Feel welcome at the Psychoactive Management page.
This is the Psychoactive Management
Many FAQs are transparent devices to preach a point of view, with questions being asked which no one has ever heard. This FAQ is no different. The point of view here is consistency in communicating about drug abuse. With that thought in mind, I'll ask myself a few questions.
Q- What is Psychoactive Management, and is it really necessary to capitalize the phrase?
A- No, it's not necessary to capitalize it. Psychoactive Management is an approach to problem solving in the area of drug abuse, both at the personal and the community level. It faces certain problems met by governmental programs, interpersonal relationships, and personal consumption of chemicals in a recreational way, by taking a consistent view of the nature of psychoactive chemical consumption, the reasons why one consumes substances psychoactively, their expectations, experiences, hopes, fears, education, socioeconomic level, vocabulary,
Q- Wait a minute, you're going too fast. You're talking about drugs, right?
A- "Drugs" is a special variety of psychoactive substances, usually meaning substances that it's illegal to own or use. "Psychoactive," as a noun, means any substance which someone consumes with the aim of changing their experience, like mood, energy level, wakefulness, what kinds of things they're thinking about, or don't want to think about, and so on. "Drugs" is a narrower term, but the concerns about "drug abuse" overlap those about "psychoactive management."
Q- This is awfully vague and abstract. How about telling me something about yourself?
A- Fine. That will help me keep my feet on the ground. If I weren't interacting with you, it would be like talking to myself, and I'd wander. I'm an adult male living on the East Coast, who worked as a caseworker with an alcohol and other drug abuse treatment program run by a four-county mental health department, for about fourteen years, and as a volunteer community organizer for several years in the area of drug abuse. Several of my friends died from substance abuse, and I've nearly died myself, a couple of times, from abusing psychoactive substances. I smoked 265,000 tobacco joints before quitting for good.
Q- Oh, come on, "tobacco joints"? Isn't that a rather transparent attempt to make cigarette smoking look as bad as drugs? Or, wait, I can see where this is leading.
A- Where do you think it's leading?
Q- I'm asking the questions here. It's leading toward making drugs look good. You're probably interested in legalizing pot, right? By the way, do you mind if I smoke?
A- I think we're getting off on the wrong foot. By the way, I don't mind if you smoke, as long as you keep your smoke out of my air. No, I'm not aiming at legalization of any drugs. I'm aiming at consistent treatment of psychoactive issues.
Q- (Takes out pack of cigarettes, whacks it on table a few times, takes one out, lights it, blows smoke in A's face.) OK, say something consistent.
A- (Coughs appreciatively) Well, how about talking about your consumption of tobacco, since it's the closest example of a psychoactive substance at the moment. You might have read the "Five Rules of Psychoactive Management" at my main web page. How about going through the Five Rules and see how they relate to your tobacco hobby?
Q- Fine with me. By the way, nasty cough you have there. Have you seen a doctor? Well, what about the Five Rules? What are they for, anyway? What if someone breaks them, do you think they ought to be arrested? Is there a contest? Heh heh.
A- (Warming up to a lecture) The Five Rules aren't laws, but there may be penalties for not following them. I believe people who are not willing to use them, ought not consume psychoactively. The Five Rules are guidelines for cautious psychoactive consumption. Here they are.
1- When considering consuming a psychoactive substance, think about the reasons for doing it, and consider alternatives. That's the idea of abstinence.
2- When consuming psychoactively, consume as little as necessary to get an effect, instead of as much as possible before harm results. That's the idea of conservation.
3- Discuss sought effects with others. That's the idea of consequences.
4- Discuss side effects with others. That's another idea of consequences, also context and preconditions.
5- Include, among those with whom you're discussing your psychoactive consumption, people who don't consume that particular psychoactive substance. That's the idea of objectivity.
Now, let's see how those apply to what you're doing with your tobacco hobby.
And by the way, I think our conversation is near an end, so if I stop talking with you altogether, I hope you won't mind.
Q- Um, not at all, no problemo. I'll just sit here and watch. Well, what about the Five Rules? Obviously I'm not following the first one, because I'm smoking, I'm not abstaining. By the way, aren't Rule Three and Rule Four about the same? Why not just say "Pay attention to effects?"
A- Good point. These are guidelines, like if you were going on a trip someone might say it's a good idea to visit the AAA office and get a map. Now that's OK, just getting a map, but inside that office, you can find all sorts of services, like weather and road construction advisories, and traveler's checks, and so on. Likewise, with the "effects" idea, Rule Four is like going into the AAA office. In looking at side effects, you have to LOOK FOR side effects, and that means you have to be aware of your whole reason for consuming the substance, and what your lifestyle is like, and what kinds of feedback you are willing to take from people, and how you deal with problems in general, sort of doing an inventory of yourself, so to speak; whereas Rule Three is very tightly focused and limited. They only sound similar; "sought effects" and "side effects". Again, like driving, those two rules would be, um, Three, see if you get where you're going, and Four, pay attention to the road and the surroundings, and the other traffic, and whether you brought enough provisions and if they're running out (like looking at the fuel gauge) and is the radio on too loudly and did you run over a squirrel because you're driving too fast, and so on.
Q- Good grief, don't you ever draw a breath? (Inhales deeply)
A- Now, actually about Rule One, you said you didn't follow that because you're not abstinent. Actually you might be following that rule, in that you might have considered not smoking, when you thought of doing it a few minutes ago. You might have thought about why you wanted to smoke, what you hoped to get out of it, whether you could have gotten that result by doing something else.
Q- Are you kidding? I mean, I'm just smoking, I didn't analyze it all like that. What's the point? No, I didn't think about why I wanted to do it, I just wanted to do it.
A- Yes, well, OK, you didn't follow that guideline, then. My point of view is, the guidelines are something like guidelines for driving a car. When you think about driving somewhere, you also might think about walking, or calling a cab, or taking a bus, or roller blading. Then if you do drive, you think about how to get to your destination in the shortest way, unless your aim is to enjoy scenery, in which case you figure the shortest way to get to the scenery. That would be like Rules One and Two of Psychoactive Management.
Q- Well, I can see that in a car, but you're spending money for gas and you are spending time, of course you'd want to conserve, in that case. But a cigarette? Come on, that's like parking meter money. Small change.
A- Ah, yes, but it adds up, doesn't it? I smoked 265,000 tobacco joints and spent thousands of dollars. At today's prices, that would be around $40,000.
Q- Hey, now, that's a bit of a stretch, isn't it? I mean, what with inflation. Where do you get that 265,000 stuff? Did you keep a notebook?
