Zombies' Guide to Taking Drugs Successfully
Zombie Guides: Volume 5
As I've said in previous volumes, episodes, whatever you want to call these handy little tomes, I write horror stories, silly stories, fantasy stories. I'm not contracted with Hodder or anything like that, which means I'm mostly skint, but also that I can write pretty much what I want.
But, I wasn't always a writer.
As discussed in 'Zombies' Guide to Cooking like Normal People' I used to make more money than I needed (which was around £20,000 for me - doesn't sound much to some, a fortune to others, maybe. These days it sounds pretty good). I felt I had to spend it on something and as I didn't need lots of trainers and one car was plenty, I spent it on drugs and drink. People often say 'drink and drugs', but it wasn't that. I got it the right way round the first time.
I didn't save money. Pfft.
I did this (rinse and repeat, yessir) for around ten years and God damn I was good at drugs. Well, until I spoiled it. After that? What's known in cutesy parlance as a 'flipped-the-fuck-out-acute-psychotic-episode' and an extended experimental phase with anti-psychotic meds (the pharmacological equivalent of an FV4034 Challenger II battle tank).
Structural Formula Drawing of the Chemical Composition 'TANK'
This episode could have been called 'Drugs...how to spoil it'.
The answer to that - for me, anyway - is when I started to do the drug thing mostly on my own. For you? Dunno. Are you seeing people who aren't there when you're straight? Maybe you like that. Me, not so much.
But...more of that in a minute.
The basis of many of these dumbass guides is that it is more expensive to be poor than to be rich. This sounds counter-intuitive, but I think it makes sense when you look at how much things cost when you're skint compared to how much you can get things for when you're rolling in it. It's the ratio of expenditure on essentials for living we're talking about, rather than the actual numerical value of our fiscal outlay.
Some people with money look down on people with no money like it's their own fault. Sure, some of it is. But not all of it - because being poor's really fucking hard.
I'll get to the drugs in a minute, but finance is important, too (if you're going to do drugs with any kind of class you'll still want your teeth and won't want to be raiding old lady's homes for a TV to hock). I'm not John Forbes Nash, Jr. (A Beautiful Mind) or Walter Hartwell White, Sr. (Breaking Bad) so we'll avoid any complicated maths or chemistry, but let's look at this little breakdown if you're planning on setting out to be a DRUG LORD. You'll need this as a template when you approach the bank manager for a small business loan.
DRUG LORD BUSINESS PLAN
Dear Bank Manager,
You will fill this duffle bag with unmarked, non-sequential bills or I will sic my Pit Bull on you. I need this because...
Bulk: Buying bulk, gram for pound, is cheaper.
Good Product: Think about Primark, Tescos, Morrisons, whatever you have where you live (those huge warehouse kind of shops where the clothes are dirt cheap): those clothes go on poor people's backs and butts and last precisely five washes. Then, you go back and buy more. It costs, what, maybe £10 for a nice cardigan with a pocket for your crack pipe from Tesco?
I had a pair of Levis ages ago which lasted around five years. I've the same belt I bought when I was around 15 years old. It's a simple leather belt, but a good one. The point is, if you buy quality, it might cost more right then...but in the long run? It works out cheaper. This is what people forget about being skint, though: skint people tend to buy crap because we haven't got the luxury of saving for quality because every penny is needed right now.
Analogy over, and thus to the crux. It's the difference between the shit you get in the tower block of flats that's worked its way down through broken glass and the shit you get in the penthouse before it finds its way down to you.
Here's another analogy I like better: It's like a marble in a game of Kerplunk, except when your marble gets to you, it's not really a marble anymore.
I'm not talking about marbles, obviously.
Utilities: Gas, electric, heating, greenhouses, hydroponics, chemistry set...these things cost less if you've money. Money gives you the luxury of shopping for a lower tariff. If, like me, you've been on a meter in a rented property, then you know how expensive it is to run a meth lab.
Transport: A car. Sure, a car's essential to make more (selling local's fine if you've got muscle and enough to bribe cops and are in a movie or something). If you're wealthy enough, your car, like all of your other things, will last. Old school wealthy people don't drive around in a Ferrarris. Nope. They drive around in thirty-year old Volvos and Toyotas. Why? Because they last for-fucking-ever.
