as well. Wish I had more to give you. Your brain and its complexity and thus associated mind is the most amazing entity in the known universe. Do not take it for granted and do not abuse it but explore it all you can. If you have not read it, check out Aldous Leonard Huxley's "The Doors of Perception". :) Ron
Several years ago, there was a television commercial running on all major television networks in the United States, which showed an chicken egg sizzling in a frying pan and the narrator saying, “This is your brain on drugs!”
Recreational drugs. This summer, I will be 60 years old and thus am on the leading edge of what is known as the baby boomer generation. Counting backwards, I was just out college at the end of the 1960’s and “recreational drugs”: alcohol; marijuana; pot soaked in PCP; LSD; magic mushrooms; cocaine; hash; peyote buttons, ludes, opium and mescaline (have never seen heroin and don’t care too) were everywhere or everywhere I was anyway. Sometimes I wonder if the drugs sought me out instead of me seeking them. Was I part of come CIA experiment or some cosmic, genetic experiment? At any rate, after college, I “experimented” a lot but “did not inhale” as some people like to say. But this experimentation is worthy of documentation and so below you will find some of my experiences of my brain, mind, on drugs.
Caffeine. Cannot even remember when I first started on this recreation drug but first I ever saw and used, I am sure was supplied by my parents. At first, casual use, as money was tight and cold caffeine was expensive but eventually I was a regular user and you know how drugs are. First the light stuff and then you move to progressive harder and harder forms and so too it was for me. First cold soda and then coffee and eventually those super caffeine drinks, which appeared. As for me now, I will take 3 or 4 cold soda's a day thank you and leave the harder stuff alone. Anymore than 3 or 4 soda's or 1 cup of coffee and I am bouncing off the walls. Interesting that we have boutique coffee shops now everywhere. Wonder if pot was legal if we would have the same? Have fancy bars serving liquor so why not pot? When I was Amsterdam several years ago, enjoyed waking into a "bar" and ordered in a couple of "cakes." Damn stuff was so strong, could not finish one big, fat joint. I bet caffeine kills plenty of folks with its stimulate, increased heart rate +, affects. Wonder if someday a class action law suit against caffeine suppliers or regulation by the Federal Drug Administration?
Alcohol. What is it with drinking recreational drugs? After caffeine, came alcohol, even before I was out of high school and continued through college in a big way but never much cared for this drug as I really do not like loosing control of myself and alcohol slows my mental down considerably. First alcohol was 3.2% West Virginia beer, which I had to drink a lot of to get drunk. Alcohol. Been sick way too many times on alcohol. For a while, would not take a drink for years, not even beer and then seemed like I needed some cleansing of some kind and would share an entire fifth of Wild Turkey, 101 proof, with a friend in one evening and then wakeup the next morning in the goat pen or hugging the toilet or just safe and sound in my bed but feeling like crap. Did learn never to mix wine with beer or beer with the hard stuff. For me, Wild Turkey 101 proof is the “cleanest” of all hard liquors but even that has had me sick more than once but limited hangover. Don’t drink at all today. Actually funny, as at my last security clearance interview, agent kept asking me about my alcohol consumption and would not believe zero. Apparently, I in age group where drinking alcohol is commonplace. Supposedly one of my grandfathers was an alcoholic, so apparently alcoholism is not genetic or not in my case. Moderation in everything and no drinking and then driving please. I am out on the roads late at night sometimes too.
Cigarettes, nicotine. Yes, cigarettes are a recreation drug. Probably born addicted, as at time of birth, both parents were cigarette smokers. Can you imagine that at one time, cigarette smoking was considered cool or made you look sophisticated. Anyway, although my parents smoked all during my childhood, I really did not smoke cigarettes until I was in college and then only at the end of a semester when I had like 4 or 5 exams in 2 days and would pull all nighters cramming and cigarettes acted like a stimulate. After college, I did not smoke for several years but after things got tight around the head with wife, child, intensive work, I began smoking as a way to relax. Take a break and smoke a cigarette. Work like crazy and then....take a break and smoke a cigarette. Have tried to quit several times and the physical pain of nicotine withdrawal for the first 24 or 48 hours is terrible but the worst part is the psychology of "take a break, relax and smoke a cigarette." A cigarette is a punctuation mark between events, work tasks, transitions. And yes, I still smoke even though both my parents died from cancer, which started in their lungs and began moving around. Stupid. If I were you, I would never ever start and if you do smoke, stop, now. Wishes the government would outlaw cigarettes all together and send all smokers to some resort in the Caribbean for detoxification for something like 6 weeks.