A- No, just simple arithmetic. 18 years, 2 packs a day, times 365 days. I know people who smoked more. A friend named Norm smoked over a million tobacco joints. He figured 900,000, ten years before he died, and he was smoking. So were a lot of his friends at the funeral, September 1995. A lot of people at funerals of my friends who died from smoking, smoked. They lit up first thing after the service. I remember them standing in crowds on the sidewalk, at Elsie's funeral, Jack's funeral, Phil's funeral, Norm's funeral. Puffing away on their tobacco joints, and escalating their dosage level.
Q- You're getting kind of annoying, you know, with that "tobacco joint" stuff. Cigarettes aren't illegal. I suppose you think they should be illegal. Some people can't handle smoke; so, don't smoke. Nobody's forcing you to smoke. (Blows smoke in A's face again.) Anyway, marijuana is joints, and there's cigarettes, unless you have marijuana in a cigar wrapper, and it's a blunt, or a spliff if it's rolled in a cone. Or is that some of your "consistency" stuff, but then what are you going to do, call joints marijuana cigarettes? What about spliffs?
A- That's the idea, yes, they are marijuana cigarettes, and there's more than one kind of spliff; I smoked quite a few eucalyptus spliffs, hard little cones, called 'Sher Bidis', that I got in tobacco stores. I really got addicted to those. Interesting little things. I used to tease people, pretending they were marijuana cigarettes. They weren't big spliffs. They were the size of a tobacco joint. There's tobacco in them, but the appeal is apparently the eucalyptus.
Q- What do you mean, addicted? To eucalyptus? That's what koala bears eat, isn't it? Or you put the leaves in a room, to freshen it?
A- I don't know what it was about those Sher Bidis, but my behavior became addictive. I took a trip once, about 100 miles, on business, and the first thing I did when I got out of the car was go to a phone booth and look in the yellow pages for the number of a tobacco store, because I had run out. I wasn't shaking or anything, but I held up my business partner for about an hour while we drove all over looking for a pack of Sher Bidis. They came ten in a pack, for about $1.30, more than the cost of cigarettes back then (late 1970's). And I would sneak them from my wife, blowing smoke out the bathroom window, lying about buying them, and so on. Of course she could smell the smoke, but she went along with the denial, like other family members do, in addictive families.
Q- Hah, addicted, that's really something. Never heard of them. Well, I'm not addicted to cigarettes; I could quit any time I wanted. I just don't want to. (Lights up another one)
A- Well, addicted, that's a loose expression. I don't know whether you're addicted or not. I suspect you couldn't stop smoking if you *did* want to; that's when you know you're addicted. Another way is to see if your value system is screwed up, with regard to your psychoactive hobby.
Q- How would I know if it was?
A- Well, I can give you a little arithmetic trick to see about that. Write down a few things, like ten things that are important to you, and rank them from 1 to 10. Rewrite the list, in order. Then see which items you are really putting out of order, and count how far below another number, a higher one is. Add up the numbers, and divide it by the total of all the items in the list and the percentage is a measure of how far your values are screwed up.
Q- Run that by me again? Or don't, if you don't mind. I'm really not that interested. Wait. Maybe I am. I'm confused. You're writing this, right? So if you're bringing something up, I *have* to like it.
A- Watch out, I think that's a fourth wall violation!
Q- Huh? Fourth wall? More regulations, eh? The Five Rules, Four Walls, Three Stooges, Two Little Bears, and a partridge in a pear tree. Nuts.
A- That's three little bears, but never mind. Look, I don't want to argue. How about being more agreeable?
Q- Like I have a choice? OK, I'll go along with you. Say, how about going out for a drink afterwards?
A- Why would I want to do that?
Q- Ha ha, Rule One, right? So analytical. You're probably no fun to drink with. Don't you ever get loaded? (Blows a smoke ring in A's direction)
A- Yes, I've gotten loaded. My purpose of getting loaded was to have fun with other people. When I did that, I could have thought about how little I needed to get loaded, instead of what a lot of people do, which is think about how much they can drink before they get into trouble. For example, the State of Pennsylvania circulated little cards once, for drivers, showing green, yellow, and red areas on a bar graph, how much you weighed, how much you could drink before your driving was impaired. That was exactly the opposite of the Psychoactive Management approach.
Q- Well, I can see what you're driving at, no pun intended, but don't you think you should lighten up a little? It's a good idea to know when to say when, isn't it?
A- That's another thing, that slogan, that's the opposite of the Psychoactive Management approach. Knowing "when to say when" means you're thinking of an upper limit. Instead you should be thinking of a lower limit; not as much as possible, but as little as necessary. I was at a faculty party once and decided that I could have a good time with zero alcohol, so I walked around with a glass with water and ice cubes in it. Unfortunately, the host got angry when he found out there was no alcohol in the drink. I explained that I was going to grade papers afterwards, and wanted to have a clear mind, but that didn't improve his mood.
Q- Well, who died and left you in charge? Who are you to tell me how to drink, or smoke for that matter? (Blows smoke in A's face) You really ought to do something about that cough, by the way.
A- I'm going to, in just a minute. But let me point out that the Five Rules aren't just my imposing my own outlook on other people. They're intended to be consistent with our existing values, in consuming psychoactive substances. In other words, when we consume psychoactively, whether it's cigarettes, or cocaine, or coffee, or chocolate, we're using something with an aim in mind, and it's to our interest to conserve what we're using. It's valuable, as a tool or an instrument. You don't thrown money in the wastebasket, do you? Even pennies. Do you throw pennies away? But look at the chemical you're using right now. Most of it is going up in smoke! Is that to your interest? For one thing, it gives you an added incentive to consume the smoke, so you won't waste it. That's a bad reason to inhale smoke-- Just because it's coming from something valuable to you, that you're burning up, so you inhale as much as you can, to get as much out of it as you can.
Q- You're really going off the deep end with this. A cigarette? Gimme a break! Pennies! Now, if it were a joint, that's something else. A *marijuana* joint, excuse me.
A- You're catching on. That reminds me of a story about William F. Buckley Jr., by the way. Supposedly someone said to him once that marijuana smokers were more friendly than whiskey drinkers, because at a party they would pass around the marijuana cigarette and share it, but whiskey drinkers don't share their drinks. Buckley supposedly replied that people would pass around a glass of whiskey, too, if it were leaking.
Q- Oh, right, very clever. Getting as much out of it as they could. Well, by the way, would you like a puff on my cigarette? (Blows smoke in A's face again)
A- That's the idea, I mean about sharing the drink. No thanks, I don't smoke, at least not voluntarily. So, what is it that you want out of your cigarettes, and how little do you think you need to smoke, to get that effect?
Q- Well, what do you want me to say? I don't know. I want to smoke, I smoke. What's so complicated?
