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Wanna end up with your head soaking in a toilet in a bedbug-infested SRO on East Hastings? Click!
Remember when you were an impressionable young kid and you watched that angel dust movie where that lady from Mad About You jumped out a window and you vowed never to do drugs ever? You were so cute. Things changed; the innocence of childhood was power-washed away and life started to suck. So you turned to things that weren’t candy to help numb the pain.
Well, here’s a breakdown of which drugs are most likely to grab you by the hair, throw you down on the concrete and make you call them daddy. We talked to Richard Mathias, who has the extra long title of professor of public health at the School of Population of Public Health at the University of British Columbia. He spends a lot of time studying addictions and gave us a breakdown of the ones most likely to ruin your life.
How he explains it: addiction is what happens when the pleasure centre of your brain is repeatedly being stroked. But that, in itself isn’t the problem. “What’s dangerous are the adverse affects that can occur physically and socially because of addictive behaviours,” said Mathias.
So basically, what makes drugs dangerous is what happens when they’re constantly being pumped into the blood stream and what you might be doing to obtain them.
Poor decision making and date rape are possible side effects of downer abuse. (Image: Flickr / Publik16)
There’s nothing worse than not being able to sleep. The infomercials aren’t cutting it and neither is warm milk and honey. So you go the less wholesome route and pop a few downers to help you rest easy.
Also known as newbies, seggies, chewies, ’barbs, Christmas trees, blue heavens and a bunch of other ridiculous names, barbiturates tap your central nervous system and relax the brain. They make you feel warm and cozy on the inside and take you on the A-train to Feelgoodville. So much so that you’ll likely never want to return. Hence, addiction.
Sure, you’re living the life of a walking hot water bottle, but the side effects will soon kick in—including twirlies, clumsiness, vision and breathing problems, lethargy, sadness and sexual dysfunction. Also, date rape.
Alternatives: Long walks. Beaches. Lavender-scented candles. Journalling. Pot.
Charlie Sheen and his “fire-breathing fists” don’t approve of the next paragraph. (Image: via Guisadong Gulay remixed)
Wheeeee! Strap on your Superman suit ‘cuz this drug is known to make even the shyest of schmos shine!
Cocaine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant that screws with the reabsorption process of dopamine (a.k.a. your happy place), continuously stimulating the “receiving” neurons—making users feel really f’in euphoric. Generally, they think they can take on the world, or at least the baddest of Powerpoint presentations, and ultimately act like big assholes. Or Rick James.
What makes coke most likely to screw up your life is that it’s often ingested in binges, which can easily lead to overdosing. It also suppresses your appetite, so not only are you an asshole but a skinny one at that. Skinny assholes are the worst.
Alternatives: Two words: Yerba Mate. You’re welcome.
Heroin’s bad; see above. (Image: Flickr / alainboucheret)
You’re surprised this isn’t higher up on the list, right? Especially after watching movies like Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream. Take heroin and you end up selling your body, sawing off your infected arm, turning into a whittled down zombie and watching dead babies crawl around on the ceiling.
“This drug will mess people up because of what people have to do to get it,” said Professor Mathias. That means, whatever the drug is being cut with, how it’s being injected, the means necessary for a person to obtain it… that’s all more f’d than the drug itself.
The drug itself is quite the doozy; basically it chills out the body’s central nervous system by mimicking endorphins, the naturally occurring chemical that helps us feel good and block pain. And the reaction is pretty immediate. That’s why when you see someone shooting up, they pretty much look like they’re sinking into a cloud the second the needle hits the vein.
Alternatives: A hug, a beanbag and that Moon Safari album by Air.
That’s Portuguese, or some kind of Spanish, for “NO MORE BONERS.” (Image: findthejake)
This drug will kill you. Eventually.
For how it’ll slowly poison you and take over your life, take a closer look at those warning photos on the package—you know the limp-dick, black lung, “your baby has a third eye” photos your eyes glaze over when fumbling for another ciggie from the pack.
Nicotine, which is found in tobacco, is a chemical that makes you feel a whole bunch of good feelings. It makes you feel calm and alert and temporarily pretty good. But that feeling usually goes away real quick. Which is why you want it in your system again, via another smoke. Particularly when you’re stressed out, or bored or wanting to be social.
Worse, free-base nicotine, or crack nicotine, is laced with ammonia, which makes it more easily absorbed into the blood stream and therefore more addictive. Find it in almost every pack of smokes at the 7/11.
Alternatives: Electronic cigarettes. Neroli oil. Non-flacid penises. Gum.
David Hasselhoff drunk again, numbing the pain of… throngs of German fans? (Image: Cheezeburger.com)
So you spend all day at work with your boss basically camped at your desk, crapping all over your work. What’s the first thing you want to do once the clock strikes 5 p.m.? Hit the bar, naturally.
Drinking helps you relax, unwind and forget all your problems, right? And that’s precisely why it’s so addictive. It loosens you up, makes you feel pretty good and is obviously easy to get ahold of. And the social stigma is a lot less serious than, say, buying black tar heroin at the corner of Main and Hastings. In Canada, an estimated 4 percent of the population over the age of 15 is dependent on alcohol.
Physically, alcohol helps trigger dopamine (remember them?). It also increases your body’s natural painkiller, endorphins, which it will eventually start to crave. Ravenously.
But, while it’s doing all that, alcohol is also affecting nearly every other part of your brain and body, and not in a good way. Anyone who’s experienced the short-term effects (a hangover) or more serious, long-term effects (liver damage, brain damage, heart disease, memory loss, ulcers, disorders of the pancreas and impotence) will agree.
It’s also the most dangerous habit to kick, requiring medical supervision and a strict regimen of tappering in serious cases.
Alternatives: Fresh squeezed juice. Therapy.
[Updated: 7 Mar 2011]