Drug Philosophy

Ask drunk or stoned people if they’re having a good time and they’ll probably answer “yes,” but are they? Being high, maybe their judgement is impaired, maybe they’re not actually having a good time, maybe they just think they are. Looking at them, being all smiles and laughs, they seem to be having a good time, but they’re not actually doing anything interesting. Does being high make boring activities fun and interesting or does it impair people’s judgement such that they think boring activities are fun? Does the drug impair judgement or stimulate the brain’s pleasure centre? But then, perhaps stimulating the pleasure centre is impairing judgement. After all, there’s nothing going on that someone could judge as pleasurable, other than taking the drug. Does taking a drug to falsely stimulate the brain’s pleasure centre constitute, in itself, a good time: is that enough? Well, that depends on what a good time actually is.

Why do humans have good times? Why do we feel pleasure or pain, good or bad? Ultimately, a biologist would say we have these experiences because they guide us to behave in ways that will increase the likelihood our genes will make it into succeeding generations. In other words, we enjoy sex because that’s how we make the next generation. Along the same lines, we feel bad when we hurt someone because if our society fails, odds are the babies we made won’t be able to grow to have their own babies. It’s a pretty simplified way of looking at it but the general idea is that good or bad times provide us with guides to living productively, to prosper in our society, genetically speaking.

Given that good times are natural rewards for making good decision, what then of taking drugs? Well, how would taking drugs help people make better decisions? Obviously, the answer is that it doesn’t; drugs impair the ability to make good decisions, they don’t help. Drugs bypass a natural system of guidance; they only reward people for taking drugs, nothing more, nothing useful. They make taking drugs good and not taking drugs bad. It even alters the natural balance of feeling and swamps out any real feel-good rewards, and this further degrades the natural system which then leaves people without useful tools for managing their lives. Being high is not feeling good, it’s not the same as having a good time, it’s just being high. Drunk or stoned people aren’t having a good time; they may think they are, but they’re wrong, their impaired brains are deceiving them. Small wonder heavy drug users have such messed up lives.

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