Illegal drugs and this forum

Over the course of time, SuttaCentral’s Discuss & Discover forum has assumed a strict approach to controversial topics such as suicide. This is a good thing as it limits the harm of unwise views on the act of killing oneself to be associated with SuttaCentral, EBTs and Buddhism as a whole. This in turn limits the risk of suicide events being triggered in fragile minds by whatever they read here from both anonymous or properly identified sources.

I believe it is worth considering defining some boundaries on the topic of illegal drugs and psychodelics such as DMT.

A key concern I have when I see topics like this one is that it opens space for people to wrongly associate the topic of EBTs with the experimentation of substances not only illegal but not yet fully understood in terms of long term effects to human mind and body.

Note as well that drug dealers, who may sometimes not be dealing exactly what they say the deal, could easily point to this post in this forum and say “Look even Buddhists like this thing! Pay me my price and you can have it!”. And we know that in the position they usually find themselves it is pretty easy to steal a lot from naive people and in return give them something half baked and super harmful to their brains and well-being.

I would like to therefore open a poll to map people’s perception of whether or not topics related to illegal substances, psychodelics etc should be banned or more closely moderated in this forum.

Thanks in advance for your input! Also, feel free to create new polls to refine further the survey of this forum’s users take on what could be the boundaries around discussing the subject of using illegal substances here in this EBT-focused forum.

  • I think such substances should be discussed here openly
  • I think these substances should be discussed here only in terms of highlighting the potential for harm they represent
  • I don’t see a relationship between EBTs and those substances and therefore disagree with it being discussed here

0 voters

1 Like

I don’t see yet that the topic gets out of hand. Obviously this is not a forum to discuss drugs and spirituality. But we live in a world where drug use to change the states of mind is a reality and I think that our members should have the opportunity to address the issue both from a Buddhist practitioner’s and an EBT perspective. As long as it stays a side topic that is.


I definitely don’t think drug use should be promoted here, at all, but I think it definitely should be allowed to be discussed in certain context, especially when it’s regarding buddhism or the Dhamma, and even if there’s much disagreement. It is all concerning the 5th precept, which is certainly in the EBTs, and a discussion on how to correctly interpret “intoxicants that cause heedlessness” is an important discussion to be had. As you say, I haven’t seen that line crossed. If for some reason it ever is, then yes, at that point, that particular post should be removed; but an umbrella ban? I think that’s unnecessary.


Discussed openly but in a balanced fashion – as I think should all discussion.
By “balanced” I mean with acknowledgement to the various relevant aspects of the use of such substances.

For mind altering substances a wise and balanced discussion would include IMO the observations that the EBT’s contain many discussions of non-chemically based "mind altering’ practices BUT the EBT never (or almost never?) approves of or speaks of using mind altering substances in a positive light. (I believe that is correct?) And yet the historical context of the EBT’s is of a time and place where such substances were in common use.

Those are (correct me if I’m wrong) non-controversial statements about the EBT’s that informed users of substances such as DMT would agree to.

A brief statement could be made available and forum contributors could be encouraged to make reference to it.


I don’t see any benefit in discussing drugs or alcohol outside of the context of the 5 precepts (application and issues with keeping them). I do see harm in permitting discussion of recreational drug use. Not only is there no connection to the EBTs, but intoxication is actively discouraged. Of all places, Sutta Central is not the place for this.

1 Like

What does EBT expand to? Early Buddhist Texts?

1 Like

Yep! :grinning:

1 Like

It might be nice to ban discussions of the 5th precept and along with it the drugs you mentioned. The 5th precept is straight forward. However, ever since I started reading Buddhist forums going back to the email lists and Usenet group of the 1990s the 5th precept comes up every few weeks as people with an interest in Buddhism seek ways to rationalize drinking ( and other recreational drug use ) and being able to say they keep the 5th precept. To say I am beyond tired of those discussions would be the truth.

However, unwanted pregnancies have been reduced the most in places with safe sex education.

Refusing to talk about things is counterproductive to solving problems.

I can always scroll past threads I am not interested in so I say keep it open.


Thank you.

