"I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom." - Edgar Allan Poe
I barely remember anything from Saturday night. I took four milligrams of Klonopin before I started drinking. I haven't taken prescription pills recreationally in at least a few years, and it wasn't something I'd planned to do. I was visiting a friend in Philadelphia to celebrate his birthday and, while some level of turn up was imminent, his girlfriend conveniently had Ziplocs full of benzos at no cost. One of the bags had Xanax, which I've had some experiences with, so I took four of the green Teva 833s because I'd never had Klonopin. They felt like the new age Lemmon 714s from The Wolf of Wall Street. I swear I'm not as into drugs as it probably sounds like I am right now, but, for me, it just feels like when faced with opportunities to expand your mind, why not? New York Mag did a cover story on these anti-anxiety meds. And I live in New York. And I have anxiety. So, why not?
When anyone takes drugs, that's all we're trying to do. It's not a race or a mission to get fucked up, even if that's definitely a layer of motivation. There's so much in the decision to use that's defined by the desire to escape from reality in order to better understand that reality we're running from. You're Neo in The Matrix. You're not just gonna sit back, chilling in one of those pods like everyone else. You're expanding your mind and figuring out a little bit more about what's going on out there.
But in the aftermath of Saturday night, I was nowhere closer to understanding the meaning of life, or any of that shit I was just rambling about. That's the catch 22 of drugs. The surface level may be that desire to get fucked up, but you mostly think that by altering your mind you'll cross over into some new state of enlightenment. You're trying to break some fourth wall of consciousness because life is inherently difficult and confusing and there has to be some type of explanation, right? "Hey, maybe these shrooms will give me some answers tonight." And they might. One time shrooms had me crying on a rooftop because the skyline looked so small and I couldn't get over how big the world was. Admittedly, it was a very rare emotional trip.
Drugs are good for a few breakthroughs. You will have moments of enlightenment. But you also have to realize that you'll never obtain the answers to life and the universe by indulging in them. Sway doesn't have the answers and neither do drugs. That wall of consciousness that you're trying to break down doesn't exist. You might think you've seen it when you're smoking DMT on the beach in Miami on a winter night. You might think you've seen it when "Let’s take it back to the first party, when you tried your first molly" literally describes how your relationship began. But there's no light at the end of the tunnel. And continuously searching for that light is how addicts are born. It's a vicious cycle and it's the reason why a person suddenly needs two grams to party instead of two lines. You consume more thinking, "This time everything will be okay, and stay okay, because I finally did enough." But that never happens. And you knew it wouldn't happen. And now you're worse off because of it.
This isn't entirely a personal testimony. I'm really just speaking to what I see happening and I highly doubt it's just me. Every time I go out anywhere in New York, or when I'm back home in Chicago, or when I lived in L.A., or when I visit Miami or Paris or Toronto, drugs are available. Everyone has them. And everyone does them. And it's been this way forever. I literally mean forever. Indigenous people were chewing on coca leaves long before cartels started selling us this bullshit. So what is it about humans? Why do we want to get high? There's fairly little I haven't seen when it comes to drugs, so nothing’s that shocking to me, but I was at a house party a few weekends ago and I'm not exaggerating when I say that every single person there had cocaine.
It wasn't like, "Oh my God, they have coke and that's terrible," or even "They have coke and that's great." It's just that, at that exact moment, it lost all of that wide-eyed, 17-year-old glamor. There you are, in a room with the most diverse cast of characters. It's not just white kids, or black kids, or poor motherfuckers, or Ivy League cats. It's all of them, and many other groups of people who all have the same objective: to get high. Drugs are so incredibly universal and that's why I'm convinced that there's this common thread throughout all of humanity, this eternal longing for understanding that so many attempt to explore and navigate with drugs. But when you're in a room, and everyone has their dealer, and everyone's on something, and nobody's getting anywhere, it all feels incredibly fucking useless.
