Why do we use them?

I want to dedicate this report to all drugaddicted juveniles of New York City
and to V. C., may you ever find happyland

We used drugs for joy and became miserable
We used drugs for sociability and became argumentative
We used drugs for sophistification and became obnoxious
We used drugs for friendship and made enemies
We used drugs for sleep and awakened exhausted
We used drugs to feel exhilaration and ended up depressed
We used drugs for medical purposes and aquired health problems
We used drugs to get calmed down and ended up with the shakes
We used drugs for confidence and became afraid
We used drugs to make conversation flow more easily and the words came out slurred and incoherent
We used drugs to disminish our problems and saw them multiply
We used drugs to feel heavenly and ended up feeling like hell
We used drugs to cope with life and invited DEATH.



Introduction p. 3


What are drugs? P. 4

History of drugs p. 4

Where do drugs come from p. 5

Different kinds of drugs and their effects p. 5


Doors of perception p. 8

Basketball Diaries p. 12

Amazing graze p. 15

3. Personal experiences and conclusions

Drugculture in New York City p. 17

Nonfictional Fate of my friend p. 18

Sources p. 21


Drugs are bad. Every child knows that. Just don’t ever get in touch with drugs. They will destroy your life. Of course, we say.
But why are there 1000s of juveniles dying each year. Their deaths caused directly or indirectly by drugs
Didn’t we tell them drugs were bad!?
But when children develop into young adults, when they start to form their own opinion, when they dont believe the sensible, narrow minded grown ups anymore, when they choose to make their own experience, when they want to have fun or when they feel miserable, misundertood, when they want to escape their lives then drugs seem very seductive. And friends do it too. They said it’s cool. So life is short. Who cares what they tell you? They don’t understand you anyway.. .


What is a drug?

A drug is any substance, solid, liquid or gas that changes the functions or structures of the body in some way. This excludes food and water, which are required to maintain normal body functioning.
The drugs of most concern to the community are those that affect a person’s central nervous system. These are the psychoactive drugs. They act on the brain and can change the way a person thinks, feels or behaves.

History of drugs:

Drugs are chemical compounds that modify the way the body and mind work. Most people think that these biological activities should help or heal sick people or animals.
There is, however, no known drug that is not harmful or even poisonous at high doses, and much of the scientific work on drugs has attempted to widen the gap between effective and toxic doses.
The word drug has acquired bad connotations in recent years because the widespread abuse of a few chemicals that affect the central nervous system has become a serious sociological problem. Nevertheless, drugs act on many other organs in the body, can benefit as well as harm the nervous system, and have made possible a revolution in the way modern doctors treat disease.
Just as there is no health benefit without potential toxicity, there is no absolute goodness about drugs. However, their enormous health benefits outweigh the drawbacks in individual cases. It used to be said that what distinguishes humans from animals is that people take drugs. This old adage is no longer quite true. Rats and monkeys that have been addicted experimentally to some drugs will inject themselves with those drugs to support their addictions. But otherwise the old saying still holds.

The history of drugs is shrouded in the beginnings of the human race. Alcohol was made, drunk, and used to excess as far back as memory and records go. Tobacco (Nicotiana), hemp (Cannabis sativa), opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), and other plants containing drugs have been chewed and smoked almost as long as alcohol, and coffee has been served in the Middle East throughout that area's history.

Where do drugs come from?

Drugs are derived from a range of sources. Many are found in plants, for example nicotine in tobacco; caffeine in coffee; and cocaine from the coca plant. Morphine and codeine are derived from the opium poppy, while heroin is made from morphine or codeine. Marijuana is the leaf, buds and seed heads of the cannabis plant, whilst hashish and hash oil are the plant’s resin.
Alcohol is a product of the natural process of fermentation, which happens when fruit, grain or vegetables decompose. Certain fungi, such as magic mushrooms, and cactus plants are considered drugs because of their hallucinogenic properties. Medicines are manufactured from both natural and artificial chemicals.

