Tag Archives: sex and drugs

Addiction, Religion, And The Striking Similarities

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Battling addiction is a serious issue. Even if you haven’t struggled with it at some point in your life, there’s a good chance that you know someone who has. I’ve known more than a few. I’ve seen how damaging it can be to people and their families.

That makes the process for treating addiction just as critical. Unlike the flu or a nasty headache, it’s not as easy as simply getting a prescription and taking a few pills. Oftentimes, there are powerful psychological factors at work to go along with the equally-powerful biological factors. Finding an effective treatment is exceedingly difficult, especially in the midst of a deadly opioid crisis.

One of the greatest challenges for finding such treatments is ensuring that someone doesn’t just exchange one bad addiction for another. Even if some addictions aren’t as damaging as another, going from heroin to methadone is only a marginal improvement for many. There is, however, one secondary addiction that adds even more complications to the mix and it’s not a pill or a substance. It’s religion.

As always, I’m going to try and be careful with my words here. I know discussions involving religion tend to bring out a lot of high emotions. I’m also aware that whenever I discuss religion, I don’t portray it in a positive light. I make it a point to disclose that religion can be a positive force for many people and I have many devoutly religious people in my family who I love dearly.

That disclaimer aside, the forces surrounding organized religion are powerful and they can be misused. The history of such misuse is well-documented. It’s impact on treating addiction is less known, but does manifest. There have been more than a few celebrities who have become religious after a battle with addiction. Some are genuinely better because of it. However, that does raise a few questions.

Did their religion actually help them overcome their addiction?

Did their religion help them address the underlying factors behind their addiction?

Did their religion just become a replacement for whatever they’d been addicted to?

These questions may come off as cynical, but they have serious implications. Religion is a powerful force on some people. Whether you’re a true believer or an ardent atheist, it’s hard to deny the impact of such a force. Religious experiences have been documented to have measurable effects on the human brain. Some of those effects are comparable to addictive drugs.

That’s not to say that going to church and going to a heroin dealer are the same thing. Addiction is complex and so is brain function. At the same time, the human brain is prone to plenty of flaws. It can be easily tricked and people can even trick themselves. When it comes to addictions, you can’t expect your brain the know the difference between heroin and a religious experience.

There is even some research that demonstrates this to some extent. For people who once built their lives around their addiction, religion is a pretty effective replacement. It demands a great deal of money, time, and energy. It surrounds you with people who reinforce and reaffirm your beliefs and behavior. It can even give some people a very specific high.

That high just becomes the new addiction. That intense feeling that religion gives people suddenly becomes the feeling that addicts are so driven to pursue. It may not feel the same as an addict’s previous addiction, which is why they may not see it as such. That doesn’t matter, though. What matters is that it fills the proverbial void that the previous addiction once filled.

That’s why it shouldn’t be too surprising to find out that some famous addiction treatment programs have deeply religious roots. It also shouldn’t be that surprising when those who find religion after dealing with addiction tend to be quite passionate about their faith, compared to those who found religion through a different path.

Even if these programs help people, it still doesn’t answer the relevant questions surrounding their addiction. Exchanging one disease for another doesn’t constitute a cure, but people make an exception for religion. The idea of someone being addicted to a religion isn’t as easy to imagine as someone being addicted to cigarettes, gambling, or porn. To them, a religious addict is just someone who goes to church more often.

Some see that as a good thing. Compared to robbing gas stations for drug money, it is an improvement. However, it still leaves the underlying cause of the addiction untreated. Whatever is making someone an addict is still present. While I don’t doubt religious organizations are happy to accept their adherence, it doesn’t fundamentally change an addict’s condition.

That can be damaging and dangerous to people who are already vulnerable. In the worst case scenario, finding religion can only create the illusion that the addict has been cured. Society didn’t approve of them being a junkie on the street, but it does approve of them being a devout religious zealot who rails against the evils of their former vice.

That sends the message that society is selective when it comes to treating addicts. As long as their addiction is productive for society, in that it benefits established institutions, it’ll treat that as a cure. It doesn’t matter if it never helps someone get to the root of their problems. As long as it makes them productive, that’s good enough.

