Category Archives: Drugs and addiction

Does Substance Abuse Make You A Better Writer?

"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they'e always worked for me." Hunter S. Thompson

Anyone seriously interested in becoming a writer should make a habit out of studying the lives of successful authors. If you do that you’ll inevitably notice that a lot of famous authors have been alcohol and drug abusers.  This raises the question, does substance abuse make you a better writer? For a lot of reasons, the short answer is, it can, but there’s no substitute for solid technique, and the added creative boost that substance abuse can give you comes at a great cost.

Consider that for every successful drug abusing author there are dozens (if not hundreds) of authors who succeeded without the help of mind-altering chemicals. More importantly, for every successful drug abusing author, there are countless drug abusing would-be writers who merely ended up depraved, unsung drug addicts. So statistically speaking, if you shoot for that star you’re most likely to end up free falling into oblivion. Furthermore, for all we know, those successful addict/writers may have become successful writers without drugs. So we can’t empirically prove it was the drugs that made them successful.

Another point to consider is the damage drugs do. Sure, Phillip K. Dick was able to write over 50 novels with the help of amphetamines, and Jack Kerouac achieved legendary success from tales of his bohemian lifestyle, but both of those authors died relatively young. Hunter S. Thompson earned a cult following from his (admittedly exaggerated) tales of debauchery, but his personal life was a train wreck of heartache that estranged his loved ones and led him to commit suicide.  Professional success is a means to an end: a better life. If the cost of professional success is personal failure then the cost/benefit analysis doesn’t add up.

Just to drive the point home, Robert Frost once said, “To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.” Well, anyone who is an addict is an addict first and whatever else second. You can’t be a writer/addict; you can only be an addict/writer. So even if you shoot for that star and make it, your achievement will be bittersweet. Kurt Vonnegut probably said it best when he said, “Alcohol is the biggest problem in the life of any alcoholic.”

Having said all that, the fact that there are enough professionally successful drug abusing authors to establish a pattern means that pattern is worth analyzing, especially if that pattern (mis)leads young authors into believing drugs will help them. So it needs to be asked, why are so many professionally successful authors addicts? I’ll attempt to answer that question, but understand that while I’ll try to base my answers on evidence and/or logic, my answers aren’t based on a comprehensive longitudinal, peer-reviewed stack of psychological case studies, but if you take this for what it is you’ll be able to glean some useful insight from it.

In order to unravel this mystery the first question you have to ask yourself is why anyone becomes an addict in the first place. This is a subject that countless case studies have been done on, and there’s no single answer. However, there are some common factors such as genetics, mental illness, peer pressure, depression, stress, abuse, chronic pain, unfulfillment, and the fact that drugs are inherently addictive and euphoric.

Even being a “highly sensitive person,” which isn’t an inherently negative condition, still slightly increases the odds of becoming an addict. However, the combination of character traits and lifestyle needs of highly sensitive people are arguably the same traits and needs that predispose one to become a good writer. Many (though not all) of the legitimately negative life factors that lead anyone to use drugs could just as easily predispose them to be a good writer. So it could be that many successful addict/writers were already on the path to becoming good writers before they stepped off onto the path to addiction, which is all the more tragic, because all the negative life factors that people try to manage with euphoric substance abuse can be managed with therapy, exercise, yoga, social interaction, work, etc. freeing the individual from the shackles of addiction to focus on writing with a clear mind.

If you can identify the positive patterns in the lives of successful writers you can emulate those patterns without focusing on the single factor of addiction, and the positive factors that lend one to becoming a good writer aren’t particularly profound. On the simplest level, all you need is proper technical training and motivation. Many, many, many wealthy authors of sitcoms and romance novels were motivated simply by the desire for money and fame. So while quotes like, “To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.” have given writers a reputation for being transcendental monks who access a higher plane of consciousness and channel their profound insights onto paper for the edification of the unenlightened masses, the truth is that writing can be a job just like any other job, and you don’t need drugs to show up to work every day. You just need to understand your customers and produce a product that they want to buy. To that end, you’d be better off reading 10 “how to write fiction” books than blowing your family’s savings on drugs.

