Citation: Omnip. "Smoking Alone: An Experience with Tobacco, Amphetamines & Cannabis (exp56923)". Erowid.org. Feb 27, 2007. erowid.org/exp/56923
Normally, when someone in our day and age thinks about tobacco, the same set of images is always brought to mind: cigarettes, ash trays brimming with butts, lung transplant operations...you know, Big Tobacco imagery. For the longest time I had the same mindset: that tobacco is bad. Only once I started exploring more into more 'traditional' religions (and, more importantly, their ritualistic herbs and rituals) did I realize that it isn't tobacco that's the culprit, that it shares none of the blame that is entirely due to the viral epedemic that is Big Tobacco. Despite respecting tobacco as a plant, however, I still held a strict no cigarettes/cigars/other common forms of tobacco policy. It was only until my senior year of high school that I first smoked, and even then it was a twice-a-month or so occasion, only when I was drinking with friends.
It's only now, in the past couple of years, that I've come to realize that another big cause of nicotine addiciton in America is more subversive. It's exactly what all us psychonauts have come to know as 'set and setting'. Many, many people start smoking cigarettes the same way I did: you're at a party with friends, you're getting hammered, and you step outside to see three or four of your good friends smoking cigarettes. You figure, 'What the hell. I'm drunk already, and my friends are all cool with it, so why not?' Fortunately, this never lead to addiction for me, but it did lead me to start smoking 'socially'.
I feel it's the concept of 'social smoking' that detracts most from the 'true' subjective experience of nicotine. The one that humans have experienced for thousands of years before Big Tobacco. The clarity of thought, the mild euphoria. These aspects are often glossed over in a social setting. I've found that I can get a lot more out of the experience--and thereby feel better about smoking--if I can do it alone and in a place I can think. Which brings me to my actual experience reports.
The first time I ever really tried to explore the effects of a single cigarette was the first month of my freshman year of college. I was still getting used to the campus, and to the fact that people could walk around and smoke cigarettes. This was unheard of at high school, and even pretty absent from the community at large (suburbs!). I realized that I could smoke in public without fear of being ostrasized or worse, and so I got my Djarum Blacks (clove cigarettes) and head out onto the lawn to lay in the sun and smoke. I took off my shirt and shoes, laid down, took a few deep breaths, and proceeded to light my black. The first few drags brought me straight up to the headspace I get in when I smoke cloves. They're notorious for giving me a wicked buzz.
As I laid staring at the sun, I started to explore the sensations I was getting. I realized I had mild tactile effects. The warmth of the sun and the pricklyness of the grass was amplified, and at the same time washed over and blurred by a wave of warm energy. I closed my eyes and concentrated on these sensations. When I opened them, I was surprised to find thousands of little circular distortions of my vision, similar to the ones I get when I stand up too fast or press on my eyes. Every chance I get, I try to stare at these pseudo-hallucinations for as long as possible before they disappear into the ether.
This time, however, they persisted. In fact, they lasted as long as it took me to smoke my cigarette, which must have been about five minutes. Once I ashed it, they started to fade within a minute or so, but their initial vividness really got me thinking about how powerful nicotine actually is. All I could speculate was that either my brain didn't have as much oxygen (which would make sense, the visuals being closest to those when you stand up quickly), or the nicotine somehow allowed me to focus so efficiently on them that it caused them to persist longer experientially. Probably more the former, but who's to say?
My second experience happened just the other day, second quarter of my sophomore year. I'd just found out I'd have to leave after this semester due to my grades, and was pretty heartbroken. I'd taken a 10mg fast-release Adderall at around 10:30 that morning, and, after getting home from an exhausting chemistry lab, smoked a bat of the best pot ever at around 3:15. I sat and listened to music for an hour until one of my housemates got home. I asked her if I could have a cigarette, as I was fully alert from the Adderall and wanted to see if the added stimulation could get me to study. She gave me a Marlboro menthol, and I went into the kitchen to be by myself and smoke.
It's cold as shit right now, and it's all I can do to keep warm in my house, so I opened the blinds to let the sun in. It was at just the perfect height to bathe me with a bunch of strong sunbeams. I lit my cigarette, relaxed, and started to smoke. Instantly I felt a peace fall over me. Despite one of the people I hate most (my other housemate) making food and watching TV in the house around me, I felt happy. I almost smiled, despite my recent academic tragedy. As I am prone to do, I started to play with the smoke of my cigarette. Eventually, I held it very still, until it detected no disturbances and remained perfectly straight. It was then that I noticed that the smoke was colored differently on different sides. At first I thought it was due to the angle the sun came in, so I tilted it. Once it was running left to right in front of my face, however, I realized what was causing it.
I noticed that the smoke coming from the tip of the cherry of the cigarette is actually a deep blue, and the smoke coming from deeper inside the cig is gray. I started to speculate why that was. Maybe menthol burns blue, or maybe tobacco burns blue but all the tar and shit from deeper in the cig turns it black, or maybe that's some plume of radioactivity from all the noxious death BT puts in its products. Who knew. All I knew is that, in my couple years of smoking cigarettes, I'd never noticed that until I was able to sit alone and notice it.
After this most recent experience, I think I'm going to try experimenting with cigarettes on my own again. Might be worth a try, barring addiction.
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