Different kinds of drugs and their effects:

There are a range of harms that can result from excessive or inappropriate use of psychoactive substances. Loss of life is one extreme and tragic possibility. Negative health effects, family and social problems, psychological and emotional difficulties, and legal and economic problems are more common experiences. It should be kept in mind that many people start and continue to use drugs to find relief or escape from these sorts of problems. People use drugs to change how they feel; because they want to feel better or different. They use drugs for their perceived or experienced benefits, not for their potential harm.

The three main types of drugs, classified by their effects on the central nervous system are:

    depressants; stimulants hallucinogens.

Depressant drugs slow down, or depress, the central nervous system. They don't necessarily make you feel depressed. Depressant drugs include:
    alcohol opiates and opioids, including (heroin), morphine, codeine, methadone, and cannabis, including marijuana, hashish and hash oil; tranquillisers and hypnotics (used to calm down the organism) barbiturates (sleeping drugs) some solvents and inhalants, including petrol, glue, paint thinners and lighter fluid.

Millions of Americans use stimulants every day.
Coffee, tea and cola drinks contain caffeine which is a mild stimulant.
The nicotine in tobacco is also a stimulant, despite many smokers using it to relax.
Other stimulant drugs, such as ephedrine, are used in medicines for bronchitis, hay fever and asthma.
Stronger stimulant drugs include amphetamines speed and cocaine, which are illegal.
Slimming tablets are also strong stimulants.
Stimulants speed up or stimulate the central nervous system and can make the user feel more awake or confident. Stimulants increase heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure. Other physical effects include reduced appetite, dilated pupils, talkativeness, agitation, and sleep disturbance.
Higher doses of stimulants can 'over stimulate' the user, causing anxiety, panic, seizures, headaches, stomach cramps, aggression and paranoia.

Hallucinogenic drugs distort the user as perceptions of reality. These drugs include:
    LSD(lysergic acid diethylamide): 'trips', 'acid', microdots; magic mushrooms (psilocybin): gold tops, 'mushies' mescaline (peyote cactus); exctasy(MDMA/methylenedioxymethamphetamine): X, XTC, eccies;

The main physical effects of hallucinogenic drugs are dilation of pupils, loss of appetite, increased activity, talking or laughing, jaw clenching, sweating and sometimes stomach cramps and nausea. Drug effects can include a sense of emotional and psychological euphoria and wellbeing. Visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations may occur, causing users to see or hear things that do not actually exist. The effects of hallucinogens are not easy to predict. The person may behave in ways that appear irrational or bizarre. Psychological effects often depend on the mood of the user and the context of use.
Negative effects of hallucinogens can include panic, paranoia and loss of contact with reality. In extreme cases, this can result in dangerous behaviour like walking into traffic or jumping off a roof

I listed and summed up 3 different books here, in which drugs play the mainpart. The motivation for taking drugs is very different in each of them and they are set in different time periods. The early 50ies, the late 60ies and the 90ies. These books should give you a pretty good impression on why people would use drugs. Just let the authors themselves tell you.


By Aldous Huxley

All his life A. Huxley the author of the famous utopian novel Brave New World, was driven by a need to understand the mystery of human consciousness, a quest that led him from Christian Mysticism to the religions of the Far East and the pseudo religions of California. Unusually for a literary intellectual of his day Huxley was intensely interested in science and much of his work lies in the border zone between religion, art and science.

In the "Doors of Perception" he describes an afternoon in Los Angeles in 1953 when he first ingested mescalin and saw the gates of a new world open before him.

Mescalin is the active principle of the sacred cactus known to the Mexicans as peyotl.
The Substance inhibits the production of enzymes, which regulate the supply of glucose to the brain cells. Hence Mescalin reduces the brain's normal ration of sugar.
Mescalin causes up to some point similar reactions and visions as people experience it, who suffer of Schizophrenia.
Mescalin is innocuous, its effects pass off after 8 or 10 hours, leaving no hangover and consequently no craving for renewal of the dose.