Having said that, sitcoms, romance novels and pulp fiction have a reputation for being “low art.” They may be a useful tool for future historians to judge the cultures that produced them, but they rarely advance human understanding. In fact, they can arguably hold society back.  On the other hand, many insightful, award-winning books have been written by authors who were high as a kite at the time, and there’s some empirical evidence to suggest that drug use can increase creativity. This raises the question, what gives?

The answer to that question lies in how ideas are created.  That’s a philosophical question that would be difficult to empirically prove, but my own personal writing is based on the theory that ideas are bound by the same laws as the natural universe: You can’t get something from nothing, and the only way to get new “things” is by combining existing ones in different ways.

This theory explains why drug use (and genetics, mental illness, peer pressure, depression, stress, abuse, chronic pain, unfulfilment, and euphoria) have the potential to facilitate creativity. Before I get into that though, I need to establish a control group to compare it to. It’s a fairly well-established fact that humans are cognitive misers who are born on mental autopilot. This is why sheeple exist, and why in fact, we are all sheeple. We just mimic what the people around us are doing and sleepwalk through life without putting too much critical thought into analyzing the universe around us, and we tend to abuse and ostracize anyone who has stepped outside of our comfort zone and explored novel ideas.

Isaac Newton pointed out that an object in motion will remain in motion until it interacts with another object or force. People are the same. Wind us up and let us go, and we’ll keep waving our country’s flag, working at miserable jobs and consuming pop culture until we die without ever stopping to acknowledge the grandeur and mystery of existence… as long as we never have a traumatic experience to wake us up from our walking slumber.

Charles Bukowski, an unapologetic drunkard and brilliant writer, once said that his abusive father beat the pretense out of him. World travelers frequently acknowledge how being immersed in a foreign culture will strip away your assumptions about life. Psychologists have noted that our personalities tend to be set in stone by our early twenties unless we have a near death experience or otherwise confront/reassess our mortality during a mid-life crisis. Many successful writers come from military backgrounds where they were forced to look the devil in the eyes (an experience unlikely to occur in suburbia). Even if you’re trapped in suburbia you’ll still be able to see outside your bubble if you commit yourself (willingly or unwillingly) to a lifetime of academic study. Extensive education combined with abject poverty and/or meditation can be a powerful combination to inspire outside-the-box thinking. Or you could just study how to think.

All of these factors can force you to perceive new insight into the nature of human existence and combine ideas that you would have otherwise had no motivation or opportunity to combine living in suburbia working in a cubicle. Even if you do live in suburbia and work in a cubicle, if you wrote about your boring, uninspired life and then sold your book in a country that’s completely different than yours then your work would appear insightful and inspiring because it’s so far outside the experience of your readers. So your average Italian reader might find Louis L’Amour’s work more awe-inspiring than your average Texan.

In order to take advantage of all of these enlightening opportunities you really have to go out of your way, and since humans are born on autopilot you’re designed to resist going out of your way. Even if you do go out of your way your brain will still resist combining new ideas in novel ways. However, you may have relatively easy access to mind-altering drugs that will override the inertia of your humdrum life and force your brain to combine the ideas that are already in your mind in new ways. If you do enough drugs your life will spiral out of control further pushing you outside your comfort zone leaving you in a new place with a new vantage point on your old life…which you could have just as easily experienced simply by going on an extended vacation, getting a new job or joining a social club.

Different drugs affect the brain in different ways, and if you understand how drugs affect the brain you can predict the effect they’ll have on the thoughts you pour out into your writing. You can even look at someone else’s art and potentially identify the drugs they used to “achieve” their results.

I’ll go through a short list of common drugs and discuss the positive and negative effects they can have on combining ideas in novel ways. The conclusion to be drawn from the information below is that, yes, drugs can cause you to think thoughts that you wouldn’t have thought otherwise. To that end, you can say that drugs have the potential to inspire creativity, but you could achieve those same ends with non-poisonous tactics.

