Drugs, Identity and Youth Culture - Part 1
IntroductionThis section is a discourse on the psychology of drug use and youth culture, and what the effects of drugs are in physical and psychological terms. The vast majority of visitors to this site are likely to be adults, but it is an area that is worth exploring and relating to the wider areas of culture, identity and health.
Just Another Product in an EconomyDrugs are often seen as anti-establishment and an alternative economy. However, they are just another product in the economy. Someone somewhere is making huge amounts of money from marketing each product to the general consumer. Legal industries are covered by national law and the workers in those industries and consumers of the products are protected by law. The growing of drugs related crops in poorer countries in Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia rarely benefits the actual growers themselves, but most frequently drug barons, local warlords, paramilitaries (with various claimed political agendas) and drugs smugglers. The act of buying drugs from a drug dealer in an industrialised country may seem divorced from the original of the drugs, but by buying drugs one is subsidising the exploitation of poor farmers, intimidation, landmines, assassinations, paramilitary activity, armed conflict, oppression by militias and warlords, political corruption, economic and political instability in the grower countries, as well as gang culture and gun crime in our own developed countries.
The price of the raw materials for the drugs is very cheap locally, hence why the growers make so little money. International markets do little to promote the price of legal crops so many farmers are 'forced' into drug crops. The consumers of drugs in western, industrialised economies pay in relative terms a much higher price, and far from being protected by law, are at the mercy of the drug producers, smugglers and dealers as to purity control. It is common practice to dilute/cut drugs to increase the volumes that can be sold and profitability. Consumers of drugs are virtually always consuming impure products. Be they smoked, snorted or injected, the act of taking the drugs at all is damaging for our bodies, let alone the effect of the impurities. Heroin users are frequently injecting or smoking washing powder. Are consumers of drugs really being treated with respect by the growers and dealers? Do the consumers of drugs mind supporting slavery and gangsters? They may even be lining the pockets of corrupt governments and murdering government agencies. So is dope smoking really a 'right on' activity for anti-capitalist and anti-establishment youths, who believe in freedom and human rights? I am not going to speculate on where drug money really goes, but there is plenty of information available if the reader has an interest in this area. Please formulate your own opinion, conservative or contrarian.
Our economy is full of products that are helpful, neutral or damaging to us. All drugs fall into the latter category in varying degrees. The war on drugs will never win, as there is too high a demand. The black market is all about supply and demand. If you arrest one drug dealer, another will take his place. Of course, we need to target drug dealers, but the overall war on drugs would be more effective if we targetted the actual users. Why is there such a high demand for drugs? If we can tackle the failings of society, identity crisis, widespread abuse of personal health, and people's ignorance about their health and their low self-esteem, then it is likely that demand for drugs would diminish significantly. The USA has over 50% of the world's cocaine market, and 60% of adults are categorised as obese. Cocaine is one of the USA's top selling consumer products. It has become much more popular in Europe in recent years. The USA clearly has more work to do to educate the public about their health and self-respect in general. However, this might not be good for the economy, legal or illegal.
What Are You Actually Smoking?The THC particles in a 'spliff', 'doobie', 'joint' or 'blunt' are over four times heavier than those in cigarette smoke. As it is oil based, unlike nicotene or alcohol, it takes weeks to leave the body, and dissolves in the body's fatty tissues and stays there indefinitely (unless detoxed out). In addition users use a 'roach' or rolled piece of cardboard, so that they can enjoy more of the tar and toxic impurities present in the smoke, as they don't want to miss out on any of their precioussssss [Gollum is not unlike a psychologically addicted cannabis user, often pale, skinny and rather pitiful]. It is not uncommon for the psychologically addicted last smoker of the joint to smoke it right down to the roach, inhaling burnt cardboard, ink etc. People who smoke a 'bowl' or 'bong' are frequently inhaling whilst holding a cigarette lighter over the top of the bong, to continue to ignite the dope whilst inhaling. This allows the dedicated and keen user to inhale more carbon monoxide and butane impuriy oxides. Also, dope smokers frequently hold the smoke in for longer than they would tobacco smoke, as they want to absorb the maximum amount of THC and get the maximum high. Often, people who smoke a bowl/bong try a 'breath hold' exercise when they've inhaled a lungful of dope smoke, until they really need to breath or they cough their guts out! Such practicises make smoking dope much worse for you than smoking a plain cigarette. Scientific studies have shown that cannabis smoke, often mixed with tobacco smoke, causes more damage to the lungs than simply tobacco smoke (filtered). With every lungful of cannabis/marijuana, you are causing increasing amounts of permanent and irreversible damage to the alveoli of your lungs. When smoked together with tobacco, the damaging effect on the lungs may be worse than smoking both separately at different times, on account of the fact that marijuana is reputed to open up the bronchial tubes, allowing tobacco smoke to penetrate further into the lungs and deposit tar and carcinogenic chemicals.
