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Drug Use in Modern Society vs. History.

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by DigitalDuality, May 23, 2004.

  1. Maybe it's just too easy to romanticize the past but..

    I was originally going to say "Post industrial" soceity rather than western, but tobacco is pre-industrial i guess. And i don't really know what the hell i'm really talking about anyways.. but here:

    Indian cultures and various tribal cultures around the world used drugs. Mushrooms and plants mostly. Whether they smoked it, ate it, made a tea, etc..

    But these drugs had a purpose. Maybe it was spiritual, maybe it had some medicinal value (or at least they thought it did).

    But from what i read, drug abuse in itself has only been a staple of modern or western society. Using drugs merely to get fucked up, using them merely to escape the world, using them as a crutch for emotional problems, or a symbolism for childish rebellion. One great big "fuck you system.. ".

    Indians smoked tobacco throughout their entire history, without managing to do to it what western society did. They never added extra nicotine or other chemicals. They weren't smoking 20 cigarretes a day...

    What is it about this society, that has been distorted, what has been lost, that these substances no longer have a purpose. Where one side (authority) claims they are awful for society, and the other side ( users) abuse them or merely use them without some form of truly meaningful purpose (well when compared to yester eras).

    I know many today still use substances to enhance spirituality, but i find they are far and few. There's also alot of copycats who say they do but dont. but that's a whole 'nother topic.

    Only a modern post industrial society would design a drug such as crack. No spiritual culture would ever find a purpose of any kind in a drug like that, nor a positive use for it.

    So what is it about this society that focuses on abuse, addiction, doing it without a truer purpose so to speak?

    I think our ability to entertain, be entertained, the ability to laugh, is probably one of humanity's largest strengths. But sometimes i get the feeling we are too focused on a short term laugh and good time, rather than something more meaningful.

    We're after a quick fix, a quick laugh, a quick escapse. The "hippie time" wasn't just about having a good time, it almost had meaning, it almost (in alot of people) gave a real useful meaning back to drug use other than selfish indulgence of shallow pleasure. Then it sold out and joined the rest of society.

    I think the only stereotypical use of modern drug use i think can relate to these olden times, is substances being used as a catalyst to increase an already existing creativity. For instance Abisinth was a main power behind Van Gogh, Baudelaire, and Picasso.. But when people think drugs will MAKE them creative .. is another dellusion, it's using it as a crutch again. Not to set them free or to tap into certain pre-exisitng thoughts and ability, but to create it.. and that's bullshit..
     
  2. I have a few theories on this.

    I think the whole illegal drugs thing provokes abuse. When I'm told not to do something I'm at least a little curious as to why. So if the government makes a drug illegal because it has the possibility of abuse and this drug does not cause physical harm when used once I am curious as to why it would be abused. So I try this drug once and then assume that since the abuse of this drug is the reason it is illegal it must mean that many people are using this often. So I figure why not become one more of the many abusers.

    A completely different explination is that people raised with television are more susceptable to abuse. Television itself is addictive, it is a device which can allow one to escape reality and relax a person. So people become accustomed to taking a break from reality taking a halucinogenic a drug is just another break.

    Last one. Drug abuse will occur when people live in poverty or have high levels of stress. Most americans have high stress (I'm not stating this as a fact but I have read many articles which agree with this). Stress rises because of fear of people (guns, diseases) or clockwatching (always have to be on time for something) or the urban setting (when people are exposed to natural surroundings it relaxes them). When living in poverty or with high stress it is easy to succumb to drug abuse since it makes life so much easier to live.

    I am well aware that none of my theories are correct. I just wanted to post a few reasons that came to mind when I read this. If you want additional information on the stress of western adults v. the rest of the world I'm sure google.com would be happy to oblige.
     
  3. It's actually really simple: We have something in our brains called a reward pathway. Dopamine is released in this pathway (Ventral Tegmental area-> Nucleus Accumbens -> Prefrontal Cortex) when we experience pleasure. The reward pathway is an adaptation that has evolved to enchance fitness. Natural things that stimulate the CMDA pathway are food and sex, but some unnatural things can activate it too such as drugs that release dopamine(directly or indirectly). This is why users become addicts, because their brains are fooled into thinking the drug use is actually going to benefit their fitness. (Note: the term fitness in evolutionary psychology actually refers to 'ability to procreate,' not strength etc)

    I don't think drug use has gone from medicinal/spiritual purposes to only being for the high. I think there was just more misunderstanding, superstition, and excuses back then. I do believe that the industrialization has lead to increased drug production and use, but it's hard to say exactly how or why.
     

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