I've blogged about this before, but a complicated and urgent topic like this benefits from discussion that approaches it from several angles, so you better understand it. I've had this angle of explanation on my mind for a while so here is a quick sketch of the problem with mind altering drugs. This is a problem whether it is illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs, and whether it is so called "mild" drugs like supposedly marijuana is believed to be by many (wrongly) or the extreme drugs such as crack cocaine.
First, think about what it is like to be a normal human in a normal human body. From the faith side we know that humans are created in God's image and thus have a high ideal that is within their reach... they need not debase themselves. From the reasoning point of view humans can observe that putting aside their being in God's image, they share biology with animals. In other words, all the same basic principles of biology (how the body, limbs, organs, blood, nerves, brain etc work) are shared between humans and animals. One need not even get into the old evolution argument to understand that humans and animals operate according to the same biological principles and chemistry.
Humans, and animals, achieved their current form because they have adapted to the environment in which they live. They gather and eat the food and drink the water that they can find and that they need, they tolerate the weather, temperatures and other external conditions, and they tend to maximize their success at forming relationships and having offspring.
So, using this logic, you need to understand that you can learn a great deal about what is genuinely healthy and authentic for human minds and bodies by observing animals, since they both succeed on the same principles.
I'm going to cut to the chase and tell you where I am headed with this logical development. The problem with mind altering drugs is that they overstimulate activity within the human mind and body. I am not talking about the immediate effect of ingesting a drug, whether it makes a person stimulated or lethargic. I am speaking about the basic nature of drugs, which is to emphasize continual reactivity. Reactivity, as in being in a constant state of action and reaction, is the word I will use, but you can think of being overstimulated as a handy slang word for what I am trying to convey.
Let's start with a simple analogy. Suppose that a human for some reason spends a day being immersed in water (bathing, swimming, whatever) while at the same time drinking lots of beverages. What is the effect of being within an extraordinary amount of water? You get moist, LOL. Water's nature is to make something wet. You become "wet" both on the outside, as you splash around in water droplets, and on the inside, where you are highly hydrated and have to go and pee alot. The nature of water is to make something moist.
The nature of drugs-all drugs-is to cause a reaction, to change the status quo. I mean, that is obvious, no? If you have a headache, you want to change the status quo, so you take an aspirin. The "job," the "nature" of a drug, therefore, is to go to work at changing your body in some way. How does this change occur? The drug causes an action and a reaction. Suppose someone throws water in your face. That is an action as the water attaches itself to you. You then flinch, close your eyes, turn aside, maybe shake your head, and grab a towel. Those are all reactions. Drugs work the same way. Once they are ingested, like the aspirin, they go into the bloodstream (the action) and then cause the body to react to its presence.
So let's personalize these inanimate objects. The nature and job of water is to make something "moist." The nature and job of a drug is to cause a cycle of action and reaction.
Humans are not meant to be in a state of constant action and reaction. It's not coincidence that animals spend a lot of their time basically doing nothing, with then spurts of energy when necessary to chase food (or run from being food), to find water, to dig for food or shelter, and to produce young and feed them. Humans, being based on the same biology as animals, have evolved and adapted so that they are not optimally intended to be in a constant state of action and reaction.
The more a person takes drugs of any kind, the more their body is in an unconscious expectation to be in cycles of action and reaction. Just as if you were always wet on your skin, and then your skin gets all wrinkly and prune textured on the outside, if you take drugs of any kind, beneficial or harmful, on your "inside" your body starts to expect to be in a constant state of action, reaction, action, reaction, etc.
You can see that following this logic and understanding that a person who occasionally takes several or many different kinds of medicines or drugs has the same risk of this type of change as the person who "only" takes one drug frequently. Remember, I am not speaking of the type of "trip" or reactions that the person has to the drug. I am speaking of the body being trained to not feel "normal" unless is it being constantly urged by a foreign ingested internal substance to act, react, act, react.
So a law abiding normal person who takes an occasional pain reliever, some medicine for other conditions, a number of so called "health supplements," and maybe something "special" for, let's say, erectile dysfunction has the same problem that someone who doesn't take any drug except they huff on dope all the time. Remember, I'm not speaking of the purpose and thus the results of the medicine or drug. I am speaking of the expectation that is created in the body of each person that some substance is going to be given to it, causing an action and a reaction, in a cycle. Both bodies, the normal person and the illegal drug user, now have bodies that "expect" action and reaction.