Long term use of psychotropic (psychoactive) drugs may result in the accumulation of Lipofuscin or lipopigment waste in cellular membranes, which tends to accelerate the ageing process and decrease neurotransmitter release from neuronal cells.
Dope smokers are frequently inhaling burnt henna, beeswax, turpentine, condensed milk, banana, butter, pine tar, plant gums, motor oil and paraffin wax. Many of these bulking agents help to make the low quality resin appear more sticky and higher quality. Up to 10% or more of the weight of cannabis resin (hash, hashish) is bulking agents. Whilst most of these substances are very harmful if merely eaten, you can imagine the effect that they have when burnt and inhaled, with no filter. If burning paraffin wax was such a pleasant experience and so good for you, why don't dope smokers do this when they can't 'score' any drugs? They clearly don't mind the health effects of it when they are smoking it with the resin itself.
Those particularly desperate dope smokers who haven't scored in a few days or weeks may elect to scrape out their bong/bowl/chalice with a sharp implement and smoke the gunk in the bowl or a joint/blunt. Contrary to popular belief, a bong only serves to cool down the smoke before entering the lungs, so it doesn't burn the lips off the smoker. Anyone who has smoked hash in a pipe (non-water) will verify this! It really hurts. A bong does not act as a filter. Some water soluble toxins and tar may desolve in the bong water, but it is by no means a filter of sorts. No one who smokes dope wants anything that stops one getting the maximum 'high' from each drag/toke. That includes filters etc. That is why people smoke a joint with a roach and not roll up filter. They are desperate to get as high as possible. So that means that the maximum amount of carcinogens are entering the lungs. When it comes to bong scrapings, bits of metal and tar as well as THC oil may get into the mix too, so one is smoking concentrated tar! Lovely. And the anally retentive may even drink the bong water. If you can imagine that the inside of the bong stays wet pretty much for days/weeks on end, the bacteria built up in it bears no thinking about. It's no wonder people who share bongs too get so ill. Adding extra saliva to the end of the pipe. Even smoking the bong is bad enough, let alone drinking the bong water!!!
Promoters of cannabis legalisation frequently point out that if the drug was legal, then purity could be controlled and monitored, and that the consumers would be much healthier, as the negative health effects are all from the bulking agents and not from the hashish resin or grass itself. However, they obviously don't feel strongly enough about it or value their health enough to actually stop smoking cannabis until it is actually legalised. Perhaps this has something to do with their psychological dependence on the substance. Cannabis users, and users of any drugs for that matter, have a miraculous way of blanking out certain things they do not want to think about, so that can feel good about their lifestyle.
Increasingly the cannabis industry has more industrialised and commercialised. So more and more a strain of genetically modified marijuana, originated from the Netherlands, called Skunk, is being sold on the streets. It is up to 6 times stronger than naturally occurring marijuana leaves, and is priced much higher. It is grown under UV lighting in dedicated facilities and greenhouses in Europe mainly. It has been around for many decades, but is much more prevalent than before. The strain was created to provide the greatest THC concentration. It doesn't taste particularly natural and just tastes of THC oil. The high is very potent but more artificial feeling than from smoking 'normal' hash or grass. There is a big movement against GM food, but in drug taking circles, where people are most concerned with getting the greatest buzz possible, such ethical and health concerns often fall by the wayside.
Studies in the Netherlands and USA confirm that confiscated cannabis tested over roughly the last 10 years has doubled in strength. This may of course be down to a number of different factors, but it is likely it is because of the types grown.
