"paranoia" < noun >
1) A mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance.
2) Unjustified suspicion and mistrust of others.
- Oxford Concise Dictionary
The first time I walked into a nightclub I felt the heat and excitement, and marvelled at the thunder of sound, and the bright lights. It was good to be alive in an age where such a thing was possible. Over the years that followed I transformed from beer-swilling clubber to drugged-up raver. I was young, and curious. Rebelliousness is progressive; it was, perhaps, inevitable.

The rave movement was an evolution of Acid House parties, orchestrated with lasers and LSD. Rave was a principal of love and unity through dance. In the 90's the question was not whether to take drugs, but which drug to take. The usual choice was MDMA hydrochloride (also known as 'Ecstasy', 'E', or 'X'). Thousands of technological hippies converged to become one with each other. The music sounded absolutely amazing, and the venues resonated with power. You could talk to anyone, just go up and cuddle complete strangers. The defensive preliminaries of social conditioning were barely ticking over. It was a 'loved-up' feeling that could be defined as the total lack of paranoia, even a 'reversed paranoia'. We were blissed-out: a sub-group annexed, sometimes in the many thousands, and all of us loving a single moment. Nevertheless, such a thing comes at a price. What goes up easily, comes down hard.

As the high wears off there is depression and myriad physical discomforts, including lock-jaw and teeth grinding. Ironically, before MDMA was declared a controlled substance, it was used therapeutically because of the tactile openness it generated. Now it has been established that it can cause persistent neurotoxic injury to the Central Nervous System. In other words, you get brain damage. You can't feel so naturally happy anymore, and you will have difficulty remembering things. The last time I took a pill I stumbled into portable toilet and vomited with the moon reflecting off the sewerage. The drugs went wrong; there was too much money to be made.

Regardless of the purity of a tablet, another side-affect that can alter a person deep down is paranoia, particularly smoking 'Skunk' marijuana. It is notorious for inducing paranoia, possibly even schizophrenia. The law has changed recently: all varieties of cannabis have been re-classified a 'Class B' drug. This means that the days of being 'let off with a slapped wrist' are history. If you want more information about this click the link to the 'FRANK' website. It has been said that alcohol is worse than weed, but alcohol doesn't usually cause delusions. I believe paranoia can be induced by ALL 'recreational' drugs and very few people are unaffected. Watching a football match on the TV and drinking lager with a few mates just doesn't seem interesting anymore. Strangers in the same room smoking a joint become instant friends, but seeing the faces of intimate family can invoke guilt and regret with an intensity that stifles you. The feeling you are acting out your 'old self' on a stage has to be pushed away. The more you try to recover what you have lost - to 'think' a path back to the person that you used to be - the more you will change into a different person.

Extreme hunger is another side-affect of smoking cannabis. You can experience a half-concealed humour in a shop, but at other times everything is like cardboard as if it is propped up on a film set. The products on the shelves appear to be insignificant and irrelevant, against what we are conditioned to believe makes the world turn. Other people in there selecting objects to buy seem like phantoms that are only half-real. You volunteered for this, a twist of perception that can be the beginning of the end of the person you were. 'Acid' can trigger off this affect a thousand times over. The districts where psychiatrists trawl for the mentally ill they call 'catchment areas'.
Many young people are adopting a shadowy remnant of the same dream, which can so easily become a nightmare. The drugs are often cut with anything from glucose to horse tranquiliser. I still go to Old School retro nights, sometimes, and drink Vodka and Redbull cocktails. If I am really enjoying myself, someone may come up to me and shout into my ear: "Do you know where I can get a pill?" and I always shout back: "I haven't done an illegal drug for over ten years!" and do you know what? They often shake my hand for it.

If you have been diagnosed with a psychiatric problem, click the icon on "schizophrenia", because there I talk about the importance of 'coping-mechanisms' to help tackle these illnesses. Whatever keeps you going is good, but not what can hurt your mind. If you smoke cannabis to alleviate anxiety it is like throwing petrol on a fire. What about stopping for good? Cannabis itself is not physically addictive, the issue is more psychological. Giving up cigarettes is actually more difficult. Your friends won't want you to give up, and making new friends outside of that circle is awkward, but breaking away is a part of it. You stand to gain a new life.

Reality is underrated, and it waits to embrace you a few weeks after your last joint. There is less confusion, no further need to suppress unsocial sub-thoughts. You will be able to think clearer and see clarity in the world around you, alive and colourful and vibrant before your new eyes! You didn't know how much you missed it until you saw it again. Now you are ready to make your way in real life. You thought everyone else was living in a dream-world? It is YOU that is waking up!