One bright May morning in 1953 Huxley took for - tenths of a gramme of mescalin, sat down and waited to see what would happen. When he opened his eyes everything from the flower in a vase to the crease in his trousers was completely transformed.

" A bunch of flowers shining with their own inner light. Those folds - what a labyrinth of endlessly significant complexity! I was seeing what Adam had seen on the morning of his own creation - the miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence. "

The ability to remember and to think straight is little if at all reduced.
Visual impressions are greatly intensified.
Interest in space is diminished and interest in time falls almost to zero.

"Space was still there; but it had lost its predominance. The mind was primarily concerned, not with measures and locations, but with being and meaning. "

"All is in all - that all is actually each. This is as near, i take it, as a finite mind can ever come to perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. "

Huxley supposes that a lot of artists and geniuses of human history, like the insane Van Gogh, Boticelli or musicians like J. S. Bach see the world in this different kind of reality, but not just for a certain period of time but always.

" What the rest of us see only under the influence of mescalin, the artist is congenitally equipped to see all the time. His perception is not limited to what is biologically or socially useful. "

Mescalintakers are so fascinated by every little thing in their surroundings, they see perfection and finity in everything and dont have the will or the desire to do anything else. Human relations seem unimportant.
The will suffers a profound change for the worse, the Mescalin taker sees no reason for doing anything in particular. He finds most reaons for normal actions unintersting because he has better things to think about. These things may be experienced "out there" or "in here". That they are better seems to be selfevident to all mescalin takers.

Huxley believes that it’s very unlikely that humanity at large will ever be able to dispense withArtificial paradises. In the history of human beings there have always been some kind of chemical intoxicants, found in nature and later being produced synthetically. In the western countries only two of them, alcohol and tobacco are legal and its use became as natural as eating.

"The problems raised by tobacco and alcohol cannot be solved by prohibition. The universal and every - present urge to self transcendence is not to be abolished by slamming the currently popular Doors in the Wall. The only resonable pollicy is to open other, better doors.
What is needed is another new drug which will relieve and console our suffering species without doing more harm in the long run than it does good in the short. "

Enlightment. That is the highest aim of every human being. Huxley believes that it can only be found in religion or in consumption of drugs.

" Ideally, everyone should be able to findself - transcendence in some form of pure or applied religion. "
"Countless persons desire selftransendence and would be glad to find it in church"

The problem is that they are usually not able to find it there na dso they have to escape in consumtion of alcohol. Native Americans mix drugs and religion. They use them to experience and understand religion and to approach to god.

The question whether the use or abuse ofdrugs actually has an enlighting effect on the human soul or is just a deception of our system caused by the opression of certain parts of the brain remains unanswered.

I believe that this opression, that makes you unable to see and understand things as you usually would, leads you to experience things that under normal circumstances seem secundary to you as primary. Like somebody who is blind, who lacks one of the main human senses, hears things very differently and more distinctevly than people who obtain this visual ability.
Hence your experience is not on a higher level, but on a lower, more intuitive one, that maybe makes you think and feel the same way other users do and therefore creates the illusion of unity and being one with everything.

Huxley in any case is convinced that this drugexperience enrichened his awareness of the consciousness.
"The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. "


By Jim Carroll

"The Basketball Diaries" is a true story.
It’s the journal of Jim Carroll, who’s a renowned poet and musician today.
In this book, published in 1973, when the author was 22, he chronicled his experiences as a rebellious teenager, growing up in New York City during the 1960s.

Jim Carroll started to write this diary in Fall 1963, when he just turned 13. And he kept on till Summer 66. These years were probably the most significant and also toughest ones in his life. He tries to find his way as a teenager in New York and searches for a meaning in his life, something pure, but unfortunately he realizes too late that drugs are not the answer.