Hash oil is another marijuana derived product, which is THC oil, and is extremely potent. Like skunk, it provides a powerful artificial 'high' which is much more a downer than other more natural sources. In many cases, hash oil is artificially synthesized.
Smoking high potency forms of dope is really a world beyond the UK 'Class C' classification of grass.
Drugs in general are poisons and cause liver damage. The dosage at which they can be classified as 'toxic' and lethal varies according to the drug and what impurities are present in the drug. Some drugs like alcohol are burnt off easily and are not stored in the body, others tend to take a very long time to be removed from the body and tend to accumulate in the fatty tissues in the body, particularly the brain, and remain there throughout one's entire life, i.e. the vast majority of natural fat-based drugs like cannabis or opium, or synethetically manufactured such as MDMA (ecstacy), ampetamines (speed, whizz) or LSD (acid, trips) etc. The taking of any recreational drug into the body has a damaging effect on the endocrine system, which is regulated by the hypothalamus in the brain. This is the hormonal system of the body, that regulates energy levels, sleep and pleasure. This is why people who regularly take drugs generally feel tired or lose their natural high when you are 'straight', once the effects of the drugs have worn off. Taking drugs thereby provides temporary relief. Recreational drugs, legal and illegal, work by temporarily disrupting neurotransmitter activity or by mimmicking neurotransmitters. If they didn't do this, they wouldn't be drugs, they wouldn't 'work' and people wouldn't take them! This is why people with increasing hormonal imbalance seek to continue to take recreational drugs occasionally/regularly/all the time in order to feel 'good', as it provides temporary hormonal states of pleasure.
The lyrics to Ice T's cover version of 'I'm Your Pusher' can be found here
Drug takers do not often appreciate health bores sticking their nose into their business and telling them that if they stopped taking drugs and drank water and herbal tea etc. instead, they would feel great! Whilst in some cases this may be true, often, many drug users or ex-drug users have major endocrine system, mitochondrial membrane layer (in energy production), toxicity problems and nutritional deficency problems that require much more attention than this. Endocrine system issues are especially prevalent in cannabis or marijuana users. Those people who take drugs usually by definition have a psychological tendency to like experiences to happen to them, for immediate sensory fulfillment and pleasure, and thus tend to have poor diets and a desire for sugary and fried or fatty foods, regardless of whether they are vegetarian or not. Such an approach to diet encourages bad micro-organism overgrowth in the intestinal tract and also results in nutritional deficiencies over many years. If we consider that the 'average' diet is not particularly healthy, then the drinking, smoking and diet habits of a drug user are likely to be even less healthy. If a drug user wants to stop taking drugs and feel good naturally, then he may well need to address all these areas, and stopping may not be enough to actually feel good naturally again.
Studies of the human body show that cannabinoid receptors are concentrated in the brain, the liver, the testicles and the bone marrow of the spine. THC, the main psychoactive cannabinoid present in cannabis, causes inactivation of some frontal areas of the brain, causing a decrease in spatial awareness. This may cause some of the hallucinogenic effects associated with cannabis use. This effect however can also contribute to paranoia, and is why many cannabis users report a slightly 'uneasy' effect of cannabis in addition to its other properties.
Studies have estimated that 1% of the population goes on to develop schizophrenia at some point during their lifetime. Approximately 2% of occasional and mild cannabis users are estimated to go on to develop schizophrenia later in life. Approximately 6% of heavy cannabis users go on to develop schizophrenia. In other words, occasional users are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia and heavy users are 6 times more likely to develop schizophrenia than non-cannabis users. This is a worrying statistic. Of course, there is no way of knowing if that unlucky person might be you until it is too late.
Additionally, a 2010 British study has shown that smoking the stronger varieties of cannabis (with a higher THC content), specifically the genetically modified variety Skunk, can result in double the risk of developing psychosis later in life.