A- OK, since you asked, I'll tell you what I want you to say. You smoke because your body has become used to nicotine. When your body misses nicotine, you feel uncomfortable, and you replace the nicotine. It's automatic. If you don't get the nicotine, you become more and more uncomfortable until you get it. Your mind has learned to make certain adjustments, like you don't smoke in church, or during a meal at a restaurant. Times have changed, in that regard. If you get a chance, look at the first issue of Life magazine, which has a two page ad showing someone lighting up five times during a meal. And you don't smoke during your sleep, although some people do wake up several times during the night to light up. In other words, you smoke automatically. Your body is a smoking machine. Furthermore, as time goes on, you accidentally smoke more than you "need", particularly when you have waited longer than you're used to, to get your nicotine, and that becomes your new level of need. Besides that, your attitude of taking in as much as you want, until you feel physically ill, or until major problems are happening, which is the way almost everyone deals with their mind and mood altering chemicals, keeps you constantly on the edge of that escalation of need. Furthermore, a lot of the puffs you've taken, let's say ten doses per tobacco joint, have happened when something stressful was happening, let's say the doorbell rang, or you read something in the newspaper you didn't like, or someone looked at you the wrong way, and at that moment, your puffing made you feel better, because you were missing nicotine. And at that moment, you learned that puffing made you feel better when something stressful happened, and your mind interpreted this as the nicotine being a tranquilizer, so the next time something stressful happened, you wanted a puff, and you took one, and of course you were on the verge of needing it anyway, and you felt better. So, what with learning -- how many tobacco joints have you smoked? A hundred thousand? That's a million puffs, let's say one percent of the time you "learned" they relieved stress -- That's 10,000 lessons. Not easy to forget. If you tried to stop smoking, then you'd get the urge hundreds of times a week, every time the slightest little thing went wrong; and you'd say no to the urge, and that would frustrate you, and that frustration would add to the desire for a puff, and that would cause more frustration, and it would build up, like a microphone that's too sensitive in an auditorium, the howling noise, you'd have temper flare-ups from those repeated flash-buildups of frustration. After a while everyone around you would be offering you a cigarette, just to calm you down. You're hooked, admit it.
Q- Well, isn't that something. I'm a smoking machine. Well, I'm butting out, no pun intended, I don't need to listen to this stuff. Why don't you mind your own business. I'll smoke when and where and how much I want, and if it kills me, so what, we're all gonna die. (Coughs) Get a life. I'm outta here. (Exits, coughing violently.) (Calls from outside the door, wheezing and voice croaking) And furthermore, I resent you making me cough like this. You set me up. It's not fair. (More coughing) But you know what? You can't make me stop smoking! (The coughing sounds fade out into the distance)
A- (To self) He's right. Too bad. He has an expensive hobby. Well, I have some questions on this tape recording a friend sent me, I'll just play that and keep this going. (Turns on playback machine.)
Q- What are some examples of inconsistency, that keep drug problems from being solved?
A- Our vocabulary is inconsistent. We call illegal psychoactives "drugs" and think about them in different ways from our legal substances, which we don't even have a common word for. I propose "psychoactives", short for "psychoactive substances". What other common word is there for coffee, chocolate, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, tea, Mountain Dew, Jolt, candy, beer, wine, rum, and so on? Yet the reasons we consume those things are very much the same as the reasons people consume marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD, and other illegal substances.
Q- Chocolate? Hey! Chocolate isn't a drug! It just tastes good!
A- Wow, it's like the tape recorder is listening to me! No, it isn't called a drug. But it has
in it that affect our mood, like theobromine, caffeine, phenylethylamine, and sugar. Of course when we're buying a bag of M&Ms we aren't saying to ourselves, "I need some more doses of theobromine." But it's like drug seeking behavior. "Drug" is a ruined word. Hundreds of TV shows about police and doctors dealing with illegal drugs, have drilled into us the idea that "drugs" are more dangerous and more useless, and used for worse reasons, than chocolate or alcohol. Yet I know people whose lives are unhappy because of their chocolate use, and they know it, and don't know how to stop. One was Marie, a dear friend of my parents, in New Hampshire. They drove up there every year, just to visit her and a couple other friends. She was obese and constantly poisoned herself with chocolate, and told them she wished she could stop. It killed her.
With regard to the point about chocolate tasting good, many things taste good because of their psychoactive effects. Until those effects happen, the taste may be unpleasant. Think about the first time you drank beer or smoked. Also, try this experiment with chocolate, if you have the patience. Abstain from all kinds of chocolate and refined sugar for two months; this means ketchup, peanut butter, children's cereals, and so on. Then chew on some chocolate. It will probably taste greasy and strange, until the sugar and other psychoactive chemicals hit your blood stream, and your brain remembers "how good the chocolate is." Also, read the unexpurgated version of The Count of Monte Cristo, where the travelers are being entertained by Sinbad the Sailor. He offers them hashish to eat, and they comment on the awful taste. "Wait until the effects happen," Sinbad recommends, "and then you'll enjoy the taste." I never ran across this passage myself. A sixth grader asked me the question, when I was giving a talk about drugs, in an elementary school. I looked in several libraries, for the passage, and then realized it was not included in some versions of the book, in public libraries.
Q- You probably noticed I mentioned chocolate; I've heard you talk about that before. You really get off on a rant, about chocolate. And you probably mentioned that woman in New England, what's her name, Mary. And my standard reply to this is, chocolate is legal, and people don't shoot it with hypodermic needles.
A- That's true, and facts like that keep you from being aware of something you could be learning from heroin users, namely, that as time goes on, you become accustomed to a certain level of intake, and are taking it in to feel normal, instead of feel good, so when you want to feel good, you take in more, and that becomes your new level. The stepping up to higher levels, or "staircasing" as I call it, is common to users of legal and illegal psychoactives. If we were talking consistently about all psychoactives, potential illegal consumers would know some concepts ahead of time that might deter them from consuming, or make them cautious about doing it. And we could learn from them, what we're confronting if we use our legal psychoactives. Look, this has been a problem for decades. Educators constantly mention this, that you can't tell illegal consumers things to watch out for, because just talking about illegal consumption seems to condone it. I'll quote from a recent issue of the Detroit News. This is in an article about the police run program, D.A.R.E.:
"Some of DARE's critics suggest replacing the program with its message of zero tolerance with others that emphasize how to deal with the consequences of drug use, such as an overdose. This sounds realistic, but may have the perverse effect of encouraging drug use by discussing ways to make it safe."
Back in the early '70's, studies of outcomes of educational programs describing cautious drug use showed some increases in use. The result of these studies was that people cancelled the cautious-use approach. But what the studies didn't show was whether more harm resulted, from the increased use. The caution, which was aimed at reducing harm, wasn't even followed up. What was really the concern by the program leaders, was that people were using drugs, period. The school and other authorities weren't as interested in the harm from drugs, as the whole concept of drug use as such. To most people drugs EQUALS harm. "Cautious drug use" is an oxymoron.