Marijuana, “pot,” “weed.” As I went to a Southern military school, I never saw marijuana until I was in the Army stationed in Korea. The division intelligence officer was stationed with me at our small compound north of Seoul and not at division headquarters as would be expected. His primary source of “intelligence” was Korea operatives he paid. Right now, not sure of his name or how we got to be friends but one night at the officers club, he asked me if I would like to share a joint with him? “Sure, I said,” not having any idea what he was talking about. In his room, he pulled out this brown paper bag and then took a cigarette and hand crushed all the tobacco out of it and then proceeded to fill the empty cigarette casing with marijuana from the brown paper bag. Once the cigarette was completely full and tightly packed so it looked just like a regular cigarette, we proceeded to smoke it, and almost instantly, he knew I was a virgin. I liked it. Marijuana made me happy, carefree, light, and best of all, no hangover or getting sick like with alcohol. Many evenings were spent in Korea in one officer’s room or another listening to music as a group as we shared a huge, Korean made, brass, hookah, filled with “pot.” It is interesting to note that in Korea, all troops in my unit where either in the doper’s camp or the juicer’s camp. The alcohol users, juicers, had no use for the dopers, whereas the dopers just did not care. In Korea, you could buy a pound of “cleaned” marijuana for $20 or you could buy a carton of hand packed cigarettes, even cellophane wrapped, for the same price. Many cartons of cigarettes were shipped back to the US when soldiers rotated out of Korea. After Korea, marijuana was always around and I always owned some or had friends who had some. As a reference point, in “those” days, here, in the US, an ounce of “uncleaned” marijuana went for $30 per ounce. In the end, my best experiences with marijuana were when I was out camping with a group of people around a campfire, telling stories, and playing guitars. There is one very special occasion I remember, which is of note. After work one day, I smoked a joint and turned on the TV. Flipping channels, I came across a German soap opera with English subtitles. Anyway, after I while, I leaned back on my bed and left my mind drift. Suddenly, I felt my ears shift, slide, to one side and I was hearing German and understanding it. Now, I no longer smoke at all and have not for years. I do not have the time for it, as at my age, I need all my attention on the matters at hand. It is my understanding, however, that inflation has been running high, per annum, over the years, with high quality pot now costing $400 to $600 per ounce. Not a bad drug but do not try to do anything real while using it to include driving a car.
Pot Laced with PCP (Angel Dust). Smoked part of one joint of this and really did not care for it at all. Made me physically drunk and slow of mind as if body was seconds behind my "controlled" movements. I think it did not help that one of the fellow smokers gave off evil “vibes” and was the first time I actually felt what evil felt like. Would not recommend to anyone: not even once.
Hash. Just a super form of pot for me like the hard stuff alcohol (hash) compared to beer (pot) and certainly smelled better than a lot of the stink weed I have had over the years. Like with pot, usually could not really do anything worthwhile when using this drug other than talk and talk. Was useful when I played guitar as I could break out of ruts I was into and find new progressions. Also, allowed me creative freedom when I tried to write a letter to a friend or makeup some song or ditty.