John McGrath of Queensland Brain Institute in Australia said, "the nature of the relationship between psychosis and cannabis use is by no means simple and more research is needed to examine the mechanisms at work.Ó
As discussed below in the Medicinal Uses of Hemp Oil section, there are two main antagonistic cannabinoids in cannabis, THC and CBD. THC is psychoactive and CBD is non-psychoactive and anti-psychotic. High THC doses, without or with little protective CBD present (e.g. in skunk), are much more likely to result in psychosis than cannabis with more CBD present and less THC present (i.e. the less 'desirable' or 'potent' variants or crops of cannabis). There are similarities of the brain pattern of certain frontal parts of the brain (and associated reduction of spatial awareness) and medically diagnosed cases of schizophrenia, where spatial awareness is similarly reduced and there is a greater propensity towards misinterpreting events around one, anxiety and additionally hearing voices etc. Cannabis has been shown as discussed above to trigger schizophrenia in some individuals, and there is clearly more than just a passing similarity between the brain chemistry of both states/conditions.
Recent research by UK Universities, in rats and mice, who have a very similar brain chemistry to humans, has shown a number of different trends. Firstly, rats that were given small doses of cannabis over a period of several weeks (equivalent to a few joints a day for a human), experienced a higher tolerance to heroin, when first exposed to heroin (i.e. required higher doses to get the same effect) than rats that had not been exposed to cannabis in prior weeks. This was tested by gauging the effort required by the rats to obtain dosings of heroin, the 'cannabis acclimatised rats' (not stoned at the time) making more effort to get more heroin. At very high doses there seemed no difference, but this is really examined the initial tolerance to heroin rather than actual propensity to try heroin. Clearly the higher dosages one takes, the more likely one is to get addicted.
The second recent study on mice tested the link between memory ability and cannabis use. A water tank with non-transparent water and a hidden platform below the surface of the water was used, with various brightly coloured objects around the room to aim the mice in navigation. One group of mice was dosed daily with cannabis over a period of a few weeks, at a dosage equivalent to a human intake of 2-3 joints a day. The age of these mice was equivalent to humans in the early teens, roughly between 12 and 15 years of age. The second group of mice were dosed with cannabis at a similar equivalent level to their size when they were slightly older, at an equivalent human age of 15-18 years old, for a similar period of a couple of weeks. There was no control of mice not dosed with cannabis at all for some strange reason, as far as I am aware. However, the results showed that some time later, when the mice were fully mature, and no traces of cannabis remained in their systems (effectively), that the group of mice that were dosed at an earlier age (i.e. when the brain was developing the most) suffered a 25% deficit in memory ability (i.e. ability to find the sunken platform) compared with the mice dosed at a later age. This may suggest, assuming brain chemistry similarities between mice and humans, that the age that youths most commonly first try cannabis, at the ages of 13-15 or even earlier these days, that it may be causing permanent 'damage' or impairment to their brain functions, when they are 'sober', for years afterwards, and into adult life. This study would imply that this is the worst possible time to be smoking cannabis - a little like some mobile phone research shows that children and young teenagers with thinner skulls may be causing more brain damage to themselves than adults with mobile phones. It may also refute the allegations by many pro-cannabis lobbyists that the short term memory loss associated with cannabis intoxication 'completely disappears' once the drug leaves one's system and not affect one's long term memory functions - the implication being at any age.
A very crude rule of thumb could be something like the following. For every 3 to 4 years spent smoking hash or marijuana on a regular or semi-regular basis, a full year of intensive detoxification protocols are required to actually rid the body of the majority of the toxins built up. People who start smoking dope rarely 'plan' for the future, and how many years they exactly want to smoke dope, but often one may end up smoking it far longer than one had originally anticipated, maybe 10 or 20 years in many cases. Are you prepared to do THAT much detoxification to mop up the effects of your own self-abuse?
Some miscellaneous links telling the 'truth' about cannabis can be found below. The DrugWarFacts web site is actually factual although includes quotations making both factual statements and perference inference (subjective). The pdf file discusses drugs in general rather than just cannabis.
The first link above, from DrugPolicy.org, appears to make any generalised statements about cannabis, and 4 of the 5 top myths are actually true! Number 4 on the list 'Marijuana Offenses care not severely punished' is not really of particular interest to me as it is not medical in nature. Marijuana use is scientifically shown in a small number of test subjects to lead to psychosis, and a large number of users to be more predisposed towards paranoia and depression, and short term memory loss, even after the effects of the drug has 'worn off' - i.e. when it finally leaves the system. If you wish to explore the other claims, please read the rest of this page. The myths seem to correlate directly to my own experiences. This web site appears to be a criminal case of viewing cannabis and marijuana through rose tinted spectacles.
