Many people use drugs and/or alcohol to escape the insanity of modem life. People who don’t have goals, and who aren’t busy trying to create value in some form, often use drugs to escape boredom.
As science and technology increase their impact on modem life, the opportunities for chemical escapism will increase. One vision of the future is found in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, where the soma drug provides the escape of an almost endless dream. In the short-term, mind-altering drugs offer many attractions: sensual stimulation, intense experience, escape from worry and trouble. The long-term effects are not so enchanting, as drug use typically leaves the users wasted and spent, in many cases a pathetic shell of their former selves. Long-term drug use often causes permanent physical or mental damage.
Of course there is a role for pain-killing drugs in modern medicine, and for moderate alcohol use that does not impair the user physically or mentally. And, contrary to public propaganda, there appears to be little permanent harm from short-term, experimental use of “recreational” drugs such as marijuana. But there are many reasons why those seeking to live sanely should severely limit their use of drugs and alcohol:
• Reason is your primary, and often only, weapon of self-defense, and mind-altering drugs can leave you defenseless.
• Drugs are not an aid to creative work of lasting value.
• You can ruin your life with one major mistake: A car accident, a loss of temper that leads to violence, or simply saying something that would be better left unsaid. You are far more likely to make such a mistake under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Most fundamentally, living sanely requires that your life has integrity, an overarching context, and that you continually make your best assessment of facts and reality. To live your life in this sort of integrated way requires that you never lose self-control or your capacity to think clearly.
Sobriety helps you maintain your ability to focus on the long-term, think clearly, and accurately assess reality.