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Echoes and Mirrors » drugs

Archive for the ‘drugs’ Category

Nicotine, You Bastard.

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Well, I quit. Two weeks ago. Okay, I’m shy of two weeks by a couple of hours or so.

And I mean quit like I am making a genuine, concerted effort this time, rather than my usual “I’m quitting, so I’ll only smoke x cigarettes today, and x-1 tomorrow, etc.” or simply not smoking for half a day. This is also my first cold-turkey attempt probably ever except for basic training, which wasn’t exactly voluntary. I’ve always attempted to wean myself off cigarettes with nicotine gum or dip.

Once, or twice, I tried Zyban. Those attempts were not only unsuccessful, but I found out how poorly Zyban and alcohol interact in my brain. The details are unimportant, but I won’t take an anti-depressant to quit smoking again. Several friends have tried Chantix, often with disastrous results. One exception is my father, who claims it worked amazingly well for him and he hasn’t smoked in years now despite my mother continuing to.

Still, I’m not tempted to try it or Zyban again. I haven’t been drinking since I quit smoking, as it’s probably one of my biggest triggers. Bigger than eating or coffee. I’ve upped my caffeine intake considerably, particularly coffee, in fact. Yes, the first few sips makes me crave a smoke, but it’s okay.

Fact is, I’ve never felt this good about not smoking before. I’m attributing it to the other major lifestyle change I’ve made, which is going on early morning runs. Before I quit, I would be winded after a half mile. This morning, I ran four miles and finished with fuel left in the tank. Of course, getting up to run at six in the morning requires that I not be a night owl anymore. And that has led to much more normalized eating habits.

It’s all really disquieting, this shift into being a morning person with ‘normal’ eating habits who sleeps eight hours a night. But I also suspect it’s the only thing keeping me sane over a long, empty summer. I always stayed enrolled full-time over the summers in undergrad so I’m not used to having nothing to do.

I haven’t managed to write one damn word of fiction since I quit smoking, which was what I intended to do with my entire summer. I was doing well at it, too. During the first couple days of abstaining from nicotine, my laptop did something that annoyed me. I don’t recall what it was but it was enough to trigger a tantrum. The result was that my laptop’s harddrive was no longer functional and everything I had written or worked on all summer was now lost. (I am managing to recover some of it — the genuinely important things, in fact — from the internet (from saved email drafts, etc); I’m tempted to look for a decent internet/cloud back up service now.)

My reading habits have gone all wonky as well. I haven’t managed to finish even one, where normally I would be finishing one every other day. I just can’t focus long enough to read more than a page or two before (literally) wandering away from the book. I’m honestly not sure where my time is going. It’s the middle of the afternoon right now: I know I ran from 6-7am, showered, made breakfast, ate and then… I had lunch at noon. And I’ve spent three hours typing this (not editing or revising, but just typing a first draft, mind you). I just can’t seem to manage my time around goals. It used to be that I could set a goal (say, read two chapters or X pages or one hour) and once accomplished, I’d get a smokey treat. Somehow, my time management was so utterly dependent on this reward system that I’m completely non-functional without it.

So, the upside is that I’ll be running half-marathons in a month or two but the downside is that I can’t focus long enough to perform simple tasks like reading or writing.

Yesterday’s post on Wittgenstein/Nietzsche/Cavell/etc. was the first thing I’d written in almost two weeks. This is the second. And it’s not going so well on that front.

I’m wondering if the negatives of smoking –a shortened lifespan, increased risk of cancers, lung disease(s), etc. — are worth the ability to actually do (efficiently) the things that I love to do? The $150-200 I save a month (yes, they cost that much if you smoke like I did) is nice, but does it make up for not being able to, well, do anything because I can’t focus?

This does end, right? I did quit for a few months once (basic training and a little after) but my life was so heavily regimented and prescribed that it didn’t matter: I wasn’t thinking or managing my own time, anyway.

I’m so lost without you, cigarettes.


Altered States

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Teatime – Impulse

I’m not particularly interested in drugs. I mean, drugs are cool and all, and I’m told their actions are really fascinating from a biochemical standpoint. Their history certainly is colorful and illuminating; and sure, the social issues surrounding drugs and drug policy are important and thought-provoking. When it comes right down to it, though, psychoactive drugs are just a means to an end for me. If a machine came along that safely and reliably produced a programmable range of similar effects, I’d be an instant convert.

What I’m really interested in is exploring my own mind. I once played a first-person style video game for months before I discovered that there was another setting that allowed me to view the map and action from above. I started kicking ass immediately and I couldn’t believe how long I’d managed to somehow get by without ever discovering this important and useful feature. Similarly, I like to tweak my own settings now and then, just to try to figure out what the heck my mind is and to discover what’s possible to do with it. It’s perfectly natural to want to play with ourselves, and the mind is our most entertaining toy. Or at least it’s a contender.

I wish more people thought about entheogens like this. Personally, I can’t imagine a what my mind would be like if I hadn’t had those experiences, but I doubt it would be for the better.