Quoting Leslie Iversen PhD from the DrugWarFacts article above: 'Tetrahydrocannabinol is a very safe drug. Laboratory animals (rats, mice, dogs, monkeys) can tolerate doses of up to 1,000 mg/kg (milligrams per kilogram). This would be equivalent to a 70 kg person swallowing 70 grams of the drug -- about 5,000 times more than is required to produce a high.'
I actually conducted my own 'animal experiments' during my late teens, despite being a vegetarian and into animal rights at the time, because I was 'stoned' and thought it was really funny and after all, cannabis is 'such a good drug, it's great for everyone and everything within no drawbacks'. One time, a friend of mine was going away on holiday and needed someone to look after her hamster. So she gave the hamster to my 'homeboy'. I went round to my homeboy's house on the Friday night, whilst his father was away, to get stoned (as was the routine by that point - very spontaneous and exciting!) Anyway, during the evening we were looking at the hamster in the cage and discussed dosing it with cannabis for a laugh, to get him 'nicely stoned'. So we broke off a little crumb from the precious stash, and gave it to the hamster stuck onto one of his hamster biscuits (from memory). The hamster ate it all up, and after a while, the Hamster started looking confused, running around the cage, which we thought was amusing, but then it was chasing after things that weren't there and acting psychotic. It tend curled up into a ball and lay there for the next 12 hours that I was there. I did a rough calculation of how much cannabis we have given it, and scaling up the body size/volume from hamster to human, we estimated that we had given it the equivalent of half to a whole ounce of cannabis. On it's first time. Now some researchers believe cannabis is not toxic and does not contribute to the onset of psychosis or schizophrenia; and the quotation above states that laboratory animals can ingest the equivalent of 2.5 ounces and 'tolerate it' - whatever that means. However, in this particular case, the aforementioned hamster, wasn't quite right the next day, and we felt really guilty about it. But we didn't think that maybe we shouldn't be smoking the stuff either. When returned to its owner, we both hoped she wouldn't notice, but after a week she was rather annoyed and told us that her hamster had gone completely insane and was still exhibiting strong psychotic, and possibly schizophrenic behaviour - as much as can be understood from a hamster's behaviour. It never recovered. Perhaps some lab animals can tolerate high doses, it would be sadistic to do so, and clearly some animals would become psychotic on much lower doses as I proved. If one assumes that the likelihood of cannabis triggering psychosis in a hamster is similar to that of humans, then it was extremely unlikely (i.e. 2-6% chance) that this hamster should have gone psychotic. So was the dosage to blame? According to Iversen, not. I would however like to see such 'scientists' dose humans with 2.5 ounces of cannabis and see the effect on their personalities. It is not unheard of for people taking large doses of other hallucinogens, such as LSD, to go insane afterwards and/or suffer severe neurological damage (e.g. Syd Barrett). Is it a far stretch to think that something similar might apply to cannabis. I myself during the early part of my cannabis 'career', when taking slightly too much cannabis, suffered from severe dizziness, nausea, headaches, being unable to physically move and even blackouts. In what were sometimes extremely unpleasant physical experiences. If I had consumed 10 times this amount on each occasion, as part of an 'experiment', I would hate to think how this would have turned out.
Other somewhat rose tinted links include:
I am not convinced by the claim that the active form of THC, Delta-9-THC, is not present whatsoever a few hours after smoking marijuana, but is converted into the non-psychoactive metabolites 11-OH-THC and 11-nor which is stored in one's fat cells. Myself and everyone I ever smoked cannabis with can testify that one feels stoned in a much less upbeat and more 'headachy' manner many hours after getting stoned, in fact, one can still feel it the next day. A friend of mine smoked one spliff and a couple of bongs the night before his Mathematics A-Level as he couldn't do without it for one night, and the result was that he could hardly think the next day and failed his exam. I find that it typicaly took 1-2 days to regain full use of his brain afterwards. Is building up non-psychoactive metabolites of THC in one's fat cells not an issue? These can potentially clog up one's mitochondrial membranes (as glutathione conjugates). If one continues to build these up over years, what is the scientific evidence to show that this is harmless? I am not convinced. I had a white blood cell mitochondrial membrane microscopy performed which showed that I had large amounts of glutathione conjugates of a 'drug or other chemical' clogging up his mitochondrial membranes. Not having taen any other drug in any quantities besides antibiotics at certain points in my life might suggest it was THC metabolites, although the exact drug could not be identified. The test has since been refined by Acumen, so it would be interesting for a known ex-dope smoker to take this test and find out what was going on on a cellular level!