LSD, acid. What to say about LSD? First of all, the “cooks” of the late 60’s and early 70’s were ever so much better than those that came later. Real LSD, not cut with junk or made by some amateur, is in fact a real eye opener like Timmy Leary said in his lectures and books. All told, I have probably have taken LSD at least 100 times and maybe more. Learn anything of lasting value? No, I am sorry to say, but hard to tell what my thought processes would be like if I had never taken the drug. I do think that it changed my view, perceptions, in that it made me aware of how much of what we see, hear, taste and smell is a function of our brain’s programming. LSD was always a back door into some of the stranger areas of my mind. Never had a bad “trip” although some acid made me feel physically terrible and one of the reason I gave up taking it. Probably one of the strangest trips I ever had was at a friend’s house, were about 10 of us all “dropped” at the same time. Ever think that it would be cool to hear the thoughts of another? Well, let me tell you, it is not cool as there is no place to hide. Sitting on a couch across from your best friend’s wife and you thinking how much you would like to fuck her and instantly knowing that everyone in the room just heard your thought. Needless to say, living room got very quiet after a while, as no one knew how to deal with the uncomfortableness of the mind link. During another trip, wound up by side the Atlantic Ocean and looking out on the vast sea, the waves became M.C. Escher fish, heads to tails all moving in perfect synchronization. Lots and lots of trips at Grateful Dead concerts where the focus was the music and how it could take you to strange places in your mind or in the universe and also on the amazing people you met and talked with at the show and afterwards. Staring at the palms of my hands for an hour or more, seeing down into the layers and feeling the genetics. Sleeping under a sheepskin and getting thrown back to Biblical times and sleeping in a pasture, guarding the sheep. Sunny, lazy, Sunday afternoons, which became daydreams with me giving off vibes like some holy person so that those around me wanted, pushed me, to speak of spiritual things and all the while, butterflies repeatedly coming and sitting on one or the other of my shoulders and then flying off. Out in a pasture at night, staring at the stars and becoming one with the universe and feeling it very intensely and then almost walking into a horse and startled by the primitive beast and all the while, hearing Frank Zappa singing “Baby Snakes” coming from some place far off. Spinning the dial of a radio and stopping for an instance on some station and the words or tune fitting perfectly into the next spin and stop of the dial as if I had some special magic. Magic. Yes that is word that fits some of my trips. On acid, sometimes, felt that I was in perfect synch with the flow of everything around me. Perfect timing and seeing all the connections between things. Always liked LSD hallucinations as they never frightened men but did not have them every “trip” out and back. “Window pane” acid seemed to be better for hallucinations than blotter. Once, long ago, I took a hit of blotter acid everyday for a week before work. Talk about strange. If you have ever tried to do acid for days, you know you do not get as high the second day or third day but you still get this tweak of the head. If you could get some pharmaceutical grade acid and have a good support group around you or go out to some very high mountain peak alone, go for it, otherwise, forget it. Just no good cooks around anymore.
Magic Mushrooms, shrooms. Had these several times and similar to LSD but milder and more “natural” in overall feeling. Liked them but I never saw any to buy anywhere and what I did see was always at an outdoor party. Never had these, except outdoors. Strange.
Opium. When I was in stationed with the Army in Korea, in every village, old men, meaning over the age of 40 or so, dressed in white to declare their place of honor in the village, would squat all day long, smoking opium out of long clay pipes. On New Years Eve, 1971, the officer’s club had another one of its Korean rock and roll bands, which were always awful but the manager of the club invited me to party with after their music set. Well, it turned out that the band members all smoked opium and so I tried it with them. Really cannot say it had much affect on me other than dragging me down mentally, like being drunk but what was most amazing is that the next morning, I was totally physically wrecked and in my mind, I thought that if I could just have some more opium, I would feel better somehow. So felt the monkey of addiction using this drug just one time and never used it again. Would not suggest it to anyone, not even once
Peyote Buttons. Don’t think most folks have ever run into these or not along the East Coast anyway. Peyote buttons are a bud from a peyote cactus, which grows in the Mexico and perhaps in Arizona and New Mexico although in all my searching for them in my many trips to Arizona I was never able to locate any in the wild. Interesting that these came to me as I was reading the book “The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge” about a shaman in Mexico who used peyote buttons in enhance his awareness of reality and to break the boundaries of mind programming. The first time I used peyote was just after I returned from Korea and chewed several and then began walking around the neighborhood I live in with a friend who also had chewed some. Along a path, which lead us away from all the houses, we came to a bench set in some woods with a light pole beside it and setting down, we soon were joined by a whole cast of characters walking along the same path. Out of the darkness, these “people” would come, sit down, talk with us, then get up and move on down the path back into the darkness again. This repeated many times that night and although I know it sounds weird, I honestly am not sure if any of those “people” were real. Have wondered about it many times: a special reality? A Don Juan reality where a car could be hiding under a rock? Totally different than LSD, which was just a superset of this current reality for me. Peyote buttons were different. Not sure now how I got it but had a peyote cactus in the kitchen window for years and years and friends would say, eat the buttons, eat the buttons but kept letting it grow. Then one day the ATF came by and wanted to use our house to watch a house across the street as illegal activity thought to be going on over there, so for days and days, these ATF agents stared right over the peyote cactus at the house across the street. I guess ATF is not the DEA.
