Talking rabbits who are always late, Mad Hatter tea parties, a grinning cat: enter the fantasy world of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll’s classic book of childhood imagination.
Since Alice was published in 1865, readers and critics have wondered about the author’s own state of mind when he created this “other” world in literature. So here’s the question:
Was Lewis Carroll high when he wrote his most famous books?
Alice’s adventures do sound out of the ordinary—and Tim Burton’s extreme take on the book in his new movie is getting people talking. But no evidence exists that supports the idea that Carroll wrote this story under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In fact, Carroll invented most of the Alice stories during a boat trip with a friend and the real Alice and her sisters before he ever put her adventures down on paper. He recited the story aloud as the others on the boating party rowed.
So, where did this idea come from?
Psychiatrists who introduced LSD into our society may have had a hand in starting this rumor—or at least the supporters of the 1960’s LSD subculture did. But in fact, LSD didn’t even exist when Alice in Wonderland was written! Besides, Lewis Carroll’s writing is much too imaginative and clever to be done by someone on drugs. He was an inventive man, fascinated by mathematics, puzzles, wordplay and games, some of which appear in his books.
“‘Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice. That is what the story of Alice in Wonderland invites us to be. Tim Burton explained it this way in a recent interview, “The reason we did something with it is that it’s captured the imagination of people for a very long time. That’s why all those great stories stay around because they tap into the things that people probably aren’t even aware of on a conscious level.”
Read Alice again, if you’ve already done so as a kid or see the new movie. Just remember to keep a clear mind to get the most you can out of the experience. Lewis Carroll and Tim Burton sure did.
Have you ever heard the term ”psychoactive drugs?” Drugs in this category act on the central nervous system and and alter its normal, everyday activity, causing changes in mood, awareness, and behavior. Psychoactive drugs disrupt the communication between neurons (brain cells), so abusing them can have serious short- and long-term effects on the brain.
Psychoactive drugs include four groups of drugs: depressants like alcohol and sleeping pills; stimulants like nicotine and ecstasy; opioids like heroin and pain medications; and hallucinogens like LSD.
The term psychoactive drug might make you think of drugs, like LSD, that change your brain and behavior in really extreme ways. LSD is a hallucinogen, or “psychedelic” that significantly alters the brain and the user’s perception of reality. It is also an illicit, or illegal, drug.
But not all psychoactive drugs are illegal. Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee and energy drinks, and opioids like Vicodin, OxyContin, or morphine are often prescribed by doctors to relieve pain. Abusing prescribed psychoactive drugs is illegal though, and can be as dangerous as abusing cocaine or heroin. That is one reason why they come with warning labels telling people not to drive or operate heavy machinery. Drinking too much caffeine is not good for you either (see chart)!
So legal or illegal, psychoactive drugs demand caution.
NIDA provides lots of information about the different types of psychoactive drugs:
Questions about drugs? Lots of teens are asking. That’s why each year, NIDA scientists spend a day chatting online with high school students and answering their questions.
At the last Drug Facts Chat Day, “Boxy” from St. Henry District High School in Kentucky asked:
What are designer drugs?
The term “designer drugs” refers to drugs that are created in a laboratory (typically, an “underground,” or secret, illegal lab). A designer drug is created by changing the properties of a drug that comes from a plant—such as cocaine, morphine, or marijuana—using the tools of chemistry. The resulting “designer” drugs typically have a new, different effect on the brain or behavior.
Examples of Designer Drugs
MDMA (Ecstasy), ketamine, GHB, Rohypnol, LSD (acid), and methamphetamine are some examples of designer drugs. These drugs may also be referred to as “club drugs” because of their use in night clubs.
Since many designer drugs are created in illegal labs, their ingredients and potency (how strong they are) vary a lot, making it nearly impossible to know what is actually in them or what they can do to you. For example, Ecstasy tablets are often contaminated with other things, like ephedrine (used to treat allergies and asthma), ketamine (an injected anesthetic given for minor surgeries), and methamphetamine (another illicit drug).
It is not surprising that these unknown mixtures can cause dangerous side effects, such as seizures, memory loss, coma and even death.
Find out more about club drugs.