We all want to get so fucked up out of our minds that we forget that any problem ever existed in the first place. But that relief is the definition of fleeting, and the longer you indulge it the more apparent that fact is.
Everyone in that room, on that night, seemed to be searching for something deeper than whatever they were putting up their nose. Sure, there were zero conversations about this "search," but from a distance, you could tell that everyone was just trying to escape reality for a minute. It's no different than when you had your first beer in high school, or your first acid trip in college. But when you're in your mid-20s and you've been doing this shit for 10 years, no matter how mild or full-blown your habit is, you have to wonder where it's all going. And guess what? It's going nowhere. Drugs can't alter the reality of your circumstances and the sooner you stop doing lines as if they will, the better off you'll be. This shit is a wasteland.
But, here we are, always chasing as if we are going to catch up, as if we're finally going to hit that point where, "OH SHIT. THIS IS IT. I GOT THERE. I FINALLY UNDERSTAND LIFE. I NEVER HAVE TO DO DRUGS AGAIN." See, there's no end goal. There's no boss to beat. Without a doubt, you always just want more drugs. You either have to stop or you need to at least be self-aware about it. People call themselves casual drug users, but can't fathom the idea of a weekend without cocaine, or a concert without molly, or a final exam without Adderall.
We're always gunning for the rush of that wired first night, or the first concert you rolled, or the first time you aced a test because of Vyvanse. But you can never get that back. There's no life hack for that. Do enough MDMA and not only will it start to lose its strange onset of peculiar euphoria because you've depleted so much of your brain's serotonin, but your surroundings don't mean what they used to, either. You can roll face, in complete awe of how good the music sounds and how in love you are with all of your friends. You can do that shit a million times. But you don't get the magic that comes with discovery for long. Even more innocent drugs like weed and alcohol feel increasingly pointless and depressing now compared to the loopy joy they brought you at 15.
And yet we continue to talk about drugs like they're so cool and like doing all of them earns us some badge of honor. I can't go anywhere without hearing about how wasted someone was last night, or how much blow they did last weekend, or how psychedelic their trip was last month. I don't know if it's an arrogant "been there, done that" attitude, but I do know that I've sat around at social gatherings where all people talk about are drugs and it feels stupid. We hear about the benders these old rockstars and famous authors and legendary actors went on and subconsciously want to emulate that because spiraling out of control feels like the easiest way to say, "Fuck society and whatever is expected of me." The trick is not falsely romanticizing that shit like a lot those people drowning in drugs weren't sick, fucked up people. If you go on enough of your own benders, you'll begin to feel like a sick, fuck up yourself. Suddenly, life is a lot realer than some scene from Scarface, and not in a good way.
It's a nightmare you can't get out of. Drugs are the real Freddy Krueger. When yet another person is breaking down yet another rock with yet another credit card, no one wants to talk about the realities. And not the reality that it's dangerous and that you might go into cardiac arrest or any of that. Who cares about that? Half of the thrill of drugs is that they might kill you. It's like when Kid Cudi said, "It's something like a spiritual healer that could end me/I guess that's the part I did find intriguing/I'm fiending." Anybody who does drugs secretly loves the fact that they're essentially playing Russian Roulette with every line that they snort.
The reality I'm talking about is that awful, bottomless comedown the day after. Realities like the fact that you didn't used to be this way and that you once found pleasure in less toxic activities. We all want to relieve the stress of modern existence. We all want to get so fucked up out of our minds that we forget that any problem ever existed in the first place. But that relief is the definition of fleeting, and the longer you indulge it the more apparent that fact is. No matter your reasons for doing drugs, if you've been on the hedonistic treadmill long enough, there's no denying that it doesn't feel as good as it used to, from the private ritual of locking a door and cutting up lines, to the sweet taste of promethazine codeine merging with soda, to that cigarette you took on your lunch break. You can take another hit, and you probably will, but keep in mind the law of diminishing returns. Know that what you felt before is gone forever. It's all over.