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On the Slipperiness of Certain Slopes

August 5, 2009

Photo by Flickr user Paul Graham Raven, used under a Creative Commons license

One of the many interesting things long-term tramadol use does to you is it monopolizes your pleasure-receptors, those p-receptors Steeply and Marathe talk about mid-way through Infinite Jest. Tramadol wants your p-receptors all to itself, and it is a particularly jealous catty bitch when it comes to other substances — during my tramadol days alcohol did nothing for me. Weed just made me paranoid.* &c.

So now that I’ve sworn off Vitamin T, I’m finding that my body is super-responsive to alcohol. It’s like my p-receptors have just gone through a hellacious break-up and now they’re desperate for a rebound relationship. The proverbial Glass of Wine With Dinner is enough to turn me into Captain Buzz.

The scary thing is that when I’m in Captain Buzz mode (which, I should be clear, has only happened once or twice now), the idea of capping things off with a pinch of Vitamin T sounds immensely appealing. And insidious rationalizations start creeping into my thoughts, along the lines of “Look, you’re an adult — you’re going to have a Glass of Wine With Dinner every now and then. But alcohol is really bad for you — in fact, in some ways it’s probably worse for you than your favorite little white pills. So maybe, why not trade the occasional GoWWD for 150 Mgs. of Vitamin T With Dinner? If you’re gonna indulge, you may as well indulge right.”

The frightening thing is how compelling this argument seems at the time. It probably has something to do with alcohol’s tearing down of certain psychic inhibitions. I’m not terribly familiar with AA or NA, but from what I gather it seems that once people Go In they swear off all substances, not just the One Subtance to which they’ve become enslaved. I can totally see why, now.

I’m generally skeptical of slippery slope arguments but I’ve gotta tell ya — that One Glass stands right at the cusp of a steep and well-greased incline.

I stood at the top of this incline tonight, and one thing that helped me talk myself away was the Face in the Floor sequence from IJ. Recall that in Hal’s dream he senses something in the room that’s pure evil, but evil only for him. This notion of like your own personal and deeply-interested-in-you evil is I think what freaks me out most about the section. And the thing is, yes, it may be true (or it may not — who the fuck knows?) that occasional synth. opiate use is no worse for you than occasional alcohol consumption. God knows booze has wrecked plenty of lives. But regardless of whether Vitamin T is bad for anyone, broadly speaking, it’s bad for me. Not just bad — evil. Face-in-the-mother-fucking-floor evil. And this is terrifying, but it’s the kind of terror that can be turned to your advantage. If you’re scared enough.

* This always took the form of a terrifying certainty that my heart was beating way too fast and that it was on the verge of exploding.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 6, 2009 11:03 am

    One thing Wallace seems to be doing with Infinite Jest is to try to generalize addiction, showing that even good ol’ marijuana can drive certain people insane, even something like movie-watching can be the death of you. We all know what our personal devils are, and we have to decide every day whether to fight them or follow them.

    Your post also reminds me of a non-fiction book I recently read, Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational,” which talks about how we all have a Cool state and a Hot state, and when you’re in your cool state, you feel pretty sure you know how you’d make decisions in your hot state. Nope. Wrong. Instead, it’s a Jeckyl & Hyde type of thing, and we can only counter it by planning in advance for our upcoming loss of reason and judgment.

  2. doopty permalink
    August 6, 2009 9:39 pm

    i’m reminded of end note 321

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