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Why Do We Get High?

By John Clarke

Looking back at my pre­vi­ous post, Demo­cracy In Action, I think it’s pretty clear the upcom­ing legal highs ban in the UK is NOT a “Harm Reduc­tion” move.  Banning a class of sub­stances with medical value because of “poten­tial harm”, despite never having killed anyone seems to me to be an attempt to control par­tic­u­lar states of con­cious­ness. Inspired by the fuck­wits that run this country, I decided to invest­ig­ate just why people get high in the first place.

Elephants drink to forget...

Ele­phants drink to forget…

The first inter­est­ing and often over­looked point is that animals like to get high too. Ele­phants not only like to get pissed every now and then by eating fer­ment­ing fruit; they also drink them­selves stupid if their mate dies, clearly drown­ing their sorrows. Vervet monkeys love steal­ing people’s drinks and getting drunk just for the fun of it. Lemurs have evolved to get high off the mil­li­pede juice they spray over them­selves to repel bugs. Even the walla­bies are at it! In fact, animals getting high is such a pre­val­ent phe­nomenon that there’s an entire episode of Weird Nature ded­ic­ated to it — Pecu­liar Potions. All this evid­ence points to getting high as another kind of instinct, along­side eating, sleep­ing and mating. That doesn’t mean we all want to get high 100% of the time and will kill each other for the priv­ilege, it just means that right across the animal kingdom, this pen­chant for getting high (or a tend­ency to self-med­ic­ate) obvi­ously had its advant­ages. Anxiety, rest­less­ness, depres­sion, pain, lack of appet­ite — all of these can be managed to some extent by one drug or another, and if trying to manage those things means you live longer and are more likely to pass on your genes, it’s no wonder this instinct is so ingrained. You can read more about the “Intox­ic­a­tion Instinct” here.

I’ve done a little study of my own to find out why people get high. With tens of thou­sands of pounds in funding from John Hopkins and the Uni­ver­sity of Not­ting­ham, I bought massive bag of drugs and con­sumed them over a five year period to really get to the bottom of that issue. When the last of the drugs had gone, I spent the after­noon on various drugs-related forums finding out why people got high and totalled up the results. Here they are:

Why Do We Get High?

All the cat­egor­ies do kind of blur into each other a bit, so here are the loose defin­i­tions I used for each:

Fun

This cat­egory included any responses that indic­ated a purely recre­ational, almost inno­cent reason for drug use., such as dancing or having a laugh.

Med­it­a­tion

This cat­egory included not only those that used drugs for strict med­it­a­tion, but also those that used drugs to “expand their con­cious­ness” or to perhaps shift their per­spect­ive on things.

Self Med­ic­a­tion

The most obvious reason to take drugs is for pain man­age­ment, but other respon­ders used drugs for anxiety issues, depres­sion and a whole range of other con­di­tions.

Boredom

Quite simply those people who take drugs because being sober all the time is boring.

Masking Neg­at­ive Feel­ings

This would include our bereaved ele­phant and anyone else who uses drugs to stop them­selves dwell­ing on the neg­at­ive.

Soci­ab­il­ity

This is related to the self med­ic­a­tion cat­egory in that these people take drugs to help their con­fid­ence in social situ­ations, those who enjoy a quick drink down the pub and everything in between.

Escap­ism

This cat­egory is prob­ably the hardest to define, rep­res­ent­ing those looking for some­thing dif­fer­ent. While you could argue that these responses could be put in the other cat­egor­ies, this cat­egory was actu­ally for those responses that couldn’t be cat­egor­ised. It includes people who just want a break from nor­mal­ity for no reason in par­tic­u­lar.

Pro­ductiv­ity

Believe it or not, some people are more pro­duct­ive on drugs. Take that, gov­ern­ment!

***

So there we have it! An inter­est­ing looking graph pro­duced from some pretty dodgy qual­it­at­ive stat­ist­ics obtained from a small inter­net-savvy sample, not rep­res­ent­at­ive of the entire pop­u­la­tion. Still, having fun, intro­spec­tion, deep though, med­it­a­tion and self med­ic­a­tion are cer­tainly the most popular reasons to take drugs. It’s no wonder organ­ised reli­gion wants to keep this kind of thing under wraps.

Why is it that you get high? Leave an answer in the com­ments and perhaps we can extend this “study” a little bit..

6 Responses to Why Do We Get High?

  1. YangombiUmpakati says:

    you rock!

    i feel some­what same way.. but this inspir­ing article put another piece of con­crete par­tic­u­lar idea to my whole view making it more com­plete and clear.. you get me right? anyway thx

    hehe

  2. PoisonedV says:

    Haha, I get high for all these reasons. Most notably Fun, Boredom, and pro­ductiv­ity.

  3. Dragon says:

    I also have con­sumed a huge bag of drugs funded by myself.

    This article is well done and speaks dir­ectly to the ignor­ance of gov­ern­ment. Or is it ignor­ance?

    I believe that the sup­pres­sion of altern­at­ive drugs (medi­cine / entheo­gens) is delib­er­ate because it cuts into the profits they make from the syn­thetic barrage of nar­cot­ics that are deemed legal when a “doctor” writes shit on a piece of paper.

    I have elim­in­ated several pre­scrip­tion drugs that I was using by switch­ing to the altern­at­ive entheo­gens. Lower blood pres­sure to normal, weight loss, reduced alcohol intake, stopped smoking fag tobacco, etc.

    Oh ya I almost forgot. Getting high is fun too.

    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO !!!!! My walls are melting !!!!

    Ya and I have unreal energy. Forgot about that part. Pro­ductiv­ity is better than ever due to a clear mind due to a shift of my view of the whole cre­ation spe­cific­ally.

    This blog always deserves a 5 on the rating scale.

    Cheers
    Dragon

  4. adam says:

    what about addic­tion? It blends into the others as well but deserves to be its own reason more than some of the others.

    also i love how today’s front page ends, with a fuck you to George Lamb…

  5. Synchronium says:

    Adam, you’re right. I didn’t include addic­tion though because that was never a reason to start using drugs. Also, I imagine those looking for a bit of fun or intel­lec­tual escap­ism are prob­ably more likely to use online forums to talk about it. If I included addic­tion, the results would have been unusu­ally low.

    It also comes down to where I col­lec­ted the data from. While some forums encour­age dis­cus­sion of illegal addict­ive drugs, some didn’t, so all the other cat­egor­ies still applied.

  6. Louis says:

    I guess I get high for all of the reasons above, but I seem to keep to certain drugs for the dif­fer­ent cat­egor­ies. For example, I wouldn’t get stoned to go out for the night, or I’d just get sleepy. In the same way, I wouldn’t drop some MDMA out of boredom — it seems too heavy for such a trivial reason.

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