what is a drug?

dictionary suggests:

"A substance other than food intended to affect the structure or function of the body."



lets take nicotine for an example as we consider the nature of a drug:

is it a white solid at room temperature, miscible in water and boiling at 247 degrees celcius?

is it the active principle of tobacco leaves, one of the most widely consumed substances on earth?

is it an addictive chemical that delivers an instant rush, flooding parts of the brain with dopamine?

is it the chain that binds millions of people to inhale toxic fumes every day, until they die?

is it a biodegradeable and environmentally sound pesticide?

is it a welcome release from daily tension, widley available and providing instant satisfaction?

is it a prophylactic treatment that prevents parkinson's dementia?

is it a deadly cause of diseases and cancers?

yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!


So then.... what is nicotine again??

In fact, what is any drug?

If we return to the dictionary definition we will find a clue,

"a substance... intended to affect..."

...and here lies the source of our difficulty in defining a drug: "intent"

A drug is no more and no less than the soil in the ground, or the water in the sea. That is until it gets into the body.

And once that fruit has been picked and eaten the world becomes a very different place.

Upon using a drug, it becomes personified, by those that use it, how they use it, how it is acquired, how it's administered, in what emotional context, what repercussions come of using it, and on and on.

It is the use a drug is put which becomes its identity.

For us animals: you are what you eat.... For drugs: you are how you are eaten.



Which is presumably why something like cocaine has very different feelings and perceptions attached to it, depending on who you ask.

For the coca leaf chewing south americans, cocaine is a pleasant and invigorating way to start the morning, indeed its use is comparable to that of tea or coffee in europe.

To the gaunt addict with hollow eyes, cocaine is the centre of life, the most desirable activity bar none, despite its devastating consequences.

In two different societies the same substance is both an innocuous pick-me-up and an illegal narcotic. These differences stem from the culture itself, and the way it consumes the drug: tradiationally coca leaves are chewed, slowly releasing a modest amount of cocaine into the saliva, which then enters the blood via mucus glands. In europe cocaine is almost exclusively available as a refined white powder, which is snorted directly into the nose, where it dissolves in nasal mucus, and then into the blood.

The legal extravaganza surrounding cocaine is largely responsible for the way it is used away from the countries it is grown in.

Coca leaves usually contain 1% of their weight as cocaine. When considering shipping costs, especially when cocaine is illegal in so many places, it is an obvious move to purify and refine the active principle and ship that pure.

The pure substance hits you harder and faster. It is a powerful tool for bending one's emotions, making the most dull activity involving and enjoyable, exciting the mind to explore while supressing the need to eat or rest. The desire to go out of yourself, socially, sexually and intellectually, is compelling, however, what goes up, must come down.

After using cocaine your brain and body adapt. The more you use it, the more your own flesh becomes used to its affects, as your cells re-regulate themselves. When you are used to feeling unnaturally good, the normal simple pleasures in life lose their interest. You want more, you want to feel like that again, to be that person again... and the only obvious way is to have another line. This is the downward spiral of the chronic cocaine users. A substance that opened yourmind to the richness of life will leave you feeling detached from and unhappy with life itself.

Or it could do. A certain group of people suffer no problems from cocaine use, indeed they actually benefit from longer lives and sharpened minds: these are the people who chew a handful of leaves a day, in the same way as one might sip a cup of tea.

There's food for thought.



















Erythroxylum coca



















"The key to the gates of heaven will also unlock the gates of hell."








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