THE BLOG

Pill-Popping Culture

10/03/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It's late at night and a friend takes out a small Prada pouch; in it - his collection of pharmaceuticals, he's got everything from Adderall to Xanax, throw in some Vicodin for good measure. I'm there with my best friend, it's a rainy day, we've rushed over, the meds have mixed and we're on the rescue. Making sure he's okay.

Last year, over the summer, I was with a friend in the park; we were joined by an acquaintance, who pulled out a backpack full of little boxes, clear and full of multi-color pills. This is the newest trend, bags of pharmaceuticals handed out like candy corn. I heard, through the grape-vine, that brings harrowing news, that he was discovered naked in bed, his heart given out.

I briefly dated someone, by briefly, I mean, we met ... had a drink. He was cute enough to drag home, make out and kiss, then he became too comfortable. Confessions poured out. He'd only had one drink, maybe two. He was on Lexparo, he gushed this quickly, the glazed look in his eye was striking and frightening, he rattled on about his latest suicide attempt with surprising ease. Needless to say there wasn't a second get together, I tried to kick him out - yet it was one hell of an effort. I should have known the look, the washed over smile that's both eerie, sometimes human, but mostly bland. Someone on an SSRI never seems to have a sparkle in their eye.

Last year (or was it two as well), in one of the most harrowing moments of my life, I crashed off Celexa, my shrink at the time, had referred me to a sort of ambivalent psychotherapist that took my money and gave me a prescription, after prescription. I discovered the calming effects of a small dose of Ativan at that time. He took out his pad, gave me pills and never followed up. Then one day my insurance ran out, because I was a waiter, and was instantly fired, because that's just what happens. Let me also note, that it's very uncommon for waiters in New York to have health insurance.

Crashing on Celexa was this mind numbing - altering concept, I wrote about it on my old blog, a blow by blow of each sullen moment, as the drugs strong hold left me weak and listless, I understood first hand, how people could easily commit suicide when withdrawing if unsupervised. To this day, I get about one person a week, asking for help, reaching out in desperation because the drug hasn't worked or they're trying to quit.

Most just chose to comment and leave their story, take a moment to read them. This drug, even though it seems to mask depression, giving the illusion of normal so important in our culture, is nothing but a wrapping, a shroud for the mind, a mist of detachment. I liken it to a pink sheet wrapping my emotions, when the drug wore off, all at once - the torrents of happiness and sadness and those things that I've never been able to control well - came gushing. During withdrawal, it acted as a permeable membrane, allowing only sadness. How masterful these drug companies are.

Now scientists are developing Orexin A, that's supposed to cure the need for sleep. Originally developed for the military, there are net rumors that it will be available by prescription. I'm sure it'll be the next Adderall.

I'm sitting at my favorite bar, having my vodka soda, talking to my hot bartender crush. We're talking about the new hot nightlife trend, Adderall. At cocktail parties it's whispered about, it's a better high then coke and you're more in control. Someone is trying to convince someone to get it for them. Someone has it, there are rumors, it is wanted. The hot bartender is telling me he has a source, he winks. It's ever so mysterious. He tells me, he likes to take it, when he's cleaning his apartment, it's better for focus. I imagine him dusting in the buff and sigh. Someone else mentions, "it's great for weight loss, that's what all the skinny celebs are taking".

Most everyone I know is on a pill or trying to get one; everyone I know is trying to cure something. My friend, with the Prada pill bag, was trying to cure a broken heart. This most impossible promise, that everything will be fine if you just take a pill.

A few months ago, I went to my primary care physician. I confessed I was a bit bummed. He causally offers a prescription for Lexapro, tells me it's great. I cringe; try not to run out of the office screaming madly, I explained the hold it had on me. He smirked, "it couldn't have been that bad".

Rapidly, a pill will mask the symptoms of everything; we will forget who our natural selves are; as we pop big pharma like they're M&Ms. I'm happy I'm detoxing shortly, no booze, just tea. I've always been a watcher and observer, trying to balance the writerly need to experience and the compassionate need to listen to stories and understand.

Gawker has called us the creative classes. But I don't think pill-popping is confined to just the artsy types. Dash Snow comes to mind. But it's rampant in CEO culture, with the wealthy, with those that have access and want to try new things. After all, pills are expensive, so pill-popping is for the rich.

Our culture pushes us to try the newest latest shinny object, weather it be tech, clothing, accessory or drug. Then again, aren't they all sort of the same thing.

Check out the book,
[Side Step Me]

My blog and other work,
[Alex Geana]