In a story in the Sacramento News and Review, Peter Thompson writes about his drug use. At 16 he tried making mead, but when that failed he continued to look elsewhere:
I began to see the supermarket and drugstore as potential drug dealers. I drank bottles of cough syrup before I knew what dextromethorphan (DXM) was. I ate catnip and didn’t feel anything. I ate nutmeg and felt everything. There was no Internet to guide me and nothing in the library about morning-glory seeds. My mother just happened to have some Heavenly Blues in the junk drawer. I had never seen the carpet move like that before. I tried everything in the medicine aisle and everything in the bulk food hoppers. I became a Spiceisle junkie.
His story goes on, and it appears that he eventually becomes an adult with a wife and a house before finding a drug he can really put his arms around. He finds a recipe for opium tea, made from the flowers of poppies. And where to find poppies? Where else but eBay?
A query turned up all sizes and quantities of poppies. Some, called gigantheums, were as big as tennis balls. A special of “600 XXL-sized gigantheums” was selling for $399. Fortunately, for crafting projects requiring so many poppy plants, financing was available for $17 per month. For all of us hard-core flower arrangers, of course.
At first, the plants came double-boxed, rubber-banded by the dozen with the stems intact. But after a few more orders, the seller seemed to cut out the pretense that I might actually be using the poppies for floral arrangements and just sent the pods themselves.
What I didn’t see in the opinions, but interests me, is the notion that addiction, even the life threatening sort, has nothing to do with drugs. Thompson was itching for a high at 16 before he even knew why he wanted one.
At the end of his story, Thompson has been clean for a couple weeks, but:
The thing about it is I realize that I’m going to order more poppies. It’s not a question of “if.” I know where I can get them. It’s only a matter of time before I do this all over again. As long as someone sells the pods, and nobody cares to stop them, my recidivism is all but assured.
Who bears responsibility here? These stories end up being a sort of proof-by-anecdote that “drugs are bad,” but I think the real lesson is more complex.
I may be blaming the victim here, but the problem isn’t the seller. Building supply stores aren’t responsible for what their customers do with the bricks they purchase. There are lousy drivers out there, but nobody can hold dealers our manufacturers responsible for their crashes (except in the case of equipment failure), so why demonize eBay on this one?