But before you leap into the mind-altering pond feet first, make sure you know its temperature and depth. In other words, don't just start smoking and snorting and shooting everything in sight.
Below is a drug primer, intricately detailed and exhaustively researched (i.e., culled from experience, for the most part). Study it. Commit it to memory. Hang it on your dorm wall. For some of you it will contain information you already know. For others, it will be an enlightening document. Either way, remember: Drugs can be your friend, but they can also be your enemy.
Or, to put it another way: Don't just say no. Know when to say yes.
DRUG: CAFFEINE (i.e., COFFEE)
Street Names: Joe, Morning Pick-Me-Up
Physical Effect: Elevated energy.
Possible Unwanted Side Effects: Minor trembling, shortness of breath, annoyance of others (due to excessive energy), bad breath, stained teeth, the facilitation of bowel movements.
Words of Praise: Chances are you already know.
Words of Warning: Very few. Since you're in college, coffee will undoubtedly be your best friend. Don't overdo it, though, especially during mid-terms/finals. Finally, if it takes more than four words to tell the barista what you want--for instance, "Triple tall mocha breve with a shot of hazelnut and light foam"--you are ridiculous and everyone waiting in line behind you hates you. Word to the wise: Real men don't take hazelnut syrup in their coffee, and real women don't date men who ask for hazelnut.
Street Names: Cigarettes, Smokes, Cancer Sticks, Death Sticks, Coffin Nails, Fags (Europe only), Cowboy Killers
Physical Effect: Brief sense of slight euphoria, immediate craving for more nicotine.
Possible Unwanted Side Effects: Loss of lung power, yellow-stained teeth and/or fingertips, stench, public ostracism, involuntary cringing at horrendous anti-smoking public-service announcements, recurring colds, cancers of the lung, tongue, larynx, throat, toes, earlobes, and foreskin.
Words of Praise: Very few. A feeling of relaxation has often been cited, but you would be better off masturbating if you need some sort of release. Also, it looks cool.
Words of Warning: Smoking really will kill you. Really. And it will make you stink and you might wind up having a heart attack. It is also ridiculously addictive, expensive, and harmful/annoying to others. If you smoke to stay thin, try sticking a finger down your throat instead.
Street Names: Booze, Firewater, Hair of the Dog, Liquid Courage, Loudmouth Soup
Physical Effect: Duh.
Possible Unwanted Side Effects: Nausea and/or vomiting, loss of balance, loss of judgment (especially in regard to physical attraction), general stupidity, STDs, unwanted pregnancy, DWIs, DUIs, BYOB.
Words of Praise: Drinking is America's pastime, and if you've arrived at college without having partaken of its sweet, sweet splendor, then you're way behind the curve. Before legal age, drinking is all about self-expression. You will drink excessively, which is fine since you're young and can rebound. Just don't overdo it, lest you end up drowning in a pool of your own vomit. Post-legal age, drinking will become a major (probably daily) factor in your life, as the ability to partake inside of bars and/or clubs will quickly become the #1 attraction.
Words of Warning: Operating a motorized vehicle while inebriated is both dangerous and against the law. Excessive drinking in one sitting (i.e., binge drinking) can lead to coma, the aforementioned choking on own vomit, falling out windows at frat parties, and/or embarrassing pranks thrust upon you by "friends" while in a comatose state. Excessive drinking over a lengthy period (i.e., alcoholism) can lead to loss of teeth, loss of marbles, cirrhosis of the liver, renal shutdown (kidney failure), jaundice (yellowish tainting of skin), death. Finally, if it takes you more than four words to tell the bartender what you want--for example, "Grey Goose vodka and cranberry juice with three limes, and could you salt the rim of the glass, please?"--you are ridiculous and the bartender hates you.
Street Names: Pot, Weed, Mary Jane, Wacky Tobacky, The Kind, Fuzzy Green Sweater, Lucy Mae
Physical Effect: Mild euphoria, relaxation, giddiness.
