The phrase “just say no” has been repeated to me so frequently over the past two decades that the words have begun to lose their meaning. Not once did I ever have an adult, mentor or family member explain the opposing side to this all too familiar phrase.
One month ago I quit drinking. I made the decision to finally cut booze out of my life entirely during an excursion I made accompanied by two of my closest friends. Onthis adventure, I decided to eat shrooms at Donner Lake. My experience there is what brought me the enlightenment I needed in order to take the leap and leave alcohol behind. I know it seems hypocritical for me to preach sobriety while still partaking in an array of recreational drugs, but I have found that saying yes has led me to discover entirely new layers to myself that I never knew existed.
I had considered quitting alcohol for about six months now for a laundry list of reasons: it’s a lot of calories, I didn’t remember the “fun” I was supposedly having, I said and did things that didn’t reflect who I wanted to be and I felt like human garbage every morning after drinking. But most of all, it simply wasn’t adding anything to my life. Conversely, some of the happiest moments of my entire life have been made better by drugs.
I remember the magic I felt in holding onto one of my best friends for dear life during a Porter Robinson show. That feeling of happiness may not even be able to be replicated again upon meeting my newborn child or on my wedding day. The happiness I felt was so absolute and serene, and yes, this happiness was Molly-induced.
I remember the countless times I’ve smoked weed and talked about life in my friend’s basement while his strobe light danced on the ceiling. I remember playing truth or dare in a hotel room during a cocaine-filled bender. I remember the first time I felt truly adequate as a human being during my first acid trip.
Experimental drug use can definitely have its cons. We are preached the negative outcomes our entire lives. However, many choose to shun the fact that drugs can also bring enlightenment. Drugs can bring a more open mindset. They can build stronger bonds amongst friends we share these experiences with while also building a foundation of fond memories.
These memories are purely and entirely me. When I drink, I become someone else. Every time I do drugs doesn’t always result in a pure state of happiness, but I do find a certain degree of clarity.
Even the above mentioned shrooms trip is not what I would describe as fun. In fact whenever I do hallucinogens I open up a few doors that I don’t necessarily want opened. Nonetheless I deeply believe it’s an important human experience.
Drugs force you into being vulnerable and honest with yourself, something that has historically been difficult for me to do. Experimenting with drugs in a safe and smart manner has helped me find myself. I have discovered that who I am is also who I want to be.
We are all well aware of the perils drugs pose: overdose, addiction and just plain freaking out. But these are all risks we take when we drink, yet no one bats an eye. As a 21-year-old, I call bullshit on the legality of alcohol. I have been incredibly drunk in my life and incredibly stoned, and I’ll let you guess which one was more dangerous for myself and those around me. Drugs are not for everyone and there are serious risks that accompany them, but before you say no, consider what you’re saying yes to instead.
Rachel Yelverton is a graduate student in the political science program. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.