Before You Go to War, Know Your Enemy - Part 3
Jack Deatherage, Jr.
(10/2013) The engine of my motorcycle pinged as it cooled. I leaned back against the sissy bar listening to a close friend and a passing acquaintance haggle over the price of a baggie of white powder. The deal was struck, money changed hands, the
acquaintance nodded to me and was gone. The close friend, a man I’d know as a teenager (we’d fished along the creek, hunted birds together, gotten drunk together, risked our lives together on more than one occasion) turned to me and glared.
"Don’t even start about my buying cocaine."
I shrugged. "I’m curious is all. You love your pot. Why’re you buying coke?"
He calmed a bit. "I hate coke. But that damned Nancy Reagan has driven all the pot out of the area." He shrugs. "This is the next best thing, and it’s cheap."
So cocaine swept in to fill the void the Reagan’s War on Drugs had created. Not that coke hadn’t been around before Nancy’s crusade. I knew a few people who liked the powder, just as I knew various pharmaceuticals had come and gone through this place during the years marijuana was the drug of choice among those who weren’t dedicated drunks. LSD, PCP,
crystal meth and opium had been in the area as well. It was coke that quickly became the drug of choice. I watched people change as they began snorting. Many of them became nasty, too nasty and suspicious of anyone not sharing their habits. I stopped hanging around with them.
Now there is a growing crusade against heroin. Hooray. Bust them dealers and pushers. Drive them on out of here. Show the world this place won’t tolerate such a drug.
Excuse me while I yawn.
Where was I? Oh, so what fills the void if heroin becomes scarce?
Well, we’ll spend money on amusing the kids so they won’t turn to drugs!
Hmm… we fished, hunted, played war games in the woods, fields and barns. We collected and built model cars and planes, battleships and tanks. We read books and made up stories. Some of us took up paints and brushes and created worlds on canvas. We hiked up mountains and waded creeks for miles discovering all kinds of critters we’d not seen outside of
schoolbooks. We chased each other through the graveyards playing "Fox and Hounds". We formed impromptu ball games and sent each other home sometimes bloody and broken, but always with stories to tell. We held weekend long poker and bridge games, weeklong chess battles. We played board games, some so complex as to baffle young minds (Monopoly was literally child’s play
compared to the Avalon Hill board games we use to spread out over two dining tables and spend three days playing) and still we took up drugs. Maybe because no one spent money on amusing us?
Oh well, throwing someone else’s money at a problem seems to be the default solution. Though the problem always gets worse because the root cause is never addressed. After the heroin has been chased away and money has been pissed away on entertaining the youth, what drug will fill the void? There will be another drug.
Ten years or so ago, when I first heard heroin had found a home in this place, I mentioned the growing problem to some of my older friends in the Pagan community. These are fellows who did the "searching for God" routine via magic mushrooms and LSD when they were mere college kids. They tell me there is no high attainable through drugs that can’t be
reached by way of meditation, but hey, who wants to work at getting high? Sucking a one-hit pot pipe (one hit because today’s marijuana is more potent than what I inhaled decades ago) or slipping a needle into a vein is so much quicker and easier than sitting for hours a day, for years, learning to control one’s mind. "F’ dat! I wanna get high now!"
Anyhow, the void filling drug is probably going to be one, or several of the many growing wild and/or cultivated in our yards and gardens. Yep. The Pagans warned me not to write about Nature’s pharmacopoeia growing all around us, but there’s this thing called the Internet? Seems like the kids have begun to explore it and what are they finding? Yep,
lists of readily available drug sources growing all around them.
One of the reasons the Pagans asked me to avoid writing about these "everywhere" drugs was because of the uncertain nature of their potency "a bit brings you visions, a bit more stops your heart". Of slightly less concern, was the drugs’ twisting of reality in such a way as the user can’t distinguish the induced hallucination from the real world.
My own Net surfing didn’t turn up such concerns about these plant drugs. Mostly the sites cautioned about the toxicity and side effects like shakes, chills, fevers and vomiting. Yeah, those are highs I’d look for.
Then I talked to a boy who’d found something interesting online and readily available near his home. He and a friend took a chance and discovered those less than pleasant side effects. He spent some time puking his guts out in a closet after being chased out of a woods by a few African lions.
Now there are a couple of places within a lion’s ranging of this place that keep African lions, but I’ve never heard of them letting lions escape. Neither had the boys when the drug put those beasts before them. Telling each other the lions weren’t real did nothing to stop the lions’ charging them. Screaming in terror the boys fled the woods shouting,
"They aren’t real! They aren’t real!" as the drug made them oh so very real.
A somewhat older boy related a story about some mushrooms he found in a cow pasture. After happily eating them and enjoying the high, he found himself surrounded by a curious herd of cows. Not being a farm boy, or in his right mind, he panicked when the herd bull confronted him and fled the field screaming as the herd chased him. Years later, he still
shudders when he sees a herd of cows.
So, the "new" old drugs are here in the wings waiting for their stage call. How are the-powers-that-be going to handle this coming tragedy? I think, not well, based on all I’ve witnessed since first hearing of classmates at CHS overdosing back in 1971. Of course, the failures have been running without let up since the first Wise Man (Homo sapiens)
discovered a consciousness-altering substance, probably a mushroom.
While there are mycologists who theorize that hallucinogenic ‘shrooms caused Early Man’s mind to expand, leading to a larger brain, I have my doubts that the drugs we abuse today are taking us in that direction. As a matter of coincidence, another young cousin recently found what comes next via an overdose of heroin.
I’m sick of this topic, but the why of drug usage needs be addressed before any plan begins to change the situation here.
Read other articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.