 

Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant. It makes your brain work faster for a short period of time. Caffeine is a popular drug for artists in all mediums because it overrides the need for willpower to keep you working. However, you’ll only be able to work for short stints before your brain burns out. Granted, you can overcome this problem with more caffeine, but you can only push your body so hard before it crashes.

 

Cigarettes

Nicotine will give your mind a small boost, and when combined with caffeine can keep your working at unnaturally high speeds. Smoking also forces you to take regular breaks from writing where you can collect your thoughts and rest your eyes. On the downside you’re going to die a slow, horrible death from cancer.

 

Marijuana

Marijuana speeds up your brain, and forces you to combine random ideas. The idea for “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” was conceived on marijuana, and since marijuana also gives you the munchies, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles favorite food was pizza. Marijuana is very common among artists, and since it’s neither addictive nor deadly there’s not much bad to say about it. However, any mind altering substance is bad for children whose brains are still developing, and even though marijuana has some medicinal benefits, you can only kill so many brain cells before you get dumber.

 

Alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant. It shuts down your higher level thinking skills so that your brain temporarily operates on its primitive core. In other words, it quite literally causes temporary retardedness. The “upside” of this is that for a short time your brain operates on a raw, emotional level. Sometimes humans are too smart for our own good. Alcohol strips those thoughts away and leaves you in a state where you think about life in raw, passionate, simplified terms. Great writing strips away the pretences of society and reflects the bare truths of life. So it’s unsurprising that so many writers would turn to alcohol as liquid inspiration, but it comes with great cost. In the short term you’re more likely to write garbled, meaningless, angst-ridden bullshit. In the long run you’ll inevitably get addicted, become depressed, go broke and die young.

 

Cocaine

If caffeine is like putting premium gasoline in your car engine, cocaine is like injecting Nitrous Oxide into your fuel line. You’ll be able to produce more work than is naturally possible in the short term. You’ll also have a lot of fun, but it’ll cause permanent brain damage. You wouldn’t supercharge your computer for a year if it meant having a broken computer for the rest of your life. Talk to some old school coke heads before using cocaine. Most of the coke heads that I’ve met strongly, passionately discourage young people from using cocaine for the first time even though they admit they fully intend to do coke themselves the next chance they get, which should scare you.

 

L.S.D., psilocybin, dimethyltryptamine

The effects of psychedelics are notoriously hard to describe. One effect that they have is to project your internal psychological state into your external perception of reality. If you’re in a bad psychological state you’ll see and feel bad things, hence “a bad trip.” If you’re in a positive psychological state you’ll see and feel positive things. That, in and of itself, is enough to force you to perceive reality in novel ways. Psychedelics also strip away inhibitors that prevent you from being overwhelmed by the sensory stimulation that bombards your body every moment of your life. The effect is that you’re strapped to a rocket blasting forward through the universe at the speed of thought. This can be an exhilarating and/or terrifying experience that will undoubtedly give you a new frame of reference to measure future experiences by. Psychedelics also activate a part of your brain that causes you to see the universe through a more mathematical lens. I can’t explain the experience much beyond that, but to suffice it to say that it will force you to make mental connections that would have otherwise been unlikely or impossible. If this sounds productive and tempting, be away that it comes at the cost of your sanity. Psychedelics hit your brain with the force of a sledgehammer; it’ll break you out of the mental mold you were born into, but what’s been broken can never be unbroken.