This then is the great problem with mind altering drugs. Not only the body but now the mind also becomes changed away from its basic natural nature (humans and animals who take no medicine or drugs), to a body that stops functioning the way it should because now it factors in that it expects to be frequently active and reactive in its chemistry.
Caution! I am not saying taking medicine is bad and please do not make any changes in your medication without consulting with a genuine and rational physician! I do not hesitate to take aspirin, for example, when I have an occasional headache or muscle ache. And also one of the great blessings of medicine is to treat conditions such as diabetes.
But there is a difference between, for example, medication that makes up for a natural body deficiency, and one that introduces a new function. For example, many people died of diabetes before insulin was discovered, a natural product of the body, and manufactured, for those who could not make enough of their own insulin. This is an example of medicine that is given to make up for a lack of that function in the body, but it is a function that the body has evolved to know and to expect to have.
Medicine that is a foreign substance (not what the body naturally produces) stimulates the action and reaction response, and that is the whole point, of course, and there is nothing wrong with that. The whole field of chemistry is the study of actions and reactions. Substances that do not react are called "inert," by the way. So a medicine causes an action on the area that you or your physician is trying to change (like relieve pain) and then there is a reaction.
So here is what I am saying. Even if you are taking a drug that causes you to be lazy, sleepy or low functioning, on the "inside" your body is busier than it ever was. This is because it is active inside within a state of action/reaction as the drug does its work, since that is its nature. The reason you are sleepy on the outside is that the drug and your internal organs are "busy" inside. So regardless if the drug is stimulating or depressing of functions, on the "inside" your brain and your body are accelerated in their level of activity. The mind and the body start to "adapt," just as it would adapt if you were constantly doused with water, where the mind and body now start to "expect" an increased and eventually a continual state of action/reaction, even if you are not ingesting a drug at the time. The body and the mind now start a pressure and a "countdown" to when it will next be stimulated and "busy," internally. That is the trap of the addict, and this is what I mean in previous blog postings when I explain that eventually the drug's "personality" has taken over the addict's, even if the addict is not high.
This is because whether medicine or illegal drug, once the body and mind have experienced the drug's action/reaction, it prepares and anticipates the next cycle of that action/reaction. We know an innocent example of this when people become "used to" their medications and the medicine is not as effective as it used to be. We know the not so innocent example of this when people, even when they do not realize it, are "counting down" inside, no matter what activity they are engaged in, waiting for the next cigarette, the next hit, or the next dosing. It's not just the craving that I am describing. I am explaining that the body and mind now expect to "get to work" in that special way it has learned, which is action/reaction.
Think of your inner mind and body like a perfect factory that used to leisurely produce on the assembly line a nice normal average day. One one starts ingesting drugs, it is like the assembly line now retools because it learned that sometimes half of the supplies it needs are missing, but it gets double the supplies that it needs in another part of the assembly line. So instead of having a normal day of let's say A+B+C, A+B+C, A+B+C, where you have just the right amount of A's and B's and C's to put together predictable and successful chains of A+B+C, your body now gets a whole bunch of C's sent to it, before the A and the B's arrive, and when they do arrive they are out of order. The body and mind are cleaver, though, and they learn how to cope with being thrown a lot of C's so that you can use them up, A+B+C+C+C, A+B+C, A+B+C+C+C, etc.... and you can also get used to missing some of the A's or B's.... so your body may go C+C, A+B+C, C+C+C, B+C+C......
But what if A is restfulness and peace of mind? What if B is proper nutrition? And what if C is stimulation? Your body retools to deal with whatever it is dealt, and even develops a sort of glee at how great it can handle it. (That is because under stress adrenaline is released, so even when something bad internally is going on, if you "handle it" you feel a kind of superior rush and glee). That is the horrible problem of becoming accustomed to internal chemical action/reaction and thus overstimulation, even though the drug you take may be a depressant on the outside.