Whilst the above sites claim that THC does not cause brain damage, I can confirm that regular smokers exhibited regular short term memory loss for years after having quit smoked cannabis for few years, some never regaining it. The effect cannabis smoking has on one's personality is rarely positive and this is sometimes what some people see as someone becomign 'brain damaged', when they are probably mainly seeing someone becomeing 'buzz oriented' and 'anally retentive' and becoming non-caring about their appearance or sexuality. Some smokers are seen to become 'vegetables'. Anyone who smokes cannabis will of course not like to admit any of these things. The above issues are discussed and examined in more detail in following sections on this page.
The above links examine vaporising cannabis to avoid the lung damage and respiratory problems associated with smoking it (someone actually admitting that smoking it actually is actually bad for one's health! This is refreshing to see.)
Whilst cannabis is said to target the cannaboid receptors, mainly in the brain, liver, testicles and spinal column, it does appear to speed up the heart rate significantly. This is perhaps exaccerbated when smoked with tobacco. Whilst many users report feeling relaxed, it is not the body's usual relaxed state; their heart rates are elevated, often spiking immediately upon smoking each 'bong' or 'joint'. This feeling of elevated heart rate is clearly not conducive to total relaxation and mental calm. Cannabis targets the brain, and those who smoke it without tobacco may at first feel that it has an energising effect, that they want to get up and do something or some exercise. This 'up' sensation however does not last very long, and results in feeling more lethargic afterwards. In addition, if, in this 'aroused, up' state, the person tries to do some exercise, they may well enjoy it for a brief period of time, but in most cases, the cannabis acts to speed up the rate of their mitochondrial depletion, so it is a false sense of 'energy'. In addition, this elevated heart beat becomes extreme apparent if the person in question decides to have a hot bath. A hot bath will also elevate the heart rate, and if the person is stoned whilst getting in the bath, then the two will synergistically elevate the heart rate further, making the person probably feel somewhat uncomfortable after a short period of time. Clearly the exact effect depends on the person's cardiac function. Those who are stoned may also potentially indulge in overeating (usually sweet foods, but not necessarily) and those who are bloated often experience considerable discomfort and an elevated heart rate, so the two can sometimes combine to adverse effect. In the early part of my 'cannabis' career I did just that with pizza and on a normal amount of food would have been 'ok', but with a very large amount of pizza virtually passed out and could not move or speak for the next 12 hours, and lay fully clothed on top of someone's bed, making slight grunting and moaning noises when verbally addressed! Cannabis is often all about what you think you can do, but you actually can't do very well. A little like alcohol in some respects, although operating on a different level and different type of incapacitation of one's physical abilities.
When the relative harmfulness of drugs is discussed, often what is looked at is the number of total national fatalies (rather than a percentage of actual users) so that an objective comparison is not possible with tobacco, alcohol and prescription drugs. In addition, it is often the short term toxicity that is considered, the physical addictiveness of the drug and the risk of overdosing (the difference between a 'normal' or 'beginners' dose and a lethal dose, or of mixing with alcohol for example) rather than the actual long term effects on one's health and death of a small number of one's brain cells (for each time no gets high) and psychological addiction and mental illness. Actual brain damage and damage to one's neurological system (in particular with psychedelic drugs) is not often considered, as well as damage to one's endocrine system. Many stoners in the early part of their drug or cannabis careers actively seek out experiences where they see stars or have excessive 'head rushes' or other visual disturbances and find it 'cool' - which some might argue is a little borgeois as basically they are seeking neurological disturbances that many people who are chronically ill or with neurological problems experience. In addition, does any drug user stick to just one type of drug? And do users stick to moderate or low dosages, or do they 'go for it' at the weekend? Many consider 'natural' drugs to be less harmful than those created in a laboratory, but that is not necessarily true, and cannabis/marijuana is considered by many experts to be more harmful physically and psychologically than party drugs such as MDMA and LSD.