 

M.D.M.A., ecstasy, heroin, opium

Your brain naturally produces endorphins that make you feel happy. Drugs that supercharge the production of endorphins or eliminate your body’s ability to filter those endorphins make you feel happier than is naturally possible. The result is that you’ll feel happier than you’ve ever felt in your entire life; you’ll become euphoria. Once you reach that state there’s no motivation to go anywhere else. So you’ll just lay on the floor celebrating how wonderful your carpet is, even if it’s covered in piss and ash, and you’ll have little to no motivation left to write in that state. Once you come back from Shangri La you’ll know that no car, no house, no lover, no job, no vacation could ever possibly match the level of happiness you can achieve simply by giving a drug dealer $30. Writing takes concentration and dedication. Using powerful euphoric drugs is extremely unlikely to lead to great works of literature. It is a life path that is extremely likely to lead to destitution and death.

 

Crack and meth

Don’t do crack or meth. Ever. Not even once.

 

 

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10 Reasons To Stay Sober

1. Sobriety is cheaper

Money makes the world go ’round. Money is power. It might not be able to buy happiness directly, but it buys comfort, security, and freedom, which yield happiness. Poverty buys stress, anxiety, hopelessness, poor quality food and slavery, which will make you so miserable it will shorten your life.

Mind-altering substances are expensive and addictive. The more you use the more you will want to consume and the more you’ll need to consume to achieve inebriation. If you become a full-blooded addict you’ll end up spending a very significant portion of your income on mind-altering substances, and that will severely reduce your options in life. If you have any hopes and dreams in life then stay sober, because addiction is a very heavy chain and ball around your finances.

 

2. No hangovers, withdrawals or cravings

Euphoric chemicals are called “euphoric” for a reason. They will cause you to feel levels of pleasure unattainable through sobriety.  Though you may begin your descent into addiction by chasing euphoria, your motivation to get inebriated will inevitably transition to fleeing hangovers, withdrawals and cravings (all of which are extremely painful). The benefit you get from temporary chemical-induced euphoria won’t be worth the cost of perpetual discomfort.

 

3. You’ll make more clear-headed decisions

Inebriation is effectively temporary retardedness. While under the influence you can’t speak, walk or think at normal, sane levels. The more time you’re inebriated the higher the chances you’ll make bad decisions like sleeping with the wrong people, breaking laws, ignoring responsibilities and treating other people poorly. If you want to make the most of out of life you need to make the best decisions possible every day. Addiction prevents that from happening.

 

 

4. You’ll be more able to overcome the problems that drive you to inebriation

Some of the most important issues you need to confront rationally are the problems that drive you to drink and use drugs in the first place. Inducing temporary retardedness won’t make those problems go away; it just sweeps them under the rug until you sober up again, and the longer they’re left unresolved the worse they’ll get.

 

5. Your life won’t be plagued by the problems that come with addiction

Addiction will make you poorer, more stressed and less able to deal with life’s challenges. These problems will cause even more unnecessary problems that you’ll need to deal with. If you’d never started down the path to addiction those problems would never have happened, and once they do start piling up you’ll be less capable of dealing with them if you’re broke, stressed and incoherent.

 

6. Your brain will work better, which will improve every aspect of your life

Euphoric chemicals don’t just hamper your ability to think coherently and logically. They damage your brain and take their toll on your subconscious thought processes as well causing mental deficiencies you’re not even aware of. Your identity and reality are defined by your brain. If you throw a monkey wrench into your brain then you’ll lower the quality of your life and your reality forever even if you can manage to hold down a high paying job and not run off everyone important in your life.

 

 

7. You won’t be a burden on the people you love (and who love you)

No man is an island. The things you do (and don’t do) affect the people in your life. Living with an alcoholic is like living with a special need’s child. In saying that I’m not trying to disparage addicts or special needs children. I’m just pointing out that they do add another level of responsibilities and burdens on the people closest to them. I’m also not implying we shouldn’t help the people in our lives who have special needs (such as managing addictions). I’m just saying, if you don’t have to inconvenience your loved ones then you shouldn’t.

 

8. You’ll have more meaningful relationships with the people you love (and who love you)

Living with someone who is too inebriated to walk, talk or think effectively is like living with a Neanderthal. It’s difficult to reach and relate to someone in that state. Likewise, when you’re inebriated you can’t connect with your loved ones on a lucid level. Inebriation puts up a wall between you and your loved ones that limits your ability to experience each other’s true selves, and that’s missing out on the best part of life.

