Mind-altering drugs are here to stay
Michael Pollan and others are doing all of us a great service in their roles in leading the psychedelic revolution by fostering a public discussion about how inadequate our language is to the task of fully understanding the pull and power of drugs in our lives.
Psychotropic drugs impact brain chemistry and bodily functions, activating shifts in consciousness as well as subjective experiences ranging from the mystical to the miserable… but they also play a role in a host of critical social engagements that are absolutely central to the work of culture: healing the sick, visiting the dead, restoring proper balance, discovering cosmic insights, reassuring the anxious, empowering the vulnerable, reinforcing status quos, fueling the collective imagination, and so on. The motivations, teachings, and traditions surrounding the consumption of drugs are varied and wide-ranging, and it is difficult, if not wrong-headed, to assume the purpose for their consumption is always singular, specific, and can be neatly compartmentalized. Do people take mind-altering drugs only as a medical treatment for physical, emotional, or psychological suffering? Or maybe they do it just for recreational purposes, to feel good and get high? On the other hand, perhaps taking certain drugs, in certain circumstances, can lead to spiritual growth and connections.