Yes Barb. You are correct. We do not have to do any of these things. We do no have to use drugs. No one is holding a gun to our heads and forcing these substances up our nose or down our throats or into our veins. In fact it is quite the opposite. We freely choose to get high. We fully recognize the dangers inherent in our choice and the societal consequences that there use may entail. Yet we still seek them out. We often go to great lengths to obtain them and sometimes contort the truth to hide the fact that we do. We are fully aware of how most others view our decisions. That they think we are weak willed or selfish or stupid. We regret our choice to use on a regular basis. We question our logic. We beat ourselves up. We even hate ourselves sometimes. We constantly ask what we find so appealing about getting high. The majority of messages we see tell us that our choice is wrong, evil even. The people we respect as wise, people like yourself who have lived long and fulfilling lives, mock us. Worse still people younger than us condemn us as monsters. Look at us with contempt. View us as subhuman.

But still we do these drugs. Negative consequences be damned we continue to get high. I look at those who can’t understand our choice with a mix of confusion and pity. I imagine they view us the same. The bottom line is this, using drugs and getting high is fun. It feels good. I will never apologize to anyone for my choice to use. Apologizing would imply I somehow believe I am wrong. Yes I feel guilty and self hate sometimes but those feelings come from the outside. They come from society at large. When I reflect deeply about my decision to use I have no regrets. Do you feel guilty for your choice to spend the day at the park or an hour watching your favorite television show? You only choose to do these things because you find them fun. Because many drugs are illegal the default position is that they must be bad. Unfortunately the consequences of making them illegal have been tragic. I am not to blame for those things however. The people who accept the status quo blindly, without question are at fault. The people in power who put in place a system that stigmatizes certain choices as wrong, as immoral, they must answer for their decisions.

Like all things the choice to use drugs is fraught with danger. For many people the outcome can be terrible. Addiction is a real concern and no rational person would dismiss its potential negative impacts. But in our reality today the addict is not only sick but also an outcast. He is viewed with suspicion and contempt. He is weak. A failure. Only the least worthy among us could possibly surrender themselves so fully to a thing the rest of us have totally and completely categorized as bad.

It is possible to live a successful and fulfilling life and use drugs too. My own life is proof of that. In fact I would argue that using drugs can enhance our appreciation of what makes life so special. They can teach us valuable lessons about ourselves. They can force us to confront things about ourselves we would rather not. Most importantly for me they can make each day just a little more enjoyable. A little more fun.

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Research scientist (Ph.D. micro/mol biology), Thought middle manager, Everyday junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, Fish hater

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