 

9. With good health comes better feelings

Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, and addiction is agonizing. Good health allows your body to function properly, and if you take care of yourself then your body will reward you with free euphoria.

 

10. The future will always look bleak when you’re killing yourself

Life is daunting, especially if you’ve had a traumatic past and/or a stressful present. Addiction is harming yourself to medicate yourself out of fear of feeling pain. The cure for fear is hope. If you have hope for the future then your anxieties will fade to your peripheral vision. As fun as euphoric chemicals may be, you know they’re killing you. That will always make the future bleaker even if you don’t fully articulate the fact to yourself. Sobriety isn’t always easy, but it opens doors that lead to greener pastures.

 

 

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The Drug Talk

At some point in your life you’re going to have the opportunity to do mind-altering drugs like tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, heroin, meth, crack, etc., and you’re going to have to do the cost/benefit analysis to decide whether or not you should do drugs. Some people would tell you that you shouldn’t do drugs because drugs are bad, and if you do drugs then that makes you a bad person who deserves to be punished accordingly. That philosophy is vague to the point of being useless and doesn’t address any of the subtle realities of drug use.

 

 

People don’t do drugs because they’re bad, and doing drugs doesn’t make you a bad person. Doing drugs certainly doesn’t warrant punishment. So what does cause people to use drugs? The number one cause of drug use is the fact that life sucks. Life doesn’t suck because existence is an inherently pointless and painful experience. Life sucks because the world our elders designed for us is inhumane, and countless people suffer from poverty, abuse, and abandonment as a result of the faulty systems that control our lives. If you grew up in a loving, nurturing household where all of your needs were taken care of, then good for you. You’re less likely to get addicted to drugs because your life is full of experiences and opportunities that make life enjoyable and fulfilling. But if you grew up in a broken home and got stuck working as a disposable wage slave at the bottom of a heartless corporation with little to no options for career progression, then the cost/benefit analysis of doing drugs will look more tempting to you.

The harder your life is the more tempting and gratifying drugs will be, and if you live and work with broken people who are trapped under the glass ceiling, you’ll be more likely to make friends with people who have discovered that habitual drug use helps manage their own pain and anxiety. No matter what strata of society you come from, the people most likely to offer you drugs will be your friends. A creepy looking stranger in a black trench coat probably won’t walk up to you and ask you in a raspy whisper if you want to buy some dope. More likely you’ll see your friends having a good time using drugs and you’ll think to yourself, “I want to have that good of a time too.” And your friends will be more than happy to share their drugs with you because they care about you and want you to have a good time too.

An interesting thing about drugs is that they don’t affect all people the same way. While your friends may be having the best time of their lives while on drugs you might get a mild kick or even get sick from it because your body processes the drugs differently. If you experiment with drugs a few times and find that they make you feel absolutely amazing then you need to be extra cautious about using them again. If drugs don’t do much for you then you may be able to use them recreationally from time to time without ever becoming an addict. Just be careful about judging people who use drugs more often than you, because their situation is very different from yours.

Drugs are dangerous because they damage your health, and they’re addictive, but the most dangerous thing about drugs is that they’re fun. They’re more fun than reality. When you feel happiness or pleasure you’re feeling the effects of chemicals in your brain. Drugs affect your brain in ways that make you experience levels of happiness and pleasure greater than is possible to achieve through sobriety. When adults tell children not to do drugs because drugs are bad and children go on to use drugs and discover how absolutely wonderful drugs are, then those children are likely to lose regard for the opinion of puritanical adults and continue on with their drug use unprepared for the dangers ahead of them.

