an essay by Ken Wear, 2003

Books have been written describing the drug experience, the highs and lows, the ecstasies and emotional plunders. I have no current list but cite William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience, Leary, Metzner & Alpert The Psychedelic Experience, de Ropp The Drug Experience and The Master Game. I undertake neither glorification nor damning of the drug experience but undertake to provide information that can be useful in making life's choices.

Eric Berne, in Games People Play, examined the sweep of human experience, referring to a game as an interaction between people involving ulterior motives. I think it fair to say each of us operates in keeping with a single dominant orientation in life, with possibly several secondary goals that are not generally allowed to interfere with the dominant ulterior motive. And the games we play unceasingly reflect those motives and goals. Berne divides the games into "object" games, as those played to gain material things, primarily money and the things money can buy, and "meta" games having more intangible goals such as knowledge or salvation; there are of course those committed to "No Game" with its lack of aim and those playing the Householder Game of raising families.

Of the Object Games he separates them into 1) "Hog in Trough" where the aim is to get one's nose in the trough as deeply as possible, guzzle as much as possible, elbowing other hogs aside as forcefully as possible; 2) "Cock on Dunghill" whose aim is celebrity or notoriety; and 3) "Moloch Games" played for 'glory' or 'victory' or 'personal power' in defeating those who can be collectively called the 'enemy.' The Meta Games are "Science," "Art," and "Religion." If the goal of each person's life is the attainment of happiness for himself, it is questionable if any of these games in its pure form can be wholly adequate.

Where and how do drug experiences fit into the Games? Is it to cloud weaknesses and failures? Or take advantage of one's fellows through their indulgences? Seek knowledge of self? Know the range of experiences available to man? Relax inhibitions in a group setting? Seek the face of God or Satan? Seek "truth?" Assist in relaxation and sleep? Certainly allowing drugs to become the game would devalue you and be unthinkable.

It is likely true: No Game, No Aim. Few of us are so out of tune with life that they simply wander in the morass with no sense of beginning, end or middle. Whatever Game you have chosen for yourself, you will be constrained to follow the rules life and the world impose. But note that, if you would persist successfully in any Game, your exposure to drugs and other mind trashers must be carried out responsibly. Legalities aside -- and the law is intended, however misguided or poorly contrived it may at times seem, for your own protection -- responsible pursuit requires, according to de Roop and dealing with psychedelics, adequate preparation for an experience, favorable surroundings, proper guidance, and restraint in recovering fully from one experience before embarking on another. While some drugs are so dangerous it would be foolhardy to even contemplate experimenting (and possession or traffic in many more is outside the law), under the right circumstances some choose to justify to themselves the risks of a "trip" in their search for knowledge of self and a useful balance between knowledge and fear of the unknown. Note 'right circumstances:' preparation, surroundings, guidance, restraint: so as not to result in dangerous depletion of life's energy reserves.

Quoting de Roop: He who misuses psychedelics sacrifices his capacity to develop by persistently squandering those inner resources on which growth depends.

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Out of the blue I received an e-mail from a young man in the UK. He said, quote:
"I am 24 years old, and I would deem myself intelligent, street-wise and a genuine good person. Unfortunately, I used drugs less than a handful of times when in my teens. Lucky for me, it was on rare occassions and has not or will not ever happen again. It all depends on the crowd you are hanging around with, again I am lucky enough to have great friends who have never done drugs. I am into a certain type of music which you would associate with drugs and my friends aren't, so I went on a couple of occassions to a dance music festival with so called "other friends". That's when I did drugs. I am a very thorough person and like to know about everything, so I know what the side affects of drugs are, and what is in them - stupidly I still did them. But thankfully I am perfectly functional to this day and will never do them again. Anyway, there are less educated people than myself, who to be frank "fall into the teenage drugs trap", and think doing them every weekend is great and exciting. Little do they know that in years to come [they] are exposed to a number of illnesses, moreso mental than physical (which I think can be worse)."

I am reminded of the son of a friend, a brilliant but rebellious teenager, given a year in Europe as a high school graduation gift. He got seriously into drugs in Europe but has been clean for over two decades, but now, at 50+, has been on the liver transplant list for over a decade and is heavily dependent on the medical community; he has good days and bad days, can't hold a job and is dependent on his wife. His mind is clear and I asked him to prepare a testimonial, but he can't stand long enough to deliver it. A life time of compromised health in return for a few years of occasional drug-induced euphoria. His mother tells me he regards his drug experience as a mistake but, as they say, "That's life; you pay for what you get." 6-28-08 Family history suggests a long life span of 80+ years, but now, at age 51, he is at death's door with a liver that has ceased to function, bed-ridden and so weak he can hardly make himself heard. Tragic! But the result of choices he willingly (and cheerfully) made. 7-4-08 Shortly after daybreak his spirit returned whence it came. Ironic on this Fourth of July: Freedom Day: His spirit has regained its freedom and his body returned to the soil.

If you feel it would be helpful and wish to relate your experience, a contribution here will be anonymous. But I don't want any fiction or pranks. For the e-mail form, click here.

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