Again, I’m not claiming that most religious organizations actively exploit people struggling with addiction. Some definitely do and a few are quite famous for it. However, it’s somewhat telling that we ascribe finding religion to overcoming an addiction when, on many levels, it’s just exchanging one source of addictive behavior for another.

At its best, religion inspires people to do great things for all the right reasons. At its worst, it can exploit someone to such an extent that it can make people who are genuinely sick feel like they’re healed. Addiction, like many other disease, is something that can only get worse if left untreated.

Whether it’s religion or crack, the brain of an addict will do what it takes to sustain its addictive state. There are effective, legitimate treatments for addiction that actually attempt to confront the source of the issues within an addict. Many aren’t as easy or overwhelming as finding religion, but they make a concerted effort at treating the addict rather than simply guiding them to a more socially-acceptable addiction.

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Contemplating The Perfect Drug (And Whether We Could Handle It)

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Imagine, for a moment, you took the perfect drug. By that, I don’t mean the kind of drug that alleviates a headache, settles an upset stomach, or just makes it so you can function normally. I’m not talking about the kinds of drugs that gives us Captain America level superpowers either. I’m talking about the kind of drug that alters, enhances, or somehow changes the way you experience the world, physically and mentally.

It is a very subjective thought experiment, especially compared to some of the others I’ve explored. It might even be somewhat inappropriate to contemplate as parts of this world are dealing with a serious prescription drug problem and violence generated by the illegal drug trade. However, with the War on Drugs that Richard Nixon first declared being almost 50 years old, I think a little nuance on the issue is warranted.

In the same way we’ll never have a society of perfect monogamy, despite the best efforts of religion and government, we’ll never have a completely drug-free society. Human beings have been experimenting with drugs since ancient times in some form or another. Some major historical figures are known to have done drugs that would’ve gotten them thrown in jail today.

The choice of drug may vary, but so too does their reason for taking it. Some seek to alleviate pain. Some seek to enhance pleasure. Some are just bored and want to experience something new and profound. Whatever the reasons, the fact that so many different people from so many different eras, cultures, and situations seek drugs is revealing in and of itself.

In some respects, it reflects our inherent dissatisfaction with our current limits. We are, at the end of the day, at the mercy of our bodies, our brains, and the evolutionary mechanisms behind them. We get tired too easily. We can’t run as hard or as fast as we want. We can’t remember things that well or learn new things that efficiently. That doesn’t even begin to the limitations that effect our sex lives.

If anything, our own evolution gives us a powerful imperative to seek out powerful drugs. Our bodies and brains are programmed with two imperatives, survival and reproduction. If we can find a drug that enhances both, then we’re just improving our evolutionary standing in the world.

While I wouldn’t make that argument to a DEA agent, I think it’s worth contemplating the kind of drug that would do more to help us transcend our limitations than what we have now. Modern drugs, legal and illegal alike, do some amazing things. However, as anyone who has dealt with the side-effects of pain killers knows, there’s room for improvement.

Ignoring side-effects for a moment, think of the effects and benefits of the familiar drugs in existence right now. Look at what they do, how they do it, and why people pursue those effects in the first place. Then, imagine which of those effects you would want to include with the perfect drug.

Would it make you really astute and focused like Adderall or Ritalin?

Would it make you really relaxed and mellow like Xanex or Marijuana?

Would it make you really energized like cocaine or amphetamines?

Would it give you better stamina and endurance like anabolic steroids?

Would it give you mind-altering perceptions like LSD and DMT?

Would it make you extremely happy and empathetic like MDMA?

Chances are, you might want a little of everything. What you want might also depend on your situation. If you want a drug that’ll help you lose weight, you’ll probably want the effects of steroids and amphetamines. If you want to sleep better, you’ll want the effects of Xanex or weed. If you just want to be happy, sometimes all you need is a cigarette or a beer.

The perfect drug, by definition, would be able to grant you all or at least part of these experiences. Ideally, you wouldn’t need to a new prescription or a new dealer. The same drug would be capable of evoking those effects. It may require some tweaking of the dosage, mechanisms, or chemical processes, but it’s still capable of delivering.