 

 

It takes time to get addicted to drugs. The first 1-100 times you use drugs you may not be an addict. You may just be enjoying the moment, but over time the addiction will creep in, and you won’t notice it’s there until it’s too late. So if you’re going to experiment with drugs you need to be vividly aware that you’re not just enjoying the moment. You’re courting addiction, and once your body becomes dependent on drugs you won’t be able to just quit any time. You might be able to quit, but it’s going to be painful…and not just the one time you decide to quit cold turkey.

Habitual drug users tend to start out using drugs simply for the sake of experiencing euphoria, but as you become addicted your body craves the drug all the time the same way your body craves food, water or sex. When you don’t have it you get this unexplainable sense of hunger for the drug, and your brain will want it so bad that it will help you make excuses why you should spend more money to get more drugs. This sounds dramatic, but the way it feels to fledgling addicts is deceptively commonplace. There’s just a thought in the back of your head that says, “Hey, a cigarette or beer or joint or line would sure be nice right now.” Then your brain answers back, “What the heck? Let’s get some more.” Then you do.

At the same time as this is going on your mind is also getting accustomed to experiencing an unrealistically euphoric reality. So normal life becomes boring and dull, which makes you want to do drugs more often. Then, the more drugs you do the more damage you do to your organs and deplete your vitamins. If you damage your organs long enough and starve your body of essential vitamins you won’t be able to experience the fullness of sober reality anyway. In fact, you’ll start developing minor aches and pains that will motivate you to do more drugs to erase those pains. And since you’ll feel like you’re starving when you don’t feed your body’s addiction then the nature of your habit will gradually change. Instead of using drugs simply to chase euphoria you’ll use drugs to run away from the pain of withdrawals. You’ll tell yourself sobriety just sucks, but in reality, you’re making sobriety suck.

The longer you do drugs the more likely you are to come to the “logical” conclusion that if life is extra fun while you’re high then why not just be high all the time? Then you’ll be happy all the time. Technically that’s true, but the prize comes with many costs. If you’re a wealthy trust fund baby who will never have to work a day in your whole life then spending your life as a self-destructive hedonist is your choice. You’re going to die someday anyway. Whether or not you live a long, sober life or a short, euphoric one is an interesting philosophical question, but your addiction might not amount to more than that. However, if you’re from the working class then the consequences of addiction are far more serious.

Long before you develop health problems from your addiction you’ll suffer the consequences of having to pay for your addiction. Legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco are priced as high as possible and taxed as high as possible on top of that. Businesses price their goods high so they can make as much money off of killing people as possible, and governments make sin taxes as high as possible to discourage substance abuse (supposedly), but an addict will pay whatever they have to in order to cope with home much life sucks, ward off withdraws and feel euphoric.

 

 

Doing anything every day becomes incredibly expensive very quickly. Doing drugs every day requires you to set aside a significant percentage of your income. This means you’re going to have to sacrifice something else in order to free up room in your budget for drugs. At first, you might not go out to eat as much or buy as many new clothes, but the more addicted you become, and the more substances you become addicted to, the more money you’ll have to budget for drugs and the less other things you’ll be able to do and buy.

As I said earlier, life sucks for billions of people in this world through no fault of their own. They’re victims of a heartless economy,  and they’re victimized most at work. We grow up in a world where the average worker is paid as little as possible to do as much work as possible while being treated with as much indignity as is it takes to get workers to meet their quotas and please their customers. Living like this our entire lives we take it for granted that this is the natural order of things and anyone who doesn’t like it is ungrateful and lazy. People who use euphoric drugs know how good life can be, and they know they don’t need to climb to the top of the corporate ladder to make their dreams come true. They don’t even need a fancy house or new clothes. All they need is a case of beer, a bag of weed or a needle of heroin.

Drug addicts tend to become disenchanted with the promise of a lavish retirement after a lifetime of being treated like shit at work. After using enough drugs you may even come to the conclusion that since you’re not going to live to old age you don’t need to save for old age or impress petty, sadistic bosses. The fact that your brain is skewed sideways from so much drug use it becomes easy to justify decisions you would have found illogical when you were sober, and since you’re feeling euphoric all the time, you don’t feel the consequences of rash decisions the way you normally do. So the more drugs you do the more likely you are to give up on traditional career paths and simply find whatever work will cater to your drug use. Ironically, most of the jobs that don’t care about your employment history and don’t make you take drug tests are inhumane minimum wage jobs that don’t offer benefits or retirement options.

