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Remember that one time I got my ACD canon/BBC canon/fanon all jumbled up? Yeah. PA is totally right that we don’t have any confirmation of the nature of Sherlock’s relationship with drugs and how bad it was. I think we can make arguments for an addiction based on inference and passing comments, but it’s not confirmed either way. I rather like the idea that he could be a former addict, from a characterization point of view, so that is clearly what prompted me to invent a bit of headcanon and then proceed to get myself confused about what was canon and what wasn’t. 

I still think it’s undeniable that he was high in this episode, but I suppose the severity of that action is very subjective. 

[eta: I certainly didn’t expect to hit a nerve on drug use vs addiction with my comment. I don’t know a damn thing about recreational drug usage and I’m certainly not arguing that doing so makes you an addict. I just assumed he was, based on the past we’ve been given (or rather the past that I constructed in my head while watching). 

I was bothered by the revelation that he was using, that doesn’t mean anyone else has to be. Please don’t let my opinion offend you.]

Oh, you’re right, he’s absolutely high.  He’s explicitly high.  Molly does the drug test and it’s positive, and he TELLS Mycroft he’s high when he slams him up against the wall before John talks him down.  (LOVED that sequence, by the way; little reminder about how well Sherlock and John know each other’s sharp edges, for anybody who’s still feeling wounded about Sherlock apparently being snubbed this episode.)

He has also clearly used drugs enough to be able to function at a fairly high level while on them—which I am told is a learned thing.  Much like alcohol, inexperienced users tend to just go shit-faced, while more experienced users learn to compensate for the alterations to their physical and cognitive performance.  So it’s not like I’m claiming he doesn’t have a history, or that it wasn’t a bad move on his part.  It’s just that it’s an open question whether that history is one of addiction.

Furthermore, you’re totally right that it’s an INTERESTING point, and one that does, I think, have a strong bearing on the episode.  We don’t know the details, but addictions, obsessions, and ‘drugs of choice’ (in the larger metaphorical sense) clearly do form a core theme in HLV.  So it’s completely fair to bring it up.  I find it especially interesting and compelling (and perhaps the best argument for Sherlock indeed having a drug addiction) the way Sherlock’s conception of drug use and addiction works into the way he talks about and frames John’s addiction.

If it’s true that either or both of them have an addiction, it makes it difficult for me to approach them as characters, in a way, because the psychology and behavior patterns of addiction are so very alien to me personally.  Addiction isn’t a rational thing; it’s a thing that maps itself onto your mind and, sometimes, tricks you into believing that you’re acting in rational ways.  Intellectually, I think I kind of get it (as much as I can, having thankfully never experienced it myself), but emotionally it’s just so DIFFERENT from how I see the world working that I simply have no idea how to connect.  (In the sense of characterization, that is; when it comes to actual people, compassion and open-mindedness are always a good place to start.)

And if either or both of them do indeed have addictions, then I find it fascinating to see their minds in my head—especially Sherlock’s, so sharp and bright and ruthlessly well-ordered—and conceive of this part of them that is so very far beyond their control.  But, I think, maybe that can be part of the appeal?  Drugs can offer an abdication of self-control; a kind of permission to one’s self to do whatever you like, because ‘it’s the drugs talking,’ and the option of denying accountability, because one ‘couldn’t help themselves.’

(Which is not to say that either of those things are true.  But I can imagine that the ability to BELIEVE they are can be a siren’s song for some people.)

On a related point, you’re far from alone.  I don’t know about other countries, but in the US, we get indoctrinated from a young age on the ‘war on drugs.’  Quite rightly, we’re taught to perceive drugs and their use as dangerous.  Less rightly, this also leads to perceptions of drugs as ‘evil’ and heavy stigma on the people who use them (which often carries over even into legitimate medical applications of restricted drugs).

Most of us, fortunately for us as individuals, never have occasion to question what we’re taught about them.  But like any case where a thing people do gets stigmatized, it sets a trap and a blind spot that becomes easy for us to fall into.

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