Q- What's an oxymoron?
A- (Uncanny, how this recording anticipates what I'm saying.) An oxymoron is a self-contradiction. People have been educated to think of drugs as essentially negative things. Well, I don't take a stand on that. But it's a fact that the reason people use illegal and legal substances, and the *ways* they use them, are so similar that people on both sides of the legal boundary can and need to learn from each other.
Psychoactive Management provides a way to talk about chemical consumption in the licit, or legal, realm, in such a way that illegally consuming people can understand things about their hobbies, and talk about them, by mimicking legally consuming people, talking about their chemical consumption. Instead of modeling finger pointing, we model tongue wagging, elbow bending, and other relevant behaviors. "Route of administration" and "joint" have application in the realm of legal hobbies, just as ______ have applications in the realm of illegal hobbies.
Here's an example in the public school system, in health classes. I've seen textbooks which have separate chapters on problems with alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and food, all mentioning that people over-use these things, but no common concept that would help understand *why* people over-use them. A consistent approach would be to put all the psychoactively consumed substances into one chapter, and point out things like escalating the dose, developing tolerance to effects, habits that become unconscious and automatic, erosion of values, deterioration of life, loss of friends and property, and so on; a downward spiral. We're missing out on a lot of education, from both directions. And all because of the stigma of illegality, and the glamour, let's face it, of illegal consumption, that makes it seem so tremendously different. If consistent approaches were used, to education and to the law, then what the illegals have in common with the legals would be more apparent. Ironically, the illegality causes some of the problems, not just the inconsistency.
So there is this big communication problem. The inconsistency is both a symptom and a result. Because of illegality, no one wants to convey cautions to illegal consumers. The educators are afraid of being labeled as "pro-drugs", and illegal consumers are discouraged from talking to people who aren't consuming illegally, so they get wrapped up in social groups where everyone's reinforcing each other's denial-- They can't practice Rule Five. Likewise, neither can consumers of legal psychoactives; they stay away from the illegal crowd. In fact, some people use this stigmatization of illegal consumers, to attack critics.
Here's a quotation from the Executive Director of D.A.R.E. America, Glenn Levant, in the Detroit News: "DARE America's executive director, Glenn Levant, dismisses studies questioning the program's effectiveness. The program does not need to be evaluated, he said, because it is based on proven education techniques, such as positive role modeling.... He also questions the motives of anyone who doubts the zero use message. "Levant admits DARE America has never followed up to find out how many kids used the DARE techniques - such as repeatedly saying "No" or walking away when offered drugs - in later years.... 'There is no room for doubt,' Levant said. 'I'm curious why a researcher would think otherwise unless they are with a pro-legalization network.' That attitude has squelched research on other programs, say Lynam and Brown, since many who suggest alternatives to DARE are accused of being pro-drug."
Q- But he has a point, doesn't he? What's wrong with the zero tolerance approach? No drugs is better than some drugs, isn't it? And isn't it better to do *something* against drugs, than just accept them?
A- Your question is well taken, in a limited way. The problem is that when you ask that, you are assuming that alcohol, tobacco, chocolate, and so on, are NOT drugs. You aren't interested in campaigning against people smoking and drinking and eating candy, are you?
Q- No, that's rather extreme. But drug abuse, that's something else.
A- Aha, that's the root of the whole reason for Psychoactive Management. "Drug abuse" is *not* something else, because "drugs" are not *something else*. Your asking that question, and seeing drugs that way, actually causes the major problems we have in combating drug abuse. Wait, I can see the expression on your face, as you were recording that tape. Let me explain. This has to be repeated over and over.
As long as we see these two classes of psychoactive chemicals as being different, when they're not essentially different in why they're consumed, we won't make progress in getting people to stop consuming them, because any facts we convey about them will be undermined by the consumers' experiences. When you say one thing and do another, the people you're trying to instruct tend to follow what you do, not what you say. When we tell people not to use drugs, then we use (what amount to) drugs, they follow our example. We tell kids not to use dope, but we smoke and drink and eat chocolate; so they follow our example and use dope. We tell them they're not old enough to smoke, which means smoking is something you do when you grow up, so they try to act grown up and smoke. We're sabotaging the war on drugs by behaving like the enemy we say we're against. We use psychoactive chemicals to get high, to forget worries, and to balance the side effects of escalating tolerance; we get addicted and sick, and waste our income and time on psychoactive chemicals, and then point a finger and say "just say no to drugs." What kind of message is that?
Q- A hypocritical one?
A- Well, incidentally it's hypocritical, but that's not the point. Hypocricy would be the point, if this were a discussion of morality, or how to be good. There's been too much talk about hypocrisy, like police and teachers lecturing against drugs, then smoking and drinking. It's common to make sarcastic remarks about such things. That has to stop; it blocks communication, like sarcasm in anti-drug programs against "dopers" blocks communication. I watched some kids at a "Dope is for dopes" lecture once; we were watching a police presentation. I think I knew how they felt; offended at even being in a room where insults were being expressed. Like if someone thought you were insulting them, and they had the nerve to ask you if you were, and you said, "Well, if the shoe fits," they would feel insulted even if the shoe *didn't* fit. But my point is, discussing how to be consistent and effective, DOING something and then SAYING not to do it, is going to result in the people watching us, in DOING it. Ironically, we're not likely to come to our senses, because it's to our interest to not understand this.
A- By and large, our psychoactives are managing us, and not we managing them. We need our alcohol, tobacco, and "good tasting" stuff. "Need" is the operative word. Personally we need it, and economically we need it. Legal psychoactive substance marketing and advertising is a major part of the economy. I'm talking hundreds of billions a year. The top advertisers are alcohol and tobacco. What pictures do you see on the backs of magazines? Look at how we've stigmatized "drugs". If people really believed that what we were consuming, our legal psychoactives, were something like "drugs", think about how stupid and guilty we'd feel. It's like the picture of Dorian Gray, in Oscar Wilde's novel. The bad aspects of chemical abuse are all seen to be among illegal consumers. If we took away that image, it would reflect on ourselves. It's too much of a jolt, to come to that awareness. It isn't going to happen.
Q- So you're wasting your breath, eh? I admit you do seem to be taking an extreme position, making legal recreational stuff look like drugs. What I can't figure out is, are you aiming to legalize drugs, or aiming to make chocolate and alcohol and tobacco illegal?
