9 Things Nobody Tells You about Recreational Drug Use in Your Youth.

Via Kara-Leah Grant
on Feb 26, 2013
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*If these facts aren’t enough to scare you away, try your face on meth.

Because we’ve all been there right? Smoking weed, dropping acid, popping a pill, snorted blow…

It can seem like oh-so-much fun and so very sophisticated when you escape the confines of high school and parents and otherwise well-meaning authorities who always told you drugs were bad.

Everyone’s doing it. Can’t be all that bad. Right?

Well… there’s always consequences. And some of those consequences can be completely unexpected. So if you’re a recreational drug taker, or on your way to becoming one… here’s a few things to consider.

1. Your kids are going to want to know what drugs you did.

It’s difficult to imagine now, but at some point in the distant future, maybe even 20 years from now, your kids are going to be hitting their teenage years. And with that will come curiosity, questions and experimentation.

If you’ve been a recreational drug user at some point in your life, you’re going to face a big choice. Lie about your use to your kids. Or be honest and risk that your honesty and experience means they perceive it as okay to take drugs and potentially do themselves some serious harm.

After all, if you partied hard and took a whole load of drugs and came out a-okay, why shouldn’t they?

Problem is, not everyone does come out okay. Back in my drug-taking days, there was a three month period when two friends died from drug-related incidents. One friend got drunk, passed out on the couch and chocked to death on vomit. Another was boating at midnight doing lines of Special K and fell into the water. He didn’t make it back to shore.

Your kids won’t relate to those stories. They’ll relate to you coming through mostly okay. That’s what they’re more likely to base their choices on.

2. At some point, you’re going to have to come clean, and face up to how you really feel about your drug use.

In the midst of partying and having a good time it’s real easy to believe that you’re just having fun. That you’re living life to the fullest, making the most of your youth, going with the flow, expanding your consciousness, becoming one with nature man.

However, any time we’re using a substance to change our reality, we’re subtly avoiding or denying the reality we’re currently living in and there’s a reason for that. What that reason is will be different for every single one of us, but trust me. There’s an underlying issue or 10 that’s driving your drug use. Eventually, you’re going to have to face those issues.

The longer you leave it, the more you run and hide, the more you avoid and deny, the more difficult it will be when you finally face up to the music. Spend 10 years running, and you might spend 10 years clearing the crap.

3. Some jobs take past drug use seriously.

I’ve been completely up-front and honest about my drug-taking past, but I’m also not going for jobs that make it matter.

Some jobs—like anything do to with the military, FBI, CIA, police, fire—are tough to crack if you’ve got a past history of drug use. Sure, you might be 19 and have no intention of doing anything like the FBI, but you have no idea how your life might unfold and where you might be when you’re 29. Suddenly you might be applying for your dream job and discover that your year of hard partying post-high school rules you out forever.

That’s a hard one to swallow.

4. You’ll no longer fit inside the normal parameters when you go for life insurance.

And because you no longer fit inside the ‘normal parameters’ for life insurance, that means you have to pay more. You may be paying more for life.

In my case, my past drug use and history of psychosis (drug-induced) meant my life insurance cost was 30 percent higher than the normal. That’s a huge extra premium for be paying for the next 50 years or so, all because I had a damn good time in my 20s.

Oh, you could lie, sure. Deny any drug use. But with the way information speeds around the ‘net now, guaranteed if you needed to claim on that life insurance, they’ll be looking for any reason to deny it.

5. For the rest of your life, even when you’ve been clean for years, decades, there’ll always be that part of you that remembers and maybe—just maybe—wishes…

It’s been a long time now since I had a stonking great time while high. But I still remember. I still remember what it was like to have those first few Es. I remember those full moon parties on mushrooms. And I remember lazy days spend by the pool smoking weed. Fortunately, I also remember the come-downs. I remember feeling like I just wanted this to stop now. I remember the cost.

Now yoga, meditation and life gets me high—and keeps me high. That’s enough to keep me off the drugs. But if you don’t have a life filled with natural highs, you’ll struggle when the going gets tough. There will be a part of you that remembers the easy high and wishes… maybe, just maybe…

And that’s dangerous.