Talented at both Basketball and writing Jim Carroll gets a scholarship that allows him to attend Trinity High school in Manhattan., a very strict catholic school for boys where he gets beat up more than once.
Jim hates school as well as all the catholic stuff everybody wants to teach him.
He prefers hanging out with his friends getting high, hustling, stealing, playing basketball and just having fun. And of course writing. He is always carrying his notebook that he uses as a journal with him.
And so it accompanies him at the moment he looses his virginity through a blond twin called Blinkie on Long Island as well as when his veins loose their virginity and he does heroin for the first time at the age of twelve!
"I did half a fiver and, shit, what a rush... I just flushed out. You can never top that first rush, it’s like ten orgasms... "

And it would not be the last time he was on heroin. It takes him 3 years until he’ll notice that he is addicted.
"Shit, I been fucking around with junk for three years now and I know when to lay off and I ain’t getting me no habit. But one morning you wake up, suddenly your nose is running and your eyes are tearing and the leg and back muscles start feeling tight and heavy. The laugh’s on you finally, no matter how long you think you got it " under control"".

When one of his best friends dies of leukemia, he first realizes the pain of death
"I looked at his body and it was death for the first time in my life.
He looked like sixty years old, but he was only sixteen... "

To afford their consumption of Weed, Coke, Acid, LSD, Heroin and everything else that helps to escape reality Jim and his friends commit robberies, steal cars and by accident even murder a dealer who sold them tea instaed of dope.
But the 15 year old starts completely loosing sense of his existence.
All the friends around him start to get imprisoned for committing crimes or possession of drugs or even die because of an overdose.

Finally even Jim himself has to go to jail at Riker’s Island, for 6 months for possession of 3 bags of heroin.
During this horrible phase of his life he stops writing.
While he stayed in prison he was clean. But he’s not pure.
The same day he’s released he starts with dope again and soon everything else follows.. .
From now on it’s just getting worse.
He’s so desperate to get his daily dose of heroin, that he even looses his last bit of dignity and earns his money, besides robbing old ladies in CentralPark and staeling cars, by working as a prostitute - giving blow jobs to gay men in public bathrooms, which refreshes his memories about his gay basketball trainer Lefty, who tried to sexually abusing him more than once. .
In the end of his journal he’s completely fucked up after a 4 day trip, zonked on a mattress. It’s summer, people outside are happy and laughing.
"I got to go in and puke. I just want to be pure... "

"The Basketball Diaries" is one f the most depressing books I’ve ever read.
Not at least cause I spent 4 months of my life in New York City and noticed terrifiyng parallels between the characters in the book and poeple I got to know pretty well during my stay. I met several people at my age, who actually spent a lot of months on Riker’s Island in jail. And called even more who started out with weed, cokain and acid my good friends. Even if they’re not in such a big mess as the author of the diaries yet. A lot of them grew up in single households, with a depressed constantly working mother or a father, who drinks too much and beats them up every other night. They want to escape their homes, hang out with friends and often start to get high with them, later they do it alone, in the privacy of their homes or in the public bathrooms. But soon weed isn’t enough and so it keeps going.. .


By Jonathan Kozol

This book is not about a fictional fate. And it’s not about the fate of a single character. This book is the report of the fate of thousands of people observed and written down by a New York City journalist. It is not set in a Third World country but in New York City, not at the time of immigration but in the mid 1990ies, a place and time where you think civilization had reached its fullest extent and highest level. The book is about people who live in the Southbronx mainly, but also in Harlem and Brooklyn. It is about the poorest people of the USA. And how the rich that live down in Manhattan deal with them
Drugs dont really play the main part in this book but an important role. Drugdealers, heroinaddicts and people who suffer and die from AIDs in consequence of it, are the scenario, it takes part in and while reading the book you get so used to them being there, you dont even bother thinking about WHY? so much anymore. You accept them being there, like the pple who live there, they are around like the air to breathe. The question is not HOW to prevent them getting addicted, you can’t even blame them for taking drugs and nobody asks why? it goes without saying. These people are so miserable, it’s hard to understand how they can possibly find any meaning in their lives. Well and most of them dont, so they use drugs to escape, dream of a nicer world and die early, as they are convinced most of the rich white people want them to anyway, because then they dont have to bother with their bad conscience.

