Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Boy in a Meth-Free Bubble

Though that's not me in the photo above, the title refers to me in regards to drugs. At Sunday's prayer meeting, the topic of drugs (and meth in particular) seemed to be the focal point this time around. Then last night on "Nightline", they featured a segment on the explosive growth of meth use in small town America and the most effective way to combat it (through scary public service ads featuring bruised, pale, scar-marked meth users). And tonight on the local ABC affiliate, they are having a 30 minute program on meth users and how they came off their addiction.

Before this week, I've only heard about meth use and never really paid much attention to it. As some people shared their personal experiences with it, either using it or seeing friends nearly destroy their lives over it, I was shocked and amazed. And I realized how much of a "bubble" I have been living in all my life. For some inexplicable reason, I've always been adamantly opposed to drug usage. It's one of the things that I've been most intolerant of, going so far as to cut off friendships if they even smoked so much as a cigarette. I'm proud to say that I've never had an interest to try even marijuana, though I was offered some at a party I attended in the 11th grade. But also that year, I became friends with a free-spirited "hippie" girl who used marijuana, drank, and got tattoos. Her friendship taught me a lot about my own intolerance and though she never could get me to try it, I didn't end my friendship with her when I learned that aspect of her. Though we often disagreed on drug usage, in the years since, I believe that our "war on drugs" is a joke. The problem is that drug use is treated as a CRIMINAL problem, when in reality, it's more like a health problem. Throwing users in jail doesn't solve the problem of why people are using it in the first place.

The ads are a step in the right direction. I know that scary ads shown in elementary school so traumatized me that I never desired to try it. One of the things about my personality is that I tend to be risk averse and cautious to the point of being called "conservative." I was willing to learn from other people's experiences rather than learn from my own...meaning that I would take their word for it on drugs being bad. Besides, drugs were taken either through the nose, the veins, smoked, or swallowed and I hated all options. I was someone who couldn't even swallow a Tylenol pill without chewing it until I learned in basic training when fellow shipmates helped force it down with a lot of water (it does seem a bit odd to say, "I learned how to swallow in basic training", but it's true). Besides the matter of ingestion, I never thought a temporary blissful feeling was worth the side effects and the possibility of addiction. Add costs on top of that and the body's ability to tolerate it, thus requiring more and more doses to achieve the same effect...it just always seemed to me (conservative Capricorn that I am in my personal life) that drugs were "the devil's candy." Which is to say, the devil hooks you into a bad thing before you realize it and when you finally do, it's too late. He owns you.

I even interpret the story of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit as a cautionary tale against drug usage. The reason why partaking the fruit was a sin was because they wanted to cheat themselves of attaining knowledge through experience. They thought that taking the "magic fruit" would instantly give them whatever they felt they lacked. And the punishment for doing so was severe. There's nothing wrong with knowledge, but there is something wrong about wanting to attain a sort of spiritual ecstasy without having to go through the trials, meditation, and attainment of self-awareness that brings about true bliss.

So, it is sad to see many people caught up in the ecstasy or meth craze. As former users know from experience what I only know in theory...meth can't offer the very thing that they are looking for. It only destroys their life. It is the "forbidden fruit."

I do know from personal experience that so called spiritual "enlightenment" experiences (also called "eureka", "satori", or even being "born-again") are the kind of blissful moments that people are seeking. I had my own in August 2001 that lasted with greatest intensity for 2 weeks straight. I couldn't sleep well, but it didn't matter. I lived on the adrenaline rush for two weeks as I experienced true ecstasy without any side effects. It all happened after the right amount of spiritual search, asking the right questions and stumbling upon the right answers. Unfortunately, I haven't had such an experience since, but it doesn't matter. One shouldn't be addicted to or crave the next ecstatic moment, because it's not about achieving ecstasy or bliss. It's about communion with God and complete surrender to what is. That is something drug use will never be able to give anyone.

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