Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jan 2006
Source: Idaho Mountain Express (ID)
Copyright: 2006 Express Publishing, Inc
Author: Tony Evans


Even as our community raises the methamphetamine alarm, a great deal
of confusion persists about drug use in general.

Young people in flight from uncomfortable emotions, or facing the
challenges of adulthood--like serving in wars overseas, or joining a
consumptive society which is apparently destroying the planet with
gusto--seem to follow the motto, "Just Say Maybe," or "Why the Hell
Not?" Whether kids are storming heaven or just plain bored, they still
deserve some straight talk on drugs. The decision to take or not take
is largely a spiritual one, causing us to reflect upon what it means
to be human.

Drugs aren't all illegal, and they aren't all the same. It is true
that meth in small doses is sold in pharmacies to treat chronic
obesity, that cocaine was once an ingredient in Coca-Cola, and dental
patients regularly get blasted into a wonderland of numbness by
nitrous oxide while listening to I-pods. Psychedelics are considered
by some to be a shortcut to God. Would we have Bob Marley without
ganja, or war protests without hippies on LSD. And what about the
growing number of school children and their parents who take
"medications" for Attention Deficit Disorder, depression, shyness,
distraction and other features of what were once considered
personality? What's the difference between a drug and a medication?

Much drug use is culturally determined, and largely a matter of
dosage. Coca leaves have been chewed by Andean Indians as a mild
stimulant for centuries. When reduced into powder, it becomes a highly
addictive substance that destroys lives.

Hallucinogens like Peyote and Ayahuasca have been used by Native
communities for centuries from the Amazon to the Great Plains in order
to access visionary states of consciousness at the core of Native
belief systems.

But these plants were discovered by religious leaders after many years
of cultural evolution, and used in the context of ceremonies that
translated the experience in beneficial ways to the community.

Tobacco and even chocolate also have their places in the history of
mind-altering substances.

Many great artists and scientists have attributed their creations and
discoveries to altered states; Francis Crick's double-helix model of
DNA, Lewis Carrol's "Alice in Wonderland" and Samuel Taylor
Coleridge's "Kublai Khan," as well as a lot of Beatles
name just a few.

But should Aldous Huxley be remembered for using mescaline and quoting
William Blake, or for writing "The Perennial Philosophy," a classic
anthology of spiritual writings?

Might Crick have also come upon the double-helix over a warm cup of
tea? If nature only reveals herself through the scientific method, why
do the latest theories of physics coincide with ideas formulated
thousands of years ago by practitioners of yoga and other Eastern
traditions? If drugs are interesting for any reason at all, it's for
the focus they draw upon the potential of the human mind, of conscious

And the most reliable way to become conscious is still to pick up a
book and start reading.

Why not expose one's self to the history of ideas rather than to the
potential ravages of drug addiction?

Recent neuroscience shows that dopamine receptors get fried during
methamphetamine use. Other medications can help repair this gap over

Many of us pay a price for dodging uncomfortable emotions in life. Our
town's most popular drug, alcohol, makes a fine social lubricant, but
has also led many in this community into alcoholism and despair.

There are genetic components to addiction.

Fortunately, there is also a strong 12-step recovery community here
that can welcome us back to sanity. Those already in trouble with
drugs should know that treatment has its own rewards; spirituality and
self-knowledge are the tools of recovery and the surest way to an
authentic life.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin