Friday, 14 November 2008

Poker or casserole, otherwise no pot thank you

I have never taken any illegal drugs. Not even a Clintonesque uninhaled experience with cannabis. Yet I am a chain smoking alcoholic. My smoking and drinking contributed to a severe heart attack at an early age and another will surely follow because I have hardly changed my ways. Through all the years I have been clogging my arteries and turning my liver to fat, not a single temptation to take an illegal substance has crossed what I laughably call my mind. I wonder why. It seems to me there are probably three reasons.

The first is that they were never part of my life growing up. I was as unsociable a child as I am an adult, parties and noisy clubs have never been my thing so I was never in the places where I might have been expected to be exposed to drugs. Even at university I never saw any one taking anything I knew to be an unlawful narcotic and I was never offered anything of that kind.

Secondly, I have always associated the use of illegal drugs with a desire to rebel whereas I have always wanted to be part of the establishment. One thing that sticks in my mind from the 1970s is how absurd and naive I always thought hippies to be. Stupid clothes and loud hair seemed to me signs of the arrogant and selfish. The more they tried to stand out through their appearance the more I interpreted them as saying "look at me, look at me, see how special I am, I'm not like you little people". It seemed rather pathetic, all the more so when they idolised multi-millionaire musicians for their stands against capitalism. Paying to make some people rich in order to complain about other people being rich has never seemed very sensible to me.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it is illegal. I'm a rather passive sort of chap when it comes to the law. Like it or loath it, I will abide by it. Maybe that makes me a dull and unadventurous old fart but it's the way I am. Possessing certain substances is against the law so I am heavily inclined against doing so.

Sometimes I ask myself whether my attitude would be any different were these substances available lawfully. Would I forgo a bottle of wine and take something else instead? Maybe I would, in fact I suspect it is more than likely that I would, or at very least that I would give it a try. Because it is illegal I am not even prepared to give it a try. The legal-illegal divide is, I suspect, of importance to a great many more people than just me. Living in a society with laws in which the vast majority seek to abide by the laws is something which helps form the stable country we are. It is probably more cultural than rational, but our default position is to abide by the law. Something that is illegal is on the wrong side of the line so we would need persuading before we were prepared to try it.

Those of us who have difficulty restricting their consumption of the legal drugs alcohol and tobacco might have good reason to be grateful that other drugs are prohibited.


Pete said...

As I too have succumbed to the enticements of tobacco and alcohol, I put my drugless life down to the fact that the drug scene hadn't really got going when I was a youngster, In fact as I was leaving grammar school 'black bombers' and 'purple hearts' were just starting to put in an appearance - there was no sign of pot or coke etc.

If there had been, I suppose I would have fallen for them as I am obviously weak willed...

Mark Wadsworth said...

I don't like cannabis either, but I still think it should be legally available, suitably regulated and taxed.

woman on a raft said...

The neurochemistry of addiction is mysterious but that's where I would expect the breakthroughs to come; I'm no longer sure that law has much to do with it.

For a while I had job as an administrator/moderator on a war game. I got the job because it was obvious that the game held no attraction for me and so the management knew I'd never spend a moment more than necessary on the blessed thing - although the players loved it like life itself.

My processing was efficient, but it was like being a vegetarian in a pork sausage factory. Mind you, Cadbury weren't foolish enough to offer me a job in their chocolate factory.