6. The consciousness-expanding nature of some drugs means you’ll have to find more time-consuming, laborious ways to get back into that state of mind again.

Cue yoga and meditation practice. I loved taking mushrooms outside in nature and dissolving into a total state of oneness, allowing my mind to expand and expand and expand until I didn’t know where I ended and the world began. Everything looked shiny and new and sparkly and so very alive.

Now I can’t just eat a handful of funghi to get there. Instead, I’m dedicated to my yoga practice, spending time each day disciplining my mind so it can open and expand and I can again feel that sense of oneness with the world.

The beauty of this grounded, systematic way of moving toward Oneness is that it’s not dependent on anything outside of me. It’s something that comes when I connect to the deepest part of me and relax and open. It’s something within me. That can never be taken away from me, no matter what.

But it takes commitment, dedication and discipline.

7. Aging drug users just look….sad. And old.

I see this in friends who still party and drink the way I used to in my twenties. They’ve aged, particularly around the eyes. Wrinkles, wrinkles and more wrinkles. Aging drug fiends like Courtney Love may be able to cover it all up with surgery, cosmetics and soft lighting, but the rest of us mere mortals will have to live with the ravages of drug use on our faces and in our bodies.

Just look at photos of Lindsay Lohan a few years ago and compare them to now. Her drug and alcohol abuse shows. And over time, it will show even more.

When you’re young, the flush of youth keeps you looking amazing no matter how you live. But over time, how you live determines how you look. Your life shows up on your face.

8. It may affect future travel plans.

That minor recreational drug use may result in a minor drug conviction. No big deal right? Until you want to travel. Then it suddenly becomes a very big deal.

I’ve got friends with minor convictions for marijuana use who can’t travel to the U.S.. No worries, they say, I never want to go there anyway. But what they didn’t realise was that to get from New Zealand to say Canada, they have to fly through the U.S., landing in either Los Angeles or Hawaii. That minor drug conviction means they can’t. They have to find an alternate travel route, which can sometimes cost a whole lot more money.

Oh wait, Canada can also deny entry based on a drug conviction. Doh. Where to now? China? You have to register with the Police after you arrive if you have any kind of conviction. That sounds like fun.

Bear in mind too that rules for entering countries change all the the time, and generally they get tougher. You may be able to move around alright now with a drug conviction, provided you don’t want to go to or through the U.S., but that could change at any moment.

9. Drug-use can ruin your mental health.

Okay, this is obvious. And is likely something you’ve been warned about. Take drugs and it ruins your health.

Hard to imagine, or quantify though, especially when results may not show up for years. Sometimes though, there are immediate and terrible results.

I made the dangerous mistake of mixing consciousness-expanding drugs like marijuana, mushrooms and acid with meditation and yoga. Cue psyche-explosion and two episodes of psychosis. That messed up my mental health for a long time. Fortunately, I was able to systematically work through those issues of the psyche and put myself back together with the help of drug-free yoga and meditation. Other people haven’t been so fortunate. Just check out your local residential mental health facility.

Now, those may be nine solid reasons to not take drugs, but I’m not going to tell you that. This is not about telling you what to do. No, what I want to do is make you fully aware of consequences so you can do your own self-inquiry and come to your own decisions.

The next time you’re tempted to smoke weed, pop a pill, drop acid, snort blow… pause. Just for a moment. Take a breath or two. Feel yourself in your body. And ask yourself.

Do I really want to do this?

Do I really want to deal with the consequences that arise from this?

Is this the best choice I can make for myself right now?

And if it is—go for it. Go for it with full conscious awareness instead of being driven by your unconscious desires and needs. And challenge yourself to stay conscious of your experience all the way through, from the initial flush of highness to the darkness of the come-down. Stay with it, stay conscious, feel it all, deeply.

Be fully present to your experience. Be fully present to the consequences.

Now that’s a serious yoga practice.

Like elephant health & wellness on facebook.