It may sound like an impossible substance and to some extent, it is. However, it’s still only as impossible as our limitations and there are plenty of ongoing efforts to transcend those limitations through biotechnology, nanotechnology, and human/machine interface. I’ve mentioned a few of those efforts, including smart blood and neural implants. With future refinements, they’ll provide the catalyst for the perfect drug.

It may take the form of a special pill full of programmable biomatter. Maybe you want it to help you sleep. Maybe you want it to help you focus. Maybe you want it to help you make love to your spouse for five hours straight. With the right programming and the right application of biology, it can do that.

For some effects, maybe a pill isn’t enough. To have the kinds of effects that would give someone the kind of physical or mental enhancement they seek, it may be necessary to inject this programmable matter directly into the body via an IV drip. That might be cumbersome, but it allows for more direct delivery than a pill.

Even if it’s more effective, it still might not be ideal. Some of the most addictive drugs, like tobacco and alcohol, have a social element to them. People bond when they do them together and since humans are such a social species, that might be a necessary component of the perfect drug.

Perhaps instead of an injection or a pill, it can be ingested as a drink like tea and coffee. That will allow people to congregate and make it a social event at a bar or club. It can be part of a greater bonding experience, a group of people all sharing in the benefits of the perfect drug. It effectively complements every component of the human condition.

On the issue of side-effects, this is where the perfect drug would have to clash with flawed biology. On paper, a perfect drug would have no adverse side-effects. It wouldn’t have withdrawal symptoms, damage organs, or turn your urine blue, which does happen.

In the real, less-than-perfect world, every drug will have side-effects. Even if biotechnology and neural implants gives people superhuman durability on par with Wolverine from the X-men, it’s likely that such powerful experiences will result in equally powerful impacts, both mental and physical.

One of the most likely effects, which might still be the most damaging, involves what happens to people when they’re not on the perfect drug. Even if the drug causes no withdrawal symptoms and generally leaves the body intact, it still creates a discrepancy in experience.

There’s the state the person was in without the perfect drug. There’s the state the person was in when they took it. If the gap between the two is big enough, as would likely be the case for the perfect drug, then even an enhanced mind within an enhanced body would struggle to some extent.

It would be like going from taking a private jet across the ocean to riding a mule. One is just going to be so much richer and more intense than the other that it doesn’t matter how enhanced you or your brain are. You’re going to want that drug and you’re going to do whatever it takes to get it.

In a future where people can enhance their bodies, augment their brains, and rid themselves of disease, what else will drive them other than the inherent human desire to transcend more limitations? Those experiences and the methods to get them, either by a drug or some other means, might end up being the most valuable currency in the future.

For now, we’re stuck with a diverse array of drugs with a wide variety of effects. They all come with their own unique risks and their own blend of side-effects. With more and more drugs being developed, as well as refinements to existing drugs, people will continue using drugs and seeking them, even if it means clashing with the law.

We’re still a long way from a perfect drug like the one I just described, but it’s an idea with contemplating. It reveals why we seek drugs in the first place and what we’re looking for in using them, despite all the risks and side-effects.

We don’t just seek health, strength, or new experiences. We seek to improve and enhance our own condition. How we go about it and how well we handle it depends on a lot of factors. We might never create a truly perfect drug, but as medical science and human enhancement continue to evolve, we may still achieve its effects.

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A Sexy Story From My College Years (But Not In The Way You Think)

I know this post may be a little late. I would’ve posted it sooner, but I wanted to capture the sexier elements in just the right way because those elements are worth capturing. If I’m going to be a successful erotica/romance writer, then I need to make those details count. Like love, sex, and the stories I write, there needs to be an equal balance of quality and quantity.

With summer ending, most kids and college students are already back in class, grinding away at textbooks, tests, and homework. It’s not a pleasant transition, going from sleeping in on a Tuesday to having to get up at six in the morning just to catch a bus full of half-asleep kids.

I’ve made no secret about my poor experience with school. I’ve even shared a few stories that highlight just how miserable and socially awkward I was. I’d like to change things up a bit and add a little sex appeal, as I often try to do. Believe it or not, there were parts of my education that were actually enjoyable. I’ll give everyone a moment to stop gasping.

Most of those moments, however, didn’t come in high school. They came in college. Yes, those were truly enlightening years and not just because I lived away from home, had a high-speed internet connection, and could eat dinner whenever I damn well felt like it.

