Friday, March 14, 2008

Drug addiction

Having been reminded of it, via a circuitous route that I won't go into, I have been reminded of Dom Bescoby's memoir, Down & Out In Sheffied & Lincoln, and I have been catching up with the chapters that have been written since I last checked. This passage, in Chapter 8, struck a chord with me, since it is something that I totally agree with.
And the weakness lies with the individual, let’s make that crystal clear. The media driven notion that there’s some inevitable spiral of decline involved with drugs, that if you catch one whiff of dope smoke then within six months you’ll be a needle scarred, HIV positive junkie who has to get bummed in phone boxes off German businessmen to fund your habit, is bullshit. Some people can handle their gear and some people can’t—and in a ratio which vastly favours the former.

The normal reality of recreational drug use is three or four years of regularly getting hammered which tapers off to abstinence as real life takes over, the responsibilities of adulthood impose themselves and a person finds themselves with neither the time nor the inclination to take drugs.

Drugs are, no matter how enjoyable it might be to take them, for people who have something missing from their lives - people who want to escape from wherever they are. A confused and rebellious spirited twenty something might feel the need to get out of it all the time but a reasonably well balanced and responsible adult doesn’t. Or at least they shouldn’t—if they do then I suggest that there are deeper issues to be addressed.

People who get fucked up on drugs are, ninety five percent of the time at least, fucked up to start with. Again, this is something they share with their contemporaries who get fucked up on booze, the horses, lottery scratch cards or any of those other harmless vices which add some spice to people’s lives and which most of us can enjoy without going off the rails.

In my experience, this is quite true. Those of us who used to take a lot of drugs on a regular basis have, generally speaking, almost entirely stopped because real life intervenes.

Yes, there is the occasional lapse, and jolly good fun it is too (apart from anything else, a number of people have told me that I am a much nicer person on drugs than on alcohol); but one simply cannot live one's life sensibly and cane drugs all of the time. And I speak as someone who almost never gets hangovers and only rare (and never severe) come-downs.

The vast majority of people who get fucked up on drugs would almost certainly have got fucked up on something else had drugs not existed—hell, I've known people who were so fucked up that, had drugs not existed, they would probably have invented the damn things. But most of those people also sorted out the problems that led them to abuse drugs so ferociously and are now perfectly respectable members of the community.

There are, alas, a couple of exceptions (and one has been in The Priory, as far as I know, ever since we left school) but, by and large, it was a fad that we went through and no harm done. (Except, as some smart chap will probably point out, that drugs fund crime. Yes, fine: so make them legal. Prohibition doesn't work, it has never worked and it never will. People like being out of their minds for a little while: it eases the burden of living.)

As the great Bill Hicks said, "What business is it of yours what I do, read, buy, see, say, think, who I fuck, what I take into my body—as long as I do not harm another human being on this planet?"


Anonymous said...

My brother-in-law (in the US) is a major cokehead and pothead. Fuck, if you can smoke it, swallow it or snort it, he uses it.

He left college in order to devote more time to the drugs and has been mooching off his parents ever since. Here's the funny thing, though: they didn't know about his drug habit; they thought he had left college because he was too wonderful and unique (eldest son, y'see - you can imagine what that means in a fundamentalist mid-western family) to be constrained by The Man.

Well, that wasn't the funny. This is the real funny thing: bruv-in-law keeps a fucking livejournal. Yes, a livejournal on which he details every single fucking drug he's ever taken, every one night stand he's ever had and exactly what he thinks of his parents (who are, essentially, bankrolling his extended Lost Weekend).

Wanna know what's funniest of all? His livejournal's name was the same as his email so anyone googling his email automatically came upon this treasure-trove of narcotic-related naughtiness.

I have to confess, I was royally fucking entertained when his parents found the LJ. (If by "found" you mean "clicked on the link in the email I sent them".)