Possible Unwanted Side Effects: Hunger (i.e., "munchies"), unwarranted and/or unwanted bouts of laughter, excessive pondering of inane topics, impotence, paranoia (e.g., "Dude, he knows I'm high!"), general stupidity.
Words of Praise: Marijuana is, all told, probably the least-harmful drug on this list--less harmful than tobacco, less addictive than caffeine. It is also a guaranteed good time, unless you are among the small portion of the populace who find themselves paralyzingly paranoid after using it (personal example: I often become concerned that I am going to wet my pants whilst high. The scenario usually breaks down like this: (1) I become paranoid that I will have to pee and will be unable to get to a bathroom in time; (2) I worry that I will wet my pants; (3) I become concerned that I've already wet my pants; (4) I will continually check [via eyeball or hand] to make sure I haven't already wet my pants). Some suggestions for activities during usage: Watch TV and/or videos, go to a movie, go to a concert, play video games, have sex, masturbate, listen to music (via speakers or headphones), write a manifesto, lie in a grassy field, stare at the wall. It should also be noted that some of the best marijuana in the country can be found in the Northwest.
Words of Warning: Marijuana is flat-out illegal (you'll hopefully be learning a little bit more about the War on Drugs in college than you were told in those awful D.A.R.E. classes you took in grade school), making arrest/prosecution/incarceration/anal rape a risk to your person (though said risk is not as high as with, say, cocaine or other "harder" drugs). Excessive smoking of marijuana can lead to loss of memory (both short-term and long-term), perceived flakiness/untrustworthiness in you by others, decreased sexual appetite, and (rarely) mouth and/or lung cancer.
DRUG: PRESCRIPTION PILLSStreet Names: None, since they're known by their actual names. Some examples: Valium, Percocet, Vicodin, Percodan, Codeine.
Physical Effect: Numbing, minor euphoria.
Possible Unwanted Side Effects: Stomach cramping, nausea, general stupidity.
Words of Praise: Pill popping can be a fun alternative to getting drunk or stoned, though the results are fairly similar. Probably the best thing about pills is that you can usually function in civilized society while high, lending the added thrill of keeping a little secret from your sober friends.
Words of Warning: Prescription pills should never be mixed with alcohol, no matter what some of your more adventurous (i.e., dunderheaded) friends say. Also, each of these drugs listed can be addictive. They can also be extremely hard to get your hands on, making them a somewhat unrealistic choice. And don't go snorting any OxyContin, okay? That shit is poison.
DRUG: NITROUS OXIDEStreet Names: Whip-its, Gas
Physical Effect: Much like marijuana, plus the occasional aural hallucination (i.e., hearing weird shit).
Possible Unwanted Side Effects: Headache, slurred speech, loss of balance, loss of job if you're a barista and you're caught huffing from the whipped-cream can, general stupidity.
Words of Praise: Not many. Huffing nitrous is pretty stupid. The high is short, and you look like a moron while you're doing it, whether it's from the aforementioned whipped-cream can or a balloon. You'd be better off smoking pot.
Words of Warning: Too much nitrous oxide can lead to unconsciousness and asphyxiation (i.e., you stop breathing) thanks to a depressed central nervous system (your brain, brain stem, and spinal cord). This, it should go without saying, is bad.
DRUG(S): LSD/PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMSStreet Names: Acid/'Shrooms
Physical Effect: Hallucinations, the occasional (perceived) "deep" insight, strong attraction toward colors and/or swirly-type designs, an inability to look up from your own palms.
Possible Unwanted Side Effects: Metallic taste (LSD) and plain old nasty taste (mushrooms). With LSD, an inability to sleep hours after the drug has worn off may occur. Sexual incompetence. The inability to stop smiling. General stupidity.
Words of Praise: Both acid and mushrooms are fun. For the timid, mushrooms are a much better option, as LSD is often cut with speed, which can make for a teeth-grinding experience (literally). Plus, mushrooms grow in the wild here, if you know (or known someone who knows) how to find them. Of course, some wild mushrooms will kill you, so let's be careful out there.
