Today, boys and girls, I’m here to talk to you about drugs.
–wait, don’t hit the X. I said talk, not lecture. This is a blog about fiction! C’mon.
For the purpose of this post, I’m going to define ‘drug’ as any ingestible substance with physiological and/or psychological effects. Medicine, alcohol, and marijuana all fall under the drug heading here.
Almost every single person has an opinion about at least one drug. Drug A should be illegal, or Drug B should be legalized. Doing or distributing Drug C should put someone on death row, while doing or distributing Drug D should be considered saint’s work. Drug E should be used carefully; Drug F can be used willy-nilly. Drug G isn’t all that bad, but Drug H is hardcore. People who do Drug I are just looking to relax, but people who do Drug J are dangerous addicts. It’s socially acceptable to partake of Drug K at an event, but someone imbibing Drug L in public should get arrested. Drug M should always be done around people to be safe, while Drug N should only be done alone. Keep Drug O in the house, but Drug P can go on the streets, and Drug Q can even be done in the car without anyone dying.
You get my point.
Nearly every human culture has found a way to make alcohol, medicine, and narcotics. There’s a rich and fascinating history on drug production and use. My question to you is not a moral one, but a creative one: How do fictional cultures treat drugs? Not only fictional human cultures, but humanoid and non-human ones as well?
Is drug use so honed a science that the entire culture takes a variety of drugs for their every need, every day? Is drug use so horrifying a concept – loss of self-control a phobia – that the culture won’t even use medicine when it’s desperately needed? Which drugs are acceptable, and in what ways? Which drugs are unacceptable, and how is illegal use of them treated? What’s considered medicinal, and what’s considered recreational? Are drugs used for religious or spiritual purposes? Does military training include developing a high tolerance to certain common drugs, or even poisons?
How do the people in your stories deal with drugs? Get creative! Even human cultures have vastly different relationships with and opinions of mind-altering substances. You can drive home the alienness of a culture or race very easily by tweaking the place drugs have in that society.
Image Credit: Royalty Free Images.