How Drugs Work
Cocaine, Heroin, Morphine, Ecstasy, Marijuana, even Nicotine, have been classified as the most addictive substances of abuse, or drugs as they are commonly known, and are known to have adverse physical and psychological effects on the human body.
The holistic effect of these drugs on us is more important than the specific properties of these substances. All drugs, regardless of their nature (not mentioning psychedelic drugs like LSD), have one major function; to make us feel good. That feeling of ‘ feeling good ’ comes from three major hormones released in our brain – Endorphins, Dopamine and Serotonin. All three have diverse functions.
- A release of dopamine in the brain, usually in the form of small packets, causes that intense feeling of pleasure and triggers a sense of craving for the pleasure.
- Endorphins, on the other hand, interact with the receptors in the brain, reducing the perception of pain, and eliminate stress in the body. This is precisely why morphine is used during labour, to relieve the mother of pain during the delivery of a child.
- Serotonin in the brain causes muscles in the body to relax, giving the sense of calm after the bouts of extreme pleasure.
So the question arises. Is it possible to experience the same emotions, without consuming any of the above-mentioned substances?
The answer to that is yes. This is how.
“The best way to escape your problems is to face them.”
“Beep Beep”. Snoozed again. Typical Monday mornings would always begin this way. While most people would start their week seeking some spiritual connection in the form of meditation or yoga, intense girl-on-girl action marked the beginning of his day. With the moans and groans, and the aftermath, he got out of his bed to heat up the kettle, to make a cup of coffee, to reward the hormones running through him, with some caffeine.
Nikhil has been an addict for over 9 years now, taking his first dose, forced by his elder brother, when he was barely 10. But interestingly enough, the consumption of this kind of drug was legal. Rather no laws exist, to prohibit and regulate the usage of it. Most organizations across the world even refuse to recognize it as addictive. A handful of countries have banned it, but in the name of religion and politics; not out of health concerns.
After a cold shower, filled with guilt, or at least something close to it, trying to convince himself that he is indeed a good person, who happened to meet a bad fate, he came out to get dressed. Trying to recall the face of the guy he met last night, who was kind enough to offer a drink, and later exchanged numbers even, he struggled. Years of drug intake had rewired his brain, and it found no incentive to remember someone.
Drug abuse was a common problem; A major conflict worldwide, which trapped people in the misery of their lives, often leaving them enslaved, and at times, forever. But this drug was new and different; It had a different charm about it; It appealed to something that is inherent to all living beings, and also a fundamental survival instinct.
Depictions of sexual activities have existed since the prehistoric times, the earliest forms being discovered in ancient Mesopotamia, as artefacts depicting heterosexual sex (Not to insult their Goddess Inanna, worshipped for sex and fertility). Fast-forward to the present day, humans have documented sex for a long time. Erotic Literature is widely read and appreciated around the world. But Porn is a different cup of tea altogether.
Nikhil is a PMO addict. PMO is the acronym for Pornography, Masturbation and Orgasm. His drug doesn’t come in a powder, or with syringes. It comes in the form of women with big breasts, stripping off their clothes. It comes in the form of fake London taxis, where drivers lure women to have sex with them, as a new form of fare payment. The problem is deeply rooted.
As he drove to work, as dead as a zombie and hollow from the inside, he stopped at a traffic light. There, stood a large billboard, advertising a well-known car brand, with the slogan, ‘What drives you?’. Looking at that, he felt a slight discomfort; dryness in the mouth, a push on the chest. It was fear. Fear of losing out.
The world is moving really fast. People seem to be on their toes all the time, trying to squeeze the last bit of energy out of themselves, and grow each day. The vicious cycle of efforts, results and improvements, drive people to do things that most deem impossible. They are ready to put in months of hard work to learn new skills, finish assignments at work, spend sleepless nights to meet deadlines, all just in the hope of getting that one thing – satisfaction. Happiness is secondary. If you are satisfied with your accomplishments, naturally you feel happy and proud.
But what if that satisfaction can be achieved within minutes, with nothing but just a few visual cues, and some wanking? This is a flawed reward system.
This is a sign among addicts of all kinds. They generally tend to have a flawed reward system, which focuses on deriving pleasure, from small tasks like consumption, and ignores tasks which are long-term, and require tremendous efforts, like completing a project. Due to this flawed system, they tend to give up easily, even in their fight against addiction. You will always find them complaining, about how the world is unjust to them, and how herculean a task is for them. This attitude often leads them to drift apart from people and society, often just contributing more to their addictive behaviour.
The cascading effect soon follows, where rejection from society leads to low self-esteem, feeling of hopelessness, depression and anxiety, and build-up of the frustration of not being enough in this world. They feel burdened by societal norms, where the image and reputation of one-self, is of primary importance.
Eventually, they virtually cut themselves off from the world and start accepting substance abuse as a part of their lives, deeply embedded and hidden, yet existent. Now, because of their limited interaction with the tangible aspects of the world, they start to develop a false image of the world.
Then as they progress on their path towards being a full-time junkie, they gradually drift farther and farther away. They stop listening to other people’s opinions, become hostile towards any form of criticism, and lose all sense of empathy and emotional beliefs. That is the point where they stop being human.
The dependence on a substance or porn for that matter can be explained by the very nature of the problem: We humans need some form of validation, we need support and appreciation, something that makes us feel better about ourselves.
Nikhil was lucky, he had that support system in the form of his sister Neha. All she needed to do, was to make him feel better about himself and the world again. Realizing his brittle condition, she moved in with him. She would hold his hand, and say “it’s okay, you are gonna be okay.” Slowly, she would break him free from all the false beliefs of the world. She would take him to the garden every morning, just to make him smell the fragrance of the flowers, and feel the gentle breeze on his face. She would sit for hours and read out to him, the best novels that touch on human values. It worked. He eventually fell in love again, with the beauty of this world.
We often take people and things around us for granted. We feel sorry for them, but we never realize why they fell in that pit in the first place. We need to understand that there is an addict inside each one of us, a junkie who has chosen to depend on the wrong things. All he needs, is a pat on his shoulder, a whisper into his ear, “It’s okay, and everything is gonna be okay”, and some love to break his shackles of false beliefs.
That’s all that is needed to make a difference.