Ed: Lynn Hasselberger


Bonus: The Pros and Cons of Smoking Dope:


About Kara-Leah Grant

Kara-Leah Grant is an internationally renowned retreat leader, yoga teacher and writer. Along with fellow Elephant Journal writer, Ben Ralston, she runs Heart of Tribe, pouring her love into growing a world-wide tribe of courageous, committed, and empowered individuals through leading retreats in New Zealand, Mexico and Sri Lanka. Kara-Leah is also the founder of New Zealand’s own awesome yoga website, The Yoga Lunchbox, and author of Forty Days of Yoga—Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice and The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga. A born & bred Kiwi who spent her twenties wandering the world and living large, Kara-Leah has spent time in Canada, the USA, France, England, Mexico, and a handful of other luscious locations. She now lives and travels internationally with her son, a ninja-in-training. You can find Kara-Leah on her website, or on Facebook.


85 Responses to “9 Things Nobody Tells You about Recreational Drug Use in Your Youth.”

  1. Ericca says:

    Great article! I spent my twenties buying twenties..of coke. Like you, I managed to turn my life around in great part thanks to meditation and Yoga. I dont regret my past, but the present is so much nicer. Namaste.

  2. links says:

    I am a 40 year old woman & I use drugs regularly. I am also very fit & active, do yoga and take good care of myself. I cannot tell you how many times people have asked me, why I look so young. Not only that, but people have asked if I am into "clean living". Note: I started to use drugs intentionally at the age of 26 & I have used almost everything and I use quite a lot, once a month – 3x a month. I don't think drugs make people look bad, this is just a ridiculous statement. You know what makes drugs bad = GUILT. If you feel guilty or regret things, this is what makes it BAD. I feel very positive about my drug use and thus, I don't have all this bullshit that comes along with it. This article is incredibly misleading and very one-sided. It is the mind that tells us what is good & what is bad, it is a personal choice.

  3. Ashley says:

    Wow, thank you. This will be shared with numerous adolescents on my caseload!!!!!

  4. Ashley says:

    an important point to include, and very well said, thank you.

  5. Ashley says:

    I have a MS in Clinical Psychology and your information is only partially correct, not sure where your research is coming from but I can say with confidence that this is not the APA's(American Psychological Association) stance on psychadelics and there are documented cases of permanent neurological effects, as well as diagnostic codes in our DSM to correlate. Maybe not as dramatic as some would say, but it is real.

  6. exalcoweedie says:

    I love my life off of any mind altering substances, I feel a connection to nature and love being outdoors hiking biking running. As a child I was very shy, did well in school and in sports but definitely had social anxiety. (still do to some extent) I enjoyed my studies in HS and avoided alcohol and drugs. Went to college and went crazy with alcohol and marijuana and did terrible in school despite having all sorts of ambitions- due to too much time spent partying and having hangovers and not enough studying.
    The drug use helped with my social anxiety, but the next day I would be worse than my baseline anxiety. I saw the pattern but I didn't or couldn't shake it, until I got out of college and was too poor to afford it. So, I started upping my physical activity and got some counseling and can say I love my life now. I did see first hand friends/family negatively impacted due to alcohol or drug abuse, my best friend- first kiss killed in dui accident before his first day of senior year in college (I miss him every day) and a cousin who suffers from schizophrenia and took every drug under the sun while in high school. That scared the shit out of me and definitely makes me question the harmlessness of drugs.
    Now i have my own kids. Two of whom are showing signs of my anxiety… so, I am trying to get them help dealing with it so that they don't need to self medicate. so they can learn to deal with it in a way that doesn't include spending cash on drugs…. One of them has snuck around drinking, smoking driving under the influence, making some questionable decisions online, stolen cash from me and his siblings…. these things I am addressing head on.
    I think that it is one thing to experiment, but, when experimentation involves stealing, driving under the influence and putting other people at risk and the drug experimenter at risk, there is a big problem. I just don't think you can predict how drug use will affect an individual's health and his/her ability decision making ability. In my experience use of drugs been a negative one.

