Preferred Name: Callum
Callum is studying towards a diploma. He lives with his ex-partner and their young child. Callum describes his ethnic background as ‘white Caucasian Australian’: he was born in Australia, as were his parents.
Callum began smoking cannabis in his mid-teens, and has continued to do so regularly since then. After breaking his back in his early thirties, he was prescribed opioid medication to manage the pain associated with his injury. However, he was concerned about the medication’s side effects and was reluctant to take it over a long period of time, so he decided to smoke cannabis for pain management instead. He says he now has a ‘habit’ of smoking cannabis in the evenings as part of his ‘night routine’. He also takes LSD (or ‘acid’), mescaline and magic mushrooms every few months which he says helps him to gain insight into himself.
In his early thirties, while working interstate, Callum broke his back and was told he would ‘never walk properly again’. He says he was ‘pumped’ ‘full of’ morphine in hospital and found the side effects to be unpleasant, so he decided not to take the opioid medication that he was prescribed after he was discharged from hospital. He also avoids opioids because of concerns about becoming dependent on them, but feels he received little guidance from the hospital staff about alternative treatment options. Ultimately he opted to smoke cannabis during his recovery, also undergoing physiotherapy, eating healthily and sleeping well. He finds that a ‘night routine’ of smoking cannabis before going to bed increases his appetite, relaxes his muscles and helps him to sleep, which he says has aided his recovery. He also says it increases his ‘appreciation for life’ and helps him ‘be a more functional human being’.
After his injury, Callum began taking LSD, mescaline and magic mushrooms (hallucinogens) every few months. He takes these drugs at home so that he can ‘curl up on the couch, listen to music’ and have ‘a beautiful experience’. He describes mescaline and magic mushrooms as ‘therapeutic tools’, in that he feels they allow him to take himself ‘out of the […] present everyday reality’ and make ‘the stresses of normal everyday life dissipate’ so that he can gain ‘insight’ into himself and ‘focus on what’s important’ to him.
Callum says he feels there is ‘social stigma’ associated with cannabis and hallucinogen consumption, and as a result, he only discloses his consumption to close friends. But he says he doesn’t think he’s ‘doing anything wrong’, and feels comfortable with his drug use ‘within [him]self’. For him, smoking cannabis regularly has ‘become part of [his] life’ and a ‘habit’ which he intends to continue, alongside taking mushrooms and mescaline ‘on a casual basis’.
After completing his studies he plans to develop a career in which he can ‘empower’ people, and contribute to the greater good. In the meantime, he plans to be ‘good to [him]self’, and ‘be the best dad [he] can be’.
Callum (M, 36, studying, cannabis) experiences chronic pain from a back injury and finds smoking cannabis alleviates the pain and helps him to relax. (Note: strong language)
[In terms of my day-to-day experience of smoking cannabis,] pretty much I don’t smoke it in the mornings. I wake up, I wait ’till the afternoon, do what I need for the day. Yeah, when I feel the need to relax, when my day’s done, I smoke a bit of weed. It helps me unwind. Also when I get to bed at night, due to the fact that I have crushed T12 vertebrae, I find that if I don’t smoke, I just have problems getting comfortable in bed, but if I do smoke, there’s no problems, I’m a basic, normal, functioning human being. Due to my back, when I actually broke it, [the doctors were] like, ‘You’ll never work, you’ll never walk properly again. Here’s opiate medication. Take that home’. There was no guidance, there was no nothing, and pardon my French, but I got out of hospital and said, ‘Fuck that, I’m a human being. I have rights. I want to live my life. I want to be the best person I can and still be a human basically, and I’m not going to shut myself off’. So I threw out the medication, and just continued to smoke weed through my whole recovery, and I believe it’s helped me be a more functional human being.
When Callum was charged with cannabis use, he was court ordered to attend alcohol and other drug counselling.
I was smoking [cannabis in] a peace pipe at my friend’s birthday party and the cops come around for a noise complaint. Of course, hello, there you go, so I was busted with that. I had to go to court and I just pleaded guilty, which means I had to do the drug diversion program. […I] basically just went in [to counselling and] talked about my habits, talked about use […] had about three or four sessions, came out and it was pretty much the end of it. [The counsellor] said, ‘Look, I can’t tell you not to [smoke cannabis…] I’m not going to tell you what to do. You seem comfortable. You seem quite functional. You seem to know what you’re doing, so I’m not going to sit here and say don’t do it. I’m not going to be that big pointy finger’.
To manage his drug consumption Callum gathers information from online resources and ‘critically reflects’ on his choice of drugs.
The research and the [websites] that I do go to [for information on drugs…] come from long-term experiences [of drug use]. As I said, a lot of [the people posting the information are] chemists. A lot of them have used [the drug] themselves so it’s coming from […] word of mouth, and a lot of these people are very switched on. They’re very smart […]
I think [good healthcare involves] support, support and information. It’s all about being aware. You make your own choices in life and you’ve got to maintain [your health]. It’s all about sustainability at the end of the day. And that’s [for me] personally. I like using psychedelics. I love the effects and what I get from them, but at the same time, I’m heavily against amphetamines and stuff like that because they’re not sustainable. They wear the body down and cause too many issues like that so it’s about awareness, awareness about yourself and what you need to get through the day, and yeah, reflection, critical reflection is such a big thing for human beings. I don’t think a lot of us are aware of it. People are like, ‘Oh, why does this keep happening to me?’, and it’s just like, ‘Well, maybe you’re not doing something right. Maybe you need to start changing the way you’re operating’. So yeah, I just think support at the end of the day, support and the right information is critical. It’s key.
Callum says that taking hallucinogens (or ‘psychedelics’) promotes reflection and gives him deeper personal insight. (Note: strong language)
Using psychedelics has sort of helped me […] find out about myself and it’s had such a profound effect on my life and my learning curve really […] I find that if I take psychedelics on a regular occasion […] it gives me some time out just to assess myself, have some critical reflection, see where I want to go. So it just gives me more insight into myself rather than blocking all the feelings […With] LSD, basically you feel like you’re tapped into a universal mind-like mainframe […] All the stresses of normal, everyday life dissipate. You basically have no ego. You’re able just to go inside yourself and internalise. And as I said before, critical reflection, just to think about yourself, where you’re going, it takes all the bullshit away in life and allows you to focus on what’s important. So that’s LSD. [With] mushrooms […] I literally just curl up on the couch, listen to music, close my eyes, just watch the colours [and] have a beautiful experience […] And I find that I come out of that, once again, able to critically reflect [with more] insight into myself […] It helps me be a more centred person at the end of the day.