“People take illicit drugs, and normally they have a good time.”

Many people take drugs and normally they have a good time

Ernie Hamilton

I didn’t join Story Lab because I have a sensational story to share. Quite the opposite. It’s a boring story, but that is exactly why I believe it needs to be told. 

During my first year of university, our class would gather every Monday to share stories of our weekend shenanigans. Others would talk about drinking too much alcohol and making regretful decisions. Everyone would laugh at these wild tales but my story always seemed bland. I’d go to the club, take an illicit substance, dance with my friends and then go home. I wouldn’t get in fights, get naked, or become stranded in a paddock, so there was nothing worth sharing. It was just so standard. Go, have a good time, come home. 

I’ve spent the majority of weekends in my adult life taking illegal drugs with thousands of other people. These people are all contributing, happy members of society, with most having a positive experience with no residual negative impacts. Normal people take illicit drugs, and normally they have a good time. 

The most negative experience I have had has been with legal drugs, such as alcohol. Drinking to excess, doing regretful things, creating anxiety and unhappiness. This doesn’t happen always, only occasionally – but very rarely does this ever happen in my experience with illicit drugs. 

I do a lot of research before I take any illicit substance. I read about the potential impact it could have on my body and pay close attention to my mindset and the atmosphere to make sure it is as safe as possible. I’m always sure to eat and drink and take a less is more approach. I want to have a good time. 

When I was younger, weekends would involve getting together with the family and heading to watch the local sporting match. I’d hear the roar of the crowd and music blasting from the field as we’d approach the grassy oval flanked by a bursting grandstand of people. As an adult, I still do the same thing with friends and family. Sometimes it’s at sporting matches at the local oval, other times it’s out in a paddock for a music event. We still hear the crowd roaring, the music blaring and the lights flashing. At both events, there are people taking drugs. When I was younger it was mostly alcohol, now it’s usually illicit substances. 

At these sporting events, I’d see violence but overwhelmingly everyone would be having a good time. As I’m older, I’ve rarely seen violence at music events and have noticed by the end of the night most people have made a new friend. It makes me wonder why this is illegal and considered counterproductive to society, while the former is accepted? To me, what has become a social norm with drinking and gambling seems more damaging than the alternative. 

Besides my intimate friends, I haven’t shared these stories with anyone before. There is a possibility that I could lose my job or might be shunned by the people around me. I’m very apprehensive about that. But joining Story Lab has given me the tools to share my experience with peers and the broader public by reducing my anxiety around the stigma. 

Prohibition takes away the freedom to talk openly, preventing people from sharing important knowledge about drug use. If you take the time to research you can find medical information, however, not everyone has the time or resources to look into these things. If people were able to speak frankly with peers, family and loved ones without shame or fear, they’re more likely to be able to find out how to enjoy drugs safely.  

Ernie Hamilton, 32, is a veterinarian, events manager and DJ from the NSW Southern Highlands.

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