Getting High


One of the clinical support jobs I perform when not taking x-rays is drug testing.  We have different kinds of kits, ones that test urine and ones that test saliva.  There’s also a portable “breathalyzer” to check for alcohol consumption.  Some local companies hire us to go to their location a few times each month to do random tests.  Others send employees to the clinic.  The employer specifies what drugs are to be tested for, and in what situations to test.  There’s different paperwork, depending on whether the test is for a DOT-related job (truck drivers, school bus drivers) or for folks with other responsibilities (railroad engineers, machine operators).  Testing is easy work, and the pay is high for the few hours it takes to do it.  People of the same gender as the applicants administer “observed” urine tests.

Men I have tested have tried every way possible to cheat.  None of the easy ways work.  I know about putting bleach or other substances on the palms to adulterate a urine sample, so we require observed hand washing prior to the test.  I do pat-downs and make you empty your pockets.  Fake urine that you buy at the smoke shop doesn’t foam or smell right, and the temperature is too low.  The lab always rejects it, stating “substance not consistent with human urine”.

Yes, if the company requires it, I have to stare close enough to see the urine come out of the tip to verify an “observed” test.  I did get fooled by a faux penis once, but not by the faux urine it emitted.  He wasn’t smart enough to use someone else’s real stuff.  I’m sorry if my looking makes it hard for some guys to go.  I can give them up to three hours, and a lot of water, to make it easier.  A refusal to continue equals a failed test.  I try to be gentle and respectful in manner, and to not take it personally if the applicant needs to gripe about the invasiveness of the procedure.  I tell them it’s not my favorite part of the job either, but that the employer sets the rules.

The only way I know of to beat an observed urine test is to go in after having self-administered a catheter full of someone else’s clean urine into your own fully depleted bladder, and re-emit it.  Trust me, it’s an uncomfortable procedure to perform on yourself.  Pulling your own teeth with pliers might feel better.  You might pass the test, but you’ll still get caught once you seek treatment for the bladder infection you’re very likely to cause, because you’ll get re-tested then.

I have plenty of sympathy for people who misuse recreational drugs.  They all impair a person’s ability to do demanding or dangerous jobs, but alcohol, for example, is legal for recreational use.  So is marijuana in my state.  Washington is going through the process of determining how to license, regulate and tax those who want to grow and sell it.  The same bureaucracy that controls alcohol is in charge.  It’s going to take about a year, and nobody knows what the prices will be yet.  Right now, police stop anyone whose driving is erratic and charge them with DUI, but if the driver has marijuana in view there’s no possession charge, because it’s legal to own.

Legalizing a small quantity of marijuana for personal recreational use happened in my state because enough people in government saw it as a potential revenue stream, and enough voters liked that idea.  We already had legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, something I endorse on compassionate grounds.  If a patient can ingest THC and get enough pain relief and appetite stimulus to be able to eat and stop vomiting when undergoing chemotherapy, or use marijuana to relieve the discomforts of glaucoma etc. I can’t see any reason not to allow it.  I’m on the fence about recreational use.  I have no idea if it will be as robust an income generator as predicted.  Maybe they’ll dedicate a percentage of the revenue to education or charities so they can say, “It’s for the kids.”

Because I was a teenager in the 1970s, I’m partly immune to non-scientific propaganda about the dangers of recreational drugs.  Back then smoking marijuana was such a normal part of going to college, no one even remarked about the smell wafting through the dorms.  Over the decades I’ve seen Americans accept, reject and re-accept different kinds of recreational drug use.  The cultural “pro” and “con” cycles don’t seem predictable to me, but that might be my lack of training in anthropology.  As archeology goes, making intoxicants is an old habit. Chemical tests of ancient pottery jars reveal that beer was produced about 7,000 years ago in what is today Iran, one of the first-known biological engineering tasks employing fermentation.  It’s not difficult to imagine cave people discovering the effect of psychedelic mushrooms.

EgyBarleyBeerAncient Egyptians preferred a Barley Beer

Past legal and cultural objections to the recreational use of some drugs were originally based on the “gateway theory”.  It assumed that marijuana, for example, is a “gateway” to using more dangerous, addictive drugs like heroin or amphetamines, because a high percentage of addicts using so-called “hard” drugs were initially consumers of the “soft” drugs.  The theory ignores the fact that by far most users of these substances experiment with them a few times and quit.  Experimentation with alcohol and some other drugs in the teen years is an ordinary behavior that usually ceases after a few experiences of negative side effects.  However, a minority of experimenters become addicted physically and/or psychologically.

