Anne Marie Ward
Creative, Editor, Researcher, & Writer

Nonfiction

Essays & Research

Drug Culture

Anne Marie Ward - Bricolage Journal - May 2019

Basement bedroom, 2019: Listen to this: my little brother has been acting up lately. He just got suspended for the second time for getting caught juuling in the bathroom. And then my parents found out that he was now also smoking weed so they completely freaked out. So, because I’m the kid that never gives them any problems, I came out to them… that I smoke weed--well, to my mom, anyway-- to try to calm her down, and immediately she started listing off all the ways that I’m ruining my life. And I was like whoa, whoa, whoa, if you wanna show me some actual research, then we can have an adult conversation, but I’m not going to stand here and listen to this slander. So the next day, I walk past the family computer, and there is this huge stack of papers sitting on the printer, with like jagged black and red graphics, and crazy font in the middle that says M A R I J U A N A in huge letters, and then it’s surrounded by all these phrases like low-self esteem and anxiety and poor performance, so it’s clearly like some crazy anti-weed propaganda that my mom printed out. And I’m flipping through the stack, and they’re making all these crazy claims about how weed destroys the brain and ruins the sense of self, and that old one about it being a gateway drug, and I’m like, who wrote this? And then I get to the last page, and it says: SPONSORED BY THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY.

Washington DC, near GW, 2017: I dunno; I guess drugs are like huge at my school. My friends like to drop acid and make me the chaperone. They illegally fish on the banks of the Potomac or roam around DC going into the different Smithsonians--because they’re all free! I have to keep them from touching the paintings or falling into the river or whatever. I’ve also been showing up to Physics drunk because it’s on Friday morning at 8 am. We always have check-in quizzes that I always fail, but I still have an A in the class because there’s such a huge curve for engineers.

The Crocodile lounge, 2018: So I’m at this bar downtown, the one that gives you a ticket with each drink you buy so you can get a personal pizza, and we went there after going to this hardcore gay bar across the street where people were literally like fucking on the dance floor, and we decided that wasn’t the mood for the night. So I go into the bathroom and this girl with magenta braids looks up from her phone and says, have you seen my friend? She’s got red hair like me. And I said, no sorry. And she said, oh okay, well, wanna buy some drugs? And I said, what’dya got? And she said, Klonopins, and I said, Nah, I’m good, and went in the stall. Okay, she said through the door, tell your friends! But I already had a script for Klonopin, and although I was out, my doctor made me sign a contract saying that I wouldn’t abuse or sell my Rx or get it from anywhere else. Guess it’s ‘cause of the opioid crisis?

J train station near Havemeyer, 2018: These two like literal punks--with dyed hair and studs and leather and metal-- are discussing Benzo heaven and its costs.

The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, the Early 1980s: Idon’tknowwhat’shappening.Iaskedmyfriendforanasprinandnowthepatternsonthecurtainsandthelightsaregoingcrazy.I’mveryscared.IfeellikeI’mlosingmymind.Myfriendjustsaidhegavemeacid.Iaskwhy?Becausepeopledon’tlikedoingLSDalone.

Vassar College, 1987: Went to a party thrown by the Young Republicans, because I’m a freshman and was raised in LA county and have no reason to hate the Young Republicans. I pass out on someone’s bed from drinking too much. I wake up, and the President of the Young Republicans is unbuttoning my shirt and kissing my chest. I shove him off of me and leave. I ask my friends why they left me with him? They said they thought I knew what the president’s deal was, and I seemed to be enjoying myself. Wait, so the President of the Young Republicans likes guys? They shrugged and said that’s it’s complicated. It’s his deal. I guess he likes drunk guys.

Rural High School, 2012: I was like the bad kid of my good-kid friend group, because I smoked weed and drank on occasion and was lowkey poor, and the good kid of my bad-kid friend group, because of my high GPA and plans to go to college. I was like a liaison.

An elevator, 2018: The dumb idiot sophomore behind me in the elevator sweating his face off from taking too much Adderall.

Fairview Avenue, New Year’s, 2012: We were all getting drunk for the first time, like 13 and 14 and 15 year-olds. Playing higher or lower and drinking Mike Hards, because that’s what we could stomach. Drinking with the bigger kids and feeling so thrilled and buzzed. We thought it was so funny that T---- was wearing her D.A.R.E. shirt from 5th grade.

