Last Update: 24-09-13
Shamanism and Drugs.
In 3 parts:
Drugs are fun. Of course they are, or people would not take them. But they're also poisons. Even the legal ones. Smoking kills for example. My slant on drugs is that you will not stop people taking them, so it's important that people know when to quit. To minimise the harm they do to themselves in the long run. Including with the legal ones. Last I read if you quit smoking before the age of 30 your body can heal nearly all of the damage. And you get your lungs back for example. However smoking still kills. There are risks to these poisons. Even the legal ones.
So a safe dosage system is required for it to be deemed 'safe enough'. There's a safe dosage system already for alcohol, although many ignore it and just get drunk and into fights. And much as old cannabis may have been 'safe enough' these new strains are stronger, and as such riskier. There is no safe dose for cocaine, and heroine is a mugs game.
The Cannabis Debate is ongoing. It's possible there is a safe dose, but it's not officially been found yet. However, The Amsterdam Model exists and crime is low there. As are injuries. Drug Crime ( mainly skunk for the cannabis's ) is high over here. And John Lennon was shot for being a hippy, even though many Indians back home ( Goa, The Hippy Trail, etc etc ) have not been harmed by their use of cannabis in ritual.
And, as I've said, violent drunks are the bane of many a person on a Friday and Saturday night. So even though booze has a safe dose are people obeying it? Some substances are banned with good reason, but others may well be debatable in the harm they do. I think Khat is one that is still open for debate as well, although currently classed as illegal. It has an effect similar to cocaine in high doses, but low doses may be safe. One for the scientists to check over.
Please note I am not qualified in squat bar Mental Health First Aid & nutrition. But I have seen a lot of stuff over the years, and smoked a lot of it as well. These are my notes and observations from the field as an ex-Pot Smoker and Recreational Drug User. My shamanic period.
Shamanism does come under the Pagan Umbrella so... I'm not gonna recommend it either. It's your body, and it's your choice. And if you cock it up it's your bum in the fryer. And your health down the swanny obviously. Your brain damaged, your lungs burned, this is real. Time to be a grown up with this one. You are taking yourself closer to death. Are you sure that is a good idea? Why do you feel this urge? And if it's really powerful is that not suicidal?
Substances are not all the same. Reality. If it's a strong urge and a really strong substance then... GP time? If you're really up for killing yourself then speak to a GP. Seriously. That's not a spriritual awakening, that's a serious Mental Health problem settling in. In all honesty some of these substances are best avoided full stop.
I'm not kidding on the Shamanic Period either. There were some very deep thoughts going on, and some very bizarre ones. However I did also have some very bad experiences. Hence why I chose to quit in the end. It wasn't fun anymore, and that was a warning bell I knew not to ignore. It's important to know when to quit. So let's get down to basics first.
In days of olde Shamans used substances to get wiser. To be more spiritual and that. What they were doing in reality was poisoning themselves to take themselves closer to death. In this reduced state of health their perceptions were different, and if done well they could learn a lot about life for the benefit of their tribe.
However, many got it wrong and ended up either dead or crazy. Reality. Stuff all use to anyone from that point onwards.
In modern times the 'Cannabis Culture' factor is this bit really. Old Shamans would have found St John's Wort, and that is now recognised as good. The 2 types of Cannabis ( Cannabis and Skunk ) are still considered iffy these days. So now I want to look at how drugs effect the body, and my observations of it.
For a start it's important to remember each substance is different. A pint of beer is not a shot of Heroine, or a dose of Ecstasy Tablet. And a dose of Ecstasy Tablet is not a shot of Heroine or a new Crack Cocaine habit. Social Drugs and Hard Drugs are obviously different. And this I'll term 'strength'. In reality it's a number of symptoms/ effects you'll feel whilst on said substance, but to keep it simple I'll call it strength. So substances vary in strength.
The second principle is how even beer is a poison. They all are really. But the human body can heal a certain amount of damage before picking up a 'permanent wound'. So you have poison injuries, as well as an ability to heal. And you'll have less ability to heal if you have normal illnesses as well. The body is only built to take so much.
The third principle is age. If you're too young your brain will be forming still, so you will take more damage. And as you get older it is harder for the body to heal injuries. Like liver damage for example. So if you're too young or too old you may well not get very far before you reach the point of having a permanent injury.
Permanent injuries can be anything from Liver Damage to Schizophrenia to Stomach Ulcers. All sorts of stuff can go wrong. Normal sessions with your mates take days to heal, and heavy injuries take weeks. Permanent Wounds take years to heal. 3 stages of injury. Light ( gone in 24 hours for example ), heavy ( gone in a couple of weeks ), and permanent ( you might shift it after 3 years if you're lucky ).
It All Adds Up.
So you have 3 factors. Strength of Substance, Age, and Ability to Heal. All of these are relevant to whether you walk away unscathed or pick up a wound that may well take years to heal. Or even not heal at all.
Let's say the body has 100 health points before it takes a 'heavy wound'. I'll use math to explain this bit. Like the Dungeons & Dragons system in language, but this is not a game. These are real injuries that can happen. So what does each substance do?
In comes the Strength bit, and these are my guesses as to strength. I'm trying to keep this in laymans terms, as I am no Chemist or Pharmacist. It's the basic principle I'm explaining. Your body can only take so much, needs time to heal between each session, and each substance is different. And if you get it wrong it can take weeks, months, or even years to recover. Some never recover.
Pint of Beer: 6 health points damage.
Double of Strong Spirit: 12 health points damage?
Wacky Tobacky ( normal Cannabis ) Spliff ( unshared with others ): 16 health points damage?
