Friday, February 28, 2014

NEW SERIES: Chapter 1. Part 1. "We Stand on the Precipice of an Unknown and Unlocked Potential"

NEW SERIES: Chapter 1. Part 1.  "We stand on the precipice of an unknown and unlocked potential"

Our cosmos is a place of rich complexity - the laws of physics not only allow for drugs and drug users, if given enough time they directly lead to psychoactive molecules and creatures curious and eager to consume them! Every drug that ever existed and every drug that is yet to be created by nature or by human ingenuity, had its origins in the same plasma of charged particles over 13 billion years ago - in the Big Bang. The universe was full of potential and over time this potential unfolded into a truly epic story.

 This story is about how we humans came to find ourselves here in the 21st century on Earth surrounded by almost countless varieties of mind altering drugs. Over our 100 000 year tenure on the planet we have almost always, provided there were drugs to be found, been a drug using species. We are perched here and now at a critical and controversial time in the grand saga of psychoactive drugs and their use. This century alone has seen huge global changes in the social, political, scientific, economic and cultural uses of drugs. The story of conscious human beings, whose brain neurochemistry interacts with drugs, and in some cases ironically resembles psychoactive drugs (or is a psychoactive drug), is largely a history of their consumption and misunderstanding.

The history of drugs and their use is much more complex than just one long story of consumption. The recent and not so recent past is also full of other stories, human stories, about how we discovered drugs through good fortune, trial and error and ingenuity - or how we learned what drugs actually are, after much confusion, or how we discovered their connection with consciousness and our brains and how we ended up at this crucial junction in history.

In the last century our species launched a global war on drugs - the project has not been able to stop the use of drugs though? Maybe drug use is ingrained too deeply in our societies and cultures, maybe we are naturally too curious, perhaps it is in human nature, there is much more to learn.
Also in the last century, for the first time, we understood the true relationship between our brain chemistry and mind altering drugs. Drugs and conscious entities are both forged from near identical ingredients, drugs and consciousness are largely defined by organic chemistry. Psychoactive molecules are often only a few atoms different from the brain’s actual chemical neurotransmitters, this often allows for consciousness to be altered by drugs in the first place. In other cases the relationship is not so well understood yet.

 After 14 billion years of cosmic time and after 200 thousand years of human intelligence we only in the last several decades exceeded all other known species in our ability to make new drugs – at least in principle. Furthermore, there is no known limit to the number of novel or unique psychoactive drugs one could make. I sometimes wonder whether this number is in the hundreds of thousands, or in the millions? Or more still? – Nobody knows how many ways atoms can be configured so they become psychoactive. The number is well into the thousands already, the potential number is far greater still. Given the complexity of the brain and the sheer number of drugs one could invent - simply using the known laws of chemistry and changing one atom at a time, the true number may be truly astronomical.

In the last century, we also learned much of the neurochemistry of our own brains. By unlocking the secrets of psychology and chemistry we found that the story of drugs and our species is partly a story of self-discovery. Maybe sometime soon we will enter a strange new world, we are now the stewards of our own minds– we are creating new ways of thinking and new states of consciousness at will, by understanding how our brains work and by finding how to change our minds with molecules.

We will return to our present century, but the history of drugs begins long before any conscious being was alive. We are fortunate to live on our biologically diverse planet and be part of a remarkable species - one that will, after years of absence and ignorance - hold the fate of mind altering molecules in our curious hominid hands.


  1. Though it is most certainly true that the possibilities that exist in the cosmos for an imagineable array of what we call "medicine" or "drugs" is present this does not address all of the possible reasons for this as a large portion of them are not naturally forming but exist through manipulation by man. There are also numerous reasons for this be they curiosity of science,political influences or the desire for power & control of others. The "War on Drugs" is a very sad joke as it is in reality- a war on people. Individuals have access to certain drugs as per what is "allowed" to be brought into a country &/or sold in that country. This is regulated by those in power; make no mistake. The majority of people that use "drugs" is d/t social influence & man-made desire & not for "self-actualization". This has been a multi-leveled process that has taken some time to unfold. Certain "drugs" were introduced (they were always present really) as fashionable & acceptable in "certain circles" (& still are!)
    If one thinks back to the 60's & the type of "drugs" adolescents were taking & were glamourized by musicians & artists (etc) & those readily available today; one can see the progression that brings us to the serious social dilema we find ourselves in.
    I thank you for opening this discussion!

    1. Hi :) I have drafted the outline for the coming chapters about the history of psychoactive drugs. Although i intend to start from the literal beginning (the BB), so only when we reach chapter 2 will we cover the evolution of our species and the drugs we used. Latter chapters will and do discuss the further points you raise (drug war, 60's etc). Thanks, i will keep editing the draft i have.