Rutgers University, Busch Campus, 2016: So like, the dorm’s weird because it’s all STEM majors and it’s like 96.7% males; so the dorm has crazy toxic and desperate vibes at times. I mean, the guy down the hall literally solicited a prostitute, and we’re all like, why did you do that? Now we call him Hooker Kyle, but obviously not to his face. There’s just a lot of Kyles to keep straight in this place. But anyway, the guy across the hall from me is the guy who supplies drugs to everyone. He, like basically everyone else in this dorm, is an engineering major but I have never seen him do math, or any kind of work, and he’s pretty much always on something. He keeps all of his drugs in this ornate wooden box on his desk that is covered in symbols. Everyone knows that is where he keeps his drugs, but he doesn’t lock the box, and he also never locks his door. He says he doesn’t worry because the box is protected by God. I mean, I don’t know about that, but also no one has ever taken the box.

Uber in Downtown LA, full of USC students, 2015: We’re all wasted. The Uber drivers don’t just offer us little bottles of water and tissues when we’re drunk, they also offer us cocaine and then somehow slip in their mixtape. USC has a great music school. I realized I cannot do coke because I like it too much. It makes me too happy.

Basement Bedroom, 2019: I understand why your mom was upset, but that’s crazy. My mom’s pretty chill about it all, probably because she knows I’ve got a good head on my shoulders. Before my dad died, he was always crazy anti-drug. He used to say it’s what eventually ruined The Beatles. But my mom said it’s because someone dosed him with LSD in college or grad school and he had a heinously bad trip.  

Greenwich Village, 2013: I mean, I’ve never had sex with someone for the explicit transaction of getting drugs out of it. But I know this guy with a phony Adderall prescription, and I tend to be extra flirty around finals time.

King-of-Prussia, PA, 2013: Yeah, so it was my tech-school buddy’s 21st birthday. So he did 21 shots, and then I did like 21 shots. And I didn’t drink a lot then, so it was even worse than you could imagine. And he was rooming with this 40-year old woman, who was a like a friend’s friend’s mom or something? And next thing I know, she is all over me, kissing me everywhere and then writhing on top of me. It was pretty gross. I doubt she put a condom on me. Just went to work in the shop the next day. I never spoke to her again, but she continued to ask about me, I heard from my friend. I think she died of cancer a few years ago, but yeah, that’s why I still don’t really drink much.

Houston, Texas, 2018: I got pulled over in TEXAS wreaking of weed. We were in town for a roller derby bout. My friend driving is from Washington; so, he wasn’t concerned until he remembered we were in FUCKING Texas. They made us get out of the car and patted us down when I had WEED in my SHOE! Another cop showed up, and I was sweating bullets thinking they would bring a DOG. But he didn’t. Thank goodness. Luckily they didn’t bring a dog, and I was an older white man. SERIOUSLY.

5th-grade class, D.A.R.E. program, 2008: I hated that class. I hated Officer Pantuso who was our D.A.R.E. officer. What a smug guy who told us nothing useful. And I was always embarrassed because he’s the one who arrested my older sister for shoplifting hair dye from Rite Aid when she was dating that scumbag, Rob.

Fairview Ave, 5th of July, 2016: We just smoked weed for the first time. We might’ve just started calling it weed instead of pot. We took a hit and then put on our bikinis and floating around the pool under the stars feeling like warm socks tumbling in a dryer in slow motion.

St. Cloud Hotel, 2007: The St. Cloud was the local den of debauchery: hookers, the homeless, and especially heroin. This was maybe just around the time when we started to realize that normal people were seeking out heroin, too. The town wanted the owner to sell and shutter his doors. But the owner wasn't having it. He made great money from these people and he loved his business. After months of the town asking him to sell, suddenly the St. Cloud is up in flames. Firetrucks all up and down the main street, called for a five-alarm fire. Everyone gathered around to watch. The St. Cloud hotel burnt to the ground. The town bought the lot. Officially, it was reported that someone who fell asleep smoking a cigarette started the fire.

Facebook Messenger, 2018: Hey, girl. Just thinking of you. Vice shared this article about cocaine in England that was laced with something that was destroying people’s faces.

Primary Care Office, 2018: Yeah, I don’t wanna refill your prescription of Clonazepam until you’ve totally finished the other, and have another panic attack, because it’s really only meant for emergencies. I think you would benefit from alternative therapies to manage your anxiety like a daily medication, counseling, and meditation. Clonazepam is only a band-aid. Have you signed the contract yet? Let me get that for you… It’s just for legal purposes. It says that you won’t try to obtain clonazepam in illegal ways, abuse your prescription, or sell it. Any violation of the contract can result in legal consequences.

Farmhouse in NJ, 2018: There is a pile of cocaine on the coffee table in my bedroom. I gotta tell them they gotta do their coke somewhere else.


An SMS, 2019: Did you hear that J--- S---- died? I saw a few posts on Facebook… Because it was New Year’s, I thought it might be a drunk-driving thing. But apparently, he got into heroin a few years ago, right before or after we graduated high school. It’s crazy how people we kinda know keep ODing, like it’s a couple every year now. His parents are having people donate in his name to Teen Challenge New Jersey instead of sending flowers.