Family pathology and genetics are the real gateways to addiction.  Addicts run in families.  If you grow up around parents who self-medicate, then the child inside you believes that’s normal, and you’ll have to un-learn it as an adult.  If you start using, and have children, you will pass the message on to them.  Nothing begins or ends with us.  It’s easy to say people are probably better off not using substances to get high, but it’s unrealistic.  Every culture we know about features some kind of substance people use to get altered.

So, here are some ways to get high without the use of risky substances.  Wiser folks than I will recommend extended prayer, meditation, exercise, fasting or remaining silent for days.  All those methods work.  These are simpler:

1.)  Spin around, or have someone else spin you, until you are dizzy.  Don’t continue until you feel nauseous.  Every kid knows this method, and most have experimented with it.

2.)  Stay up too long.  You will automatically think differently, some of which can be highly entertaining.  Write out your thoughts during this activity, or record yourself.  You’ll be amused for a second time when reviewing your behavior.

3.)  Watch odd, comedic film clips.  This method never fails for me.  Here’s one I haven’t posted before:

4.)  Hold your breath until you can’t.  No fair using external equipment!

5.)  Practice “gurning” in the mirror.  If you have tolerant friends, you can practice at them too.



Filed under humor, Metaphysics, Self-Esteem

24 responses to “Getting High

  1. an interesting read! I think I’ll give the catheter a miss…

  2. Well written and very enjoyable, learned much. You have an interesting job and live in an interesting state.

    • Half my intent is to make it come across as interesting, so I thank you. It’s kind of funny to me that I know more about recreational drug use than people who actually take them. I do wonder what will happen with these new pot laws.

      • I think it depends much on if the state will see enough revenue from it.. I tend to think that MJ in general is a cash cow and I don’t see why the state wouldn’t be capable of milking it since they do govern the barnyard.

        My wonderful state of Oregon is planning on going along the same lines…

  3. This was wonderful! I always say I’m a different person at night and shouldn’t be allowed near the Internet as the things I say are so different than my thoughtful daytime statements. For the record I love staying up really late and try to do so once or twice a month in winter and much more often in summer
    3 weeks before pre-employment lie detector tests were made illegal by the federal government I passed a drug test and failed a lie detector test because I was so anxious I misheard a question. It was for a great Wall Street job. I learned then these tests weren’t to weed out the people who actually did things–for these kinds of jobs–I certainly understand it for a driver etc., but to see how much and well you can lie
    Even my parents found it hilarious as I don’t have it in me to lie. I will never believe in drug tests for professional jobs unless they directly involve the safety of the person and others. That experience radicalized me totally.

    • I know just what you mean, Pia, about that psychological difference between night and day times. We can follow unusual impulses, and the whole world appears transformed! I don’t think it’s only a fantasy reserved for poets and romantics, though I haven’t studied it scientifically. I hope as you live on you can learn to use that change to your advantage, for artistic productivity or increased personal understanding. I’m happy reading this gave you a *spark*

      My bio-clock is set rather later than most people’s. On days when I don’t have to go to work I tend to stay up until 2-3am and sleep until 10 the next morning. I generally perceive things more positively after midnight, before sunrise. It improves my access to creativity, and I can accept my flaws and fears more easily.

  4. Nimrod and Dip$** used to smoke pot while one took the other to work. I’d be sitting in the backseat watching. Pretty sure if they got caught they’d have still got into trouble, note or not.
    I miss those days at times, the good times were really good. The day I left, Nimrod blew pot smoke into my hair deliberately and I was horrified. He came up behind me and did it maliciously. I was terrified my worker would smell it. So. much for best friend.
    I heard you could drink a gallon of water and (if your kidneys don’t shut down) you could flush the pot out.
    I heard once a gentleman found out he was pregnant during a drug test (he’d had some of his wife’s pee on hand). Don’t think he passed that test.
    Great and thoughtful post. I used to spin ’til I had to lay down as a little kid.

    • More water’s a good idea in general. Most people don’t hydrate enough. Drinking water is an excellent way to hasten getting over a hangover from drinking alcohol. However, THC is partly fat-soluble. It won’t wash out, and if you actually ingest it, tests can detect it up to 20 days later. It will wash out of your hair though 🙂

      I hope no one thought I was trying to make light of the risks of driving etc. while stoned. The point I may have failed to emphasize is that people really need to have fun, since so much of our time is spent doing things that may be responsible, but are NOT fun. Most folks relate to intoxicants as a source of amplified fun, achievable in a short time.

  5. I just love the way you describe your experiences in life. You articulate so well. I felt myself blushing and giggling at the thought of you “watching” the urine samples almost as if I was in the room with you. Thank you for bringing a chuckle to my day with this lovely post.