I’ll just leave this here.

tl;dr: By adopting a policy that treats drug use as a health issue not a crime, Portugal has 2% of the drug-related death rate as compared to the US. This is achieved at a cost of $10 per citizen per year, while the US spends $10,000 per household.


The opioid crisis is turning pandemic here in the states, and this reason is a major variable. Instead of dumping money into getting more people better access to treatment, the money is going toward putting more opioid addicts in jail, even though it’s long been shown to be far less effective. The most popular treatment modalities also need a tune up as well.

The prospect of jail and the litigative follow through is supposed to act as a deterrent to the average citizen, but an opioid addict is not the average citizen, their mind has been hijacked by the overwhelming craving for the drug. It’s not just a surface level craving either, it’s deep down into the subterranean levels of your mind, changing your very thoughts and inclinations. Jail time just doesn’t cut it.

As far as the treatment modalities available, most, if not all of the most common treatment centers and outpatient clinics are based on the 12 step programs of old. I am certainly not going to argue that these programs have not helped a ton of people stay away from their drug of choice, because that obviously wouldn’t be true. Although I would argue that these programs only really work when the addict in question merely switches their obsession from the drug to the program itself. Those treatment plans are not like the Dhamma where you’re supposed to let it go in the end; with the 12 step programs you’re in it for life, and often obsessively (3-4 or more times a week), in order to stay clean. Of course this is a better alternative than being a drug addict, but there are even better alternatives that ultimately don’t require a crutch. I’ve heard of some treatment centers that actually revolve around mindfulness and meditation, which is definitely a step in the right direction; and then there are some that actually revolve entirely around the Dhamma, which is definitely headed the right way. Apparently from what I’ve read, and heard first hand, the relapse rate in those types of modalities is far lower than 12 step programs.

I can imagine a kind of long term inpatient treatment center, maybe 3 months, entirely based around the Dhamma. It would be like a intensive retreat, with Dhamma talks every night (instead of 12 step meetings like inpatient rehab). Instead of meditation all day long, you would still have group therapy like normal rehab, but again, revolving around the Dhamma. You would have meditation too, maybe 2-3 times a day, but just straight samatha, to help people learn to cope without their drug of choice. Also all the teachings taught there would not just be Dhamma talks, but Dhamma talks specifically focused on staying sober and preventing relapse back into addiction. I never liked the idea of being an addict forever and just having to beat back the craving until you die. This would be more about removing the craving itself, and instead of having to fight against it your whole life to stay clean, once the craving for drugs was uprooted you wouldn’t even want to use them anyways. Obviously this idea isn’t fully formed, but I think it should be explored more and something like this should be tried out.

Clearly the current opioid crisis is not only untouched by the treatment options of today, but it’s growing rapidly. We need another angle to come at this, and, I know most people here are not big fans of secular buddhism, but if it can introduce people to the basic doctrines and practices, and help more people who aren’t willing to get too close to true buddhism just yet in their life to escape their addictions, well then I’m willing to make a concession. There is just too many people losing their happiness and their lives from this thing. I’ve already lost far too many friends to it, because it’s taken all their vitality, and literally taken many of their lives.


Talking about “drugs”, is a touchy subject. Not because there is an innate goodness or badness, but, in my opinion, because our responses are so highly conditioned.

The issue around drugs in this day and age has been so pervasively ‘constructed’ that it is almost impossible to treat it like any other thing for exploration. For this reason I think that to ‘ban’ discussion on this topic feeds into conventions and conditions.

For example, many psychiatric ‘medications’ are mind altering substances. They are deemed to be good, safe, and restoring ‘normal’ function. If one analyses this in any depth, it becomes obvious very quickly, that these are just socially acceptable substances.

This subject would be hard to moderate, but that is the only negative I see in it.

I must say I am somewhat surprised that there is a ban on talking about suicide. Again there are some issues regarding moderation, but to think that discussion of the topic as a whole would/could have negative consequences, without regarding the positives that could also arise. One needs to be careful that one is not just buying into a fear about possible harm. I seriously doubt that an individual would be convinced to take their life by a statement in this forum alone.

The more open, honest, and dhamma guided our exploration of all the things that people have to deal with, the better as far as I am concerned.