They were also the years where I had my first steady girlfriend. They were the years where my ambitions to become an erotica/romance writer really picked up, thanks to some of the friends I made and the teachers I met. It was also the time my acne problem finally cleared up. By any measure, it was a huge step up from high school. It was my first true taste of adulthood and I liked it.

Beyond the improved living situation and a steady decline in misery, college exposed me to more than a few sexy situations. Some of them involved me as a participant. Others involved my friends and random strangers who were overly friendly. I’ve been debating just how much or how little of those experience I should share on this blog.

Then, I remembered this site can never have too much sex appeal so I’d like to share one of the more colorful experience I had during my college years. For those who are returning to college, just starting college, or just a few years away from college, I can’t say your experience will be the same. I’m just saying the potential is there.

For this particular story, I need to establish a bit of context. It occurred in the early parts of my senior year and it involves a party, as is often the case with many sexy college stories.

The year before, I had a roommate that I became good friends with. Of all the roommates I had, I probably got along with him the most. He returned the favor by inviting me to this big birthday party of his at a house he and three other guys now shared. They basically cleared the entire first floor to throw this party. It wasn’t quite on the level of “Animal House,” but it had a few similar themes.

I arrived after the music started playing and the drinks started flowing. It was already pretty damn hectic, but I quickly found my roommate and we caught up. There was plenty of food, beer, and pretty much everything you’d expect at a party. My roommate, being real tech-savvy, even built this elaborate stereo system that blared music at a level that felt just like a club.

As I got comfortable, I started dancing a little. At the same time, I began admiring the ladies that had attended the party. There were definitely more than a few. In terms of raw numbers, there was about an equal amount of women and men at this party. Apparently, loud music, free food, and beer attracts both genders. What a concept, right?

I talk to a few of them. I even flirt a little. Keep in mind, though, I’m still more socially awkward than most. On top of that, I had broken up with my girlfriend the year before and found out she’s with someone else. I’m not exactly in the best state of mind to hook up with someone. That, however, isn’t part of the spectacle.

That only happens towards the end of the party, which is past midnight and well after plenty have exceeded the legal limit for alcohol intake. While I didn’t see anyone throw up, I could easily pick out which among them would be badly hung over the next morning. That didn’t stop one particular couple from going for broke.

For the sake of this person’s privacy and dignity, which I’m pretty sure he surrendered that night, I won’t say his name. For now, I’ll just call him Brad. He and his girlfriend helped plan my roommate’s party. I actually knew the guy somewhat because he dropped by my dorm to visit me and my roommate fairly often.

Brad never struck me as much of a party animal. If you saw him in a crowd, he would be the last guy you’d think would cut loose and do something crazy or sexy at a party. He’s no John Belushi or Sean William Scott. He basically looked like a thinner version of Leonard Hofstadter from “The Big Bang Theory.”

At this party, though, I’m pretty sure Brad could kick Leonard’s ass, sleep with Penny, and get Howard to lick dog shit off his boots. What Brad lacked in size and muscle mass, he more than made up for in other areas and I’m not just talking about his endowment. The fact his girlfriend was pretty hot was already proof of that.

He put all of these traits on full display in what became the finale of this party. Just as people are about to leave and get a head start on their hangover, Brad plays one last round of music. Keep in mind, he’s had five beers and several jello shots. He’s more than a little inebriated and so his his girlfriend.

To take full advantage of this intoxication, he decides to do something special for his girlfriend and everyone else watching. He sits her down on the small, but dirty couch that already has a number of food and beers stains on it. Then, he channels his inner Chippendale dancer, and gives his girlfriend the kind of lap dance reserved for an uncut version of “Magic Mike.”

Picture, for a moment, someone who you would never expect of having much sex appeal suddenly becoming Channing Tatum. He’s thin, he’s pale, and his lanky, but that doesn’t matter. In this moment on this night, he’s the sexiest son-of-a-bitch on the planet and his girlfriend knows it.

I’m not going to apologize for putting that mental image in your head, a lanky guy giving his girlfriend a lap dance. Believe me when I say it a lot sexier than you think. This guy went all out, licking his girlfriend’s neck, shaking his ass in her face, and even doing a handstand right there on the spot. If I hadn’t seen it myself, I never would’ve believed it.

