The word high: generally gets the attention of the incarcerated and is universally understood-but everyone has their own literal interpretation of the description. To an addict the “high” is immediacy when brought on by the introduction of a drug of choice or opportunity—it is a given, it’s gonna happen, and has the added element that it might kill you, so hang on.
however, to an avid runner or exercise fanatic, the expected high takes another form, requires efforts, and permeates your body at a slightly slower pace and involves a little sweat. You dope fiends may sweat accompanies your high, too and getting there necessitates efforts ) usually petty theft!), but in the depressing state of prison life, any high is worth the effort; but what is the “right” high?
Everyone has experience non-drug-related highs, the feeling of contentment, a fullness of being, a slight smile on your face before you realized it. Recall that last time you finished an excellent homemade burrito your cellie put together” The jalapeños probably cause the sweating, but the ingestion of such an aromatics, juicy and mouth-watering delight still brought on a mild high.
The deeply religious inmate experiences elation. Maybe it’s a sacrilegious comparison, but all see the same smiles on faces of the multitudes strolling out of the chapel; a special high I have never experienced, but my acquaintances swear by the bliss granted by their creator.
I like the joy of being high, yet I never experienced the electric-blue flash from injecting heroin into my own venue; probably because needles scare me like just the mention of my second wife’s name, but I have also seen first-hand the devastating results of drug abuse. I’d retreat to the refuge of the church before considering the instantaneous high offered to me a few times a week in the prison;;; but there are alternatives.
Most people form opinions of others based on appearance and actions before they meet (Judging the book by its cover…”) Routine yes, but consider the last person you saw mounting off to a group of similar boisterous individuals on the yard; you decided this person is someone to be avoided. Now, what if you watched as the loud-talker broke ways from the group, did a few stretches, then launched into as vigorous 2-mile run? Your perception of this guy now changes—he may have some redeeming value by his positive action of exercising. You can bet he gets his high from the runner’s second-wind, a weird phenomenon most cannot understand until you experience the conquest of your ting body supplanted by your own personal effort to keep going. Even moderate physical exercise, such as long walk around the track, can leave you with a warm, full feeling of accomplishment and sense of self-value, instead of working your mouth-muscle as the only form of exertion in your daily life. The second-wind from vigorous exercise can keep your high going for as long as you can hold out and for hours post-exercise. Watch the end of a distance race or marathon and see how some of the participants actually smile after there or more grueling hours efforts to attain their personal goals.
C vigorous game of handball, several sets on the volleyball court, or even just tossing a Frisbee around the yard initiates adrenaline flow, as well as causing a flood of endorphins to slam into your brain (Dictionary definition of endorphin: “ ..has effect like morphine”) Wow! a no cost high Albert to a lesser degree than meth, but still a lasting effect positively influencing your general well-being. It’s free rapture, readily available, guaranteed if you just put forth a little effort, and others on the yard look at you in a more positive way.
Whatever your reputation or perception by others around you, exercise “gets” you to a better place in the prison yard hierarchy
I experience real bliss just popping a Reese’s peanut cup into my mouth; savoring the blend of chocolate’ peanut butter as the gooey textures dissolve onto my tongue, causing me to lay back on my bunk, close my eyes, and enjoy the experience to last drop I reluctantly swallow-a harmless, but very satisfying high.
The “right” high is readily available to you in prison without resorting to illicit drugs that damage your body, spirit, and perception of you by others including staff. The next time the ugly, far reaching tentacles of depression embrace you, force yourself to get up, move around, participate in a little exercise or competition. Those sneaky, slimy, snaky appendages can only hold you down if you let them.
if you do not do well in any of the sports available on your yard, or feel uncomfortable in groups, just take a solo run around the track. Short distances are fine: run two laps, walkin two, then jog a few more. You may also be surprised by individuals who want a running buddy, opening a door to another endorphin-producing benefit: acceptance and genuine, lasting friendship…
By John L. Orr