A- (Finally abandoning the deception that he's talking to a tape recording) I'm not trying to make legal psychoactives look like drugs. And I'm not trying to make drugs look acceptable. I'm trying to make the common aspects of drug consumption and legal substance consumption *visible* so we can see what we're all doing, without recrimination, without guilt, without dependency on money and our high levels of tolerance to the hobbies we've gotten into so deeply. I'm not trying to tell people, this chemical is bad, that chemical is good. People are dropping like flies from poisonous side effects, and taking unnecessary risks from impairment, and living with a higher level of psychomotor agitation, and wasting valuable psychoactive tools, than they need to. Do you like the idea that some military officer decides to wage a campaign because of his alcohol sedative rebound, or a constant need for more nicotine, is causing him to have feelings of hostility he believes are caused by "the enemy"? Wouldn't it be a good idea if family members found out that mom or dad are blowing up at them because of their high psychoactive tolerances, and not because of what the kids are doing? People grow up seriously warped because of mistaken beliefs about psychoactives, and spend money on therapy, or time in self help groups like Al-Anon, because have to keep getting reminded that things other people do under the influence, aren't their fault -- anybody's fault.
Consider the irony of the popular misconception about alcohol, that someone who can drink a lot is "holding it". What they're holding is withdrawal symptoms, not alcohol. Most of what they're drinking is staving off a bad case of nerves caused by previous drinking. If they lose their temper at someone, it's likely because they haven't had enough to drink. A normal, low tolerant drinker, may lose his or her temper because they've *had* something to drink. Tolerance to chemicals turns things upside down. We preach that this sort of thing happens to heroin and cocaine users, but we remain blissfully oblivious that it's happening all around, in our homes and offices, because of tobacco and alcohol and sugar.
Because of all the finger pointing we've done for decades, against drugs, we're facing a mirror image of those fingers, if we call our own substances "drugs". That's not the answer. Look. Think about how resistant you got when I mentioned chocolate. Look at how resistant a tobacco consumer gets when you mention tobacco. Why do you think that is? It's because psychoactive chemicals tend to manage us. They cause us to become very protective about our hobbies with them. Don't you think the same thing happens to kids when we point fingers at them for smoking pot? That kind of thing doesn't help communication, it kills it. All the preaching and scary advertisements accomplish, is to convince US that WE are not consuming psychoactives. And it works. And things keep on getting worse. Kids keep on getting sick from "drugs" and we keep on getting sick from "drugs". The stigmatization has to stop! The inconsistency has to stop! The preaching has to stop!
Q- The preaching has to stop. Right. Just WHAT do you think you sound like?
A- What do you mean?
Q- Like, you're not preaching?
A- Absolutely. I'm not preaching. I'm just making a strong plea for consistency.
Q- And this is different from preaching, in what way?
A- (Long silence) You have a point. (Another period of silence.) Let me put it this way. I'm pushing for consistency. Maybe pushing a little too hard. But I really think that the inconsistency between mass recreational consumption of some kinds of psychoactives, and programs to stamp out other kinds of psychoactives, makes as much sense as some kind of public health measure like eliminating "juvenile flu", keeping kids from getting sick but feeling OK about adults getting sick, or a campaign to stop speeding among teenagers, but not adults. Look at all the fuss when racially inconsistent practices are uncovered. But psychoactively inconsistent practices are yawned at.
This isn't just a problem with preventing people from opportunities for jobs or education. It's a problem with opportunities for health and longevity. The inconsistency is like drug denial. It's modeled by the programs that purport to top drug problems! Should we be modeling denial, to people we're telling to stop using it? Friends of yours have died, friends of mine have died, from mismanaging psychoactive consumption. One friend talked with me about this, a long time ago, and decided to see if his tolerance to alcohol was high. He drank every day; wine, whisky, beer. He took it for granted. He stopped drinking altogether for a week. He had a glass of wine, and as he told me, "It hit me like a brick." His tolerance had gone down.
Unfortunately, his hobby continued, and he died from drinking and driving his car into a row of parked cars. DOA at the hospital. I went to his funeral. I watched the cemetery guy stomp the earth down on his grave. Up and down his leg went, stomp, stomp, stomp. There was a family gathering afterwards. Friends and relatives told me stories about his being in denial, and the consternation his hobby had caused everyone. I came back home from Michigan and the next day got a postcard from him, saying how much he was enjoying himself. Stomp, stomp, stomp. I still remember that. Everyone else was walking away. I stood there and watched the cemetery guy stomping. It blew my mind.
Q- Well, I'm sorry about your friend and all that, but this consistency thing, don't you think you're carrying this a little far? I mean, nobody's perfect. And after all, heroin and cigarettes *are* different.
A- The differences aren't as important as the similarities. People use them (so to speak) to feel good. At a certain low level of use, there's no problem. Then the users come to believe that the chemicals relieve stress, when they're mainly relieving withdrawal. Then the person's life is revolving around the hobby. As the saying goes, first the man takes the drink, then the drink takes the drink, then the drink takes the man. The same applies to other psychoactives, if they aren't managed properly.
Q- So explain to me why you're not a prohibitionist. How is your view different from the zero level folks? Sounds like you're down on everything. Or is Psychoactive Management just into harm reduction?
A- No, it's closer to the zero use approach. I believe that nearly all the effects people think they need psychoactives for, can be achieved without them (and I don't mean the cliche, "getting high on life", and that one can in fact learn how to achieve that by constantly reducing one's consumption of psychoactives, while paying close attention to the *effects*, instead of attention to the *psychoactive*. For example, many people love to collect wine, and talk about all the different varieties and flavors and how to preserve it and so on. What they are actually talking about, that's valuable to them, is alcohol, and the reason it's valuable isn't the flavors, it's the sedative properties. If wine consumers paid more attention to the sedative effect (and rebound) of their alcohol use, they'd see that they're spending a lot of money unnecessarily, as they could bring about the calm, relaxed effect in non-psychoactive ways. And the way to study that, is to use small amounts of wine, in fact erring on the side of "not enough," to see how much "little enough" is. If one drinks just short of harm, like tolerating some degree of negative impairment when intoxicated, then one's tolerance to the sedative effect will rise, and more and more alcohol will be needed. Paying attention to the effect, and how little is necessary, will actually result in usage going down, toward zero.
That's why this isn't a "harm reduction" message. Harm reduction means focusing on harmful consequences, and how to avoid them, and tolerating a certain level of thoughtless consumption. Psychoactive Management means focusing on favorable consequences, and how to achieve them without the chemical. That means when someone consumes a psychoactive, they aim for taking something short of what will work. That's vastly different from aiming short of harm. Seeing what you can get away with, is probably going to raise your tolerance; seeing what you don't need, is probably going to lower it-- You'll get more and more out of less and less, until you're getting a lot from nothing -- realizing it isn't necessary. Of course, less harm may *result*, in fact it probably will, but that isn't the *aim*. In other words, with harm reduction, one stops paying attention to consumption styles when harm diminishes. With Psychoactive Management, one gets better and better at learning to get along without the chemical, and doesn't stop paying attention to that, until the chemical is gone.
