Over the last few years, as people mature and their relationships and job responsibilities become more serious, I have heard from more and more people who want to shift some of their focus away from their party-lives and onto their adult lives.
Electronic Dance Music (EDM) has been a wonderful trend in human experience in that its venues have generally provided wonderful spaces in which people could feel free. With few ‘rules’ for dancing or dressing, people could really immerse themselves into the music, and that lead them to experience periods of true bliss. These can be genuinely profound experiences.
While the above is true, it is also true that much of the reason that EDM culture and raves are known for being so ‘loving’ or ‘free’ is because there is a much larger percentage of drug users at those events. But by their 30’s most ravers have seen drugs ravage many friend’s lives if not end them entirely, so concerns are natural. And they are increased by recent changes in the trustworthiness of drug purity. There are a lot of people who want to quit.
The favoured drugs tend to tip people towards temporary, drug-induced feelings of strength and energy (cocaine, methamphetamine etc.), emotional freedom (ecstasy, molly, MDMA, alcohol etc.), relaxation (ketamine, opiates) or spirituality (LSD, DMT, Salvia etc.). In a busy, stressful world, it is easy to see why searching for quick paths to those sensations would be welcomed by many.
These are often referred to as ‘lifestyle’ drugs, because they, together with the music and certain fashions etc., all form a subculture. It is valid as a subculture, but it can also be a legitimate impediment to developing a successful adult life.
It’s one thing to date someone at 23 and spend your weekends on drugs raving to your favourite DJ’s, but eventually the job promotion thing, or the biological clock thing happen, and the people who want families tend to desire less partying and more responsibility. This is often when people first face the idea that they may have a casual addiction.
In truth, I rarely work on the addiction itself. For the most part, what’s needed is a helpful identity shift that allows us to keep the most important parts of ourselves from an earlier incarnation of our life, while we make a legitimate shift into our next phase of life –and until that final curtain, there is always another phase, so it’s a good skill to develop.
Once people have been taught how to make this shift comfortably, the drugs rarely disappear, but they do become more events than a lifestyle. Parents that used to go to every summer festival and rave possible are suddenly having children, serious jobs, and now they hit one or two big festivals a year as their adult time without the kids. Even then, most find their drug use trails off quite naturally and comfortably.
People should not feel strange or feel as though they’ve made a mistake if they’re wrestling with this change. It is never enjoyable to have to surrender freedom to assume responsibility for our life partners or children, but we’re not looking at the whole picture if we think we don’t gain in that trade. We don’t lose our old selves and go backwards, we build on that person and we go up.
There are other ‘highs’ in life. People don’t have to hate or be ashamed of their previous selves to find them. They merely need some guidance on how they can make that shift in ways that make sense, that foster growth, and that feel good. Because no one ever felt weaker by feeling more capable.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.