So long-term drug use increases the likelihood that you’ll end up broke and working at a shit job. This will make you want to do drugs more, and since you won’t want to do anything during your free time unless you’re high you’ll spend more money on drugs. And since you won’t be able to function normally while you’re high you’ll tend to just stay at home and do drugs, and that will become your life. The scariest part is that you won’t feel bad about this. In your mind, you’ll have reached Shangri La, but to the outside observer, you’ll be a poor junky living in a sparse house who wasted your potential.

That’s a worst-case scenario. There are billions of people who have used, are using and will use drugs who won’t end up anywhere near that point. But the ideal life is nowhere near that end of the spectrum. I’m not saying that nobody should ever use drugs. When done in moderation you can experience majestic highs without selling your soul for it, but every time you use drugs you need to be aware of the fact that you’re warming your feet at the gates of hell.

 

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The Tao of Booze (Why I once embraced alcoholism)

Note: I wrote this blog years ago in my mid-twenties. I no longer stand by this philosophy, but I’m leaving it up for posterity and to offer an insight into the mind of an alcoholic. 

 

Most people don’t understand alcoholics. Most people view alcoholics as only slightly less despicable than serial killers, rapists, and child pornographers. What people don’t understand is that alcoholism isn’t just a habit. It’s a lifestyle…a philosophy…and it’s not completely insane or necessarily irresponsible. I want to share with you my philosophy on alcoholism. I don’t speak for every alcoholic, but I’m sure most of them have thought similar thoughts.

First I want to mention two reasons why many people can’t understand the appeal of alcoholism. The first reason is, alcohol affects everyone differently. It makes some people feel great but has little to no effect on others. Some people it just makes sick. So if you don’t see what the big appeal of alcohol is, it might be that it doesn’t make you feel as good as it does other people.

The other reason many people don’t understand alcoholics is they grew up in an upper-middle-class family where everybody loved each other, encouraged each other, and supported each other through life’s struggles. Those are the kind of people who say, “I don’t need alcohol to have a good time.” Well, some of our lives sucked shit. Some of us have felt fear far more than we ever felt loved. Some of us got the crap beat out of us our entire childhoods and had little to no emotional or financial support through the rest of life’s struggles. Now we’re buried in debt, working at hard jobs we hate with no prospects for the future except more hard work and no thanks. So hey, if the only good thing that’s going to happen to you all day is either masturbating and/or getting drunk, then you take what you can get.

 

Cartoon picture of a smiling man walking home from work carrying a lunch box. He is saying, "Now it's time for my real job- getting loaded!"

 

Some people feel great when they drink and like to get drunk after having a shitty day at the office but don’t become alcoholics. You don’t become an alcoholic until passing several mile markers. The first mile marker is when it dawns on you that if it’s great to be drunk some of the time, then it would be even better to be drunk all the time. Another mile marker is when you realize your alcoholism has reached a level where it’s definitely affecting or going to affect your health but you choose to keep doing it anyway.

Some people say drinking alone is a huge mile marker. I’ve never liked that idea. Why am I only allowed to have fun when other people are around? What if you’re a private person? What if your friends are all busy? I see social drinking as a sign of codependency. I will say this though, drinking alone in the bathtub is definitely a mile marker.

The big question all this is leading up to is, why? Why allow yourself to pass those mile markers knowing you’re hurting yourself? Why do you need alcohol to be happy? Why can’t you trade the bottle for a positive attitude?

Because, as we’ve already established, life sucks shit. Having a positive attitude doesn’t change that. It just blinds you from the reality of what a horrible world we live in. Alcohol does that too, but that just means alcohol and optimism are separate paths leading to the same place.