It worked too. I remember his girlfriend’s face lighting up like a kid who just saw a pool full of chocolate fudge. Sure, she too was pretty drunk, but she had that look on her face that said, “Every man on campus is going to envy your dick after tonight. I promise!”

Now, I don’t claim to know the intimate workings of their relationship. Maybe this was their thing and it was how they kept things hot. Maybe it was just a one-time thing they did under the influence of alcohol. Whatever the dynamics, it captured a moment and a feeling perfectly. It was sexy, affectionate, and loving, all at the same time. I honestly can’t think of a more beautiful spectacle at a party.

Brad’s performance earned him the biggest applause of the night. Even my roommate, the birthday boy, gave him props. After that, I don’t remember seeing where Brad and his girlfriend went. They kind of disappeared after the crowd dispersed and the music stopped. I can only imagine that they had the kind of sex that put all the novels I’ve written to shame.

That night was a memorable night, albeit for reasons I didn’t expect. That happened a lot in college. It was so different from high school, which was so regimented and structured. I actually got a chance to explore things in college. That proved both enlightening and sexy.

I hope those returning to college, or just starting college, have similar experiences. It’s a wonderful time in your life and it’s something worth cherishing. I certainly cherished that party. I don’t know what came of Brad or his girlfriend, but I like to think they cherished that night as well for the best possible reasons.

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Random Crazy/Sexy Idea: Weed Romance

Every now and then, I’ll wake up on a weekend morning feeling restless, anxious, and unable to turn my twisted brain off. It’s part of what led me to start writing novels. I come up with all sorts of crazy ideas at crazy times of the day or week. Some of them make for fun, sexy stories. Sometimes you just gotta play the cards you’re dealt.

This morning was no different. I had planned to sleep in. That plan went to shit, as it often does, when I started thinking about a new idea for a novel. Yes, I know I’m still working hard to get books like “Passion Relapse” and “Embers of Eros” published, but you never stop coming up with new ideas. If you do, then you’re probably brain dead and aren’t reading this blog anyways.

So I’m lying in bed thinking about recent events. Beyond the annoying politics I try desperately to avoid, something amazing did happen this past week. Four states, namely California, Nevada, Main, and Massachusetts, voted to legalize marijuana. They join Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington among the growing list of states ending a 70-year prohibition on a drug that is widely seen as less harmful than alcohol.

As a result of this landmark shift, nearly a quarter of the population of the United States now live in areas where marijuana is legal or will be legal. It’s a strange, but dramatic shift in a society that’s used to seeing weed only in high school bathrooms, rap videos, and Seth Rogen movies. It promises significant change in our culture, which has always been one that’s fond of getting high.

Now I have nothing against weed. I’ve never tried it. I drink whiskey and beer to get my buzz, but I have no problem with anyone who chooses weed as their intoxicant of choice. I don’t favor making these sorts of things illegal, just as I don’t favor making exposed breasts illegal. More boobs and more weed and more beer can only help make the world a better place.

With that in mind, an idea came to me. I’m not saying it’s an idea that’ll lead to the next big vampire craze or something like that. It’s just a crazy idea from a guy who has more than his share of them. So here it is:

Why not combine marijuana with romance to create a new genre: Weed Romance?

Say it out loud: Weed Romance. It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a romantic story that is inspired/fueled/realized through marijuana. Has such a story been told? Can such a story be told? Can it be made sexy to sweeten the appeal?

These are all questions that haven’t been asked much, let alone answered. I feel like these questions will be worth answering more and more as marijuana legalization moves forward. There’s already a trend in place. There’s a cultural shift underway. So why shouldn’t our romance/erotica stories change with it?

Think about it. How many romance stories, erotica novels, or low-budget pornos begin in a bar with two people getting drinks? It’s the kind of scenario that has been playing out in some form or another since the days of Humphrey Bogart. We all know it. We’ve all seen in in a myriad of ways. So why not try something different?