"If people in NY woke up one day and learned that we were gone, that we had simply died or left for somewhere else, how would they feel?
I think they’d be relieved.. .. People in Manhattan could go on and lead their lives and not feel worried about being robbed and not feel guilty and not need to pay for welfare babies. "
Maria 16 years old, Harlem

All the people who want to help are able to do is not prevent them of using drugs, but of helping them to stay alive as long as they can by handing out clean needles, condoms and food.

" The pastor tells me that this place is known as Children’s Park.
Volunteers arrive here twice a week to give out condoms and needles to addicted men and women, some of whom bring their children with them. The children play near the bears or on a jungle gym while their mothers wait for needles. "

Drugs are an ever present element in the lives of these people from the earliest childhood on and nobody bothers to or can change this.

"We see this woman shooting up on the front stairs. She has the needle in her arm. Im trying to get the children past her so I ask her'could you do this somewhere else?’She tells me 'Im sorry i dont mean to disrespect you, but i can’t get up’"

The thousands of drugaddicts in this book dont abuse drugs for fun, because of curiosity or to get mindopening experiences, but for the simple reason to escape this world that doesn’t seem to have any respect left for these human beings.


Drugculture in NYC

Before I went to the USA I had never been much confrontated with the problem of drugabuse. Of course I was in touch with Europe’s legal drug alcohol before and nicotine addicts are found all over the place. But that was it. Of course i had heard of heroine, exctasy or marijuana before. But all I knew was drugs are bad! Dont ever get in touch with them, they will destroy your life. That’s just about it I thought and as long as I would stay away from them I won’t have to deal with that problem. Well, what I didn’t expect was that living as a teenager in NYC it’s almost impossible to prevent any contact with these substances.
I don’t mean that every person or every juvenile I met there did drugs, just that it’s hard to find people who don’t at least have friends who tried a lot or are addicted to some kind of drugs. It’s a lot harder for teenagers in the States to get alcohol than to get marijuana and the scale up. Most people I knew started out with weed. I wouldn’t necessarily say that smoking a joint leads you on to do harder drugs but it provides entry to the drugscene, to dealers and a certain circle of friends. I don’t think that marijuana is not a common drug in Austria too, but the step of doing harder drugs in NY is definitely way smaller.
There’s a different kind of awareness towards what these kind of substances can do to you here. In NY juveniles often underestimate or simply dont know how toxic these pills that friends pass on to them really are and what they can do to their bodies and minds. .
Usually the first step is smoking weed, later eating mushrooms, tripping on Acid and LSD and then all kinds of other synthetics or medicamention like anti deppresive pills follow, the next harder step is crack, coke and heroine, and other death drugs finish the scale.
There are different kinds of motivations behind young people to try or do drugs on a regular basis. What I believe is the most harmless reason and the most unlikely to really get addicted is being curious or wanting to experience a special kind of entertainment for some time.
It’s also used to gain mind opening experiences. The problem is that it just seems to get you closer to a certain surreality, the truth is though that drugs won’t help you understand god and they will confuse yourself more than helping you to comprehense. Drugs confuse your system and your brain which makes you think you understand things on a higher level.
And then of course people use drugs to escape. To escape their problems, their frsutration, their daily lives. If you are a drugabuser of the last category you’re most likely to get addicted because you won’t be able to bear reality any longer and at somepoint you won’t care about your life anymore. Death seems nicer and death during a beautiful dream even more seductive.
During my stay I have been confrontated with people and friends from all categories.

The most miserable fate of people I called my friends had a young very talented, extraordinarily sensitive guy, smart too with an intersting cynical kind of humor.
He came from Brooklyn and lived alone with his mom, a secretary who worked from 8 to 6 to be able to keep her small family alive. He was a poor bored teenager, who grew up in not exactly what you would call a nice neighbourhood.
When he was 6 or 7 he was regularily molested by his mother’s recent boyfriend.
This is something I just found out a couple of weeks ago myself and it gave me another reason to understand why he got addicted to drugs later. He remembered waking up sucking this guys’ penis almost every night. And his mother knew about it, which is something he never forgave her for. He first started to drink alcohol on a regular basis with his mother’s landlord at the age of ten. His friends and him started smoking weed when they were around eleven, the most common age to start toking there actually. First only on parties and weekends, later alone in his room, whenever he wanted to get away from his life that seemed not to have the brightest future. At the age of 13 he discovered more effective drugs, LSD, Acid, Exctasy, finally coke. His best friend at that time had spend 10000$ on coke in a week!
He had inherited a small fortune from his father who died when he was 12, but he had spent it all by the time he was of age.
After doing Coke it is impossible to get up in the morning and to go to school, so my friend didn’t come and was bored again. He failed his classes and he was convinced now of never going to make anything out of his life. He got kicked out of school later which made things worse and worse, his mom probably knew about his addiction but she gave him money everytime he asked her for some. She was scared that if she refuses, he’ll leave her and he’s gonna get his money from other sources. Besides I’m sure that her bad concscience about the past played an important role too.
I remember this day, when he told us he wanted to quit everything, and the two days he stayed clean he was a different person. I had never seen him that happy before.
But of course it didn’t work out. I had to leave. Our joke was " you better still be alive when I come back visiting" and he was smiling.
But what I heard about him while I was back in Vienna, more than took me the hope of seeing him again. He did more drugs than ever and his dealers started to beat him up because he couldn’t pay them anymore and was in debts. He finally ended up in the hospital, with broken ribbs and a heavy concussion. I guess that was the point when he realized he can’t go on like that and he decided to go to rehab. From that point on everything sounds like a movie happy ending. He went to rehab everyday, built up a whole new circle of friends there and broke every contact with his old drugcircle, he started school again and got into an art programm and he started working out to get his body in shape. Its very rare that people in his position have the willpower to actually go to the AA or organisations like that. It’s even rare that how it was in his case he admitted his addiction towards himself and that he wanted to change something about it. Another important role was definitely his mother, who isn’t a very strict person, but she loves and cares about him and he knows that. Even though he hated her for some things that she permitted in the past he knew that there was at least somebody out there who was really concerned about his life.
When I returned to NY last summer he looked good. He had gained a lot of selfesteem and some brand new tatoos. "For every 6 months I’m clean im getting a new one. " He explained to me proudly. "I think tatoos are my new addiction now, wow I think I am a natural addictive person, everything I start I get addicted to" he added a little worried but with a wide grin on his face. He told me about rehab and I learned that it’s not done with maybe a year of going to the meetings. During the first 6months he had to go there everyday, he’s slowly gonna cut down but it will be a lifelong struggle not lapsing back into the drugconsumption.

I will never forget him or our unique kind of friendship. We’ve been in the same artclass while I attended La Guardia Highschool and he was always amazed about how innocent I was. "You’re coming from Happyland Katrine, you’re like an Alien in my world, I dont know how you could ever understand where I am coming from" He was so right, I never could understand it and I probably never will. This young man is one of the most amazing people I have met in my life. His faith and strenght is incredible. I am immensly proud, that I can call him my friend, that I got to know and to love him and gained a little more insight on what it means to depend on drugs.


Encyclopedia Britannica

Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley

Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll
Amazing Graze by Johnathan Kozol
Personal experiences

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