Mescaline. Only had this drug several times but probably my all time favorite as it always made me feel at peace with the world and in perfect harmony with all that was around me. Very slow, gradual up, ride, and then fade away. Would take it every day if in a pill form if available.
Cocaine. First couple of times I had this drug, did experience something. Sex certainly was enhanced, know that, but beyond that, just not sure. Later, cocaine was like speed more than anything else and I not the type of person that needs speed. Still bought it from time to time for some reason, and not sure why. Don’t think anything you can buy now is worth anything as cut too many times with crap and would not waste my time or money. A rich fool’s drug.
Quaaludes, ludes. Only had this drug twice and slept 36 hours straight, both times, good deep sleep too. Can’t see how anyone could walk around using this drug. Want to sleep, get some, otherwise forget it.
Ecstasy. Heard of this drug for years and years but never seemed to be around where I was. Then in the summer of 2009, came across some at a music festival and since no place to be or anything to do other than listen to music for days, took what was supposed a decent size dose. ? Nothing. Others with me took some at same time and certainly said that it blasted them but nothing, absolutely nothing for me. Too many antidepressants in my system?? Bummer. From what I have heard about ecstasy, sort of a combination of mescaline "soft with the world" and coke rush. Need to try it again when the time is right.
Prescription Drugs. I guess if you live long enough, these days, you begin to have a whole collection of pills to take in the morning, noon, and at night or I do anyway. Most have no obvious effect on me and I hope they are doing what they are supposed to do like lowering my blood pressure or blood sugar. But some prescription drugs do have affects.
Valium, diazepam. First prescribed this drug by a general practitioner (GP) I was seeing at the time in response to my complaints of heavy work and home stress. After a month or 2 on the drug, should have known it was not for me as at a stoplight, misjudged stopping distance to stopped car in front of me and crashed right into it’s rear end. No one hurt, thank God but even then, did not make connection between drug and slow everything. Then years of not using the drug until my father became ill with the cancer and a different GP prescribed this for me. I did not ask for it. Anyway, told to take 5mg’s or whatever but seemed like 5 did nothing, so I would take 10, 15, 20mg’s or more a day and never seemed to affect me except that it was. Apparently, would slur my speech, be slow mentally, etc but I was not aware of it. At the death of my father, I proceeded to load up on Valium and since it still was not making the emotional, mental, pain go away, I decided to get some hard liquor. Bad idea: went into a coma and had to be put into a hospital. Coma might not be the right word but certainly not responsive to doctors or my wife for more than 24 hours. In hospital when I woke up, no idea what had happened. Remember now being told to not mix Valium and alcohol but since I hardly ever drink, honestly had forgotten about dangers. In the end, do not care for this drug at all, as I think it useless as a tranquilizer and do not ever mix with alcohol.
