Before I start reminiscing about my drug days, let me be very clear: I am in no way advocating or encouraging the use of narcotics. The ’60s and ’70s were a unique time that was fueled by the drug culture. Which was nothing like the prescription abuse or opioid crisis in our country today. For one thing, there was a lot more dancing involved.
What can I say? You had to be there.
You have to remember that back in the ’60s, children were never prescribed medication by psychiatrists. Nobody knew anything about ADHD or autism. Everybody just assumed you were either bad or stupid and treated you accordingly. The idea of giving kids prescription drugs for aberrant behavior would have been like making them a stiff drink after a tough day at school.
The first time I became aware of any drugs harder than children’s aspirin was when they started being used for fun. They were glamorized by my role models on TV, in movies, and in music. I was raised in a time when illegal drug use was crossing over from the counter-culture into popular culture.
Most of us started with marijuana.
It was cheap and easily accessible and completely different than the weed you buy today. Most of it came from either Jamaica or Mexico. Today there are literally hundreds of strains available with such highly imaginable names as Turbo Mind Warp, Russian Rocket Fuel, Buddha’s Sister, Girl Scout Cookies, Devil’s Tit, Gog & Magog, and Cat Piss, just to name a few. Nothing we bought was nearly as strong as the pot they sell today. Back then, you could smoke a whole joint by yourself and attend classes and nobody would even notice you were high. Probably because most teenagers act like stoned idiots most of the time anyway.
If you were really into pot then you were probably also into the paraphernalia that went along with it. Once you stopped being a kid and outgrew collecting baseball cards or comic books or whatever your innocent little mind was into, dope offered you a whole new world of collectable items. There was a wide variety of rolling papers, roach clips, pipes and bongs that provided us with hours of unwholesome fun. Head shops became the new toy stores and a fancy new bong became a stoner’s status symbol. Of course, once again, none of that compares to the cornucopia of paraphernalia and delivery methods available to potheads today. Now you can smoke it, vape it, eat it, drink it, rub it, spray it, swallow it or fuck it. (That’s right. You heard me.) They actually have cannabis flavored condoms now. Personally, I think that sounds disgusting but I did come up with a new slogan for them – Put a little hemp in your hump!
They used to say, pot is a gateway drug to harder drugs. I used to say, yeah right, in the same way that milk is a gateway beverage to alcohol. Although, I can’t deny that I did go on to use harder drugs. Remember Quaaludes? How about Black Beauties? Ever trip on acid, LSD or psilocybin mushrooms? I was very open and was willing to try whatever trendy new drug came along. I remember trying something called Chocolate Mescaline in college once. I had no idea what it was but I was young and stupid and everyone else was doing it (which I believe is the definition of being a teenager). Besides, it had chocolate in the name and who doesn’t like chocolate? I wish I could tell you what it was like but all I remember is waking up in the bushes two stories below my dorm room window.
In college, I did a lot of acid and LSD.
During this time, I had many unforgettable experiences and life-altering realizations that have stayed with me to this day. I would spend hours contemplating the metaphysical aspects of everything from the sociological significance of the Kennedy assassination to the vast complexities of the solar system to the miracle of nature that was my hand. If I could have majored in hallucinations, I would have graduated with honors.
Cocaine wasn’t as popular in the rock ’n’ roll ’60s but certainly came into its own in the disco driven ’70s. I still believe it’s the only reason we put up with that music for so long. By the ’80s, cocaine broke out of the clubs and into the workplace and it’s how a generation got its jobs done. Man, did we work hard and fast and long hours and we didn’t even mind. From the worker bees to the top executives and from Wall Street to Hollywood Blvd. For a while, our economy was fueled by cocaine.
If you were a regular drug user then you always had to have a “guy.” And by that I mean a “guy” who supplied you with your illegal drugs. Everybody had at least one “guy”, depending on what you were into and how badly you were into it. These “guys” never had a last name. You used to have to go to the “guy’s” house to score and you’d usually have to make awkward small talk. Sometimes your friend could be the “guy” but the “guy” could never be your friend. Either way, you had to be friendly with the “guy” because you wanted him to like you so he’d be there when you needed him (sometimes you’d be calling very late at night) and so he wouldn’t screw you on the deal (it’s not like you could call the cops if he did).
At my age now, doing drugs takes on a whole new meaning.
I can’t do what I used to think of as the fun drugs anymore because they might kill me. Now I have to take the serious kind of drugs because they might keep me alive. To me, it’s always been one of life’s great ironies. When we’re young and have our whole lives ahead of us, we are reckless and take all kinds of risks that could get us killed. When we’re old and have fewer years left, we get all cautious and careful in a frightened attempt to prolong our lives as long as possible. Seems to me it should be the other way around.
I never had kids of my own and I have no intention of running for political office, so I can be completely honest about my history with illegal substances. When I was younger and my old stoner friends were having children, I would often ask them, “What are you going to tell your kids when they ask you if you ever did drugs?” (Don’t forget, ours was the first generation that had to grapple with this moral dilemma.) Usually I got one of two responses. The most common was, “I’m going to lie.” The other frequent response was, “I’m going to tell the truth, of course. Just not the whole truth.”
From this I can only surmise that no child ever really knows what their parents were like when they were young. And I suppose that’s the way it should be.