...Thank you. Pit Bill says hi.
If you're a buyer, buy bulk, get good product. Also, have a reliable car because nobody wants to break down in the middle of town in a Vauxhall Nova with good product in bulk.
If you're the dealer, most of the above.
Please note: you are on drugs. Your dealer is selling drugs. You are on opposite sides of a business transaction. You are not best friends. You're basically hanging out at your supermarket cashier's house.
Drugs are another facet of capitalism unless you grow your own and smoke your own. Then it's just agriculture.
This isn't a medical text. No. Really.
The words should not be moving or talking at all.
These are drugs kids are given during Freshers' Week at University. Supposed to be fun, like a pastime - think snooker and tiddly-winks.
Psychedelics such as Ecstasy, LSD, mushrooms and some really good strains of weed.
These involve more effort to get, longer prison sentences, and a high addiction rate.
Pfft. Like cigarettes and anti-depressants don't.
Cocaine. The coca plant is probably useful. It can help to stop bleeding, apparently - I found this out for a story. Good tip if you're ever shot during a drug deal gone bad.
Heroin. This does not include Black Widow, Huntress, Cat Woman, or Witchblade. Imagine my disappointment.
OPIATES: Not just for fun - medicinal, too!
*This is actually me every time I visit the dentist.
Only the Governments of the world have access to these. Think of the cool shit they gave Jason Bourne. You can try to make 'em, but if you're going to, get much, much better at chemistry and/or Gamma radiation.
I AM THE LAW
Isn't capitalism a marvellous? You are always earning someone else money and only the machine is winning. But that's in the section on Marx.
What's any of that got to do with drugs? Consider this: Millions of people vouch for the medicinal applications of marijuana but this doesn't outweigh many Governments' need to legislate. Mostly (unless you're genetically disposed to schizophrenia, for example) it's pretty safe. This is a short book - there are long-term health problems associated with chronic drug use, but if your body hurts every day and something alleviates that, I should think long-term means the same to you as the judge. Let's face it, though - we're all dying, some just quicker than others. Who fucking cares what you smoke?
Then, later (you're stoned. It's only been like 2 seconds, dude...or...3...now it's 4...) consider this: out of something like 15 different types of prescriptions drugs (licensed, legislated, entirely legal) maybe two have worked as advertised for me, and one of those only short term. The side effect listed on the information pamphlet with one of these medications was 'sudden death'.
I expected Judge Death to pay me a visit. At the time, I felt so awful I took it anyway, happy enough at the prospect of no overtime. But I suspect if this warranted a listing under side effects that more died as a direct result of taking this medication than ever did from marijuana.
Are some kinds of drugs (legal and illegal) worse or better, empirically or objectively, than the other? Meh. Some are, some aren't.
In Fear the Walking Dead Nick Clark struggles with heroin addiction in a world falling apart where the dealers are now eaters. Me? I'd be fucked if I couldn't find cigarettes or tobacco. Otherwise, I can take it or leave it.
Coffee is coffee.
Great, until you get old and your body fails but you don't stop drinking and go blind and shit yourself all the time. You know. Might happen to some people. I don't know. Why would I know this? I don't. Shh.
Finding out what that shit is the Doctor put in you
At some point, probably later in life, you'll find your doctor has become your drug dealer and all your money goes on specialists and new hips. There's a reason why people fear 'Big Pharma' in America. Some of these drugs are ridiculously expensive. Even in the UK, through the NHS, doctors will try to fob you off with the cheaper version or iteration of a drug.
MIMS is a good, quick way to find out the class of a drug the doctor prescribes you. Wiki will do it, though, with possible interactions with other drugs and common side effects. But listen to your brain and your body. Keeping a diary of symptoms and feelings and thoughts is actually pretty useful. For one, you can take it to your doctor as back up if your prescription medication really isn't helping, and also because on meds for mental health you'll either be what's euphemistically described as a 'vegetable' or exhibiting memory loss of a vegetable...that used to good memory...but...