  6. Refreshing post. I continue to feel people who need a substance to alter their minds lack imagination. Poor things.

    • Maybe. I have plenty of imagination, but I also have alcoholism in my family, so at times I’ve used alcohol inappropriately. It’s something I have to watch out for. Glad you enjoyed reading!

  7. Thx for the latter paragraph of suggestions.
    Exercise also is great way to feel “high”.

    No one in my family has known (to me) substance abuse problems….except for 1 brother-in-law I never knew who died young in his twenties. The family believed it was overdose. But it doesn’t mean an extended family is immune from other problems.

    It’s dismaying these guys try to cheat the system on urine testing for substance abuse determination. I worked for major construction engineering project for 3 years where I learned about the problem of substance abuse in the heavy construction industry across North America (not sure it it’s worldwide). The incidents are mentioned here for our project:

    Believe me, I really see construction sites in a completely different light now after that work experience. You can also tell by some of the comments on that blog post, how difficult it is to change habits of some workers re alcohol.

    • The problem of substance abuse is both worldwide and historically universal, common to every known culture since the dawn of time. The substances differ depending on what’s locally available and what stuff becomes preferred within cultures, but the dynamics of addiction are always the same.

      Thanks for the link about your own experiences around workers with drinking problems, Jean. You’re right about exercise of course. I don’t have a lot of experience with that kind of high because if I break a sweat for long I have to use an asthma inhaler. That is a legacy I live with from growing up in close proximity to a tobacco addict.

  8. I like your alternatives to getting high. Another good one is to eat something garlicky before going to bed to induce bizarre dreams.

  9. MIkey, since you read and commented on one of my posts, I thought I’d check you out.

    You do medical x-rays and drug tests? That requires a certain degree of applied knowledge. I was a Customs type (“Welcome to the U.S., let me see your passport, open your bags and take off all your clothes”) for twenty-two years and can sympathize with the ‘same-gender’ restrictions and attempts to ‘fool’ me somehow. I can’t guarantee I was never ‘beat’, but I found a bunch of them.

    In the spirit of openness, I am generally against recreational drug use, but normally keep some form of recreational alcohol on hand (dark beer, Scotch and red wines predominate). (Not all at once, just for the record.) Oh, yes; my other dark secret is my preferred use of non-filter cigarettes.

    I must say I’m not sure I really think freeing up the recreational use of Cannabis is a good idea. On the other hand, those who will ‘abuse’ stuff will find stuff to abuse. On principle, I find trying to deal with human behavior by prohibiting an inanimate object is less than effective.

    And I must add the idea of ‘taxing’ various currently prohibited recreational pharmaceuticals is fraudulent on the part of government. Even if they collect scads of tax money, they will NOT reduce other taxes – not a bit.

    High? My preferred method is to enjoy a drink (one serving) of Scotch, smoking a Lucky Strike and reading either a classic murder mystery or a cosmology book. I used to run, but my knees got old.

    I like your inferred attitude of casual and somewhat detached attention. That was the persona I developed in doing my job. “I have to do this as properly as I can, but it isn’t personal.” Doing strip searches was probably my least favorite thing to do. In the first place, much like your job, I could not search women. (Although a couple offered to let me…) Believe me when I say having another male undress is not a cheerful episode.

    Just for the record, strip searches are only done following a pat-down search – subject fully clothed, except for shoes – and ‘something’ is discovered in the course of the pat-down. And, pat-downs are only done pursuant to specific ‘articulable facts’; which is to say one must convince a Supervisor to allow a pat down.

    At any rate, I can commiserate with being the ‘heavy’ at times. Oppressing the masses is such a thankless job!

    • Thanks so much for reading and replying. It is a rather thankless job, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, as they say in Westerns. It seems most everyone uses or does something, hopefully in moderation, to alter the experience of normal perception. I don’t expect the state will lower taxes either. The new pot laws are for a new revenue stream. Legalization will impact an already existing source – prisons. They want to replace that money.

  10. Ha! But seriously, though, I’m a chronic when it comes to #1.

  11. I like your practical approach. As a chronic pot user, I’ve been libertarian about drugs for some time. I’ve evolved to believe that less prisoners, more tax revenue & the end to the war on drugs matters more than my liberty. Thanks for you’re level headed post.

    • Thanks for reading and contributing to the discussion. I don’t quite understand why there’s so much hyperbole about recreational drug use. I do agree the number of people imprisoned for non-violent drug use is way out of proportion to the crime. Any drug can be dangerous if mis-used or overused. People die from taking aspirin! Even though I don’t use cannabis products, if I had pain issues I would consider them. They have fewer side effects and less toxicity than opiates.

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