by Miranda Roehrick
If you’ve had a good trip, seen things otherworldly, and found yourself on the other side of what you previously viewed as the limits of reality, many people in college communities automatically view you as a seemingly more well-rounded individual. Numerous Pitzer students hold drugs in high esteem. Drug culture surrounds a spiritual mindset—many regard drugs as a vehicle to the soul, a way to escape reality and find oneself. This soul-finding attitude serves to distract from the real consequences of continued drug use. Regularly dropping acid and tripping balls or popping molly and rolling are rad ways to become in tune with a different aspect of your reality, but they are also not-so-rad ways to change the chemistry of your brain, namely, in their negative long-term effects on one’s experience of happiness, worthiness, and confidence.
A student who wished to stay anonymous stated: “You can try every drug looking for some kind of escape from your reality but it’s all the same experience, same existential crisis, new general confusion.”
Escaping from reality is a highly coveted experience, but why is it that we turn to confusion for clarity? It’s paradoxical, really. Why do we continually search for confidence and happiness when we are furthest from ourselves? My questions here do not come from a place of judgment, rather I wish to frame this as a reminder that who you are fundamentally shouldn’t be continually cast away in the search for the feelings that you can only access in confusion.
The biochemical effects of MDMA and LSD include the release of unnatural amounts of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, and act directly on a number of receptors in one’s brain, including the adrenaline and serotonin receptors, creating the transcendental experience sought by many students.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for regulating mood, sleep, appetite, muscle control, and sensory perception. Both MDMA and LSD cause serotonin vesicles in the neurons to release serotonin into the synapses. This can lead to long lasting effects on the neurons that produce serotonin.
Repeated use of MDMA or LSD decreases all measures of serotonergic functioning, and makes it more difficult for an individual to experience happiness, confidence and worthiness without the drug in the same way that they did before they started using.
Yes, we’re young. Yes we feel invincible at times. And, yes it is inevitable that students in college will experiment with drugs. However, college students surprisingly have a more limited view of the future than one may think. We become so obsessed with finding ourselves at this critical time in our lives, we often turn to every possible aid in that process, including substances, without consideration for the long-term effects.
In attempting to make more meaningful connections with other people and ourselves through the use of substances, we risk losing part of ourselves in the process. The effects of drugs can be everlasting, and it’s healthy to remember that we are only born with one body.
Another anonymous contributor stated: “Nobody really considers long term effects. It’s what they can get hyped on that night and then maybe the morning repercussions (hangover, lack of sleep, etc.) but never how it actually affects their brains. It’s interesting; acid, molly and harder drugs like them are pretty normal here. Most people do them, so it’s almost weird if you don’t. In the first semester, on an average weekend, I could be walking down Pitzer’s campus and run into two or three groups of friends just casually tripping on acid. It’s fun once in a while, but a lot of kids here overdo it. When it’s acid one night and then molly the next, with constant drinking and smoking weed on top of it, it kind of gets out of hand, especially because many of those drugs make you lose sleep and your appetite, and god knows what else from your brain to your liver. The frequent usage concerns me, but then again, they’re all technically adults and can make their own decisions about how they take care of their bodies.”
It’s true! We are adults, and neither I, nor anyone else has the right to dictate the way individuals choose to live their lives. And that’s not my goal here at all. Simply, I implore you to find respect for the body that houses your soul, the body that you will use to explore the world for years to come. Regulate what you put into your system and you’ll be much more rewarded by your intrinsic happiness over the course your life.
Be kind to yourself in college, be kind to yourself always. You are unfailingly worth it!
Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information