It's your brain and your body. You might be mental and your judgement will almost definitely be shot, but you don't have to be an idiot, too.
It's evening as I write this and I'm tripping balls on Mountain Dew. Doesn't seem like much, does it? But these days I'm of a non-pop drinking persuasion. Thought I'd write a little missive on the PERILS (whoooooo) of drugs, but I seem to remember, in a hazy sort of way, that I'd heard all that shit before. It didn't put me off, and it didn't educate me at all. Only way to learn how to ride a bike? Fall off until you get better at staying on, or quit getting on. I guess. Or, sell the bike...or...
Oh, who cares?
I often read through a final draft of a novel before it goes to a publisher, and almost always there are vast tracts of unremembered text in the manuscript. Sometimes I think, 'Hey, that's pretty good...who wrote that?'
Turns out it's me. The disappointing thing is that I've been entirely straight for most of the time I've been writing. I haven't taken drugs for nearly ten years. I barely drink anymore. I don't even take any of the 'Pams' (even though my doctor's more than happy to give them to me - you'd think they were on commission).
One of the nefarious side effects of Mary Jane, my drug of choice back when I was a nipper, is memory loss. It's an odd quirk. Most drugs have 'quirks'. I write without taking notes and keep track of plots and characters no problem but I can't remember what I wrote when it's out of my head and on the page - like only being able to look forward, and never back.
I'm not sure that's such a bad thing after all.
Yes. Couldn't really have a chapbook on drugs without a chapter on this, could we?
ADDICTION FACE IS A HAPPY FACE
You can be pretty much addicted to anything. It's the chemical reactions deep in our brain box, yes, but it's the rush that's addictive, too, but then also those 'schemers' that hook you - those things your memory links up with certain feelings, or experiences. Or, maybe, it's just the way you're built.
You're more likely to get hooked on crack or meth than LSD or mushrooms. Yep.
But as far as addiction goes, you can be addicted to gambling, porn, bashing one out in a shoe, games, a TV show, a certain kind of food, self-harm, whatever. So, the thing about 'soft' drugs not being addictive? Perhaps, when you only consider the effects on the chemistry of your brain...but when you consider a person's psyche?
I think drugs are classified into 'this will fuck you, this probably won't, this one we get taxes on by the vacuum packed bucket load'...but you can't classify a person. We're the wild card. Which is why Chapter Six is what it is.
What does worry me isn't people thinking I'm fuck-nuts crazy and running away. People do talk about mental health these days. They don't lock you up in a ward unless you're dangerous. You don't get put away for being melancholy. We're a bit more accepting about mental squiffiness. Stephen Fry's bi-polar, and he's awesome, so it's cool, right? Let's all be bi-polar. It'll be fun. We'll have drinks, do lunch, cry and laugh.
But that's the thing. I've heard people liken mental illness to a broken leg.
'Oh, you're depressed...you should talk about it. You would if you had a broken leg.'
Fuck that. You want to see oblivion like I do? I'd not more show you that than the leaking marrow of my compound fracture.
I think likening it to a broken leg is disingenuous. It's more complex than that. A mind isn't a leg. Never was. Depression, bi-polar disorder, cyclothymia, schizo-affective disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia...we gang tag them, try to describe them: depression becomes a vast black pit, schizophrenia a psyche fragmented like fractals on a screensaver, bi-polar disorder some two-dimensional graph on a piece of paper. But it's endless and infinite, never just one, perfect image.
A broken mind can be a broken leg, but it's also a weak leg that can't hold you up, or two perfectly good legs but one of them constantly talks shit to the other, telling it it's a useless bastard, or you have no leg at all, or the government put a bug in your leg and you've got to excise that bastard flesh at any cost, or WOW! It's a great fucking leg one minute and then I HATE MY GODDAMN LEG.
Mental illness is an infinite variation of legs, legs which are sometimes big grinning chickens with spliffs and AK-47's that want to take your arms as an offering for Cthulthu-Mama.
A broken leg heals. Mental illness does not. But, you can live with it, can't you? You might limp. So what? Limps happen. Like, 'shit happens'...but with a limp. Mental illness is tough. It's as much fun as it sounds. But then, living in this world without being a nut is just as tough. Mental people, disabled people, mentally disabled people, people-abled disabled mentally people people...whatever.
