Lunchtime Roundtable: Drug Education

Mural found in the legendary hallways of Casa Zimbabwe

Kathy: And I had a friend who accidentally OD’d on no doz (caffeine) pills and had a seriously bad time. Which you just buy at the supermarket. Drugs are not just the illegal stuff. Oh, speaking of which, legal synthetic highs! Some of that shit is fucked. I’ve worked in adolescent mental health and that chemical sprayed cabbage can ruin children. Sooooosososo much worse than weed, education on that is also needed.

Pepper: That stuff is AWFUL. It’s illegal in the States.

Natasha: I smoked synthetic highs for a bit when I was in a bad place and I’d wake up and my flatmates would offer me some and God, that was so stupid. Worse thing I have ever done and one of those flatmates is still recovering mentally from the use.

Bay leaves smell like legal highs and I cannot put them in cooking because the smell gives me headaches now. I had some seriously fucked up times on synthetic highs. Not being able to tell up from down, vomiting…

Pepper: Yikes, that’s horrible. See, my whole attitude about these things is (and feel free to disagree with me here), a lot of kids are going to try drugs. If we can inform kids to make the right choices about which ones they try, rather than trying to force them away from drugs, we might be able to prevent people from dying or sustaining permanent mental/physical damage.

Natasha: I definitely agree with you!

Luey: Loving all the discussion so far. I studied neurochemistry at Berkeley and spent the last year doing neurochem research in Japan. I plan on doing a Ph.D in pharmacology soon.

Needless to say I’m pretty stoked about drugs. Indeed, fascination with the incredible phenomenon of psychoactivity is what drew me to neurochem. The consumption of understandable bits of chemical matter that can influence conscious experience is a tantalizing hint toward the relationship between mind and matter, the fundamental question of science. Furthermore, the experiences you have while on drugs are genuine experiences derived from your own brain, not the drug itself. It’s a form of self exploration, not the creation of something artificial. It is no wonder that drugs are too enticing for young, naturally curious beings to resist. We can safely operate on the assumption that teens will use drugs as long as they are available.

This is my personal justification for harm reduction education, the practical and humane alternative to condemnation. Straightforward and honest advice derived from both science and experience can help prevent unhealthy relationships with drugs. That being said, those who walk the poison path will inevitably stumble. The least education can do is make sure they don’t drop dead, empowering them to learn from their mistakes. So yes, I am an educated proponent of drug education for teens as I have done a fair bit of drug educating myself and have personally seen it prevent harm and save lives.

Pepper: Awesome! That’s really good to hear. Some formative experiences I’ve had as a young adult come from experiences I had on LSD, and I feel that these things are valid parts of my human experience. There are ways to have healthy relationships with drugs, and it’s with the help of rationally minded neurochemists, neuropsychologists, and other folks that we can arrive at a point where that may be possible for people who want to try it.

Luey: Definitely, experiments with medicinal psilocybin are underway and have shown promising results.

Natasha: Yup, I started taking LSD every so often when I was 16. That first trip left me feeling clear, inspired, curious and full of racing thoughts. I engaged with my creative side in a way I hadn’t before, even as someone who was always drawing and writing and playing music. I had a new appreciation for the small things. Every trip after that has been a wonderful insight into my own conscious and I am so glad I decided to take it that first time. I am a big supporter of having your first trip be with close friends and out in nature rather than at parties full of people you don’t know which I’ve seen a lot of young people take to. But I know psychedelics aren’t for everyone and have seen some of my more severely mentally ill friends grow LSD habits and have terrible trips and dangerous trips. Hence — why we need honest drug education!

Disclaimer: HVNGRY does not and will never advocate the use of illegal substances. This roundtable is for starting an open conversation about the realities of drug use and drug education. Join the discussion by leaving a comment, or feel free to email editor@hvngrymag.com if you’ve any concerns.

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