Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why I Don't Do Drugs Anymore

I, Jon Levin, don't do drugs anymore...

...any more than, say, the average touring funk band.

Just kidding. That's a Bill Hicks joke. And like Bill Hicks was, before cancer released him from earthly Bill Hicksitude, I'm a pro-drug person who doesn't do drugs any longer.

Why did I stop? I'll explain in a bit. Why is this on my mind at the moment? Because the people I currently work freelance for, offered me my job on an actual staff basis, with the health benefits and the vacation time and the thing. And despite my reluctance to join or belong to anything, I accepted their offer. But before it can be official, I must submit to a fairly extensive background check and pass a drug test.

So... yesterday, I went to the walk-in lab at Foresight Security on 35th St. and pissed in a cup. They patted me down to make sure I hadn't smuggled in somebody else's piss. I hadn't.

Now, you may be thinking all of this is way too Orwellian for comfort, and you'd be right. I mean, it's not like I'm going for a job as an airline pilot or anything. I'm a professional media creative (or a creative media professional) and people in creative positions in media are expected -- hell, encouraged -- to do drugs. A lot. I don't know anybody else in TV or film who had to pass a drug test to get hired. (Good thing too -- most would've failed.)

But my co-worker Rick explained to me that since our company is ultimately owned by Cablevision, and since Cablevision is a... Cable-TV-service company that employs dudes who drive vans and show up at your house and come into your house and poke around in your house and stuff, they pretty much have to make sure that the people they hire for such positions aren't drug-addled criminals. And apparently, they can't just screen the dudes going for the van-driving home-entering jobs. They gotta screen everybody. Including me. I suppose it's possible that they don't actually care what's in my urine sample and they just have to keep up appearances by making me take the test. But either way, I ain't worried about it, because I don't do drugs anymore and I'll pass the piss test with flying colors.

But there was a time, not too long ago, when that would NOT have been the case. Not. Even. Close.

And even if they do reserve the right to fire me for USING drugs, there ain't no way they'd be allowed to fire me for ADVOCATING the use of drugs. So with that in mind...

I LOVE DRUGS.

DRUGS ARE GOOD.

MORE PEOPLE SHOULD DO DRUGS.

CHILDREN SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED TO DO DRUGS AS EARLY AS, SAY... 12 YEARS OF AGE, if supervised by their parents, who should also be doing drugs.

I THINK THAT NOT ONLY ARE DRUGS FUN TO DO, but that proper drug use among a certain percentage of the populace is necessary for the very survival of the human race. If drugs were legal and more people did them, we'd all be better off. Not only should the average citizen have the option to use whatever substances s/he likes, but for certain people in certain professions, regular use of certain substances should be MANDATORY.

Now, I'm not talking about ALL drugs here. I don't think people should be forced to smoke meth or shoot heroin or anything. But I think that regular use of: acid, ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms, marijuana, peyote, ecstasy, etc. should be unwaveringly required of anyone wishing to be a politician, school teacher, clergyman, law enforcer, judge, mental health care practitioner and probably a bunch of other things too.

Of course, my opinion is shaped by the overwhelmingly positive experiences I've had as a result of my drug use -- one especially overwhelmingly positive experience in particular. I won't go into the details, but it only involved a little bit of pot, was extremely enlightening and changed my entire life, for the better, forever.

Unfortunately, I wasn't living in a mature drug-culture with widely known, time-tested methods for guiding someone who has had such an experience. So, even though I didn't actually need a drug to induce mind-blowing mystical visions, insights and learning experiences, I still CRAVED the sheer awesome pleasure of it, and so began badly abusing the plant which I most closely associated with the transcendent experience -- marijuana -- attempting to re-create it.

I did learn about yoga and meditation, perhaps the most widely known techniques for helping humans achieve transcendence without drugs, but those techniques require something that drugs do not: discipline. Never been big on discipline.

So, I continued using, marijuana mostly, but mushrooms and acid and ecstasy too, and never did repeat that first unbelievable experience. Though other impressive, um, stuff did happen from time to time. But gradually, the good parts about getting high (on whatever) became less prevalent, and the harsher, less enjoyable aspects took over, until the drugs kinda stopped being any good to me at all. For a long time, I knew that my drug use was getting less and less effective, and that it was having a negative effect on my spiritual connectedness in general. But I was in denial. Despite all the obvious indications, I couldn't admit that I should probably stop using the drugs completely. Or at the very least, slow the fuck down.

But once the drugs did stop working, it wasn't really that difficult to quit, after all, I was quitting something that wasn't fun anymore. Unfortunately, by that point, I'd lost a great deal of the amazing gains I'd made. Hard to describe what I mean by that, so here's a pseudo-scientific hypothesis about how drugs work and why they stopped working for me:

Human beings (and all creatures) are physical manifestations of spiritual energy. The mechanism by which spiritual energy flows and interpenetrates our more mundane physical, mental and emotional lives, is called the Chakra System. Human beings have 7 major chakras, which correspond to specific points along the central nervous system, and are linked to specific endocrine organs (which are responsible for the most powerful bio-chemicals in the bloodstream, responding to and influencing our thoughts, feelings, emotions etc.)

The word "chakra" is sanskrit for "wheel" which doesn't really tell you anything about what a chakra really is, but rather just refers to the way the chakras appear (to those who can perceive them) and the way they behave (they rotate). A more useful, functional English translation of what chakras are would be something like "Energy Hearts." They are spiritual-energy-flow-regulating "organs." You know... sort of.