Q- Sounds like a fine point to me. Weasel-wording. You aren't going to make any points with the zero-level people. You're tolerating a certain level of use, even temporarily. They say stop now and forever.
A- I can understand that. Reducing problems from personal chemical use is involved in both approaches, and you're right, I'm not an absolutist. But there's a bigger difference than that. I'm not aiming to change anyone's behavior with psychoactives, and they are. I'm aiming to change people's *thinking* about psychoactives, to tune them into their inner honesty and consistency, and what I'm directly aiming to reduce, in people around me, is thoughtless, wasteful, self-abusive behavior. Of course, I'd prefer living in a community where people are less thoughtless, wasteful, and self-abusive, but the first place to start, if I want that, is to make sure that I'm not screwing things up by being thoughtless, wasteful, and self-abusive.
Groucho Marx once quipped that he wouldn't want to belong to any club that would accept him as a member. I wouldn't want to be someone in a community, that was the kind of person I didn't want to be around. How does that apply to Psychoactive Management? It means I can't tell people what to do without showing them, and it means I have to use the Golden Rule, treating them like I want to be treated.
In other words, if I want sensible Psychoactive Management going on around me, it's against my interest to tell people to do it!
And it's certainly against my interest to practice a psychoactive hobby if I'm preaching zero consumption of someone *else's* psychoactive. So, am I against chocolate or tobacco? I need a context. If someone's preaching against "drugs" and eating candy bars to feel good, I'm against them eating candy bars, yes. Tobacco use by D.A.R.E. personnel, and teachers in schools where they're lecturing, certainly. If the D.A.R.E. people or any other group is telling students not to use any mind- or mood-altering chemicals because of their psychoactive effects, then no one working in that school should be doing it either, and the parents of the kids should stop what they're doing. But if the police in the D.A.R.E. programs are telling the kids, look, we don't make the laws, we just enforce them, and if we catch you using something illegal, you're in trouble, that's fine with me. But if they're focusing on drugs because of supposed harm, forget it, unless psychoactive abstinence for reasons of harm, is practiced by the other authorities and parents of the kids.
Otherwise, the REAL message is, "Here's how to use psychoactives. Do what you want, and complain about other people using a different substance, and do as much of it as you can without getting caught." In fact, it seems to me, that's exactly what the message is, with almost all the school programs, not just the D.A.R.E. programs.
More programs nowadays talk about tobacco and alcohol, but they treat them like, these things aren't really BAD like "drugs" are, drugs are illegal because there's something special about them that they *deserve* to be bad. Then the bad arguments and illogic come into play.
Q- What do you mean?
A- For example, the stepping stone theory, or gateway theory of marijuana. Marijuana isn't as bad as the other "drugs," the kids say, so why is it illegal? The answer: Because it leads to the illegal drugs. What isn't mentioned is that it's the illegality, not the drug action, that brings the other drugs into the scene. Where do you go to buy pot? To someone who has access to illegal drugs. What if they don't have any pot that afternoon? Well, how about trying something else? There's you're stepping stone. The gateway is the pocketbook of the girl who's holding both illegal substances. It isn't the magical property of the marijuana that somehow resembles cocaine or heroin. So the illegality of pot ends up justifying itself, in that argument.
Q- But that's as old as the hills, that bit of silliness. That little bit of bad logic isn't getting anyone hooked on drugs, is it?
A- In general, yes. Incidentally, I don't see it as a "little bit of bad logic." It bugs me big time. Look. Putting a whole category of stuff on one side of the fence, telling people to stay away from it, keeping successful users of it from talking to us, refusing to support laws that would make quality control possible, refusing to talk about cautious use, and saying that people who want to talk rationally about it are probably sneaking in support for legalization, end up making the stuff on that side of the fence *more* dangerous. But we're going around in circles here. These things are like in an album of arguments that have been going on for thirty years. Everyone on both sides has predictable comments, and they repeat them to each other and go away angry and frustrated at how stupid the people on the other side are. What it amounts to is finger pointing, fault finding, and ultimately distraction of attention to MY OWN consumption.
In the Psychoactive Management approach, we don't have target populations, we don't have substance messages, we don't focus on illegal chemicals, we don't get into the politics. We approach other people with our practice of the Five Rules, not with statistics and charts and graphs about psychoactive chemical problems (although I invite you to browse at the Psychoactive_Rebound page). I don't start out a lecture saying, "I'm here to tell you how dangerous cocaine is," I start out saying "I'm here to tell you how I make sure my coffee consumption isn't managing my life."
Q- Right, and then what if someone in the audience asks, "Who paid your fare to the school? What business is it of yours, to give me your message?"
A- I answer, I paid my own way here, and the reason I want to spread the Five Rules, is so there'll be more people around me who can talk with me about my aims in using psychoactive substances, and how I can use as little as necessary, and whether I need to use a psychoactive substance at all, and what effects I'm getting that I want, and what happens that I might not expect, and how I act when I'm under the influence of the sought effects, and how I act when I'm under the influence of the side effects. The more people I get talking and thinking about this, the better chance I have of following the Five Rules.
Suppose I came up to you on the sidewalk, and said, "Pardon me, but did you know smoke is coming out of your nose?" How do you think you'd react?
Q- I'd probably say, "So what, I'm smoking, haven't you ever seen anyone smoking?"
A- OK, then what if I said, "Yes, but it always looks strange to me, to see smoke coming out of someone's nose."
Q- At which point I'd probably tell you it's none of your darn business what's coming out of my nose, and get lost.
A- Exactly. I think anyone else would react about the same way, although now and then someone replies, "You know, it really is crazy to smoke, and I'm going to quit one of these days."
Q- At which point I hate to think of what you keep on saying to them, at that point.
A- Um, well, anyway, my point is, the community is not in the frame of mind to accept feedback about our psychoactive consumption hobbies. But if I and others went into schools with the specific purpose of talking about how we manage our consumption of chocolate, tea, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and so on, I bet more people would be able to do it, by watching us do it. I've seen that happen, in presentations, in schools and on the radio.
Q- I don't know, man, it's a little bizarre to me. Are you saying you are NOT against my liking chocolate? But you hate smoking, right? And what about illegal drugs, do you think people should use them?
A- If someone is using a psychoactive illegally, then they aren't going to be able to use it around a lot of nonconsumers, are they? Like the majority of the community is unavailable for feedback, to contraband users. So Rule Five is out, for them. And if their use is identified with other illegal use, that's another handicap. For that reason alone, I'd recommend against using illegal drugs.