  7. Kaicreate says:

    I know a few sad and wrinkly yogis too, but I ain't blaming the downward dog!!! Perhaps a catch all Top 9 type article like this is not the appropriate place to discuss one's personal failure to incorporate rec drugs into one's life successfully. I find the tone both churlish and insubordinate, and in light of relaxing laws on the matter of mushrooms (pointing to their amazing healing affects) – counterproductive. OF course there will always be people who can't tolerate various drugs. Long time coffee drinkers have brown teeth and fidgety personalities, but if I drink the stuff, hello something like Crohn's Disease! If anybody has managed to make it this far into my comment, know my truth: If the Earth grows it, the mind knows it – if it's manmade, it'll bite you in the ass. Read: Don't do crack or smack like Mayor Rob Ford – but smoke your weed and do your mushrooms, and you'll never lose touch with who and what you are (you'll only find you faster).

  8. Markos says:

    I found this article surprisingly puritanical for someone supposedly engaged in practices that cultivate compassion. No prohibitionist like an ex-user, eh?

  9. Anna from Finland says:

    I couldn't agree with you more. I think that white refined sugar, alcohol, cigarettes to name a few are the dangerous ones and they are all legal. And then Marijuana that grows naturally in our nature, created by God, is illegal and considered dangerous. Juicing the leaves has enormous health benefits on the body but I am not allowed to do that in my own home because it's against the law 🙂

  10. Melanie says:

    Thabj you so much for this, and specifically for addressing the use of psychedelics. In my circle of friends I seem to be the only one who doesn’t experiment and I am in tears as I write this because I am really having a problem with my boyfriend’s usage. People seem to rationalize by saying that psychedelics are not as bad as cocaine or heroin but I see that he is really reaching for weed, DMT, and now LSD as a means to escape his problems. Every time he uses I have this feeling of being kicked in my solar plexus. I’m so torn because he is a great guy who treats me well but my gut is so loudly telling me not to be in a relationship with someone who loves experimenting so much. So many advice columns on the net say that if it doesn’t interfere with your relationship then just let him experiment but honestly I feel I have to listen to my gut…
    Sorry for rambling that just came pouring out of me unexpectedly. Thank you for the post.

  11. Robert says:

    A responsible article by any measure. But one which fails to mention any benefits of drug use…

    1. Providing an experience outside of our normal routine, (a life of consumerism and conformity).
    2. The exercise of freedom, and the first-hand knowledge of what it really feels like.
    3. An escape valve from the constant stress of our daily lives.
    4. An altered state which for many counted as their first spiritual experience.

  12. I work as a counsellor with drug abusing teens and the biggest thing that I wish they could understand but don't because they truly believe that it won't happen to them is that the process of addiction can happen in as little as 9 months (depending on the drug of choice) in the developing brain. Whereas for most adults to develop an addiction (keeping in mind that this only applies if they started using after 23) is 9 years. Its a huge difference. The risks are high. Addiction changes your brain in very real and irreversible ways but every teen thinks it won't happen to them… and then sometimes it does and they realize that no one could have warned them because they wouldn't have believed it anyway. They are just happy that a trust adult was standing by to ask for help when they realized they absolutely needed it.

  13. Joe Shmoe says:

    No I don’t agree with what you said about an “aging drug user”. The double standard in society is he’s 40 and smokes weed twice a day it’s sad. If the same person were taking a Xanax or oxycodone twice a day it would be ok. It’s sad that people put down others and judge them for personal decisions while they do the same things just threw a doctor.

  14. Rocho says:

    Sorry, but drugs are garbage. I am upset to see so many people trying to be nice and correct and bite their lips instead of saying the truth: Drugs are garbage and they destroy lives and people, some of them so young and innocent. I have never tried any of the drugs, not even for a " recreational" moment, I do not even like to smoke cigarrettes or drink. Maybe I was so blessed to have a strong family foundation and a life back in Mexico where people used to feel that mariguana and all those things were low for your spirit as well as your body. But for me, now as a Mum, it is heartbreaking to hear that you can see teenagers smoking mariguana outside their schools and nobody wants to do anything to help them get out of that horrible situation, before it is too late.

  15. mike says:

    such a buzz kill about enjoying life here on this site.

