That understanding must be our starting point for changing individual drug use and abuse, prescribing practices, family and social attitudes, and governmental policies. Let's embark on that trip together. Let's recognize and follow the policy and practice innovations that will take addiction far away from our towns and families. How is it going to make your life easier? Where will you end up if you don't get your act together? Take and handle criticism as best as you can--no one's perfect, and that includes you. Friends talk about what's on their mind, and being a good friend means you can have an open mind and a healthy perspective when it comes to constructive feedback. Focus on what you give to your friend's lives, rather than what you get. Come from a giving state in all of your relationships, instead of keeping tabs on what you're getting. Friendship, more than anything else, is a huge part of the human experience. We're hard wired to seek the approval and time of other people. We are meant to bond and to connect with others. Enjoy your friendships and be willing to put as much of yourself as possible into every moment of them. By doing that, you'll be able to create a connection that lasts for a lifetime. One unpleasant consideration for those whose drug views and policies call for total abstinence is the substantial number of individuals who use but do not abuse psychoactive substances. These include people who drink alcohol in modest amounts as well as those who periodically use opioids. Over time, as more people who take drugs own up to their use, we have reliable information about "chippers," occasional users of opioids, as well as those who use other drugs periodically without damaging their bodies, their relationships, their work, and their lives. This finding extends to occasional users of psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin, ayahuasca, peyote, and LSD. We are still learning about marijuana as it has become legalized for recreational use by adults in eight US states and the District of Columbia, and decriminalized extensively. But the same cannot be said for tobacco or for persistent, heavy drinking, both of which cause damage to vital organs.

General statements belie the nuances and variation of response to psychoactive agents within a population of individuals. We are still left to try to understand adequately the critical dimensions of a person's biology, psychology, and community that shape any given individual's actual drug experience and use over time. As human beings, we want to impress the people we meet from day to day. Your partner's parents, the new boss at work, and that prospective new partner sitting across from you at the bar all have an impact on your life. Did you know that what you see is only half of what is really there? Did you know that what you hear is only half of what is really there? Why does the mind work like this? It's because so much is going on in your environment that the mind has to create this Reality Distortion Field in order to process what is going on... And your mind has to give you its best guess based on little psychological shortcuts that it uses based on thousands of years of evolution and also from experiences throughout your life. If an email has been sitting in your inbox for a few days, or even a few hours, it often seems polite to begin your response by apologizing for your delayed response. Such anxiety about responding immediately might make you think you are being conscientious, but in fact you are just driving yourself crazy. One study found that people respond to emails, on average, within six seconds. Yet in almost all cases, the sender does not actually expect an immediate response. Duke University psychology professor Dan Ariely conducted a test, asking people who emailed him to fill out a form and indicate if they required an answer right away. Just 2 percent actually needed an immediate answer. Remove "Apologies for the delay" from your email vocabulary. There is a high likelihood the recipient didn't even notice. You may have thousands of followers on Twitter, but how many of them do you actually know? Dunbar's number--the approximate number of people in your social circle with whom you can maintain a meaningful relationship (discussed in Chapter 6)--has also been found to apply to social media. A team of researchers from Indiana University analyzed data of Twitter conversations collected over a six-month period to test whether this concept--developed before the invention of microblogging--might still apply.

Analyzing more than 380 million tweets involving 1.7 million individuals, they determined that users were able to maintain a maximum of one hundred to two hundred stable social media relationships over time. Keeping up with your ideal self is a constant battle, but it's doable. If people saw you and said, "I wish I had it together as much as that person", what would that look like? What thoughts, emotions, behavior, and habits would lead them to make that remark? What aspects of your thoughts, emotions, behavior, habits, and responses can you improve so you can become the person you know you're cable of being? What limiting thoughts, emotions, behavior, and habits do you need to give up to become your ideal self? What do you have to start doing to reach that goal? Your ideal self isn't the person you want to be because you hate yourself. Your ideal self is the person you know you'll become if you continue making daily improvements to yourself. It's the person you know you're capable of being. It's the person you become when you decide to quit selling yourself short and cheating yourself out of a better life. Matthew McConaughey said this about his ideal self, "And to my hero - that's who I chase. When I was 15 years old I had a very important person in my life come to me and say: 'Who's your hero?' I said I don't know, 'I've got to think about that, give me a couple of weeks.' I come back two weeks later, this person comes up and says: 'Who's your hero?' I said, 'I've thought about it - it's me in 10 years!' So I turned 25 and that same person came to me and said, 'So are you your hero?' I was like, 'Not even close. My hero is me at 35.' Every day, every week and every month and every year of my life my hero is always 10 years away. I'm never going to be my hero. I'm not going to attain that - I know I'm not. That's just fine with me because it gives me someone to keep on chasing." `Anchoring' is a simple technique whereby you associate positive, calming, confident feelings to a particular object, usually, but not always, something you wear frequently. All that's required is that in moments of anxiety you touch the chosen object and then focus on the feelings associated with it. Choose an object, say, a ring. Now, close your eyes and focus on some aspect of your life that brings a warm glow or a smile to your face.