Q- Well, that's very thoughtful of you, finding a reason why someone shouldn't do something illegal! Wait, lemme write that down, "Don't do something illegal because you can't talk about it to people who don't break the law--"
A- Whoops, did I trip over a trip wire? You asked the question in the sense of "aside from the illegality", and I gave you a sincere answer.
Q- Sorry, I couldn't resist that. OK, I get your point there, but what did you mean about "if their use is identified with other illegal use?"
A- OK, it's like this. If you're smoking pot and you want to talk with someone who's not a pot smoker, you don't have to go to a non-contraband consumer, you can go to someone consuming crack cocaine, who doesn't smoke pot, and discuss your hobby with them. They aren't going to report you. But since the community has *made* your substance illegal, the illegality of it may be a key aspect in a problem you're having, like maybe the illegality of it is causing you to hang around people who have less than normal respect for the law. Are THEY going to point that out to you? No! Am I going to point that out to you? No! I won't know you're doing it! At least, ideally I wont. It's to your interest not to let me find out. If you were using Rule Five, it WOULD be to your interest to let me find out. So even if I happen to find out, that's still not having to do with Rule Five. So if you have problems with poor quality control with your dope, how are you going to find this out? Anything that has to do with dope being illegal, you're not going to be able to use Rule Five. So, from right off the bat, even if you can go to a few people to practice Rule Five, you're going to have impaired objectivity.
Q- OK, OK. I think I understand, but anyway never mind.... I notice you keep saying "consumption" instead of "use". Why not use "use"?
A- Because most consumers of psychoactive substances *don't* use them deliberately as psychoactives per se, they just put them into their bodies, with some vague idea and vague motivation, probably because the people around them are doing it. Truly using something means learning how to handle it, to think about what you're doing, to pay attention to whether the using is working or not, and what are the consequences of what you're doing. Also, I want to emphasize that psychoactive consumers are consumers in the sense of a marketplace, and have interests in consuming substances with known degrees of impurity, predictable results, and consequences to the providers if something goes wrong. For example, you can't sue your drug connection if the cocaine has too much of some contaminant, or is too weak.
In fact, this is one of the reasons why the inconsistent approach, of making some substances illegal and others legal, according to no particular inherent properties of the substances, causes many of the illegal ones to actually be more dangerous than they need to be. There's no quality control. Sure, if a lot of people get burned bad, by a dealer, they might retaliate by setting him or her up to get busted, and then take the person's place. But you usually take what you can get, and there isn't much competition. In the meantime, with drug overdoses happening, the authorities can say, "See, drug overdoses hurt people," and ignore overdose problems with legal substances, which happen by the hundreds of thousands every year.
The very illegality of some substances, therefore, makes them more risky jto use. In fact, Rule Five simply can't be followed with illegal substances. Imagine someone going up to a D.A.R.E. representative and saying, "I use marijuana every weekend, I get high Saturday night and watch Saturday Night Live, and I don't have a drug problem," and avoiding arrest. We aren't getting any feedback from illegal consumers, about successful use, that might help us legal consumers learn about how to consume something rationally, and the illegal consumers aren't hearing from us either. With Psychoactive Management, an illegal consumer can say, "I consume my psychoactive regularly, and here's how I use the Five Rules," and talk about our own use, and someone watching the conversation isn't going to get the impression that we're exhorting the contraband consumer to be careful about the contraband, therefore honoring their consumption of contraband in some way.
Q- What's "target populations"?
A- Target populations are subgroups of society, which drug educators focus on, separately from one another. Psychoactive Management is against that. I think we can teach things about cautious chemical use, our own attitudes and cautions that we use with our own substances, without resorting to learning about slang and "the street scene". When the Secretary of Health, Joseph Califano, stopped smoking, there was a tremendous buzz in the drug treatment and prevention community. People were talking about their own tobacco and other drug use in ways that amazed us. Open discussions happened about "practice what we preach" and how effective our programs really were. Believe me, Glenn Levant isn't the only person who's reluctant to question whether his program is working or not.
When I've talked about Psychoactive Management in public schools, the principal has gotten up and taken the microphone and described to the assemblage his own practices with coffee and cigarettes. When I've been on the radio, the announcer gets into the discussion, and callers talk about their chemical use, legal or illegal. Everyone gets into the act. You don't have to "tune into" their subculture. They know what you're talking about. "I like to get off with ____" is the topic, "and here's what happens and how I manage it." You don't have to be a sociologist to figure out how to communicate Psychoactive Management. The consistency and commonality, ignoring distinctions, not focusing on targets (and who likes to be thought of as a target, anyway?) excites people.
I remember one school presentation where I showed a large sheet of cloth I carried around as a lecture aid. I got it at a fabric store, a white sheet with thousands of brown dots on it. I used to get one of the other people on stage to help he hold it; it was a yard wide and about ten feet long. I explained to the audience that this represented the number of packs of cigarettes I'd smoked. Each dot was one pack. The principal, who was helping me hold the cloth, commented that his cloth would be about seven feet long, and spent a few minutes talking about his tobacco hobby to the students.
In another presentation, the students seemed unusually disturbed by my talking about problems with tobacco use. They were whispering, shuffling their feet, clicking their ball pens. There were a thousand kids in the auditorium, and a line of teachers in the rear. The teachers were visibly unhappy with what I was saying, about why we keep using tobacco, and talk about drugs being bad for us, and then they would smoke tobacco during school hours, the smoke wafting out the door of the teachers' lounge. I had encountered this before. But what was bothering the students? Finally one asked, "If you're against tobacco, why do you smoke?" Dead silence. "What do you mean," I asked. "I don't smoke." The student said, "Then what's that bulge under your sweater?" I reached in and pulled out my bulky pocket calculator. The auditorium erupted in a cacophony of cheering, applause, and feet stomping. It lasted half a minute. Obviously the students had been distressed at what appeared to be inconsistency on my part, and were relieved to find it wasn't happening. The experience shook me.
Just now I called a supermarket to ask what the cost of a carton of cigarettes was, to check the $50,000 figure above, for 265,000 tobacco joints. The pharmacist answered. On impulse I asked him, "What percentage of the money people spend on pharmaceuticals, goes for diseases caused by tobacco use?" He said he had no idea. I said, "I'm thinking about emphysema, cancer, heart disease, that sort of thing." He suggested calling the AMA. I asked if I'd come across too confrontive. He said no, it was an interesting question. But I think the question would come across as confrontive to other pharmacists, or store owners. There ought to be a way to find that out. If you have a suggestion, tell me. It shouldn't be too hard to get the information. Perhaps just having a few thousand people go into pharmacies and ask, would be an interesting experience.