Wanna know what's worse? That happened last year and he immediately deleted the LJ. But now he's posting all the same information (including the details of how he's only pretending to go into rehab so he can scam money out of mommy and daddy) on an open forum and, once again, this site is the number one hit if you google his email.

I'm not sure that this has much to do with your points, DK, but it's pretty fucking funny to me.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading that, because I'm around the same age and went to some of the clubs he mentions.
At the time I was a filthy 'outlaw' biker and how we looked down on his poodle haired glam rock types. We thought they were a bunch of pussies and weren't averse to giving them a smack now and again just to remind them of their position in the food chain.
With the benefit of hindsight I now know that they were getting all the chicks, who( amazingly ) were actually turned off by my bad impersonation of Sonny Barger.
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.
I still reckon Glam Rock sucks though.

Anonymous said...

Don't you people have better things to do? Anonymous, 2.27am, your sister should've divorced that dickhead and you wouldn't have wasted your time typing out that fuckingly funny story...

Or do we have a couple of hallucinating drug addicts here?

Unknown said...

I was under the impression that he'd married the druggie's sister, not that his sister had married the sleazeball.

As for Dom Bescoby, he looks familar - I'm also around the same age and I went to the same pubs and clubs. And I witnessed one of the events he relates at the entrance to the Roxy nightclub.

I wasn't one of the poodle-haired glam-rockers though, just your traditional Heavy, Hippy and Progressive Rock, e.g. Motorhead, Free, Rush, Yes and the like.

Tomrat said...

Anon 4:49,

Just hazarding a guess here but with all the sex, slacking and stupidity I'm guessing the dude married this guys sister too. Doylem.


As I expressed on the LPUK forum this is almost entirely what happened to me; I rebelled, got drunk, got drugs and got wasted from age 13-16 - my choice of drugs were cannabis and prescription painkillers (weapon of choice as I suffered from severe glandular fever that went undiagnosed until I was 17). I then met my future wife, found God and cleaned myself up.

Drugs are a diversion from some unhappy home truths, but it really comes down to a person's character; few things will redress that so it is best to sweat it out until reality comes screaming in.

Anonymous said...

As the great Bill Hicks said, "What business is it of yours what I do, read, buy, see, say, think, who I fuck, what I take into my body—as long as I do not harm another human being on this planet?"

Drug use does harm other human beings.

Buying drugs funds murder.

Accept the consequences of your actions.

Devil's Kitchen said...

"(Except, as some smart chap will probably point out, that drugs fund crime. Yes, fine: so make them legal. Prohibition doesn't work, it has never worked and it never will. People like being out of their minds for a little while: it eases the burden of living.)"

So glad to see you turned up, Anon; I was missing your tedious sermonising.

By and large, the people that die in such deals are other criminals. Excuse me while I weep some bitter tears.

In that section, Hicks was calling for the legalisation of drugs. He was also relating a story about taking mushrooms, which do not fund murder, by the way, by virtue of their growing naturally.

And even if you lived in a city, until a couple of years ago, you could buy fresh mushrooms quite legally in this country.

I shall continue to call for legalisation because that will take away the vast bulk of the harm that drugs do.

And, if I am going to do that, I prefer to know what the hell I am talking about.


Anonymous said...

"By and large, the people that die in such deals are other criminals. Excuse me while I weep some bitter tears."

This is a lie you are using to avoid accepting respnsability for the consequences of your action.

The drugs trade causes msassive suffering to the poor in South America and west Africa and funds terrorists to kill our soldiers in Afghanistan.

I am not arguing against legalisation or for prohibition I am merely stating that buying drugs under the current circumstances causes other human beings to suffer.

Devil's Kitchen said...


The real truth is that I simply don't give a shit. OK?

Now, off you trot, like a good little boy and go and bore someone else.


Anonymous said...

"The real truth is that I simply don't give a shit. OK?"

well done for admiting it perhaps you will stop trying to argue that your drug use causes no harm to others.

Anonymous said...

doesn't say much for your libertarian philosophy or this new party you are trying to establish if your credo is essentially devoid of morality or ethics.