The loonies, drunks, healthy well-adjusted people with nice hair, the weird fucker that smells of turps, the shouting woman in the wheelchair in the supermarket who made you jump, the old man with an uncomfortable growth on the side of his head, the woman working on the street corner, the loud guys in the pub. It's a dangerous, mad, difficult life for all of us.
And while you're thinking about all that, consider those people who can't think like that. Those who hate the stinking guy with a bottle of rotgut and no prospects and no home.
'Oh, he's an addict. Lookit the crazy bastard!'
You, I...we don't know. A very high proportion of people with mental illness will experiment with drugs. Some will stick, some won't. Some get help, or help themselves, or just fall through the cracks and become those dribbly people who shiver while they try to sleep on cold city nights. Some of it is their fault and some of it isn't.
But we're wild cards. Us. Humanity.
You with your nice suit and tie and your £40,000 car? The wrong roll in a cosmic game with no rules and six months down the line - that's you. You, Rotgut City, dribbling on the street, because something went wrong and you felt bad and maybe made one wrong choice at one wrong moment and just
PICTURED: Your brain on drugs. Your brain off drugs.*
*Either way, it probably looks just like a small part of a small part of the 'Small' Magellanic Cloud.
(NASA took this with their iPhone. I'm not that steady).
Sanity and insanity aren't opposite sides of a ha'penny piece.
A mind's never going to be a mere string of chemical symbols. It's geographic. Cosmic, even. Not a wave which goes only up and down. Not three, or four, or thirteen dimensional. A mind is feelings and thoughts and beliefs that travel around a distant sun, that are changed by seasons and weather and the movement of the tides and all the celestial bodies which revolve around us while we, in turn, turn and turn around them.
A mind is a remarkable, wonderful thing, not to be taken lightly or glossed over or demoted to a picture drawn in graphite. A calculator on a desk would be far duller by comparison, and never manage to dance or make poetry or love or art or horror. There's something beautiful in what we are, though, which maths or science or religion can never better.
Do it yourself. You've seen 'Breaking Bad', right? There's a reason why there are so many meth labs in the US. It's easy enough to make. Bear in mind, though, that if you're in the UK and reading this, you're likely skint and the NHS dentist in your town isn't taking on any new patients. You're going to want a dentist.
And a lawyer, possibly.
You can make your own LSD. Weed is easy to grow. You can find magic mushrooms easy enough. Brew your own beer, get drunk with friends indoors or in the park or in your garden - a place of your choosing, until dawn. Good times. Like a duel, except with homebrew.
People on drugs are paranoid. This is pretty much true of anyone on drugs for a reasonable amount of time. This makes it easier for the government to convince you that they are watching you all of the time. Perhaps if you're some kind of kingpin, then, maybe.
But you? With your improvised bong and your lava lamp and your band posters in your slug-infested first flat? Nope.
Paranoia. It's like Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon. The only way complete surveillance can work is if we believe it can work. It requires the possibility of surveillance at all times.
The fact that the government and technology might be able to watch everyone at once could be true. Do they want to? Nope.
The Wisdom of Addicts
Of course your mate gives you sound advices. He's a bodhisattva, man.
...he's not. He's fucked up on a pill and you're tripping balls.
Some experts at drugs will be worth listening to. But you won't know, will you? How will you know? Everyone's on drugs.
Look stuff up, when you're straight. To be honest, if you can barely read and you're stuck into drugs because you never had a way out, you're probably fucked anyway. If, like me, you headed out on that path because you thought you wanted to find out, but you were maybe self-medicating because your soul hurt, then you might want to check out Wikipedia.
Sometimes it's wrong, sure, but it's close enough for Government work.
Do drugs. They're great. Or don't. Whatever. It's nothing to do with me. Don't be paranoid, though. Everyone (I mean, literally everyone) can smell weed and see if you're pupils are dilated. Don't sweat it.
Ha, sorry. How rude of me. Really, paranoia's not helpful. Chill out.
But also, quit eating my fucking petunias, man. Not cool.