Psychoactives are everywhere. On dealing with drugs

Say no to drugs! So never again coffee, sweets and wine? A complete renunciation of psychoactive substances? That's not what we mean… A suggestion for a more conscious approach to our five favorite drugs.

Drugs and pleasure

What are the five favorite drugs of the Swiss? When asked this provocative question, most people probably don't think that sugar or caffeine, among other things, could be meant - why? “Drugs” - that's a word with a strong negative connotation. Taking drugs, after all, is punishable and bad, not a pleasure! But then what are “stimulants”? This strange distinction, which of course also manifests itself in the use of language, should be put into perspective and sobered up, which is also one of the aims of this article. I want to describe the most common forms of consumption and their effects in an understandable way, in order to encourage an unbiased view. In addition, I take the opportunity to clear away some persistent (because populist) prejudices.

Drugs for every taste

The five favorite drugs, if the criterion of frequency of consumption is defined as decisive, are sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and THC of the hemp plant. These stimulants are consumed very often by a great many people. The vast majority regularly use at least one of these substances - whether for relaxation, performance enhancement or as a means of intoxication. Of course, many other drugs are consumed, from the illegal ones like cocaine, ecstasy or opium to countless legal and chemical sedatives and sleep or performance enhancers, everything is available. But the mentioned five are the most consumed substances related to pleasure, addiction and intoxication. They are mainly consumed in the form of soft drinks, sweets or many other products (sugar), coffee, tea or cacao (caffeine), tobacco (nicotine), drinks (alcohol) and joints (THC).

Sugar - the underestimated drug

Sugar is the most consumed and trivialized drug we know. Sugar (carbohydrates) is essential for life, the body gets its energy from it (for the sake of simplicity I will write only about sugar and leave out the fact that there are different types of it). The supply with it is not a problem with a fairly normal diet, because many foods naturally contain sugar (for example, fructose in fruits). At the same time, however, they also contain the necessary vitamins and enzymes that the body needs to digest the sugar. Pure industrial sugar lacks these substances and we do not need it at all to live. It is purely a stimulant. The effect of low doses and infrequent use is an activating, stimulating one due to the rapid rise in blood sugar levels. A sweet dessert after a sumptuous meal can pleasantly dispel fatigue. But after increased doses, the level rises even higher, which causes it to fall again more quickly, even below the initial value. This creates a craving for even more sweets, with a typical addictive cycle in place. If you continue to overdo it and consume a lot of sugar every day, for example drinking two liters of cola or iced tea, you start to produce excessive amounts of peptides, which act in the brain as transmitters (messenger substances) on the same receptors as morphine or heroin. Then the sweet life is over, because sugar addiction can lead to migraines, disorders of consciousness and digestion, among other things, and most likely plays a role in the development of gout, rheumatism, liver and kidney diseases. It also increases blood cholesterol levels and promotes arteriosclerosis. When abruptly stopping the ups and downs of blood glucose levels and stimulating the receptors, sometimes severe withdrawal symptoms occur.

Coffee - the everyday drug

Moving on to caffeine, we see that in general consumption it is often consumed together with sugar, which is a mixed consumption. The fluctuations in blood sugar levels, the stimulation of receptors in the brain by the peptides, and the increased nerve activity (caffeine), as well as other mixed consumption variants, evoke a wide variety of complicated effects that interact and whose exploration is beyond the scope of this paper. Like cocaine or nicotine, caffeine is a stimulant, which in turn has a stimulating, slightly euphoric and talkative effect, similar to sugar, when consumed infrequently and in low doses. Therefore, it is also consumed mainly after meals or in the morning, as well as in company. It dispels fatigue and improves memory and concentration. Depending on the form of consumption, its effect is stronger and shorter (coffee) or longer and gentler (tea). With daily consumption of coffee, tolerance sets in relatively quickly (after about a week), as well as a cycle of too low and increased nervous activity. Effects of caffeine addiction can range from insomnia to anxiety to sweating, diarrhea, high blood pressure, and more. Socially, caffeine is downplayed like sugar, and drinking coffee is appropriate and normal. At my workplace, for example, there are so-called “coffee breaks” declared in writing! Imagine if someone came up with the crazy idea of calling a break during working hours a drug break… Only a few consumers are aware that their coffee contains a strong drug with a high addiction potential.

Tobacco - a drug under pressure

Now to nicotine; the most common form of consumption are probably the “cigis”. The short-term performance enhancement makes them a “in-between drug”, you quickly smoke one and get back to work or relieve boredom. The addiction potential is extremely high, it is compared with that of heroin! Nevertheless, nicotine was downplayed for a long time before educational campaigns and a rethinking in society took place. Just as today with caffeine and sugar, one would have been laughed at in the past if one had spoken of nicotine as a drug… The tobacco plant belongs to the nightshade family and actually contains strong psychoactive substances. However, cigarette manufacturers use low-grade tobacco enriched with all kinds of chemical additives with the aim of promoting addiction; for example, one additive causes nicotine to enter the bloodstream more quickly. I believe that among these substances, the “cigi” is the greatest addictive substance; when it is used as a stimulant, the pleasure is merely to satisfy the addiction. There is even a huge market for smokers who want to quit, with all sorts of products from therapy to nicotine patches and tablets. Since most relapse anyway, both from smoking and therapy, this remains a lucrative business. Anyone interested in the extensive consequences of consumption should go to the nearest kiosk and study some of the notices on cigarette packages. In addition, there is of course better tobacco, which can be smoked very well in pipes, cigars or joints because of its stimulating and performance-enhancing effect.

