Smokin,’ Dopin,’ and Copin’ in a Crazy World
Smokin’ Dopin’ and Copin’ refers to a set of behaviors in which we engage to feel okay, especially when pressure and stress mounts. The ingestion of substances to alter state of mind, via body chemistry, is as old as man. Modern science has discovered and labeled many chemicals we ourselves produce within our own body. For example, when we are pressured and stressed beyond our norms, certain chemicals are secreted into the blood. The most commonly known stress chemical produced by the adrenal gland is ‘cortisol.’ Depression is related to the production of neurotransmitters such as ‘norepenephrin,’ ‘seratonin,’ and ‘dopamine.’ The hormone adrenocorticotropic is intimately associated with the psychological experience of anxiety. The body can also produce ‘happy chemicals’ such as ‘oxcytocin,’ endorphin,’ ‘dopamine’ and ‘seratonin.’
You may notice that dopamine and seratonin are both ingredients in depression and happiness. Modern pharmaceuticals for depression aim to regulate the amount of dopamine and/or seratonin. Too much or too little is a problem, just the right amount is the objective. We generate from whithin our own body various chemicals which travel through the blood touching our cells and organs, and having strong influence on our state of mind. Every culture throughout time has utilized plants as medicine. Most modern pharmaceuticals are either plant derivatives or the active chemical compounds of the plant have been synthesized.
Using plants as a way of coping is nothing new. Eating as a way of coping is introducing chemistry into the blood. Nicotine from tobacco is introducing chemistry into the blood. Alcohol is introducing chemistry into the blood. Even alcohol is plant based. Sippin’ as copin’. ‘Recreational’ chemicals, such as cannabis and hashish, LSD, mescaline, peyote and ayahuasca, are some of the more well known psychoactive substances in which one can go trippin’ for copin’. Trippin’ may go beyond coping to inner exploration, but can become a way of avoiding or numbing in the same way narcotics such as opium and heroin and pain killers work. So, in addition to smokin’ and dopin’ we can add sippin’ and trippin’ to the list of coping mechanisms.
The problem with smokin,’ dopin,’ sippin’ and trippin’ as coping mechanisms is they are terribly short lived remedies and can become addictive. We then need a coping mechanism to cope with our coping mechanisms. There are behaviors in which one can engage and generate body chemistry that can serve the function of coping with an additional side effect of, with regular practice, requiring less coping.
What is coping? To cope comes from a 14th century French word, ‘couper,’ which means “to quarrel” and ” to come to blows, deliver blows, engage in combat.” The meaning evolved by the 18th century into “handle (successfully), deal with,” Coping it would appear is a way of winning a fight. Presumably, then, coping mechanisms or coping strategies are aimed at helping a person quarrel with…..Life. What is the complaint, the grievance, against which one must cope? Stress? Frustration? Fear? Confusion? Fatigue? Certainly substance use in so many forms is used to ‘cope’ with these states of mind. But, are there ways aside from smokin,’ dopin’, sippin’ and trippin’ to quarrel with life? Yes.
Here are well known, often free with relatively easy access ways to handle or deal with states of mind that need some copin’: walkin,’ talkin,’ joggin,’ runnin,’ bikin,’ swimmin,’ skippin,’ hoppin,’ dancin,’ singin,’ cryin,’ laughin,’ cookin,’ cleanin,’ readin,’ writin,’ and let’s not exclude kissin,’ suckin,’ and fuckin.’ Coping are behaviors in which we engage that can help us quarrel with life better. But, do we really need to quarrel? Do we really need then to cope? If we can adopt an attitude that everything life presents us is for our education, our development, our maturation, stepping stones along the way, if you will, or a ticket to an amazing amusement park, we can find ourselves transforming distress into eustress. Don’t be confused, be amused. Go from smokin,’ dopin,’ and copin’ to flowin,’ grinnin,’ and growin.’
“Scientists have demonstrated that dramatic, positive changes can occur in our lives as a direct result of facing an extreme challenge – whether it’s coping with a serious illness, daring to quit smoking, or dealing with depression. Researchers call this ‘post-traumatic growth.’
– Jane McGonigal