The chakras affect, and are affected by, everything we experience. This obviously includes drugs. Drugs act on the various physical systems of the body. They influence emotions. And they have profound impact on the chakra system. The most significant/fundamental effect of drugs is that they liberate certain subtle energies which are inherent in all humans, but which are generally dormant.

Awakening these latent energies feels good. On many levels. Perhaps you become gifted with especially keen insight into the emotional lives of those close to you. Or maybe you are inspired to write the finest poem of your life. Or maybe that burrito just tastes way too fucking good. Or maybe you suddenly grasp an overarching pattern in your own behavior which has been holding you back. Or maybe you suddenly grasp an overarching pattern in human history which has been holding us back. Or maybe you paint an incredible abstract painting that turns out to spell something in Arabic when held to a mirror. Or maybe sex is better than ever before. Or maybe you gain renewed appreciation for the genius of the last track on Revolver. Or maybe you and your friends just laugh and laugh and laugh.

But inevitably, there is a come-down, a slap-back. Sometimes we just need to rest and re-charge. But sometimes we feel like we've been run-over by a truck. Or want to jump off a cliff. The energies our drug use releases are then depleted. Dissipated. Lost. Proper drug use, safe, responsible and moderate, allows time for at least partial recovery of what is lost. Perhaps even total recovery. But I, Jon Levin, wasn't moderate. I just kept releasing the energy, and enjoying amazingly vivid, intense experiences, both sensory and extra-sensory. But all the while, these energies were being depleted and I wasn't allowing time for recovery.

Now there's not much left to recover. I did stop short of total depletion, but not by much. I am definitely left with a feeling of having "fallen from grace". Though, even now, I know that I'm not completely out of the game. I just have to work a bit harder than I used to and be very very VERY careful around all the people I love who continue to make drug-use a regular part of their lives.

Too bad for me. But if anyone out there learns from my mistake, so much the better.

DRUGS ARE GOOD! USE DRUGS! BUT THEY ARE POWERFUL! SO USE THEM CAREFULLY AND IN MODERATION!

THOUGH IF YOU WANT A JOB AT CABLEVISION, MAYBE NOT AT ALL.

peace, y'all.

4 comments:

Roo said...

As someone who no longer does drugs herself but who has also had powerful life changing experiences using them, I think you make some very good points. But I would love to chat with you about the depletion.

My experience suggests that there are ways to replenish ones self and even more finely tune your being, but it does take some work. Maybe one night in January we can hang out and have a chat. :)

ps- Love the use of "s/he". It's so pragmatic; I'm still baffled that more people don't use it.

Leonardo said...

s/he is NOT pragmatic. and it is, in fact, more weighted and connotative than "he" or "she" when used generically. but i digress.

so I'm in the hospital, LICH, on Saturday night. the ER room. one of my chakras has been muddled for a week and my guts are revolting against me. but i'm cogent and lounging around on some gurney and all

when
screaming from
down the hall
comes a man wheeled in

the SCREAMS: "dont fucking take me there! oh god please no! this isn't the hospital! god please no! please, dont let the snake kill me! dont let the fucking snake kill me! please dont let it kill me! the snake is on my neck! please dont let the fucking snake kill me!"

and Mr. X, surrounded by 3-4 attendants and a couple of cops, all who look like they've been listening to this guy screaming for some time now, comes into view and he's strapped down.

gurney in a sitting position, and he's not wearing a straitjacket or anything, but his legs are strapped in. his eyes -- they were BUGGED. OUT.

he's screaming about this snake for about 10 minutes, as loud as he could, before the sedatives kick in, i guess. he was nowhere near this planet. he was in a nightmarish hell.

that was an example of bad drugs. he was severely fucked up. i wondered what kind of damage this episode was going to do to him. he was far gone and it was scary.

could this be recovered from? was he going to be a burnout after this episode?

even after the sedatives we could hear him screaming in a nearby room, "oh god no! oh god tell my wife and kids i love them! oh god no, stop fucking with my head!! where is everybody? why wont you listen to me? hello! why is everyone walking away? please help me!"

thats my "drug story of the week." too much acid or PCP and maybe you will end up in the ER room screaming about snakes after all! it really does happen, not just in Fear & Loathing!

another thing i wondered: did someone intentionally dose him super-heavy?

Dr. Brainwave said...

And of course, there are things other than drugs which can trigger a psychotic episode like what you witnessed at the hospital. If that guy's suffering was in fact brought on by ingestion of one or more substances, chances are he either wasn't very mentally healthy to begin with, or he got a hold of something unreliable -- an all too common occurrence when drugs only come from an illegal underground -- or both. Of course, even a seemingly healthy person, taking something provided by a trusted source can have a 'bad trip.' Dose, mindset and environment all play a role in conjuring the resultant experience.

RE: "s/he" -- of course it's more 'connotative' as you say. It is meant to connote a belief in/desire for gender equality, something I think our culture lacks. The fact that my use of "s/he" generated commentary at all shows how conditioned we all are by norms which are arbitrary at best and oppressively patriarchal at worst. I find the fact that "s/he" does this with so few letters to be eminently practical.

PS: Hope your guts are feeling better!

Leonardo said...

the thing with s/he, for me, is mostly getting over the /. i generally say my words when i type them or read them (wait, don't we all?) and i haven't been able to get over the

"sh slash he" speech of it. so it sounds funny. also looke odd, we dont use slashes commonly in english, if at all.

other than that, points well taken