There is also an option perhaps to have an actively moderated forum, where posts need to be approved before they are published. Though with regard to these topics the danger is policing thought > thereby just being subject to or enforcing conditioning… certainly that is not in line with my personal aims and how I have interpreted the journey to liberation.


I don’t see how the (direct or indirect) promotion of the use of drugs—of which if the forum rules were to be adjusted according to the poll, this would theoretically be tolerated—make any sense on a Buddhist forum about the Early Buddhist Texts.

The precepts are to not kill, steal, partake in sexual misconduct, lie or consume intoxicants. Why would it make sense that the promotion of drugs be tolerated? If someone were to promote killing someone or an animal, would this be tolerated? What about illegal sexual acts? What about about someone giving as advice to lie in court? What about encouraging theft?

Why would the (direct or indirect) promotion of the use of drugs be treated otherwise?

Talked about in relation to the fifth precept and their potential to cause large amounts of suffering or legal problems, fine. Discussed openly, and therefore meaning that they can be discussed in ways to indirectly promote them? It makes no logical sense.

1 Like

My reading of the OP, was that the rules would only have to be changed if you wanted to ban the topic. ie. I’m saying to keep them as they are :slight_smile:

Pardon my observation, but your use of Bold and Italics in your post, would indicate strong emotion about this topic. Perhaps some deep conditioned responses have been triggered?

with metta


1 Like

What about legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco, which are also very harmful? Legality is often cultural.


It’s mostly that on every forum or social media platform you are on, there are always numerous and repeated discussions about exaggerated political opinions, white supremacy, pro-abortion/pro-life, anti-Trump/anti-Hilary discussions, the dislike of Islam,… and the never-ending topic of the recreational use of soft or hard drugs (which can’t really be debated, actually).

Personally, I enjoy such threads not being on SuttaCentral. It’s one of the only discussion forums/platforms where these aren’t present—and it feels like a breath of fresh air, which I very much appreciate.

This was the main reason why I posted similarly. However, most importantly and regardless of the above, having threads about recreational drug use on SuttaCentral (the 50% of the poll results meaning this would be a possibility) would make zero sense whatsoever. It’s not even that it’s not a place for similar topics, it’s that Buddhist teachings—along with killing, theft, lying and sexual misconduct—are categorically against them. It’s not only that it doesn’t make sense, it’s that it’s the complete opposite of making sense.

Anyway, that’s what I think about the topic. No hard feelings; just a firm position. :slight_smile:

1 Like

You mean like topics about “what is your favourite alcoholic drink”, or “how to reduce/stop drinking”? Those are two entirely different kinds of topics.

Would discussions on SuttaCentral about for example, different brands of Scotch, best places to find good tobacco, or wine-making/brewing make any sense, even though they are legal?

If some have a pro opinion about psichadellic drugs and buddhism (and many do if you look at other buddhist forums) - those opinions are not going to be changed with censorship, they are only going to be changed through open debate. If an anti opinion is correct, then it should win a debate. If it is wrong, it will lose it.

I believe most people on this forum are over 18yo. I really don’t think this forum is as full of kindergardners as some thing. It’s not a children-dedicated forum.


Why not go discuss the use of illegal substances on other forums/social media platforms instead? Wouldn’t that fulfill your needs to talk about this topic? Why are you so inclined to start such debates on SuttaCentral, when you could do so in so many other places?

And it’s not about censorship (which you seem to be fixated on) or that we aren’t children, it’s that the forum is about Buddhism and the EBTs, which classifies drug use as detrimental.

Why not go discuss the use of illegal substances on other forums/social media platforms instead? Wouldn’t that fulfill your needs to talk about this topic? Why are you so inclined to start such debates on SuttaCentral, when you could do so in so many other places?

Have you ever seen me have such discussions here ?

Buddhism and the EBTs, which classifies drug use as detrimental.

Then why not let people who have pro-opinions be aware of that ? Why don’t you bring that up to people who have pro opinions if you really care about changing their opinion and keeping them safe from abusing drugs ? Buddha was never shy from debating the topic and making his case. You think censoring them is gona change their opinion and therefore help them or others who might be inclined towards pro-opinions ? Are you really intend on helping them or not ?

By the way, as you said, EBT classifies it as detrimental, so the topic is related to the EBT.