  16. Maggie says:

    Drugs killed my relationship and turned a good man into an emotional cripple who had to smoke a joint at least 5 or 6 times a day and drink 4 bottles of beer minimum every night. Although I am convinced there was a "nasty" side to him in the first place, the drive to get high many times a day only made it worse, he "borrowed" money and never paid it back, also stole money from me and denied it, even denied the borrowing when I asked for my £100 to be returned. He also verbally abused and some physical abuse when I tried to leave because he refused to seek help for any of his other addictions, one of which was daily gambling. The constant denial that he had a problem was too much for me and I refused to be his enabler after 4 years of hoping for change. Needless to say he also was incapable of completing his degree or seeking employment and lived his life around rolling a joint. I have never used drugs, except for a random beer or glass of wine once in a blue moon and from where I was sitting with the ex, all I saw was a sad, disillusioned man hanging around with other druggies and alcoholics, all looking for something in their bag of hash or weed or at the bottom of a bottle. To anyone who says drugs aren't harmful, I disagree. You may think you are in control, my ex did, but his perception of himself was so warped by his usage that he couldn't see past his own nose, let alone reflect on himself and his behaviour. Before being with him, I had a different view of stoners, even though a good friend wasted years of her life smoking and achieving nothing but regret, which she will freely admit at the age of 47. I liken it to slowly drowning and you have no idea that you are and when someone pushed out a boat to help you, you're so stuck in denial, you have no idea what the "boat" is even for. Take care and be clean people. Namaste.

  17. aleyna says:

    The truth for me in this article came with the mental affects long term. I spent six years without a sober day, often mixing me recreational use. Then I almost od’d in a bathtub… That’s when I got clean. Even when someone tells you that it could long term affect your mental health you don’t ever listen because you’re young and want to do it anyways. These years I have a great amount of paranoid to deal with, and I’m lucky it’s just paranoia as it could be so much worse. People daily comment on how “you used to be the life of the party and now you’re just scared of life”, well yeah, it’s easy to be the life of the party when you are tripping on shrooms or hosting your Saturday night white line party.

    It’s hard to be an ex user

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  20. @Taojee says:

    I must challenge the truthfulness of this article because HOW can the author compares a mindbending experience of the sacred mushroom to simply sitting on his butt like a contorted pretzel, putting his legs to sleep and chanting OMMMM?? I can understand the truth in the legal ramifications but Yoga as a substitute? Clearly, this person never used drugs or we would all be able to experience their combined bliss by doing nothing. A better, more credible story would have been made if he mentioned what Charlie points out where they cut drugs with all kinds of things including rat poison just to make a quick buck instead of summarizing the film, Reefer Madness.

    Another point the author does not make is what happens to the people who are hired to transport drugs and get caught by the law? I do not mean what happens in the US court, I mean what the employers do when they lose money? Certainly those poor people cannot afford to write a check for the amount of a nice house to cover the loss.

    There are worse things in life than using drugs and some of those are…..good intentioned half truths and misinformation.

  21. wen says:

    Have you ever seen someone addicted to meth? Check it out online, several arrest pictures showing the decline in appearance over the year(s)…check out their teeth. You'll understand where she's coming from after you see some of these pictures.

  22. Chris says:

    I always feel good inside as a 45 year old who STILL gets carded and even when those younger than me and in my age-range find out my age; are still flabbergasted. Feels good. I tell them my secret: no drug use, don't smoke (never did), drink occasionally (socially; maybe every 4 months?), don't tan anymore (used to, but stopped in my late 20s). It does help that I am Latino (I have some melanin), but I don't have fine wrinkles around my eyes or mouth. My dark hair still has few random grays and I feel energetic. Trust me young folks; if you even care about your appearance and future appearance, then don't use heavy drugs or better yet, don't start using. I still can't get over the number of people who are pot heads or recreational users and think they are so cool, so relevant. Good for you. You have every right to do whatever you want to your body. I care too much about what I look like to follow your reckless paths just to be "cool". No thanks.

  23. Marianne says:

    I feel this article has been written solely as a reminder to the writer herself as to why she should avoid drugs (as she has experienced and is extremely vulnerable to drug-induced psychosis).

  24. nicko says:

    Thankyou for replying to this useless ‘article’ in the fantastic way you have. As I came to the end of what you wrote I thought, I wish this person had written the initialal article.

    Kara totally missed the point of taking these substances – as most kids do.