Beer, wine and schnapps - our cultural drugs

Alcohol is by far the “hardest” legal drug. Not only can you poison yourself to the point of killing yourself with it and lose control over your own actions at an early age, but it also contains a great potential for psychological and physical addiction. Alcoholic beverages, especially beer, wine and schnapps, are an integral part of our culture, have a long history and please many people every day. Alcohol is also usually perceived as a drug and not downplayed, because the effects are known to be bad. The effects vary greatly depending on the type of drink and the dosage. For example, white wine is considered “liquid cocaine,” while beer and red wine have a more sedative effect. Basically, however, alcohol has a disinhibiting and relaxing effect, which is why it is suitable for social evenings and parties, for example. At higher doses, depending on the type, one becomes enterprising and loud to aggressive or tired. With regular consumption, a tolerance quickly develops, which is why the “after-work beer” can soon become an after-work hardass. In the case of regular abuse with high dosages, a strong dependence sets in, which shows itself in users through social withdrawal, health damage of all kinds and ultimately in the holistic “crash” of the sick person. Those who then want to or have to go through severe withdrawal experience an extreme period paved with hallucinations, delusions and anxiety, during which cardiac arrhythmias and other complications can also occur, the so-called “Delirium Tremens”. However, many addicts die from alcohol before this happens.

Hash and weed - the forbidden drug

The THC of the hemp plant is in many respects a special stimulant. Firstly, the smoke hemp is by far the most consumed among the illegal drugs and secondly, the social and also direct effects on humans are not only influenced by the substance, but indirectly also significantly by the prohibition. Since hemp can be produced and traded completely freely by anyone, anywhere, and there is a huge market (at least 500 million francs sales per year throughout Switzerland), the focus is not on health protection and information, but on the contrary on profit maximization and non-control. Since draconian penalties are threatening, the majority of marginalized people and criminals devote themselves to the hemp business. In Switzerland, the legislation is fortunately somewhat milder than in most other countries, where the drug problem rages correspondingly more fiercely, since the numbers of consumers remain completely independent of the laws, but from a certain degree of prosecution and threat of punishment, only absolutely unscrupulous criminal money-grubbers are willing to expose themselves to this risk.

Prohibition and prejudice go hand in hand

In addition, of course, wonderfully false information and prejudices can form, which are ridiculous to worrying. As an example of countless, I will show the famous and much quoted Kassensturz program on the subject of indoor hemp, which was broadcast years ago on Swiss television; there it was claimed in a rather populist way that “drug hemp” is much stronger nowadays than the “herb of the hippies” used to be. This is as wrong as if someone would claim that alcohol has become much stronger since distillation; even if we can drink schnapps since then - the beer and the wine has still not become ten times stronger! It is the same with the countless varieties, variations and ways of consumption with hemp. About twenty years ago, in Europe and the USA, also because of the laws, more and more attempts were made to grow plants “indoors”, which produced many new, exquisite varieties, differentiated in taste and effect. Some, perhaps not the ones that should be enjoyed often and much, dominate the market (due to short growing seasons and large yields in a small space). These varieties are called “Power Plant”, “Euphoria” or “Big Bud”. They should be enjoyed as one enjoys schnapps, rarely and in very small quantities. The fact that uninformed young people drink “liquor from beer glasses” is not due to a mysterious evolution of the hemp plant, but to the suppression and prosecution of hemp culture. The traditional growing areas around the world still produce exactly the same hemp as their ancestors did hundreds and thousands of years ago! Unfortunately, again due to the laws, it has usually already been quite contaminated and stretched by the time it arrives in Europe on the final market… So the repression encourages developments that then want to be prevented with even more repression - a funny situation.

The real effects can be very helpful

Enough about the specifics of hemp and the effects of prohibition. Now we deal with the direct effects of THC on humans: Unlike caffeine, sugar or nicotine, hemp is a rather sedative drug, it lowers muscle tone, sensitizes the senses and increases appetite. In addition, it is a very old drug that is still prescribed today, especially in the United States (be amazed) to patients with sleep, muscle and eating disorders. With occasional consumption of high-quality hemp, neither tolerance nor addiction sets in, one can then wonderfully relax, enjoy music, movies or other nice things and have cheerful conversations, which also makes it a social drug. With daily consumption, a mild addiction can definitely set in; typically, the daily hemp consumer smokes one or two joints at home in the evening, after work is done, and relaxes so much that he sleeps really deeply and can be very active, almost driven, the whole next day. This type of consumer never stands out as a “stoner”, can be found in any position and social class, and is usually careful that no one knows about his cannabis consumption, for fear of losing his job, driver's license or even social position. There are such consumers who do not even want to show their own children a healthy hemp consumption - it is illegal! The typical addiction cycle consists here probably of tension and over-relaxation. With even more frequent consumption, i.e. regularly throughout the day, a psychological dependence can quickly develop, which is accompanied by tolerance development and higher dosages. Cannabis addicts become forgetful, unkempt, dull over time. Correspondingly sensitive people can suffer from psychoses, anxiety states and even delusions. Just like alcohol addicts, they eventually become social or care cases. Again, one can see clear effects of the prohibition: While the large mass of healthy hemp consumers is not noticed at all, the small minority of addicts shapes the social image of the stoner…

Equal right for every pleasure

I hope I have given a good overview of all the stimulants we like to consume. In my opinion, there is not much difference between hemp and legal drugs; the biggest difference is that you can drink coffee anywhere in public, but you will be locked up and prosecuted if you use hemp. Well then, cheers!

Last modified: 2022/03/26 16:23
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