Drugs of Third World Cultures

The American perception of drugs is, like anything, formed by our culture and shaped by our bias. What we think of drugs are often very unnatural, highly processed, filthy substances that are produced by the sweat and blood of the third world, bringing in dirty money and complicating world politics. Third world cultures often take drugs that grow in the ground, usually for deeply spiritual and traditional reasons. Perhaps if we examine the way other cultures think about and take drugs, we can learn how to prevent and cure our drug problems here at home. If you or anyone you know has an addiction to drugs or alcohol, please call Right Path Drug Rehab so we can connect you to the ideal drug rehab center for the needs of the situation.

San Pedro Cactus, Peru

A cactus native to the Andes Mountains region of South America, the San Pedro is peeled and the skin is used to brew a tea that has psychedelic effects. The cactus, that has many hallucinogenic chemicals including mescaline, is used for religious and healing purposes. It is an integral part of life and culture in the mountains that has been practiced for over 3,000 years, and is taken very seriously. Drinking the cactus tea is also considered an antithesis to alcoholism. Using drugs for healing purposes is a common practice in the third world, whereas Western cultures use drugs for recreation and pleasure.

Ayahuasca, The Amazon

Another tea brewed with a “vine of the gods,” which ayahuasca literally translates to, produces psychedelic effects even more intense than the San Pedro cactus. The drug contains the chemical dimethyltryptamine (DMT) which is found in all living things and produces an extremely transportive, spiritual, brief, but intense trip shaman healers administer to people in tribes that are in need of healing and spiritual awakening. Once again, addiction recovery clinics are not needed as the drug is not used recreationally, but is thought of as a healing agent and used for enlightenment.

Cannabis Derivatives, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan

Cannabis resin made into hashish called charas is popular in much of the Indian subcontinent  Despite its use for cultural rituals, possession of the drug is punishable by a ten year prison sentence in India. As we have seen in the United States, criminalizing popular drugs that are more innocuous in comparison creates more problems than it solves. The Indian police often uses the high sentence to receive bribes from citizens. Contrasting with charas, bhang (pronounced bang) is legal and available in shops around India. Used to practice meditation, the specific combination of cannabis leaves and buds are made into a drink or are smoked.

Acullico coca Leaves, Peru

Quite a different experience than the highly processed powdered cocaine Westerners are familiar with, chewing the leaves straight from the coca plant gives the tribes of the Andes a mild stimulation similar to caffeine or sugar. So comparable even, that the coca leaf was used in Coca-Cola which was eventually replaced by caffeine. The plant is considered sacred in indigenous cultures.

Khat (pronounced kot), Horn of Africa & the Arabian Peninsula

Khat is a plant cultivated in the horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula that produces flowers and leaves that are again made into a tea. Used as a substitute because the Koran forbids alcohol, Muslims have been drinking the tea for almost a thousand years. It is so popular that Djibouti residents spend around 15 percent of their income on the euphoric and relaxing high, in a country where the unemployment rate hovers around half the population.

Much can be learned from the alternative ways that Eastern cultures use drugs. They are not addicted to highly powerful and concentrated pills, they use the natural plants around them for pragmatic use. Primarily an unprocessed tea used for healing and spirituality. Recreational use of drugs is less common, they way they think about drugs is often very different. Although their cultures are unlike our own, if you are a recovering drug addict, it is best to stay away from any intoxicating substances while you are traveling. Drug trafficking and abuse is still a problem in the third world, especially since addiction treatment centers are almost nonexistent. But as we have seen in multiple places, criminalizing non-violent offenders is not the right path to take.

If you or anyone you know is addicted to drugs or alcohol, please call Right Path Drug Rehab so that we can connect you with the ideal drug rehab clinic for the situation at hand.

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