  25. kat says:

    Forgive me if I'm wrong but the medical information is outdated with ACA and new Marijuana studies

  26. steven says:

    all valid points
    personally i wouldnt take back a single stoned day of my life for anything in the world
    nothing REALLY matters
    we're all going to die

  27. Sam says:

    I was hoping this would discuss medical marijuana, why did you not bring up THC? Ketamine is a hard sell as is MDMA as the medical effects are far less dis invented than are with the Marijuana plant.

  28. The number says:

    This article and its comments avoid the topic of THC. I realize that this isn't implicitly what the article is about, and your article certainly has some lenience in its inherent bias because of the platform. States are legalizing and clearing it's use with medical studies that back possible telex of cancer symptoms and some claim to have killed cancer cells with it. I guess my biggest issue is you have someone smoking pot out of a bong and then you don't really address it and lump it In with way more powerful hallucinogens. I get the "RA RA" feel good NA style article, but I can't help but think you are trying to only reach a specific type (for example I was lead to your site by someone in recovery) What was your goal with this piece? And why lump a picture of someone smoking a more proven and if used correctly with a doctors care, a bonifide medicinal substance like marijuana?

  29. Maria says:

    I’ve tried almost every possible drug in my youth, now I’m old(er) en I’d never ever regret a thing. If you’re young.. .please go for it, have fun and don’t listen to people like this.

  30. Charles Brown says:

    This was a horrible article that had very little substance. Just feat mongering and platitudes of fear meant to scare people. To lump psychedelics in with opiates and other pills is absurd. To compare marijuana to any other drug is just stupid.
    I have smoked marijuana every day since I was 14 (I am 50) and I look 40.
    I bike every day and work out every day. I have taken psychedelics my whole life. My insurance company has never asked me about it. I call BULLSHIT!!!!!!!

  31. SunshineLady says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences, I've been sober for 5 months and I can say that yoga and meditation are my life saver 😉

  32. Fabuleesy says:

    It all sounds very conditioning, like you're trying to convince the reader that following your hearts and desires is a bad thing. You say "consciousness-expanding" as if this is a casual occurrence in life. That may be the case for you but there are many people out there, in pain (sometimes due to sickness), victims of war or just plain old poverty. They don't have these kind of revelations ever. Even their religions are dead as if you ask them about their relationship with God and they are unsure whether they truly believe. They work so much that they don't get the chance to read blogs on meditation and do mandalas to heal their psyche after spending a day out in their morbid little reality. They are damaged, by the world, every single day, without hope of salvation any time soon.

    My point is: Some people just need to medicate. Making it illegal is not protecting us, its leaving us stranded with no hope.

  33. Attaboy says:

    O the comic gold that is modern hippie sophistry. "Connecting with mother earth is a most sacred feeling." lol

    People who say things like this were born sedated and live in a place of blissful ignorance which is why they are drug users in the first place. You want to connect to mother earth? Go to a lake, swim in the ocean, climb a tree. Drugs don't connect you with anything, quite the contrary. They distort and elevate your sense of what reality is, turning you into yet another person who feels empowered by the experience. Making you wrongfully believe you are somehow more connected with reality. Wrong.

    Drugs are illegal for the same reason there is a stop sign on every corner or a speed bump in a parking lot. Not because every time you drive fast someone will die, but a method of incident confinement. Less people will be negatively affected. It weeds out the prioritizers of drugs. It secludes the group of people willing to break a law to get an experience, this way, when a negative experience does happen, nobody has to care or hear about it. The minute drugs become legal and someone has a bad experience, oh how the lawsuits will pour in. Its the human condition to be weak and detached from ones own self awareness. To look first outside for the issues vs inside.

    You use drugs (certain drugs) for a reason. Not your story telling version of connection with nature, but a more deeply rooted reason that maybe you haven't figured out yet, thats for you to know. But everyone has choices and reasons for making those choices, so just soul search until you understand the real reason.

    Or keep bending the narrative to fit your argument. Typical. Played out.

  34. Ivory says:

    When I had just turned 14 I tried weed for the first time, then I used it three more times over the year. The last time it was strong and it was a bad 'trip'. Now I have just turned 15 and I never want to try drugs again, my question is do you think I have permanent damage?

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