Search this blog

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Why do people do drugs?

Contains drug-related images.

I believe there are two main reasons. One: to have fun and socialise with friends. Two: out of depression and nihilistic hopelessness and a need to escape. In their simplest forms, drug use can boil down to these two extremes; happiness vs misery.

Needless to say, there’s all the grey areas in between. Some may get into drugs out of peer pressure or because they’re in a drug-using crowd, and then that may develop into an addiction. Others may start on one drug (including alcohol) which becomes a gateway into others. For some, they may just be a heavy party-goer who likes the odd molly or line of coke when having a good time. And then there are those that simply stick to alcohol, avoiding any other drugs.

As an addict, my view on drugs and alcohol will never be the same as non-addicts. When people talk about the crazy shit they do when they’re drunk, alarm bells and fear always runs through my head. When I see a drunk person, panic and a need to take care of them will always fuel me. I accept that I’m an alcoholic, but I’ll always have that fear around it.

Drugs can be classified into three groups: depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens/psychedelics. Depressants include cannabis, heroin and alcohol; stimulants include cocaine, caffeine, and ecstasy, and hallucinogens include DMT, acid and mushrooms. The safest drug to use in the UK is said to be mushrooms; the most dangerous is said to be alcohol. Whether you agree or disagree with this is your decision, but these are measured in terms of highest level of consequences, harm to self and others, and affect on the brain.

All drugs are ‘bad’, obviously; they’re bad for your physical and mental health, they temporarily impair you and lead to memory loss or loss of control, and they remove inhibitions. People often underestimate the power of drugs. They say ‘why did you do that? Why weren’t you in control?’ Drugs and alcohol REMOVE control. When a person is drunk or high, their level of self-control is greatly reduced or in some cases exterminated. If you’re in a black out, you have no idea what you’re doing or saying. Even a little bit of a drug can affect your behaviour, whether it’s positively or negatively.

I hear this a lot and it irritates me. There’s a political party called ‘Cannabis is safer than alcohol.’ I agree, but it doesn’t mean cannabis is ‘safe.’ Cannabis is still a drug; it can lead to psychosis and schizophrenia, it reduces productivity, it can worsen depression or induce paranoia. Granted, it’s a lot safer than say heroin or alcohol, as it’s a psychologically, not physically, addictive drug, and seldom leads to destructive or violent behaviour. The danger in cannabis is the opposite; when people are high their motivation and productivity is reduced to the point of wanting to do nothing besides watch Rick and Morty and eat crisps. This ignites the ‘sin’ of sloth; before you know it you’ll spend your days doing nothing but smoking weed. Consequences can be stopping going to work, loss of interest in people and relationships, and reduced levels of natural dopamine in the brain (leading to depression).

Weed is mistakenly labelled a ‘safe’ drug; someone who was smoking for fifteen years straight and had their life lost to this seemingly ‘harmless’ drug may beg to differ. Yes, it is safer then many drugs but it's still not 'safe' in its entirety. Naturally, alcohol IS much worse, and I always get angry when those that drink talk about weed like it’s the scum of the earth. Hypocrites! No one is forcing you to get high, but the number of deaths, injuries, illnesses, and god know’s what else from alcohol are tremendous. The danger of alcohol is that it is so accessible. It looks so pretty in glass bottles and shiny cans, but its effects can be sinister. You’ll never hear a person on weed say ‘argh man, I shouldn’t have done that last night’ because chances are all they did was go to bed. But you’ll hear a person on alcohol say that a million times.

The effects of alcohol on me are that I (have) become very emotional, erratic, happy one minute and sad the next, zoned out, paranoid that people are watching me or talking about me, slurring A LOT, stumbling around, unaware of what I’m saying, giggling one minute then moaning the next, and in the end quite miserable and withdrawn. When I would get very drunk, I’d find myself unable to stop drinking if booze was in front of me; if it was there it had to go in my throat or down the sink or in someone else’s hand to stop me from drinking it. Alcoholics don’t have a ‘stop’ button; once we start drinking it’s really hard to stop because the brain craves more and more.

Drugs, like most things in life, should be used only in moderation. Drink and have fun, but be careful. Use the odd pill or spliff now and again, but don’t let it rule your life. There is way more to life than drugs, and if you’re not careful they’ll end up using you rather than the other way around.

Also see: Alcohol vs Weed:


  1. I think there's a lot of truth to the 2 reasons you gave and perhaps you could classify "stress" under the 2nd reason but I don't think the "stress" reason is quite as "intense" as "escape". People who smoke cigarettes or have 1 glass of wine or glass of whiskey etc. aren't doing it to escape, it's because they're stressed and they want to "wind" - or calm - down.

    This is especially true for people who smoke marijuana. I grew up in a town where basically everyone and their parents smoked. There were many people around town who had been smoking marijuana since the 60s etc. So you said "someone who was smoking for fifteen years straight and had their life lost to this seemingly ‘harmless’ drug may beg to differ" but there are far more people out there who have smoked for decades with little to no consequences and would beg to differ with your point about it not being "safe". A lot of it has to do with a person's genetics. Just like alcohol has different effects on people: some getting angry and violent, some sexual and flirty, some sad and depressive. (Except alcohol is actually a poison; whereas marijuana is a plant.)

