And then there was the speed.

It started with a deadline. Like a lot the pseudo-creative, I was a terrible procrastinator — by which I mean that procrastination was something I was terribly good at — and somewhere around junior high I’d gotten into the habit of leaving every project until the very last minute, then relying on a fear-stoked burst of adrenaline to bail me out.

So one time I had a major deadline on an important account, and I’d had too much to drink and not enough to sleep the night before, and I sat at my desk in front of a blank screen as the day and then the night wore on, and I had nothing. Absolutely nothing. I’d had some close calls of this type before, both in school and on the job, but this was the worst ever. At the end of my rope, and my wits, and anything else of which you can metaphorically be at the end, I wandered down the hall to see a friend of mine. I knew that he would be in his office because he was a workhorse who seemed to keep at it all day and all night.

I confided my plight to him, and he confided in me that his productivity was boosted by regular doses of amphetamines. He offered to share a little, and that was the beginning of a long, complicated romance between speed and me.

Even now, knowing the disastrous outcome of this affair, I must admit that the beginning was beautiful. I worked till dawn, feeling tireless, unusually clever, and downright mighty. I finished everything I needed to meet my deadline, then polished off every lingering task I’d left undone over the past few months, the came up with half a dozen ideas for new projects to start. After dawn, I raced home to shower, then back to the office. When my colleague came in, I troubled him for a little pick-me-up, then headed to the meeting with the client. At the meeting I was more focused and persuasive than ever before; the client was overjoyed, and my boss was positively beaming. I felt magnificent, like I was riding a perfect wave that would roll onward and upward forever.

And in the halcyon days that followed, it appeared that I was right. I’d always struggled with my energy level, and after somehow having missed out on speed in college, to discover it now was like meeting my soulmate. It made me feel like a whole different person, one who got more done before breakfast than the old me had all day. Actually, I didn’t eat breakfast, but you get the point. For some months I felt more alive than I ever had before.

That’s the seductive and dangerous thing about dope: It works — for a while.