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This would be perfectly fine dinner-table conversation in my family, but I appreciate that none of you are members of my family and that you may well have different standards.

I am going to talk about Sherlock’s drug-use and Sherlock’s bowels. Consider yourselves warned.

Now ACD in his wisdom gave Holmes a morphine habit as well as a cocaine one. (I have no idea what cocaine is like from a user’s perspective, so I won’t comment on that. I’m sure you know how to use Google and find the accounts of people who know.)

People focus a lot on Sherlock’s cocaine use/habit in their fics, but I’m rather fascinated by the idea of Sherlock on opiates. Not least because I have been using opiates for seven years now. (On prescription, under medical supervision – however, I have done things with my drugs that might not seem advisable, some of it with the tacit consent of my doctors following our discussions and some of it just because I can be in fuck-loads of pain and when your pain level is between an 8 and a 9.5 – 10 being “the worst pain you can possibly imagine” and given my imagination, I can ALWAYS imagine it being worse – all you want is some relief, dammit.)

Now, I know I’m taking opiates as pain-killers, so the chemical reactions may be different from those of people who are not in pain, And, okay, I’ve been on oxycodone, buprenorphine and fentanyl, but never morphine itself (same family of drugs, that work in the same way, though).

But I, personally, would not describe the effects of opiates as a “high”. I’ve never taken “street” drugs, but enough people on my corridor at university were smoking pot that I got high from passive smoking and I had an interesting high from one brand of anti-depressants. And I drink alcohol.

Opiates are like none of these things. And I realise this is very personal and different drugs work differently on different people. But this is my experience: Opiates are… dreamy. It isn’t a rush or a buzz. Take enough and it’s like everything – mental and physical - is very far away and sort of calm and peaceful. I feel floaty and lovely when I double dose (I don’t usually or even often double dose, but see above about level 9 pain). And it can bring about an interesting divorce between mind/brain and body - like being in a waking dream. There is no fascination with your body or sounds or colours or anything outside at all. Just your thoughts. And if you tend to have anxiety and express-train thoughts, they slow down. There’s no need to talk or do *anything*. There’s just your brain, lying on a sofa, thinking quietly. And maybe you drift into sleep while you are thinking.

To me and my head-canon, this is something Sherlock would like very much if he can afford to have it (no cases or experiments on). It ties in with the “art in the blood” side of his personality – the virtuoso violinist, who loves to go to concerts and lose himself in them completely.

It’s a rest, a little holiday, from being Sherlock Holmes and being Mr Logic and Reason and Science. And – being a SpaceToaster – he can do it without messy feelings, because, like everything else emotions (particularly stress and stressful ones) are Very Far Away.

If that makes sense.

But there are other effects, too. You know Sherlock’s attitude to food? While, maybe, slight hunger might sharpen the mental capacities in my head-canon there’s more to it.

As you will know if you have ever been on opiates – or have read/seen Trainspotting – they, um, constipate you. Bung you up. Pretty epically. You know those OTC laxatives which promise, “Gentle, predictable relief when you wake”? Yeah. They don’t work. Or they do work, but not predictably.

You see, epic constipation – requiring heroic quantities of laxative to fix it – is… unpredictable. It is not well-suited to a career as a consulting detective. It takes away from the Big Reveal if you suddenly double up with stomach cramps and have to dodge to the nearest loo.

Even worse is emerging 35 minutes later; pale, shaking and sweaty, your anus bleeding slightly and having pulled a muscle in your stomach with the straining.

Sherlock also spent/spends significant amounts of time NOT on morphine. Remember the diarrhoea scene in Trainspotting when the main character decides to detox? Also if Sherlock is clean, now, presumably he has actually been through detox at some stage.

What I’m getting it is that when it comes to digestion and excretion, drug-abuse and body-abuse and the complete lack of anything that looks like routine (regular meal-times, sleep-times, etc) might well lead to Sherlock’s Transport being… somewhat less than predictable.

Now, if you are Sherlock Holmes, given to genius-levels of idiocy, it might occur to you that one way to deal with the unpredictability of your bowel habits – especially when on a case – is Not To Eat. Simples!

And you were wondering about my head-canons? This is why I don’t share them too often. Sorry. :(


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 23rd, 2013 07:59 am (UTC)
I fear you might have, literally, opened a can of worms here :o)

My brief experience with diazepam agrees with the dream state thing too.
Mar. 23rd, 2013 10:48 am (UTC)
Sorry, I'm confused. What can? What worms? Help?
Mar. 23rd, 2013 02:41 pm (UTC)
I meant the bowel issues...
Mar. 23rd, 2013 10:04 am (UTC)
Interesting! My instinct is to say that Sherlock would *not* like opiates, because he would resent the loss of control and sharpness, and the wasted time. But if he was using them as medicine for overclocking, then it might be less about liking them and more about, well, medicine.