A cheerleader would reply to this by saying getting drunk is a way of hiding from the pains of the world. Ah, but you forget, the alcoholic has already admitted to himself that he doesn’t care about his own health and thus his own life. If he’s not worried about his own life then he sure as hell doesn’t give a fuck about the rest of the world, especially since that world abandoned him. The alcoholic accepts responsibility to suffer the consequences of his habit and expects the rest of the world to accept the responsibility to suffer the consequences of its habits.

A cheerleader would reply to this by accusing the drunkard of giving up on life and tell the drunkard he’s morally obligated to pick himself up, rise to the challenges of life, and try to make the most out of life.

What the cheerleader doesn’t understand is that the drunkard has already done all of those things. He survived a shitty life. He stuck with his drinking habit when his lightweight friends quit. And he’s making the most out of life by getting drunk as often as possible. The cheerleader gave up on life when she decided to stop thinking for herself and escape reality through the blindfold of optimism.

But all that aside, what would you have the drunkard do? Where do you want him to go? Where will living a clean life get him? In a more expensive house? In more expensive and more uncomfortable clothes? Will he win the approval of more judgmental friends? Will it get him a more prestigious job to slave away after hours at? Will it get him a bigger car, tickets to sports events, and Chinese takeout? Will it really make him a better person or will it just make him more like you?

What are you living for? If you don’t know the meaning of life then you’re not living for anything. You’re just going through the motions of life and telling yourself that what you’re doing is important so you don’t go insane with uncertainty and guilt over the fact that you’ve tried so hard to do what’s right your whole life but your pretty life is still a failure and the only thing keeping you ending this pointless charade by taking the whole bottle of your antidepressant pills at once is the “faith” in your belief that you guessed the right answer to the question of life even though you never even really guessed; you just copied what everybody else in your culture was doing when you got here.

Motivational speakers don’t have anything to offer an alcoholic but spectacular guesses and lies. Seriously, if you aren’t fanatically religious, wealthy, work at your dream job, are a genius or an addict then I don’t know what you’re doing with your life. There are so many people who wake up in the morning, put on their boring clothes, go to their boring job, come home to their boring house, watch boring television, go to sleep, and repeat this boring, unfulfilling routine every day until they die. Can you honestly tell me their lives wouldn’t be improved by massive quantities of alcohol?

Maybe getting drunk really is the best thing you can do with your life.

Say what you want about alcoholics, but they know there’s supposed to be something more to life. And speaking of life, let’s talk about death. Cheerleaders make themselves look silly by preaching to alcoholics about how alcohol and cigarettes will kill them. Yeah. Alcoholics know that. And we’re fine with it. We’ve come to peace with death and no longer fear it. Please don’t push your fear of death on us. And at any rate, what do you want us to do with all that extra life? What’s so important that we have to stick around another 40 years for? All you’re going to be doing during that time is watching daytime television and being a burden on your family. Personally, I’d just as soon check out early, thank you.

The only obstacle remaining between an alcoholic and a lifetime of contended drinking is God. Does God hate drunkards? Is God going to punish us for all eternity? Any good alcoholic will tell you that Benjamin Franklin put it best when he said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” At any rate, drunkards just have faith that God isn’t a dick.

 

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Benjamin Franklin

 

On the other hand, many alcoholics don’t believe in God, which simplifies the problem even more. And if there’s no afterlife then there are no consequences for our actions in life. This doesn’t mean we have free reign to go kill people. That would be a waste of time that could be better spent drinking as much alcohol as we can before The Big Last Call. And after all, alcohol is the closest a nihilist is getting to Heaven anyway.

Think about it. Life’s short. Fuck it. Pour me another. Let’s have a good time while there’s still time. When you look at it like that, alcoholics are incorrigible optimists.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

Growing up and Becoming You
Happiness and Peace
Self-Esteem
Health
Drugs and Addiction
Achieving a Healthy Work/Life Balance
Leadership and Authority
My Tweets About Self-Help

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