I used to be the original party animal.
I loved hitting the clubs to see the lights, feel the music, and dance the night away. I was all about having a good time. My saying was “too much of a good thing is never enough”.
Oddly enough, for someone who was always around free-flowing cocktails, I never was much of a drinker. Maybe it was the horrific hangovers I felt during my early experiments with drinking, or maybe it was because I didn’t throwing up as recreational. Whatever the reason, I learned that I preferred to enhance my party experience chemically.
Anyone who has ever spent any time in or around the club scene can tell you that drugs are literally EVERYWHERE. Even the most straitlaced wallflower will be exposed to every mind-altering substance known to man, and when you look around and see other people laughing loudly, partying wildly, staying out all night, and then coming back to do it all again the next night, it’s hard to find a reason not to partake.
I was not above the temptation.
The actress Carrie Fisher – Princess Leia from Star Wars – once said something that I basically took as inspiration. Karl Marx said, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” Carrie Fisher turned that statement on its head when she said, “I did masses of opiates religiously.”
Substitute some of the pharmaceutical concoctions found in your local nightclub for the word “opiates” and you have an idea of my philosophy and consumption.
I won’t lie. At the beginning, before everything changed and my life went off the rails, I loved my party drugs. My first experience was with Ecstasy, also known as X, E, Molly, and my favorite codename, Hug Drug.
Although I didn’t put up much resistance when a friend of mine tried to offer me some Mollies, looking back, her “sales approach” should have given me pause about what I was about to put in my body. This is nearly an exact quote –
“And they’re TOTALLY safe. This professor-guy in England says that E is just as safe as riding a horse!”
Years later, I can say this with zero sincerity – thanks a lot English Professor Guy.
I didn’t find out the following statistic until much later, but during the time I was using Ecstasy every night, there was 128% spike in related emergency room visits among people in my age group.
“The Best Feeling Ever”
In about thirty minutes, that first pill had me experiencing physical sensations in a completely unexpected way – everything felt new and fresh and like it was the best thing ever!
For the next few hours, I tripped out over everything. The feel of my shirt on my skin fascinated me, the music seemed better (that alone should have tipped me off – club music – really?), and all of my perceptions seemed heightened. I can’t begin to describe how the club’s strobe lights looked to me. Even my brain felt warm and glowing.
Although I found out later that it was an effect of the drug, it also felt as if they had really turned up the club’s temperature. I felt so hot and sweaty and like I just couldn’t get enough to drink.
The next day was absolutely horrible. All my euphoric feelings at every physical sensation were completely inverted – now everything felt terrible. I felt almost dead inside, totally unable to find pleasure in anything. Even though there was nothing specifically wrong, I felt crushingly depressed.
It was a feeling that I was to experience many times over the next several months.
Later, I learned why coming down from Ecstasy is so unpleasant. The pills cause a person’s brain to become flooded with serotonin – the “feel-good” hormones. Afterward, the body’s supply is depleted, so a person coming down from Ecstasy is actually physically incapable of feeling joy until the body can replenish the serotonin. The more of the drug that is taken, the longer it takes the body to return to normal.
Popping mollies soon became a regular part of my party experience. I graduated from one pill to half a dozen in short order. As bad as that sounds, my consumption was much less than some of my customers. Some of them were eating 10 at a time.
Yes, I ended up selling Ecstasy, as well. It’s an expensive habit when you go out as much as I did, and I wasn’t a rich kid. So… It was either deal or do without.
Because of the comedown, and because of my clubbing habits, I had to learn strategies to “maintain” my good feelings as long as possible. Believe it or not, there are many methods that people use to enhance their Ecstasy “roll”, and no, I’m not going to contribute by listing them here. Let’s just say that the desperate need to prolong the feeling should have served as an indicator that it was progressing from a bit of fun to an actual dependency.
Changes in Behavior
Personally, I never had an extremely bad physical experience on ecstasy, although I have known people who took too much and had to go to the hospital, usually because they overheated. Ecstasy, dancing in a hot club environment, and too little to drink is a dangerous combination.
My E-caused downward spiral was much more subtle and over a longer period of time. Ecstasy changed who I was and what actions I found acceptable. Selling was just one of those moral boundaries that I crossed.
One of the biggest things that regular ecstasy use does to a person lowers their inhibitions and negatively affect their judgment. There were many nights where I made questionable decisions that I would not have made without the drug.
Ecstasy is not normally thought of as a “gateway drug”, but for me, that’s exactly what it was. When I was already feeling extra-sensitive to new sensations, it was easy for me to say yes to new experiences and other substances. Under the influence of Ecstasy, I tried a pharmacy’s worth of other drugs – poppers, ketamine, Modafinil, and even LSD and coke a few times.
Where it really affected me was in my choice of romantic partners. Ecstasy gives you a very false sense of physical closeness with other people. Kissing, touching, massages, and sex can all be enhanced under the influence of a few Hug Drug pills.
Romantic feelings generated by Ecstasy are, of course, lies. The connection that I felt with someone that made me go home with them always faded when the drug was off. And if you think that my description of coming down was bad, imagine doing the “walk of shame” when you already are incapable of feeling happiness.
The lifestyle began to catch up with me. I was still in my early twenties, but I looked a decade older, and sometimes – often – I felt two decades older. I started hitting the clubs even when I didn’t really feel like it, not because I was in search of a party, but because I needed to move the product.
I had to sell regularly to support my own habit and lifestyle. Although I had my own regular stable of customers, the needs of good business sometimes meant that I had to extend myself to a newcomer to the club. I’m sure you can guess where this is going.
I was arrested, charged with, and convicted of Felony Possession with Intent to Sell.
I only had two saving graces. First, I had never been arrested before, so this was my first offense. Secondly, by sheer luck, I wasn’t really holding when I attempted the sale. They only found two pills on my person. While this was still a felony, it could have been much, much worse.
I was allowed to make a plea bargain. Yes, I named names and threw other people under the bus. Despite what you see in the movies, there is no loyalty in low-level drug-dealing circles. I don’t regret it, because it was better them than me.
Based upon my lack of a previous record and my “cooperation” with law enforcement, I got off with time served, considerable fines, and years of probation, all of it depends upon my attendance and participation in a drug court-ordered treatment program.
Although it may sound like I got off easy, it has cost me many thousands of dollars and I am now a convicted felon. It may still be some years before I know the full extent of any damage that I did to my body.
That was years ago, and I am far removed from the party or club scene. I read the articles and horror stories about designer drugs today and some of the tales make my blood run cold.
My friends and I were stupid back then, but bath salts and super coke and spice and NBOMes and all the other substances that people are coming up with and putting in their bodies these days make me feel that the anti-drug message isn’t strong enough.
That’s why I wrote this. I’ve been there. As bad as my experiences were, they were positively mild compared to what has happened to others, especially in recent years. Even having said that, I can state with the authority of experience that party drugs are no party.