Psychotropic Drugs and the Nature of Reality

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Important stuff.


81 percent? that’s a lot.

Monday, January 25th, 2010

According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll:

Eight in 10 Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical use and nearly half favor decriminalizing the drug more generally, both far higher than a decade ago.

If that many people really want medical marijuana, and half as many really want decriminalization (or legalizing) why do so few politicians use it as part of their platform? Obviously, it is an important issue to the voting public.

I dunno. I’d prefer to see de-legislation, that is no laws concerning it at all. Of course, I’d scrap most of the laws in existence because I just don’t like paternalistic authoritarian bullshit.


2010 is starting off swimmingly

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Homeless people can’t pay fines. What to do about panhandling? San Antonio has a solution:

You see them everywhere….panhandlers…often holding crude cardboard signs, begging for cash at busy intersections. Efforts to wipe out panhandling by outlawing the practice have been ineffective, largely because panhandlers don’t have the money to pay fines, taxpayers are not excited about releasing violent criminals from overcrowded jails to make way for beggars. And several municipal laws outlawing panhandling have been thrown out by courts as an unconstitutional violation of free speech.

So, San Antonio City Councilman John Clamp has a new and intriguing idea. He tells 1200 WOAI’s Bud Little he will propose making it a crime, with stiff fines, for people to give money to beggars on the public street.

Which just seems wrong, unless the motivation behind municipal laws are to raise revenue, not to prevent crime. If the motivation is revenue, this is not just logical, it’s right. I’m not sure how I feel about this, but it doesn’t seem right to me. Politicians have pretty much set a precedent that giving money is a speech act (to protect their campaign contributions). If that is the case, this law is infringing on the freedom of speech. But from what I understand, the bums/panhandlers in SA are some of the worst in the nation (by worst, I mean most hostile) and this would seem like an effective deterrent from giving them money. On the other hand, what right does the state have to prohibit this act? Balancing justice and pragmatism is difficult.

And in Michigan, they are using municipal laws to subvert a state law regarding the legality of medical marijuana. Of course, any of these laws, ordinances and zoning issues will eventually be thrown out by some judge; it just seems childish of the anti-pot crowd. The thing about laws are that they can be passed even if they are unconstitutional – and remain in effect until somebody takes a court case up high enough with it. Sure, organizations like the ACLU (I’m a card-carrying member myself, so this is no rip on them) can try to go in and fight off every case, but that’s kind of wasteful. The teetotallers are just fighting a war of attrition now, hoping that those who put liberty above all else will just give up because it’s so difficult.

The system of checks and balances works, but not nearly quickly enough. Unconstitutional laws can sit on the books for ages just because nobody has the money or motivation to take them to the supreme court. This is wrong.

And this year, I think it will only get worse.


Sad times

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Just to put things into perspective: the world doesn’t stop being shitty just because it’s the holidays.  A couple of local things and one from afar.

He was tough as nails.  Watching him recover from the stroke he had last year was inspiring.  He will certainly be missed.

Parking meters in Augusta is a bullshit idea.  I live downtown and I don’t always work before 9 until after 6.  Fuck paying monthly to park.  There isn’t convenient parking anywhere except on Broad street.  The only upside is that if this passes, it won’t happen until a couple of weeks before my lease is up – which will convince me not to renew it.  I’m sure the realtors downtown will appreciate this move.  A 30-day ticket free period simply means I will continue to park for free until I move out. (Also, I’ve never seen one person get a parking ticket ever the whole time I’ve been here and my roomie leaves his car for days at a time.)

I’m surprised there is in’t anything up at dosenation.com or synchronium.net yet.  The guys at Synchronium run an online store that sells a lot of this stuff.  It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that they’ve been arrested without the chance to lawfully dispose of their recently made-illegal products.

On a related note – things that suck – I recently stopped having insomnia and got my sleep cycle back to something more normal. That’s actually good, but the suck comes from the sudden re-realization that the daytime is really long and full of assholes. I didn’t have to deal with this kind of BS when I was up until 6 am and slept at most 3 hours. Now, even when I lounge around in my robe and slippers drinking coffee for four hours after waking up, it’s still only 10 AM! I am questioning how most people function like this. I certainly did it for six years straight and I don’t remember liking it then – only it seems worse now, somehow.


The forest through the trees?

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Weed Culture is Boob Culture:

Why aren’t there more female marijuana activists, Marijuana Policy Project employee Laura Greenback asks in High Times. Ooh! Pick me! I know the answer!

It’s not that women don’t like smoking weed. We do. And it’s not that we don’t care about the ass-backwards war on drugs—despite Greenback’s fears, half of the MPP’s top staff are women. It’s not that there are too few pop-culture stoner females, as Double X suggests—though we’re getting warmer!

All culture is boob culture. Because women like to exert control through their sex organs. And most men will bow to their wishes, hence sex sells.



Friday, October 16th, 2009

Today’s OED Word of the Day:

narcocracy, n.