Below is a paper on the resemblance that LSD has to Melatonin and Seratonin molecules and how it affects the pineal gland.
Psychedelic drugs, e.g. LSD, magic mushrooms, hash, marijuana, ecstacy also have the added effect of causing temporary or often permanent neurological damage, which can result in short term memory loss, lack of immediate awareness, slow thinking, speech problems, difficulties in regaining (or having any) psychological reference points, increased emotional sensitivity (positive and negative), being total oblivious to social skills and basics about relationships and emotional boundaries, concentration difficulties, confusion, apathy, detachment, permanently dilated pupils, a tendency towards developing mental illness (depression and paranoia chiefly) and things permanently looking slightly 'trippy' (grainy, light sensitivity, difficulty in processing information about objects relative distances, reflective surfaces, and chequered or closely striped patterns etc. - whilst this may seem like you are getting 'high' for free initially, the novelty wears off leaving you feeling like an acid casualty to varying degrees for the rest of your life). Depression and paranoia are especially evident with users of cannabis/marijuana (and even psychosis in some users), mainly on account of the effects of THC. Hardly something to 'mellow' you out! LSD tends to have a somewhat more disassociative effect on users.
There is some debate as to whether acid tabs actually contain any strychnine or not. Strychnine is often cited as the poison present in LSD tabs or blotting paper. However, the amount of the poison required to cause stomach cramps and other adverse sensations experienced with LSD use is several times higher than the actual weight of the tab itself, if it is even present at all. Some theorise that the adverse sensations experienced when taking LSD are a result of poorly synthesized LSD (other chemical derivatives). Myself and many other associates have experienced such adverse sensations including adverse belly ache when taking LSD (many years ago!) The article on the web site below examines this issue.
The effect is particularly bad with magic mushrooms (shrooms), which contain much larger concentrations of various poisons. Shrooms can often leave a person feeling nauseous after 30-60 minutes after taking them, and often for the entire duration of the 'trip' or until the person throws up. It may vary according to the source of the mushrooms, the degree of mould on them, the amount of contaminants and many other factors. Some users get around this problem by brewing a 'tea', i.e. boiling the mushrooms and then filtering off the solids. In this way, slightly fewer poisonous compounds or at least no inedible solids are consumed.
When taking LSD, there is not gentle come down as such, just a gradual lessening of the effect over 48+ hours. Sleep is difficult if not impossible and it feels like your brain is frying and frying. Hippies in the 60s not infrequently took methadone or heroin in order to get to sleep after an acid trip, and frequent LSD use in many cases led to the users become heroin addicts. The acid come down feels like a big headache after a while, possibly partly owing to a lack of sleep and endocrine/mitochondrial chaos. After a trip, the user often feels totally fatigued for about a week, requiring much more sleep than normal. The magic mushroom (shroom) come down is similar to that of LSD, but may include an unsettled stomach, as much larger concentrations of various poisons are being consumed. In addition, eating unwashed, raw mushrooms (straight from the ground) is unlikely to be particularly sensible anyway, even if they were 'edible' mushrooms. The actual 'peaking' time for mushrooms is generally shorter than for LSD, but the comedown may not be as long and protracted, assuming no severe nausea or stomach cramps/pains were experienced. The amount of suffering endured compared to the actual 'peak' or high is rather disproportionate and one could argue that one would have to be a total masochist to go through all of this, especially considering the neurological (psychological) damage (and sometimes depression/paranoia) endured for years/a lifetime afterwards.
Tripping is itself a fine line between total hell and a fun time! Often one is somewhere in a grey area, tripping out, but is one really having a particularly good time? Often just before or after the peak is 'disappointing' leaving the actual 'fun' time a matter of hours. Often if one is tripping heavily enough, it is more intense than fun, and depending on how one feels about that forced intensity for many hours, it can become rather a chore or a bore, or even a total nightmare. A trip therefore requires constant psychological management, and a group of 'trippers' may indeed be seen to nanny themselves and keep everything 'fluffy', pampered or 'cool' so no one has a 'bad time'.
