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|On Being Stoned, by Charles Tart|
On Being Stoned
Charles T. Tart, Ph. D.
Chapter 25. Experience in Using Drugs
THE 150 USERS had a wide range of experience in drug use. Marijuana use ran from less than six months experience to more than eleven years use. Seventy-two percent had tried major psychedelic drugs such as LSD.
Three background analyses for drug use were carried out, namely, by total amount of use of marijuana, frequency of use of marijuana in the six months immediately preceding filling out the questionnaire, and use or non-use of major psychedelics.
Total marijuana use was divided, according to the method described in Chapter 5, so as to yield three groups, termed Heavy Total users, Moderate Total users, and Light Total users. Frequency of use in the preceding six months also produced three groups, the Daily, Weekly, and Occasional users. Users of Psychedelics were those who had tried any major psychedelic drug at least once.
The number of significant comparisons for each of these background variables is presented in Table 25-1, below. While Frequency of Use yielded only a few more significant comparisons than might be expected by chance, Total Use and Psychedelic Use yielded many more, and so are highly significant factors affecting marijuana intoxication.
As detailed descriptions of the effects of each of the three background variables have been presented with each item description, this chapter will summarize these effects on a dimension of greater or lesser drug experience. That is, Users of Psychedelics have more drug experience than Non-users, Heavy Total users more than Moderate Total users, Weekly users more than Occasional users, etc. Most of the three category comparisons (Total Use and Frequency of Use) showed a linear trend, i.e., the Heavy or Daily category users showing the greatest frequency or highest minimal level, the Moderate or Weekly next highest, and the Light or Occasional users the least. Thus the summary statements in the following tables that "users with more drug experience report effect X more or less frequently or at higher or lower levels than users with less drug experience" generally adequately summarizes a finding.
Ten percent of the significant differences were not linear: the Moderate or Weekly users showed the highest or lowest value. These nonlinear effects, mostly from the Frequency of Use analyses, are shown in a separate table.
Table 25-2 summarizes 40 effects experienced more frequently by users with greater drug experience. Overall frequency of occurrence is summarized in the usual type style code.
following each effect indicates which background variables were the significant ones.
One would expect that users with more drug experience would have experienced a wider variety of effects. Three rare effects and 18 infrequent effects are indeed experienced more frequently by users with more drug experience.
Table 25-3 summarizes 23 effects experienced less frequently by the more experienced users; Table 25-4, the 20 effects for which more experienced users have a higher minimal level of intoxication; and Table 25-5, the 18 effects for which they have a lower minimal level.
In the basic model of drug intoxication set forth in Chapter 2, it was hypothesized that increasing experience with drug-induced states of consciousness would generally result in the user's experiencing fewer negative, unpleasant effects and/or that such negative effects would be pushed to higher levels of intoxication. This is generally confirmed by the data. Of the 19 unequivocally "undesirable" effects (discussed fully in Chapter 21), about half are experienced significantly less frequently or have higher minimal levels for the users with more drug experience, with only one comparison being significant in the opposite direction.
It was also hypothesized that increased drug experience would generally lead to increased control of the intoxicated state. This is also confirmed by the data. Experienced users worry less frequently about losing control, find less frequently that they can't come down if necessary, must be more intoxicated to be sidetracked, and can come down at will more frequently and from higher levels. The one finding contrary to this hypothesis is that they experienced being easily sidetracked more frequently.
A heavy marijuana user would also have many more occasions on which he had to function in ordinary (non-drug subculture) situations with ordinary people. A number of background differences, in addition to increased control, would seem to reflect this need to function frequently in ordinary situations, namely, increased frequency of ease in reading and good memory for periods of intoxication; decreased frequency of losing track and needing to reorient, finding it hard to play ordinary social games, feelings of paranoia about companions, giving less thought to consequences of actions, here-and-now-ness (too much would interfere with planning), and thinking you've said something when you haven't.
The thirteen non-linear effects of background variables are summarized in Table 25-6.