1. A body of people responsible for the implementation of drug laws. rare.

1983 National Rev. (Nexis) 29 Apr. 492 The National Research Council report of June 21, 1982..was promptly suppressed by the narcocracy because it questions the efficacy of marijuana prohibition and advocates complete decriminalization and the consideration of legalization.

2. An elite or dominant group of people whose wealth derives from the trade in illegal drugs; a government or state dominated by such a group. Cf. NARCOKLEPTOCRACY n.

1985 A. HENMAN in A. Henman et al. Big Deal v. 141 Informal narcocracy would..come to mean a political system which..is governed by a legal and ideological need to appear to be suppressing its principal economic activity, the production of illicit drugs. 1987 Times 18 Dec. 7/5 The temperature has hit 20°C in Palermo this week, causing something of a problem for the wives of the new rich, the ‘narcocracy’,..itching to wear their fur coats. 1995 Arkansas Democrat-Gaz. (Nexis) 18 July 7B, It’s really disgusting… A complete sellout to the narcocracy. 2000 Bangkok Post (Nexis) 10 Dec., Colombia, to be blunt, has been known as a narcocracy for a decade.

This should be brought back into mainstream use. Also, the OED’s WOTD is fantastic and often much more interesting than anywhere else I’ve seen it.


Those darn legal highs!

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

The Rise and Rise of Legal Highs:

Head shops had found their breakthrough product, and quickly lost it. Could I still buy some? “The company that made Spice tried changing the brand and logo a few times, and eventually sold off the recipe,” said the salesman. “They still make it in the Dominican Republic, I think, but it’s not easy to get here any more.” He scribbled down the phone number of a possible supplier (“a shaman in Holland”) and sold me a small bag of something called Kratom instead. “It behaves like an opiate without any of the addictive qualities,” he said, charging £15 for a gram of the dried leaves. “Stir the packet into a yogurt and eat it.”

Later, following his instructions, and making a gritty mess of my peach Danone, I ate the kratom. It made me a bit fretful and urgent for an hour or two, a restlessness like that after one too many coffees, when you start to feel you ought to be writing a hit screenplay or enlisting to join wars. Some hours passed and I took an extraordinarily colourful visit to the loo.

Was there more to legal highs, I wondered, than this?

I recall ridiculing so-called “legal highs” during highschool. Then again, the really good ones weren’t readily available. I have since changed my mind on the subject and will heartily agree that many of them are just as powerful (if not more so) than some Schedule I drugs. Kratom is rather fun, although I’ve always had a retched “hangover” from it, which is to say I felt as though my insides were melting and I had a mild vertigo for 12 hours, always as though I were on the edge of a seizure. Salvia is mildly entertaining – 10 minutes of pretty bizarre hallucinations and extreme confusion followed by nothing.


DrugScope’s recent survey highlighted the falling quality of street drugs as a reason why legal highs are growing in popularity. The Mephedrone Tim took was far cleaner than anything he was likely to have bought from a dealer. It had not been cut with chalk, or mashed-up aspirin, or Dreft detergent; it had been mass-produced in a factory, probably in China, imported by a wholesaler, and sold to him by a head shop – pure. He posted a description of his experience on an online drug forum, to warn others about making the same misjudgment.

This is another advantage of legal highs, according to Clarke. When people have better evidence as to what they’ve taken – because a substance bears a brand name, or because it is produced in a factory to roughly the same strength from dose to dose – effects can be compared with some kind of accuracy. Sites such as Drugs-Forum.com and Erowid.org throb with testimonials and advice. “With generic ecstasy there are so many different pills out there with different things in them that their effect is not going to be consistent,” says Clarke. “It makes similar discussion almost impossible.”

Oh my. Commercialization of drugs induced standardization of drugs? Say it ain’t so!


Time to Legalize

Monday, August 24th, 2009

It’s Time to Legalize Drugs

Legalization would not create a drug free-for-all. In fact, regulation reins in the mess we already have. If prohibition decreased drug use and drug arrests acted as a deterrent, America would not lead the world in illegal drug use and incarceration for drug crimes.

Drug manufacturing and distribution is too dangerous to remain in the hands of unregulated criminals. Drug distribution needs to be the combined responsibility of doctors, the government, and a legal and regulated free market. This simple step would quickly eliminate the greatest threat of violence: street-corner drug dealing.

We simply urge the federal government to retreat. Let cities and states (and, while we’re at it, other countries) decide their own drug policies. Many would continue prohibition, but some would try something new. California and its medical marijuana dispensaries provide a good working example, warts and all, that legalized drug distribution does not cause the sky to fall.

Having fought the war on drugs, we know that ending the drug war is the right thing to do — for all of us, especially taxpayers. While the financial benefits of drug legalization are not our main concern, they are substantial. In a July referendum, Oakland, Calif., voted to tax drug sales by a 4-to-1 margin. Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimates that ending the drug war would save $44 billion annually, with taxes bringing in an additional $33 billion.

Peter Moskos is a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the author of “Cop in the Hood.” Neill Franklin is a 32-year law enforcement veteran. Both served as Baltimore City police officers and are members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.