This could be a person, place or an activity that makes you feel good about yourself. Rub the ring as you reflect on that happy thought and continue doing so for five or more minutes. Wait for a few minutes and then repeat the process. In carrying out this simple routine, you will have anchored positive feelings to your chosen object. From now on, merely touching that object should bring on good feelings instantly. Eric Thomas asks, "If you were amazing, what would amazing look like? If you know what amazing is, why haven't you gotten there yet?" Don't expect your tweets to appeal to all your followers all the time; just focus on your 150 closest friends. While social networks are where we go to keep in touch with friends, acquaintances, and people with whom we might not otherwise correspond, they may actually be hurting our social life. Researchers at Florida State University and Florida International University looking at factors that mitigate stress and boost life satisfaction in college students found social networking and texting to be correlated with both lower levels of life satisfaction and higher levels of stress. Below I identify ten factors that influence how an individual will interact with a psychoactive substance. My purpose is to try to fill in the information gaps and correct some of the misinformation that clouds our thinking about substances. My goal is to more intelligently inform how we feel about, respond to, and set social policy for those who use drugs as well as their families, friends, and communities. I address these ten, which are not of equal valence, in a limited fashion and not in order of importance. While there are other factors, these are salient. As the researchers put it, texting and social media "allow the user to disengage from the demands of real-time social interaction" that would be required in a phone call or face-to-face conversation. The finding that heavy social media users are also less likely to be in a romantic relationship is a bit ironic, considering that many students use social networking cites to find dates. But the research suggests that these behaviors lead to isolation and depression symptoms. Instead of "Liking" someone's status on Facebook, message them to see if they want to grab a drink. So how can you use this Reality Distortion Field to your advantage? Well, when we make decisions, there are mindless compliance psychological shortcuts at work, which save us time and enable us to make decisions without spending hours and hours deliberating over each and every decision.

I clearly am not advocating a morphine habit as the path to a famed life. Instead, Halsted's example, along with many others, compels us to look beyond the pharmacology of any given drug to understand how it may or may not affect the life of the person who uses it. One remarkable story comes to mind. William Stewart Halsted, MD (1852-1922), was an American surgeon who was one of the four founders of Johns Hopkins Hospital. He became its first chief of surgery when it opened in 1889. Born of privilege and Ivy League educated, he was an early champion of proper aseptic techniques and the use of anesthesia for surgical procedures. He pioneered the introduction of radical mastectomies for breast cancer. Halsted performed one of the first successful gallbladder operations in the United States--in the middle of the night on his mother on her kitchen table--and delivered one of the first blood transfusions. (He transfused his own blood to his sister whom he then operated on, saving her life.) He initiated surgical training internships and residencies, which fortunately continue to this day. These are only a handful of his contributions to modern medicine. Yet throughout his distinguished medical career, Dr. Halsted was a daily drug user. First it was cocaine, an available legal local anesthetic; his "addiction" to it was treated at a Rhode Island asylum. There he was given morphine, also legal in his time, as an alternative drug, which then became his lifelong chemical partner. He injected morphine daily, all the while performing surgery and leading an exceptionally gifted and energetic life. He had some problems--would, for instance, apparently go missing from time to time--but evidently did not appreciably suffer the ravages of an opioid addiction nor a serious, deleterious effect on his health, family, or achievements. In dating, some people use it to convince their friends that they can get a certain person to go out with them, regardless of how challenging it might at first seem (yet these are the reasons why some people end up with someone outside of their league. People who harness a reality distortion field are seen to be charismatic, leaders and people who make the impossible, possible. or not they end up making their goal of the impossible, possible, it's not really the point. These people who use this technique are so charismatic, that people of all ages, nationalities and races are drawn to them like a moth to a flame, and sucked into their reality.