Wellbutrin. Prescribed this antidepressant drug by my GP at the very bottom of my one and only, so far, severe depression. When I started it, it was like mega electric acid. I could not sit down, could not stand in one place, agitated and dreams were electric with neon everywhere. Crazy, too crazy, and told the GP I could not do it. He said “Keep with it for a few days.” Well I did and the electric neon finally went away and honest to God, my craving for cigarette smoking simply went away too. Was down to smoking one cigarette a day and forcing myself to smoke that one for some reason. Wish now, I had quit smoking right then and there. Anyway, drug caused my heart to race now and again and so eventually switched off it to Zoloft. If you want to really stop smoking and have no heart problems, this drug might be for you and, and, you might just have some super incredible neon dreams.
Xanax. Prescribed this drug by GP at same time he put me on Wellbutrin. Liked it almost from the start, as would take .5mg at bedtime and it helped me relax and go to sleep. When I finally got to psychiatrist for depression, she immediately switched me off this drug to Lorazepam as she said Xanax was too addictive meaning I would crave more and more of it over time. Was on Lorazepam for a long time but never really did help anything, no matter how much of it I took, so finally told psych I did not want it anymore and just started buying Xanax from over the Internet. Have noticed that I really cannot take more than .5mg at bedtime or the next day I will be groggy for hours. Is much more of an immediate affect than Lorazepam. Can actually feel it calming me down. I have met or heard of people who take 2 or 3mg’s of this drug a day but cannot imagine it, as I would not be able to walk around or talk. Not a bad tranquilizer and have not found it to be personally addictive.
Lorazepam. Prescribed this drug by psychiatrist when I finally got to her during depression period. Switched me off Xanax GP had prescribed and immediately found it to be a worthless drug for me. Certainly no immediate affect of taking the drug. Had to take it several days in a row to begin to actually feel anything and even then, not much of a tranquilizer. Not for me. Maybe it sufficient for some people.
Zoloft. Current antidepressant being used. Wonder if I will always have to take it. Wonder if once your head broken, it always broken? Chemical levels never in balance again on their own? No amount of the “right food” or sleeping the proper amount or living a relatively stress free life will allow all the king’s horse and all the king’s men to put Humpy Dumpy back together again? No obvious side affects of this drug. Do go up and down on dosage amount. Have been as low as 100mg a day to current level of 200mg. Started it after depression somewhat under control and moving to the up side, so cannot say how well it works starting from ground zero.
Morphine. When my dad was ill with the cancer, after his initial back surgery, the Veterans Administration gave him liquid Morphine and went I spent time with him in the hospital, he had hallucinations and obvious was all over the map in his head. Later when he home, I spent several nights as his caregiver and had to give him liquid morphine about every 4 hours or less. He was in a lot of pain from the bone cancer. One night, after I had given him his first dose of my shift, I decided I would try some to see what affects it actually had. Would it make me sleepy, drugged out, or high? I did not feel bad about taking some of his morphine as he could and did get all he wanted or needed. Anyway, after first dose, absolutely nothing: no affect what so ever. Then the next time he asked for it, 3 or 4 hours later, I took another dose. I think I really wanted to get on the same mental, emotional page as my Dad and thought this might be one way to do it. After the second dose, again nothing. On and on this went through the night until around dawn, I just went out in the yard and puked my guts out. Morphine must really be a pain killer drug and if no pain, no affect. Stupid, I know, to experiment with this but experiment and perhaps closer to my Dad. Did not work and do not recommend.
Seroquel. Have a problem with going to sleep and staying a sleep. On top of multiple other drugs for this issue, psych gave me this to help with sleep. Said it was very sedating. WELL..... takes a while to kick in and once it does, like being extremely drunk. Can stay awake once it kicks in and actually sort of like a drunk, LSD trip but very, very, very dangerous to try to drive a car while taking. I have been lucky as once this stuff kicks in, very, very, very, hard to keep from falling and I do mean, falling over, asleep.
So that it for me, for now. Sometimes I think of what all that LSD might have done to my genes or brain or something but what done is done. I was invincible then, as we tend to be in our twenties and thirties. I guess in the end, I would suggest to you, not to do any drugs at all. I can’t say any ever helped me or taught me anything other than helping me get out of a depression hole I got myself into. Best approach to living? Eating right, sleeping enough hours per day, not letting stress get to you and that is all I have to say on the subject.