    The thing about marijuana specifically, compared to all other drugs, is that it does have medicinal properties for some people in some circumstances etc. In addition, some people even smoke to become *more* productive, not less, as it has a different effect on their body chemistry. There are also different kinds of weed and not all of them have the effect that you speak of.

    1. Yeah it's very true that people use fags or booze to 'calm down.' I'm far from a chain smoker but I did smoke cigarettes on and off for about a year; haven't smoked now since I think August or July. I think it's more the psychological thing of having something to do with your hands and breathing in and out, and obviously nicotine has a calming and addictive effect. I think cigarettes are disgusting and a waste of money and most people I know who smoke or who were smokers just spent most of the time trying to quit or switch to vaping. They just make you cough a lot and feel sick and maybe briefly make you feel good but then you just want another and yeah they're so shit lol.
      Yeah I know drugs all affect people differently, I guess I'm talking more about those who've been addicted to weed for a long time and feel like they've lost all that time to smoking weed rather than doing what they want to do. Yeah I know marijuana does have some medicinal properties like with cancer and I support legalisation because of cutting down on the black market, I just don't like it when people claim its 'safe' because sure it's safer compared to heroin or alcohol but it's still a drug with consequences.

    2. Yeah, some people definitely do have more of a psychological connection with the breathing or occupying of the hands or even the mouth (as some people switch from cigarettes to stress eating). So my point on that detail is merely that I don't think it's limited to the 2 main reasons you gave, as some people aren't socializing but aren't necessarily trying to "escape" either; just wind down.

      Where I live, *a lot* of people smoke weed and most people don't have a negative attitude towards marijuana and it's effect on their life; regardless of age and amount of years or decades smoking. I'm not saying NO person has ever felt that "weed took their life away from them" but I've certainly never met that person and I've met *at least* 100 different people who smoke, from different backgrounds, for different reasons, of different ages, with different levels of experience etc. and not a single one of them ever said they felt they lost their "life" to smoking too much weed. That being said, I did know a couple people who very worried about the consequences of it but they didn't lose anything to it, they just simply either stopped smoking altogether or stopped smoking for the most part and only had a small bit every once in a great while.

      Marijuana has a bad reputation because it used to be much more of an "escape" drug and there used to be more classic, stereotypical "stoners" but nowadays, it's much more similar to having a glass of wine or whiskey etc. I can't speak for England but in the USA, there are still some people who look at marijuana like it's worse than heroin or LSD etc. In reality, it's not even worse than cigarettes and alcohol in most scenarios.

      Furthermore, many of the people who smoke marijuana on any regular basis also tend to like drinking coffee (Starbucks sort of crowd), reading books (Barnes & Noble sort of crowd) and/or not drinking or doing heavy drugs and losing one's sense of control and values etc. Many of them have respectable jobs in society and many of them aren't "trouble-makers" and/or "lazy bums".

      Well, if you don't like it when people claim it's "safe" to smoke marijuana then do you not like it when people claim it's "safe" to drive a car, because it's still a weapon/tool with consequences? Many studies show that marijuana is more beneficial for you than harmful - not limited to cancer victims - and it really does depend on a person's genetics. For people who smoke cigarettes but don't have the gene for lung cancer, it basically is safe for them yet for the people who have the gene, it's not even really "safe" to be around much second-hand smoke. For people with high tolerances of alcohol, it's relatively "safe" for them to have a few drinks but for people with low tolerances of alcohol, they could actually die from a few drinks.

    3. All I said is that weed is still a drug and although it's clearly safer than heroin or acid it doesn't mean its 'safe' per se. Maybe that's just the people you know but the 'stoner' thing isn't a stereotype, weed does literally make people lazy and want to do fuck all. Yeah there are some people that become productive but generally because weed is a depressant as time goes on it reduces motivation and can inhibit dopamine therefore leading to depression and psychosis/schizophrenia in some cases. Not saying that happens to EVERYONE, and as I mentioned I am a recovering alkie and so I'm more biased towards drugs because I see more of the 'darker' affects of them through the people I'm with who are also recovering addicts. My ex was also a stoner and he'd sometimes hear voices in his head and he'd be really lazy and hardly want to do anything besides get high and laze around. Obviously if you smoke weed now and again and don't suffer from any preceding mental illnesses it's not necessarily going to have a bad effect on you, but if you smoke tons of weed everyday for years then clearly overtime the effects will become negative. Lazing around and doing nothing isn't as bad as smashing things up or getting arrested, but it's still not great to become a sloth who ends up not doing much.


I'm Zarina Macha, an author, blogger, and musician from London. I write about stuff on the internet 'cos having opinions is fun -- if you want to join the games, please note your thoughts below. All thoughts welcome, even if they're mean (just no spam links please -- can't tell you what a liability those are to remove).
I've also published three YA fiction books and two poetry volumes. To check em out, copy and paste this link into your browser: