The straight girls guide to drugs

The straight girls guide to drugs

I’ve never been into drugs. Nancy Reagan did a number on me when I was a kid, (I didn’t know who she was but she looked -frankly- terrifying) and then there was an ad with a girl throwing an egg and a frying pan (do drugs make you hate breakfast?) All in all, the idea of “drugs” (whatever they were), seemed quite scary for a sheltered chick from Wales who couldn’t even handle a larger shandy.  I made it to college  age 17 with the ability to get  shitfaced on 3 beers and having  smoked a total of 2 cigarettes. If I’d have been any straighter they would have kicked me out of chess club.

Even though I shared a house in my first college year with some of the biggest dope heads I’ve ever met (we had two teapots, one for British Breakfast, the other for ‘herbal’ wake-me-ups).. I was pretty oblivious to what all the ‘herbs’ lying around actually were. In fact I managed to make it through 3 years of college before I even figured out that ‘marijuana’ wasn’t some form of Spanish oregano. Only then did I realize why my former roommates bought  so much herbs in bulk and why people got all weirded out when I asked to borrow some for my spag bol sauce. Apparently drugs were all around me and everyone had been doing them all.the.time.

Except me. I didn’t even know what they looked like. The hardest thing I’d ever tackled was 3 Motrim after a particularly hard day riding.

No, I’m not a Mormon or the most boring person on earth. I just grew up a little sheltered and I was was too busy exploring the wonderful world of alcohol. Which, with a double major, 2 part time jobs and a boyfriend, didn’t leave much room for illegal recreational substances  (or maybe in hindsight, it was exactly what I could have used). I was too focused on trying to expand my knowledge of IPAs and Porter Stouts to notice the girls in the corner off their heads on ‘something’ or my roommates inability to walk in a straight line at 8am. I just figured they were as drunk as me.

Once I realized how common drugs were and that this ‘trend’ had entirely passed me by, I was determined to catch up. With only 1 year left in college, I needed to have my ‘college experiences’ and this was one I apparently needed to have (along with making out with a girl.. never got around to that one either). Still, never one to do things by halves, I decided that trying all the different drugs on offer might result in death, but I certainly needed to try something.

Problem was, I didn’t know how you ‘did’ drugs. I’d read Trainspotting and seen the movie but that seemed a bit of a jump from beer, (injecting yourself in a toilet) and I really didn’t know about anything other than ‘herb’.  People who smoked ‘herb’ seemed to spend hours lounging around the living room stinking up the place and listening to Dark Side of the Moon. No thank you. I had stuff to do and I’d hated the smell of patchouli with a passion.

I started listening in to conversations on my way to clubs and in bars, noticing new terms such as   ‘dust’, ‘amyl’, ‘china’ and ‘disco biscuits’ but I didn’t want to be the pillock who had to ask what they were. After all, my friends and fellow students were all ‘been there done that’ and I didn’t want to out myself as the drug virgin I was. Plus I’d managed to make it through mad cow disease in the 1980’s, so I certainly didn’t want to find myself brain dead at 20 because my first drug event mistakenly ended up being a heroin overdose.

So, being a dweeb, I decided to do some research to figure out what my drug of choice might be before actually opening my mouth and experimenting.I could figure out what might be fun, what the down sides might be and what the right phraseology was … so I could you know… do drugs like all the cool kids.

(note – I do not recommend or encourage the taking of drugs by kids, cool or otherwise).

However we didn’t have the internet back then (1992), and I could hardly go ask the librarian so I dug around the library and rented some VHS tapes, hoping to locate some ideas, along with terminology enough that I wouldn’t look like a complete ‘tard when actually trying something for the first time. Sadly all it did was out me as the dweeb I was…(apparently ‘Crystal’ now means a completely different drug altogether and when I mentioned ‘zip’ people just looked kind of quizzical)

Here’s the outcome of my research.


I loved Trainspotting and they all seemed pretty jazzed, well some of the time, so I thought I’d have a read about heroin. I came of age during Band Aid and had watched Boy George nod off on stage in the throes of his own ‘H’ addiction, so I knew it wasn’t at the light end of the spectrum, but hey, it had to be fun at some point right? After reading Aleister Crowley’s “Diary of a Drug Fiend’ I don’t know what I was more alarmed about – his heroin use or his personality (he also took to satanism, nazism, and being an all around charlatan). Hmm, it didn’t seem very appealing. I also read ‘Candy: A Novel of Love and Addiction’ and after watching ‘Requiem for a Dream’, I really didn’t want to try heroin. Not least the talking fridge wigged me out, and I couldn’t see myself with a needle in my arm- I’d be passing out before I’d get anything in. Cooking something on a spoon? I have a hard enough time with the microwave. I decided that this one was for hard core ‘life experiencers’.. not kids from Wales who considered a fast ride on singletrack a good time.


This one seems more my speed. I’ve been watching movies featuring people doing lines since I was a tween, and c’mon, ‘Say hello to my liddle frien’ ?? Best. movie. line. ever. With the exception of the movies Scarface and Blow, it didn’t seem like an instant scratchcard to the mortuary, and people certainly got some enthusiasm going when they snorted those lines. I’d never actually known anyone who did coke, (it was always some model in the newspapers) and it seemed to have some glamorous associations to a 19 year old fleece wearer, but was it me? Could I see myself face down chopping lines and snorting them through a pound note in order to feel confident? Hmmmm. Not so much. See I don’t even like using Nasonex, so putting something up my nose in order to feel confident? All I could imagine would be my obsession with making sure nothing was up there and that no boogers had escaped or were escaping…? Not sexy. And apparently smoking  (far more sophisticated) coke requires ‘crack’ which is a whole other Whitney Houston.


‘Crack is Whack’.. well we know that now, but back in the college days crack was something that Public Enemy sang about and seemed like an exclusively American thing. Like $1 gas and Twinkies. However I knew it involved a pipe which instantly linked crack to ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and hence… not something I was interested in pursuing. Sitting around with a pipe? Hardly.  Plus as I understood it, it came in ‘rocks’. Which just raised more questions. What equipment would I need to crack the rock? How did you get the crack out? What did you do with the rock once you had the crack out? Was it like a banana skin – you just threw it away? Told you I was clueless. And crack just left me with way more questions than answers. (see what life was like before the internet kids?)


Being born in the 70’s I’d heard about LSD and ‘tripping’ growing up, but again, didn’t actually know anyone who’d ‘been on a trip’. I’d read enough Ken Kesey and Hunter S Thompson to know that it made you crazy for a looong time, but I wasn’t sure what the purpose was? I could lose all concept of gravity, sight and the ability to form words after 6 beers.. why would I want that to last 18 hours?   2 hours into ‘Easy Rider’ I decided that I’d definitely be a ‘bad’ tripper and that being locked in a mental hell of bugs, melting things and feeling like everyone hated me wasn’t worth the gamble. After all, I could drink a bunch of Tequila and spin around.. it pretty much had the same result. My mind remains closed to LSD, which probably means I’d be the best candidate to do it.. but at 41, I think I’d probably convince myself of early onset Alzheimers and spend the ‘trip’ desperately labeling everything while I still could.


How I missed this drug I’ll never know. I love to dance, I used to go to clubs at least twice a week and I attended raves in Manchester and London. And yet never once was I offered anything or even aware that people were high on ‘E’. I just thought that, like me, they really liked dancing. I never really got the pacifiers around the neck thing (doh.. to ease those chomping jaws), and why everyone drank so much water.. but hey, everyone was smiling and kissing everyone. Hey, my kind of scene!  I just kept on dancing, marveled at those guys who could go until 4am. I made out with a lot of dudes who apparently thought I was ‘lovely’ and as long as I could find a vodka tonic somewhere I was happy. Of course, it was a bit of a downer when someone told me that E makes you love everyone…but I had a couple of happy years in there where I thought it was just me. Wonders for the confidence. Thinking about taking E now makes me curious.. would I actually love my boss? would I love that guy who asked me about a second date but never called? How much love could it actually give me? And where would one take ‘E’ these days? Its hardly a rave culture anymore and I can’t see me getting off my head and telling people I loved them down at the local bar. I’d probably get arrested for prostitution.


Today I live in Colorado; along with Washington state the only places it is legal to smoke and grow weed. I used to live in Seattle where people grew weed recreationally in their basements as a form of entertainment during those long rainy winters and I married  man who – unbeknownst to me – had waked and baked since his 20s. How I’m not a weed fan I don’t know. Actually I do know.
Because in the UK, weed is often smoked in with tobacco. And, unfortunately, the one time I tried weed (final year of college, I finally ingratiated myself with someone who took pity on my virgin self), it was 80% Marlboro and 20% stems and seeds.
I found my drug of choice….


From that very first hit of the tobacco/weed joint I was hooked. I started smoking (at the ridiculous age of 21) with a fervor graduated from zero to 20 a day within days. I smoked a pack of cigarettes for over 15 years and it took the threat of death to actually stop me.  Because I loooooooooooved smoking. It gave me something to do with my hands, it made me slow down long enough to breath, it went perfectly with a pint of beer and it made me feel normal. Sure, I stank, I coughed and my fingers did actually turn yellow, but hey, drugs are only sexy in the movies.
I loved my drug of choice. More than a potential date, the ability to better my 1/2 marathon time and even more than food. I smoked through a half marathon, strep and mono, flu and eventually a blood clot.
I had to quit or potentially die. Apparently blood clots don’t like Camels.
And even with that counseling from my doctor it took hypnotherapy, several books, support groups, prescription meds and a lot of white knuckling it to quit. It also took 4 tries. 
Even now, 7 years without a cigarette, I stay stopped by telling myself that I can start as soon as I turn 80. (That’s the deal I made with myself in order to stop). I’m still ‘1 day at a time’.
It might not be a cool drug or a hip drug or even a ‘drug’ to some people, but I sure know what addiction feels like. Christmas day at the bottom of the Grand Canyon with my backpack, realizing that I’d left the cigs in the car at the top of the rim.

It wasn’t a festive Christmas that year.

So in hindsight, maybe its a good thing I didn’t ever get around to the drug phase that everyone I now know seems to have gone through. I’ve never been able to kick my love of beer and the smell of a Camel still fills me with longing. God knows what would have been my ‘trip’ if I’d ventured outside of the pub and experimented with anything harder.. Thankfully at 41, I can’t say I’ve got much of an appetite to do so and I still don’t know how they get crack out of rocks. 
Do they mine it???

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