On Being Straightedge

I never really took on the straightedge identity until recently. I was talking to another one of my straightedge friends and he mentioned there’s a difference between being straightedge and drug-free. It’s like the difference of being “queer” and “gay” both mean the same thing but they are different.

I first ran into the term straightedge when I was 19 and a freshman in college. I was in the community kitchen at the dorms and some kid who was a friend of a friend was talking to me. “Do you smoke?” “No.” “Do you drink?” “No.” “Do you do drugs?” “No.” “You’re straightedge.” “I am what?” I was so confused of having a label placed upon me for a behavior I’ve done. “Straightedge means you don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t do drugs.” “Oh.”

Being the nerdy, anime gamer kid I was back then – I went home and googled straightedge to find out what exactly this thing was. I found out about Minor Threat and how they started the movement in the 80’s. I found out about hardliners – who beat people up for not being straightedge. It was sounding like the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of. I mean, I liked the idea of not drinking, not doing drugs, and not smoking but it was starting to sound like a cult. I was intrigued yet put off at the same time. I didn’t like the sound of getting in fights just because of a different point of view.

Straightedge is one of those things that means different things to different people. The best way for me to understand straightedge is like my vegetarianism – a strong dislike for animal goods/products – instead of animal products it’s alcohol and drugs. I rarely go out with people who will eat meat in my presence because it just really upsets me. I go to bars sometimes – not that often – because drunkeness upsets me.

I don’t like drugs at all. Never have done them and never will. I think the mind is one of the most valuable things a person has and I would never want to mess with mine. Not just that, but the trafficking involved is really messed up.

I only been drunk once and I used to rarely smoke cigarettes. They helped me with my stress but I was ignoring the real cost. Tobacco companies are horrible. I just read an article about the child labor that goes into tobacco. It’s really messed up. I don’t want to be supporting that. Plus, alcohol is also made by some big corporation that only cares about profit. Every time we buy something, we are voting with our dollar. At what cost is your pleasure being derived from?

I guess that is something people don’t like to think about. The true cost of things. I felt it was selfish to be self destructive to myself because there are lots of people out there who love and care about me. I mean, everything isn’t kittens and rainbows, I have days where I’d rather not exist or deal with anything but some days are just so awesome that they make the bad times worth trucking through.

Straightedge to me means being responsible for yourself and your actions and also being considerate about those who care for you. It’s about healthy living and not supporting evil corporations. It’s about not needing drugs to be your true self – since you can be yourself without the use of substance. It’s about being yourself and being free from addiction.

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2 Responses to “On Being Straightedge”

  1. Zan Says:

    I got this from you on facebook— I have the beginning stages of glaucoma… one of the drugs used to prevent the quickened spread of this disease is marijuana… and I would certainly smoke it if I lived in a state that would allow it for medical reasons… also, I make my own wine, and drink red wine for the soul purpose of preventing cancer—much research has supported this. Would these actions prevent me from being what would be considered straight-edge? Not necessarily would I want any label placed on me, but these actions are ones which care for myself… taking responsibility for my health, even though they are really an injunction as they are using drugs… Just a thought! But thanks for sharing this info—I had never heard the term before… šŸ™‚

    • Jess Five Says:

      Hey Zan,

      Some people consider the use of any drug not to be straightedge. Personally, I think the use of drugs for approved medical reasons overseen by a doctor is okay. For that reason, I would consider having prescription marijuana to still be straightedge – if it is really helping an illness and isn’t being used for recreational purposes. However, drinking the red wine is not straightedge because it is self-medicating and it isn’t guarantee to make you healthier. Thanks for your comment.

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