Picture this new scenario. Two people walk into a marijuana club. They get themselves a couple of buds and order some burritos on the side. They start smoking. They get a little high. They get a little hungry. Then, their eyes meet. First, they comment on how eyelashes sometimes look like spiderwebs. Then, they start sharing a burrito. From there, it starts to blossom.

Sure, it sounds weird now. It probably wouldn’t even make it into a Seth Rogen movie, but it does have some science backing it. Like alcohol, marijuana has been documented to have positive effects on sexual experiences. Also like alcohol, there are some negative effects, but there are negative effects to everything if you overdo it. So why let that kill the mood?

It may be too soon for Weed Romance to be a thing. However, I’d like to give it some serious thought for future novels. I have other ideas brewing, but this one really intrigues me. If our culture really is changing, then why not embrace it in our erotica/romance?

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Sex, Drugs, and their Effects

Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll are a big part of popular culture, but what happens when you take away the rock n’ roll part? Despite what the Nixon administration, D.A.R.E., and every after-school special ever made would have us believe, human beings have used drugs in some form or another to enhance some part of their lives. Naturally, one of biggest parts we use it for is sex.

I’m not just talking about the drugs rock stars do with groupies. In 2015 alone, the drug company, Pfizer, made $1.708 billion in revenue from Viagra alone. So yes, sex sells and it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. So rock n’ roll really isn’t necessary for this potent combination to fly and no matter what drug warriors do, economics will keep this potent combination in business.

As we speak, these same billion-dollar companies are trying to make a Viagra for women as well. Like the female orgasm, however, it’s not quite as simple as getting blood to flow to the genitals. The greater difficulty women have in achieving orgasm, not to mention differences in evolutionary function that I’ve touched on before, make crafting such a drug a challenge. That hasn’t kept people from trying though.

Again, there are billions of dollars at stake. There’s too much incentive to give people drugs that enhance their sex life. At the moment, the only “female Viagra” that has this potential is called Flibanserin. It’s not quite an orgasm in a pill just yet, but it’s a vital first step and we can expect more like it in the coming years.

So why bring up sex and drugs? Well, it plays into some of the other issues I’ve talked about regarding ways that technology is changing sex. History shows that any advance, be it the advent of the latex condom or the birth control pill, is going to change attitudes about sex and the ways in which humans relate to one another. With the pace of technological change advancing at a rate that’s hard to keep up with, it’s difficult to imagine what kind of changes we’ll see.

These changes aren’t like trends in computers and smartphones either. Advances in drugs don’t always follow a simple pattern in terms of how they effect sex. There are drugs that negatively affect our sex drive, many of which are available at any drug store or with a prescription. The same goes for illicit drugs. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol isn’t an aphrodisiac. It can actually hinder sexual function. It’s only associated with sex because it removes inhibitions, thereby making people more open to sexual encounters.

The interplay between sex and other drugs, illicit and otherwise, is extremely complex and too much for a single blog post. It’s also unresolved because, despite mixing sex and drugs for years, we still don’t know everything about the way the two interact. Last year, Vice did a thorough report on how different drugs effect sex during their investigation into “Chemsex,” a topic I’ll cover in another blog post. You can read the article here:

Vice: This is your Sex on Drugs

There’s a lot in this article to examine. Drugs and their effects on the human body are complex and varied. At the moment, there’s no single drug that enhances sex for everybody in every instance. This quote from the article sums it up nicely:

Given how long—and often—humans have mixed drugs and sex, you’d think we’d understand the two pretty well by now. But as Johnson—who runs clinical trials testing narcotics’ effects on human behavior—can attest, drugs affect us all a little differently. Some have a direct pharmacological impact on the way we experience the world, while others affect our brains so dramatically that their impact on sex is a total crapshoot.

So as it stands, the interplay between sex and drugs is extremely varied and unpredictable. That unpredictability can make for interesting stories. At the moment, I’m throwing around a few ideas that explore this unpredictability. However, it’s the future of sex and drugs that I’m most interested in.

Every year, more and more drugs are emerging, legal and illegal alike. If there’s a way to mix these drugs with sex, people will find it and they will exploit it to the utmost. It may improve our sexual experiences. It may hinder them. One day, we may be able to control that. What kind of society will that create? How will that affect the way we relate to one another? Those are all important questions, but they’re best addressed in future blog posts.

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