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General perspective on substance use

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General perspective on substance use
Answer
2/10/20 1:55 AM
What is your general outlook on using substances to influence the mind? I keep coming back to needing to sort out my relationship with various substances. I can see how one may choose to avoid this whole mess by abstaining fully. Yet I find the cultivation of extraordinarily beautiful states of consciousness a noble cause, and certain substances like LSD and MDMA open up states of consciousness that I believe impossible to attain without. Skillful use of caffeine (and maybe even small doses of amphetamines) can also support my activities in daily life. With regards to addiction I enjoy the working definition of continued usage despite negative consequences. So, without the negative effects weighing out the benefits, it's healthy usage. 

I believe much of the psychological suffering encountered with substance usage is the social stigma associated with it. Talking with my psychologist I can sense her thinking my drug usage is wrong. Thus I find it very helpful and necessary to talk about drug usage with people, who are open to it. Nonetheless, the keeping secret from e.g. family is irritating.

Feel free to also go into specifics on various substances. 

RE: General perspective on substance use
Answer
2/10/20 3:46 AM as a reply to Konstantin Freiberg.
For me, as I get older and more sensitive to how substances affect my body, I have changed the way I take them. I don't consider myself a religious buddhist in any sense so strict adherence to precepts doesn't interest me, but I appreciate why those rules were created and I see them as a 'best practice' of sorts.

I drink coffee almost every day. In college I could drink coffee all day long and I'd drink many many cups in a day up until dinner time (or later) to get work done. Nowadays, I'm even more sensitive to caffeine than I used to be and so I only drink a cup or two a day. I try to drink the second cup by lunchtime so that I'm not wired in the evening (caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours).

Same goes for alcohol: I have cut wayyyy down on that. I am so sensitive to it now. The day after having a few drinks, I'm typically exhausted and anxious. Alcohol is slowly losing it's appeal since it's more trouble than it's worth.

I will dabble with psychedelic use once in a while: this is such a mixed bag as I have had extremely diffcult trips (panic attacks abound) and also really amazing, profound experiences. I don't recommend anyone take these as they are so unpredictable, and yet I don't think I'll necessarily stop myself. I also don't pretend that these will enhance my meditation in any way/shape/form and I treat any benefit as therapeutic in nature. I also have to make sure the set and setting are appropriate for my needs, or else I'm setting myself up for disaster.


It's your life, you can live it how you want. Just be informed about what you're putting in your body and take responsiblity for your decision to engage in potentially dangerous pastimes. You also have to take responsibilty for the fact that certain people really don't want to hear about you taking these substances (I would never tell my parents) and that these are illegal in some cases and can make you lose your job, etc. Social stigma is what it is - you have to learn to live with it. 
Pay close attention to how these things make you feel over time and you might find yourself naturally dropping your attachment/attraction to these things. If you're seeing a mental health professional, it might also be smart to avoid any psychedelic substances as those can exacerbate any underlying issues.

Take care of yourself - that's what this boils down to.