Of course, if there's one thing we're even less likely to see in the TV series than Sherlock actually on drugs, it's an exposition of Sherlock's constipation. But I could buy it.
Mar. 23rd, 2013 10:58 am (UTC)
I think it might be very much a mood thing with him. ACD's Holmes in particular did have those two opposing sides to his personality: the Artist and the Scientist.

Now sometimes, I grant you - maybe most of the time - Sherlock will want to be sharp as a pin. Or a scalpel. Razor-like.

But whether you see it as self-medication or an exploration of his other, Artist, self, I don't see that you can function like that ALL the time. Not with a mind that tears itself apart without something to work on. You know? And maybe, like music, morphine/opiates is his access to that... Other State. And sometimes he needs it.

And yes. Most of my head canon I am trying to incorporate into fic. Exploring Sherlock's bowel habits? Not so much. But it is head canon and MONTHS ago you did ask to see an example of my personal head canon.

Sorry again. :(
Mar. 23rd, 2013 11:45 am (UTC)
Well, these literalist trains of thought are more interesting to me than general fan meandering. I'd be up for reading a fic which explores the contribution of farting and constipation to domestic life at 221b, to be sure. How people deal with these things is useful for character study, and much less frequently analysed than how they deal with Grand Events.
Mar. 23rd, 2013 02:20 pm (UTC)
Heh. I tend to spend time making characters real people. I think partly because I'm totally not inclined to write about sex. And Real People in a flat share situation have to deal with You Used The Last of The Loo Paper and Didn't Replace The Roll and You Left That Weird SMELL In The Bathroom and stuff like that. Life has its Grand Events - but it has far more rows about Who Had The TV Remote Last? :D

I also come from a family where bodily functions are discussed at meal times and my male relatives fart in the living room and don't care who's there. (There are many times when I'm actually glad I'm asexual as I will never have to deal with bringing a prospective Partner home to Meet The Family.)

Does this mean you'd like to see more of my head-canon?
Mar. 23rd, 2013 09:25 pm (UTC)
I fart in the living room. My boyfriend complains at me.

Go ahead with the head-canon. Sherlock deserves interesting diseases.
Mar. 23rd, 2013 10:56 am (UTC)
Oh dear, that did make me giggle a lot.

I have Unpredictable Bowel Habits having, when I was a student, had a run in with Nasty Acne Treatment Roaccutane which can leave you with some pretty nasty side effects about which there are law suits going on in America about at the moment./

Early on, when I hadn't realised that the problem I'd got landed with (amongst others) was milk intolerance, I was always having permanently painful insides, bloating and diarrhoea and having to dash off to the loo at unpredictable times. A nice, older, doc gave me opiates (codeine phosphate)to carry round with me in a bottle. Later a younger one got horrified and took me off them because I was supposed to have got addicted to them. Strange idea really, as although the cotton wool type feeling could be nice at certain times, I would have rather had no pain and no diarrhoea and a clear head.

In the end I worked out it was milk and a few other things causing the problem and just that I had to be careful. I also (through a nurse I chatted to) found out that paracetamol and codeine that we can still get over the counter here, will sort me out if I am ever in need.

Poor Sherlock if he suffers from something like this. No wonder he doesn't eat!
Mar. 23rd, 2013 11:16 am (UTC)
*HUGS* We've discussed our digestive woes in chat before (I too am dairy intolerant). It isn't really funny, is it?

Given the - canonical! - ways in which Sherlock abuses his Transport, I would be very surprised if his bowels were regular or smooth running.

But I'm pretty sure most fans - especially fan-girls - wouldn't think like me.

When Moffat (IIRC) was talking in one of the DVD commentaries about how, as two batchelors, he thinks John and Sherlock eat a lot of beans (it was appropros John asking Sherlock to get milk and beans in The Great Game) my first thought was about the farting that must result. My second thought was that, as Sherlock is 5-years-old at times, he might actually find farting funny. And then be really embarrassed about both farting and giggling because, let's face it, that doesn't really go with his image, does it?

... I don't think I'm quite normal. :(
Mar. 23rd, 2013 11:46 am (UTC)
As someone who comes from a family with a lot of gut trouble (dad has a lesser version of what I have which is probably what the acne stuff exacerbated) I have learnt to have a Northern British daft and humorous attitude to it.

Beans would be a good way to solve the constipated side of IBS (less vicious than wholemeal bread which can leave me rolling around in agony) and I can see John having to nag Sherlock to eat stuff to keep him regular. Someone should write crack about everything we are saying here.
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Mar. 27th, 2013 09:25 am (UTC)
Have I come to this too late? Sorry. I *am* actually reading your werewolf fic and I would be very happy to read/beta/brit-pick, if you'd like me to. Always am happy to help, as long as no one wants a super-fast turn around on a 100k fic. :D
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Mar. 27th, 2013 09:20 am (UTC)
Thanks. :) I have to be quite careful what (and when) I read in Rehab fics, since Rehab Units often have a lot in common with Psych Wards (in fact, in the UK, they are often on/in Psych Wards)...

But I will put it on the list. :D
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( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


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