Look at the speculation about what happened to Michael Jackson. He, like everyone else, is born with a body and a mind that expects A+B+C. But somehow, let's say due to his accident, or due to his false beliefs, he has trauma that results in a physical ailment, such as insomnia. If A in our example is peace of mind, somewhere along the line his A was disrupted. (No jokes about "A" please! Let's pretend we are all more mature than twelve year olds.) So due to a trauma or bad lifestyle choices, his A+B+C is disrupted. He then takes increasingly stronger drugs to help him sleep or whatever, which then throws a ton of "C" into his body. His already stressed A of peace of mind is now totally neglected because by using the drugs he has given up on treating the core problem and restoring A+B+C. His body now becomes used to, and at times gleeful, to doing "without" A. He may be sad on the outside and in his heart, but his body chemistry, since the body is a wonderful thing, becomes inflated, superior feeling and gleeful at "handling" all that C and just doing without enough A (peace of mind), which is what got him in the problem in the first place.
Do you see what I mean? The very talent that the body has at dealing with, for example a bite of food that has gone bad can also very quickly get used to an unnatural overstimulation of expectation of action/reaction.
This is particularly ruinous when it is mind altering drugs that is being ingested, even, as you now understand "small" amounts of "only weed." In a very quick time after even only one or two exposures, your body retools to expect the unpredictable, which is anything but A+B+C. Here we have the problem where A may represent reality rather than peace of mind. If a normal human or animal gets through the day thinking A(reality) + B (more information) + C (a decision whether to act or not), mind altering drugs train the body and the mind to ignore or be used to "shortages" of A (reality) to the point of even being gleeful that one is creating "one's own reality." Addicts start viewing the world as C+C+B+C+c+C+bbb+ C, stumble over an A, impose on it C+B+C+C, even if they are not under the influence at the time!
In other words, addicts and even casual drug users train their internal body and mind to expect first and foremost action, action, action, action, some information, action, action, action, some information, oops trips over reality, denies reality, replaces with more action, action, action.
This is why it's a very small step from casual drug use to being an inflated ego maniac who thinks he or she is "in on" the "truth" and is "called" to a "mission" to "fix" and do "good deeds" that "repair" the unseen "disruptions" in "the balance." There's a disruption in the balance alright, but it ain't because of aliens, spirits, social injustice, etc. It's the disruption in A+B+C in both the body and the mind's reality and their expectations.
This is why addicts, even when not delusional or using, are absolutely positively convinced of unreal things and just will not let go of the un-reality. This is because drugs have retrained their internal assembly line to do without genuine reality and to, instead, produce and continual stream of "product" based on "action" and "reaction." Addicts stir up trouble everywhere, in their own minds and in their deeds, because they are using up all that C, that "action" that they have started producing in their minds and bodies. They then end up chasing their own tails as they take more and more substance to compensate for the lack of A, whether it is reality or peace of mind.
Simple observation shows that animals do not self medicate. If they did they would have evolved in a way where animals seek out food that medicates, but does not interfere with A, which is the reality of survival (a stoned out gnu will quickly be eaten by a clean lion). So animals do some basic things to enhance jeopardized health, such as roll in mud for a wound, or eat from certain bark that relieves pain or has antiseptic, but they are not evolved to be action before reality oriented. This is how through simple observation we as humans know that we too are not evolved to be action before reality.
We all know people, such as the elderly, with genuine infirmities who take legitimate medicine, yet are still unhappy. There are many reasons of course, but the one that we are discussing today is that medicine gives a false sense of C, of taking real action, and when results are partial or imperfect, and the condition remains, though it is eased, humans start to devalue their A of peace of mind and reality. Even good medicine, when given in pill or drug form, stimulates over expectations and diminishing of peace of mind with reality. Imagine how much more so is the danger and the change as a result of taking mind altering drugs!
I hope that you have found this helpful. Do not stop taking legitimate medication, but be aware of how it gives unreal expectations and also the need for medicine that is not simply ingesting substance, but enhancing reality based peace of mind. And definitely do not take any mind altering drugs, ever, at all, not even "a little" and not even "to experiment." All you are experimenting with is ruining what your mind and body has been honed to do by both God and by its adapted for survival and thriving true nature.