Q- Hey, I thought you said you weren't a prohibitionist? You're coming down pretty hard on tobacco.
A- I think tobacco is very hard to use cautiously, and a lot of waste is associated with it. I know Native Americans used it, perhaps still do, in rituals, and this cuts down on abuse (incidentally, I don't like "abuse" either, because that implies "use", and there's another reason). But Native Americans sell a lot of tobacco on reservations, to people looking for a lower price. There seems to be some kind of justice involved there, but I don't want to go into that topic.
I have yet to find an non-native American who uses tobacco deliberately to get some kind of effect, seeks that effect without tobacco, talks about sought effects and side effects with others, and discusses it with non-consumers. What I am against isn't specific substances, I'm against poor Psychoactive Management.
Dr. Andrew Weil, in From Chocolate to Morphine, has a lot more to say about this idea of "rules of use," but he has different sets of rules for different substances. I think there's a need for a consistent, simple, easy to remember and practice set of rules that apply to everything, from chocolate to morphine to potato chips. Well.... Maybe not potato chips.... But-- How few potato chips do I need to feel good? Is it really the case that "You can't stop with just one"? Does that say something about the addictive potential of potato chips? Or is this just the usual marketing appeal to consume, consume, consume? There's a book about heroin, It's So Good, Don't Even Try It Once.
Good heavens, what a great coincidence! Just now, while I was editing this page at Geocities, this ad appeared:
(To Be Continued... More in FAX to NBC-TV news and letter to President Clinton (no, there were no answers :o)
Q- Hello, excuse me, what am I, a potted plant? Can I say something else?
A- Oh, sure, sorry, go ahead.
Q- Well, it occurs to me, that this long exposition of yours about Psychoactive Management, has been long on lecturing and short on self-revelation, besides, it seems to me you could have said everything you said in 1/5 the space. I understood everything you said perfectly, but you kept on talking anyway. Don't you think that's inconsistent on your part? I mean, you didn't try to see how little you needed to say, to get your point across. You violated Rule Two.
A- Yep. :)
Footnotes (click on the number of the footnote for it's reference in the text above).
Footnote(3)Sarcasm: With one exception, Daria Morgendorfer, sarcasm has no place in human discourse. (I'm speaking absolutely, and I sometimes don't agree with this.) It's confusing and irresponsible. Confusing, because the listener has to pick out the kernel of truth and honest communication, if any, intended by the speaker, and irresponsible, because if the listener is offended or can't catch the multiple layers of meaning, they get the blame, not the speaker.
From a letter to L, 7-23-2000
My general point about psychoactives is that they are (1) very valuable, very positive substances, in regard to the intentions most people have in using them, and (2) quite manageable, even very toxic and tricky ones, in a social setting with the proper rules of conduct. I am against the forces in society which tend to ruin, permanently, people's relationships to various psychoactives. It's like a loss of innocence; once a person has had an abusive relationship with a psychoactive, it's hard to establish a sensible relationship. To do otherwise would be like someone who knows how to swim, voluntarily drowning, or someone who knows how to catch a baseball, to fumble a ball that is thrown to them. Once someone learns to handle high levels of psychoactive consumption, or automatic intake, or to link psychoactive intake to problem-solving, it is impossible (generally) to forget those patterns (in my opinion). And the people who sell psychoactives encourage high level use, and problem-solving reasons for consuming, and automatic intake, because that's where the money is. This gets caught up in stereotypes of manliness and womanliness and grownupness. Cripes, the slogan we repeat thousands of times to kids is, "You're not old enough to smoke" -- translation, smoking is a sign of being grown up. That's a hard thing to take away. Psychoactive Management aims to take it away. I aim to take away high level, thoughtless, habitual, in-denial chemical consumption, as a sign of maturity or status. That will not go over well. Neither will my attempt to characterize psychoactive chemicals used recreationally, as something with positive value. Although you see, those two views -- that the chemicals are bad, and also that everyone uses them -- are a contradictory position. I aim to eliminate that contradiction. I think it's part of the engine of denial. I aim to dismantle that engine. Something I hope I will be finished with, by Tuesday. (Ha ha.)
Here'a a more conventional FAQ, made from random thoughts occurring to me.
What is "Condition HDGT"?
I coined the acronym, HDGT. "Condition HDGT" (standing for "Hidden 'Don't Go There'") is when the listener senses that a forbidden topic is about to be entered, and blocks communication, either by not listening or by making a diversionary remark, like, "Do you think it's going to rain?" In rare cases, the listener will admit the existence of a "there", but outright refuses to go there, perhaps saying something like "I didn't pay any attention after that, because I could see where you were headed, and I might have agreed if I had listened to you." (That was actually said to me in an email.) One way of getting through to the listener whose "DGT" is hidden, is by saying, "I see we're in Condition HDGT", at which point their curiosity may override their caution, and they might ask, "What is Condition HDGT?" and you
can explain, "That's when someone is about to say something that the other person doesn't want to hear, and they block communication." The listener will be "hooked" and have to either say, "Oh," and pretend not to be interested in what *that* means, or may resent being hooked, and blow up in your face, saying something about your being a smart-aleck, or make some other diversionary remark, like, "I've had enough of this," or "We can talk another time when you're not being so cute," and so on.
A risk of saying "I see we're in condition HDGT" is that resentment will follow, because the other person was manipulated into confronting their own defenses, and they may feel (appropriately) that a personal boundary was crossed without their consent. Of course, they don't have an overt leg to stand on, because they are be reluctant to admit that there's a boundary in the first place, so they can't overtly accuse you of crossing it, or challenge your action. All you might accomplish is to win points in showing the other person up, and if they don't get into the topic, then they are left feeling shown up, and the *degree* to which they've
exposed is uncertain, so they are uncertain as to what you feel you've really accomplished, so, on top of losing points, they are uncertain as to how many points they've lost, which adds confusion to their sense of injury. This is something like adding insult to injury, and can be just as uncomfortable and complicating. The results will probably be a reduction of rapport, or friendship, or both. If the other person stops communicating, saying something like, "Well, I can see this is going nowhere," then you are left holding the bag, having done something wrong without being confronted directly, and YOU will lose points, as well as the other person's trust and perhaps friendship. So this maneuver could be risky.
Why can't Rule Five be used with contraband psychoactives?
Some people object to saying that it's inadvisable to consume illegal psychoactives, on account of their not being able to discuss their consumption with non-consumers. After all, if one is consuming marijuana, can't they find a non-marijuana-consuming heroin user, who will share their concerns about getting caught? Sure, but the marijuana consumer's range of people is reduced on account of the chemical's illegality. They have to hide, to some degree. If someone is consuming something with an attitude of secrecy, denial is more likely to occur.