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mental health mondays :: walking the line

dom sent me this article earlier today. it's from pitchfork of all places, but it does bring up some interesting questions of the effect of illicit versus prescription drugs on music and musicians. of course, being the savvy readers you are, you're already aware that these lines have become increasingly blurry in the last decades, in particular where psychiatric meds are concerned.

after all, the line between drugs that people take for enjoyment and drugs that people take to make their brains work and feel better is particularly thin. cholesterol medications aren't likely to inspire the next "purple haze", but crazy meds well might, because, of course, they play with the parts of your brain that control things like pleasure, sensory perception and learning. in fact, many psychedelics and psychiatric meds have similar effects on the brain. club kid favourite mdma produces its fabled euphoria by encouraging the production of neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine and by inhibiting their reuptake [a fancy way of saying that it makes them stick around longer in the brain]. antidepressants like zoloft, prozac, effexor and wellbutrin do exactly the same thing to keep people with depression from wanting to die, because euphoria is relative to your starting point. that's also why people with mental disorders seem to experience drugs very differently from those who don't. [also, this is why you want to be extremely careful taking any kind of drugs if you're already taking something for any kind of mental disorder. seriously, i know someone who shot his serotonin levels dangerously high by taking cold medication while on wellbutrin.]

increasingly, the biggest difference between drugs we take for fun and drugs we take for medicine is the quality of the supply. street-level crystal meth is usually made in highly unsanitary conditions, using fillers that are more likely to damage your internal organs than the drug itself. desoxyn is made in a pristine pharmaceutical laboratory under highly controlled conditions. [sorry kids, walter white isn't real.]

so if the drugs we get from doctors and the drugs we get from that slightly twitchy guy with greasy skin are really the same thing, who's to say that the next great period of psychedelic inspiration we get won't come with a prescription?

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