Magazine article Reason

Editor's Note

Magazine article Reason

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

IF THE TOPIC is illegal drugs, then a little candor is in order: I first smoked dope late one spring afternoon in the seventh grade, on a shady corner of the playground behind good old St. Mary's grammar school in New Monmouth, New Jersey. (Bless me, father, for I did sin.) I didn't get high that day, though I remember the weird sensation of taking my first hit off a joint while squinting across the playground at a cement statue of the Virgin Mary. Her arms were outstretched, her palms were turned upward, and her eyes were cast toward heaven in what struck me as a display of exasperation with the bad conduct she was witnessing.

After that precocious experience, I didn't experiment with drugs again until I was in college. By then, I was more adventurous and after long days of studying (really), I tore through pretty much whatever was at hand: pot and alcohol mostly, but also acid, mescaline, Ecstasy, mushrooms, coke, and meth. Why? Partly in earnest pursuit of expanded, even "cosmic," consciousness. (I'd read a lot of Aldous Huxley and Herman Hesse--bless me again, father.) But mostly I did drugs because they were fun and I liked the way I felt when I was high.

After college, I continued to engage in similar bouts of recreational drug use. As I've grown older, and especially as I've become a parent, such moments have become increasingly rare. That's mostly because of time: Work and family take precedence over what might be called optional leisure-time experiences. Indeed, for exactly the same reasons, I don't--alas--exercise as much as I used to.

I recount all this neither to boast of an unsavory pedigree nor to confess to dark, personal demons. In fact, there's little extraordinary in such biographical material: According to the federal government's latest National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, which tallies the frequency and types of drug use, about 39 percent of Americans 12 years and older--some 87 million people--said they had used illegal drugs at least once; about II percent--25 million people-- reported using drugs in the past year. …

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