LSD usage was considered a useful part of psychotherapy in the 1950s until its usage was outlawed. The logic being that it made patients open up more, sharpen their memory of past events etc (at low dosages). It is not infrequently noticed however by LSD users that whilst under the influence, they may believe they are experiencing and feeling many spiritual insights or revelations, but that they are totally incapable of communicating these to other people. This is not uncommon with users of psychedelic substances, as the ability to talk, communicate anything intelligently and general thought processes slow down and often become impossible. The level of conversation often becomes totally disjointed with complete and utter garbage being talked or written down, even though the user himself may think he is being deeply profound. LSD users may report that making a cup of tea may take half an hour or more, with the user staring blankly into space and unable to think, feeling like they are totally brain dead. The proponents of LSD in psychotherapy unsurprisingly appear to have unusually dilated pupils and are most likely promoting the use of a substance they themselves like to take and believe is a 'religion' or 'way of life'. The usefulness of memory recall and mental clarity whilst under the influence is in my opinion highly debatable and dubious. The proponents of such a style of psychotherapy clearly have no clue or idea about psychological techniques such as NLP. With LSD it is clearly difficult to control the dosage, as one tab or batch of the same 'type' (logo) may vary enormously to the next, and may be 4-5 times stronger or weaker. Those that want to push the limits and take 2 tabs or more, and accidentally take a highly strong tab (e.g. Pink Floyd) may end up much more drugged out than they had planned. I have personally observed some first timers taking acid with a friend and totally breaking down and crying their eyes out for hours, and having a horrible nightmare of a time. My best friend of many years ago took several tabs of an ultra strong type and ended up depression and disassociated for years afterwards (I lost contact with the aforementioned 'homeboy' and have no idea if he has ever fully recovered). Before he had taken any acid he was a down to earth and positive guy. Cannabis usage probably didn't help either. I believe that LSD use often results in a user's psychological problems and mental issues being magnified, perhaps during, but very much so afterwards. Clearly what happens during an LSD trip varies according to the individual, but often those who take it are emotionally inexperienced and young, and act in a rather anally retentive manner, and go to the lowest common denominator (e.g. listent to this music on acid, smoke a spliff, go for a walk, go to a rave, talk rubbish, laugh and giggle at something stupid etc.)
MDMA is sometimes used as a slimming drug by those who burn off calories by dancing for 6-8 hours at a time at raves. Fatalities from MDMA use are reputedly owing to dehydration. All stimulants such as MDMA and Amphetamine do put a strain on the heart, and the long term effects of usage are clearly not going to be beneficial to one's cardiovascular system. I have known a number of heavy MDMA users over the years, and the vast majority have pale (sometimes 'grey' looking) skin, blotchy complexion and are often unhealthily thin. They have also clearly had diminished serotonin production. I cannot say if their lifestyles were otherwise healthy or not, but comparing to the average non-user with similarly 'average' eating habits. The after effects of MDMA are similar to those of Amphetamine, and include extreme fatigue and some depression, and seem to last at least a week, regardless of the dosage taken (whether a tiny fraction of a tablet of E, or a full dosage). This is particularly true with E. It is not uncommon for those in rave clubs to take 2 tablets for a 'headstrong' dose! Es are most likely to contain a coctail of different drugs in them (as well as MDMA), mixed up to make the Es cheaper to produce. The quality control is dubious when buying from drug dealers.
The act of 'responsibly' taking small quantities of poisons for one's abstraction obsessed mind's entertainment and pleasure could be considered as rather borgeois, something that occurs in countries where people are no longer striving to survive for food for their next meal or for shelter above their heads, where being alive, healthy and having full use of your faculties simply isn't enough. The way to escape difficult emotional trauma is to work on one's self esteem and not to rely on plants and chemicals to provide temporary relief. Unfortunately the former is much harder to achieve than the latter in the short term. In the long term, drug use results in considerable amounts of emotional and physical 'pain' whereas having a high self-esteem only gets better and better! It is all a question of motivation and having the right psychological tools at one's disposal, and maintaining a positive peer group, not one that will drag you down to hell. A few web sites listing some of the effects of smoking marijuana and cannabis can be found below.