Devil's Kitchen said...

It says even less of your conviction that you continue to be Anonymous. But it is not my place to dictate morality or ethics to others: that is rather the point.

The amount of damage that I do, given my very occasional indulgences is, in any case, very minor.

If they give me an insight into the argument for legalisation -- which they do -- then that is, ultimately, a good thing. There is a trade-off.


Tomrat said...

Anon 10:43,

My credo is not devoid of morality or ethics; I disagree with drug use and thus I do not use drugs - it is a stretch to moralising over others that leans dangerously close to reducing anothers liberty, as is occasioned when you criminalise drug use and not the actions that go hand in hand with its illegality.

That said you have made a very good point; there is indeed a disassociation between the negative effects we experience from drug use (such as violence, gun crime, etc) and what others experience FROM our drug use (which is something we should care about; terrorism, liberty robbed and dictators supported abroad). However, Anon, do you believe that Columbian drug lords, Afgani warlords or Jamaican drug lords would still be able to compete in a free market rather than a near closed monopoly (only opened by your aforementioned criminal dealings I might add)? Do you really think that if Tesco's, ASDA, big-Pharma or anyone else was allowed to refine and produce clean and better products they wouldn't quickly die out? They essentially behave as protectionists as it is - cept no one would support such unscrupulous characters selling crap products.

Anonymous said...

you criticise me for my choice to be anonymous rather than use a made up name?

I am not trying to dictate what others should do to their own bodies or arguing for prohibition.

I am just attacking your contention that drug use does no harm to others.

I thought your libertarian philosophy did have an ethical element which could be summed up as "do what you like as long as you do no harm to others"

Are you abandoning this stance?

Devil's Kitchen said...


I have abandoned many stances in the face of practicality (and other reasons).

Libertarianism is a pure philosophy and pure philosophies always need to be amended in the face of real life.

I have, for instance, conceded that we need to have some state welfare, although I am opposed.

I generally concede that we would probably need to make some kind of compulsory health insurance, although I am opposed.

And all of these concessions are made because people are not perfect; not even close.

Now, you do me a favour, please. Find me some accurate figures of how many people die, and in which circumstances, as a direct result of drug use in Britain.


Anonymous said...

ok so we're back to disputing that your drug use causes others to suffer.

Why not just act like a grown up and accept the consequences of your actions.

Devil's Kitchen said...

No, I just want to know the extent, Anonymous. And I want to know how many are truly innocents.

Why don't you stop acting like a stalker and fuck off?


Anonymous said...

Didn't realise you only wanted posts from people who agree with you.

Anonymous said...

"It is estimated that around 3,000 people in Columbia are killed each year during fighting between rival drug gangs."

Devil's Kitchen said...


Thanks. I'll look into the figures rather more closely: I need to do so to develop policy anyway.

Sorry, I haven't slept so I'm a wee bit tetchy today.


Dom said...

Cheers for the shout out Chris - I was wondering why my stats have gone totally mental today! By the way, you still have the address of my old site on the link in your sidebar.


Machiavelli's Understudy said...


Have you stopped to consider who is responsible for the illicit drugs trade? Would it be that it is the collusion of various governments by criminalising drugs, their production and trade?

It is these governments and not the consumers who are responsible for creating a situation where people are caught up in violence.

The very nature of the drugs trade means that consumers and middlemen more often than not do not know the origin of their substance, so you cannot say for certain whether or not it is 'tainted' with the blood of others.

Then we should address your narrow-minded approach to the connection between drugs and violence. Your reaction was to reach for the cliché example of coca-related deaths. Yawn. What about cannabis? MDMA? Speed? Ket? I think we can be fairly certain in the instance of ket that there isn't any violence involved there, mostly because it is manufactured by pharmaceutical companies to be pumped in to horses and kids. The added bonus is that nobody has died from using ket recreationally, either.

My conscience is entirely clean when I indulge.

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