Skunk Spliff ( unshared with others ): 80 health points damage?
Cocaine: 20 points of damage per line?
Heroine: 110 pts of damage per hit?
So it's obvious strength is relevant. And that is assuming the substance has no impurities in it. Extra poison on top basically. Heroine can become 150 pts per hit if it's got other crap in it. That's a heavy wound on your first hit, and longer to recover then expected.
Cannabis can have Opium in it in some rare cases. What if no-one warns you? 16 pts ( just a spliff ) is now 50 pts. And you did not know. Impurities are a very big deal. They add to the risk a lot.
A few lines of Cocaine and some beers and shots can hit you as hard as a shot of Heroine. Think about it. 6 pints of beer ( 36 pts ), 4 shots of BLAH ( 24pts, 2 doubles equiv ), 3 lines of Cocaine ( 60 pts ), and your grand total for the night is 120 pts of damage. BLAM! Not just light stuff is it.
The 100 Health Points also assumes you don't have a dodgy liver already. If your liver is dodgy you may only have 10 - 20 health points to play with. Not 100. That's quite the difference.
What you also need to consider is age. By about 18 you're fairly well grown. So that's 100 pts of health assuming you really are 'healthy'. Below 18 stuff may not have grown properly yet. So based on this you may only have 50 health points to play with if you are 15 years old. And if you are past 30 it gets harder for the body to heal stuff. So that effects this as well. You may only have 70 pts of health at say 45 years old.
So let's look at a few beers with yer mates. If you've done it properly you'll feel like crap the next day, but the day after you'll be fine. So we have, say, 4 pints and a couple of doubles on top? So that's 48 points? That's half gone on what people would call a tame night. And that's just down t' boozer. See how easy it is to wrack the points up now?
Now add a couple of lines of cocaine and a skunk spliff and... 48 + 120 =... That's over the edge isn't it? Heavy injury time. Heavy injuries take longer to heal. Weeks, rather than days.
You also need to consider the bodies' ability to heal, as I said. If you've loaded up and added 70 points on one night by the next evening you may well still have 20 to heal. You've only shifted 50 points in one day, so that's 20 points left to heal. It's still a light injury basically. It's still under 100 pts ( the dreaded 2 day hangover for example ).
Not a problem, unless you do it again and add another 70 points. That's 90 points at the end of that next night, and 40 pts left to heal at the end of the next day. Still a light injury but even so. This should be a warning bell now really.
Do it again ( another night of hooch and heaviness ) and that's 110 points achieved. 3 heavy nights on the trot, and it's heavy injury time. In plain english 3 heavy nights down the pub and you may well have left yourself depressed due to being 'partied out', or 'socially embarrased', or you've now got aclohol poisoning, or...
By 'permanent' I mean an injury that will take between months and years to heal, not a day or so. It might as well be permanent for what it will do to your life if you get really unlucky. Each 'heavy injury' like 'a bit depressed', or 'a bit jumpy', can add up as well. They're taking 3 weeks to heal, and you're giving yourself a new one each fortnight for example. You never heal properly, as you're putting too much poison in your body. Their's still a 1/3 of bit jumpy left to heal and then you add 'a bit depressed' to it 2 weeks later. 2 weeks later still the jumpy will have passed, but that first week of this second fortnight will be rough. Do it for weeks on end and that's how you fry and pick up something permanent. There is no math or rule-of-thumb for that either. For some it'll take a 6 month bender to fall ill, where-as others will do it in 6 weeks.
A heavy party habit, and you not being able to tell how tired/ fried you are. Until it's too late possibly ( not a question ). Not useful eh?.
Know When To Quit.
This is a basic principle, but at the same time knowing it can save your life. Knowing when to quit. Knowing when to dry out if the substances are getting strong, or you're using up a lot of it very quickly. And knowing what to not go near at all. Crack Cocaine is a shite buzz, as well as highly addictive. And Cocaine is bloody pricey for something so, erm, dull? It was pretty dull when I tried it.
Also Ecstasy tablets can have all-sorts in. It won't be just the 'happy stuff'. Some are sedatey and make you dosy, whilst other are buzzy and make you really lively. It's obvious there's more to it than just 'happy'. And you don't know what will happen until you've taken it, so there are risks. So knowing what to avoid, and knowing when to quit, are very useful skills.
And it's how Shamans survive this 'self-destructive' period. They know when to quit if they are good at their stuff. I admit luck, but have no real regrets. But then I walked away unscathed. As I knew the above. Others didn't walk away unscathed. So I bet they regret some stuff now. I would too if I'd managed to fry myself.
Drugs are a lottery when they are brought off of street dealers. And the licensed drugs, like booze, are still risky. And if you're an 8 pints a night man, with a few doubles as well, then odds are your 'permament injury' is something underlying that has caused you to feel the need to drink so much. That is, in reality, a pretty heavy night. And you do it how often? You sure that's a good idea?
2 - 3 pints works fine for me these days. And I quit drugs over a decade ago. For me the above worked. But, even then and knowing the general strengths etc etc, I got lucky on the lack of impurities. If I'd been unlucky it could have been a lot worse. Drugs may be fun, but being very badly poisoned can kill. Clear enough?
Your Shamanic 'period' needs to be short-term, and you need to watch your health like a hawk as you experiment. There's no point in doing it if you end up permanently injured. Where was the benefit? What wisdom?
Old Shamans are usually so mad that you won't get any sense out of them. There is no such thing as a successful long-term Shaman. Short-termism in a carefully controlled way might work though ( Cannabis trials in America for example ).