Words of Warning: Proceed with caution, especially with LSD. Be aware of your surroundings. Both LSD and mushrooms have been known to lead to poor fashion/lifestyle choices (see years 1966-1973). These are not drugs to do every weekend (after all, who has 24 unbroken hours to spare on a trip and subsequent comedown?). They are once- or twice-a-year drugs at most, and if you're still doing them when you turn 30, well, you're ridiculous and everyone hates you. If you want to see what happens to people who take acid too regularly, I'd recommend a leisurely stroll down the Ave.
METHAMPHETAMINEStreet Names: Ecstasy, X, E
Physical Effect: Absolute euphoria, the desire to mate.
Possible Unwanted Side Effects: Dehydration, poor choice in mate, general stupidity.
Words of Praise: Ecstasy is fun, with very few (proven) harmful effects physically. Its best (and most common) use is while dancing, where the elevated warmth, many grinding bodies, and flashy lighting scenarios enhance the experience. Other suggested uses include taking it with a friend and basking in the warm glow of several hours' worth of honest, effusive mutual praise.
Words of Warning: The number one killer of people on Ecstasy is extreme dehydration. Make sure to drink a ridiculous amount of water while you're on it. Also, don't mix it with alcohol (or any other drug, for that matter). Like acid/'shrooms, X is not a drug you should do every weekend; don't make plans for the day after.
Street Names: Coke, Blow, Booger Sugar, Smith Tower, Bolivian Marching Powder
Physical Effect: Extreme sense of euphoria, immediate craving to do more cocaine.
Possible Unwanted Side Effects: Loss of sleep, loss of tact, loss of funds, dry mouth, irregular heartbeat, runny nose, general stupidity.
Words of Praise: Coke is fun. There's no denying it.
Words of Warning: Excessive cocaine use can eat away the interior lining of your nose, leading to chronic nosebleeds (i.e., "rusty pipes") as well as the diminishment of cartilage within your nose. You can, almost literally, snort the nose right off your face. Also, refrain from sharing tools (i.e., straws, dollar bills, etc.) while snorting, lest you catch something nasty like Hepatitis C.
Some other effects: Heart attacks, bankruptcy, stealing your parents' stereo and/or television, incarceration. In general, cocaine should be tried once or twice and then abandoned, lest you end up like so many hipsters continually sniffing and sucking up snot at rock shows. Nothing spells sexy like chronic nasal drip!
DRUG(S): HEROIN, CRYSTAL METH, SPEED, CRACK, ANGEL DUST, SPECIAL K, GHBStreet Names: Too many to list.
Physical Effect: Euphoria, death.
Possible Unwanted Side Effects: Again, too many to list.
Words of Praise: None. Heroin is flat-out evil. Crystal meth makes you smell like a dumpster. Speed can be fun, but it's not really worth it. Crack and angel dust turn you into a monster. GHB is a "date rape drug." And Special K is a goddamn horse tranquilizer!
Words of Warning: Do not do these drugs. Seriously. Crystal is addictive and it makes you insane, and heroin will really and truly kill you. Don't believe me? Go exhume Layne Staley and ask him about heroin. Not only should you not do these drugs under any circumstances, you should avoid the people who do use them. While we here at The Stranger are generally pro getting fucked up (see opening paragraph--and pretty much every issue of our paper, for that matter), these drugs are not worth the risks. Especially heroin, which has killed far too many talented people around here already.
Closing remarks: It may be a cliché, but moderation is definitely key. Not only can habitual use of drugs injure/kill you, it also diminishes a drug's effect. In other words, drugs are a vacation from your normal mundane existence, and should be treated as such. Soft drugs like coffee, pot, and cigarettes can be used with some frequency; harder drugs, however, should not be used daily. Indulge, yes, but if you indulge in X or acid or heroin or GHB or cocaine every day, well, then you really are ridiculous and everyone really will hate you. Hard drugs are a once-or-twice-a-year thing, not a once-or-twice-a-week thing. Not only will using hard drugs on a daily basis ruin you, it will also ruin the drugs.