Ravi Drugan: Prescription For Performance
By: Meghan Ridley Photos: WindHome
“If I was in their situation, I wouldn’t want prescription drugs for my child—they’re horrible. The fillers in them alone. The wear and tear they do on your digestive system, and the doctor saying, ‘It’s okay, how many more would you like? Here’s another 800. As many as you need.’”
When Ravi Drugan woke up on his 15th birthday, he was in a hospital bed. Both legs had been amputated above the knee. He had been hit by a train and had zero recollection of the incident. With a Morphine button at his hospital bedside and doctors prescribing piles of Percocet and Neurontin, he was realizing his life without legs within a haze of pharmaceuticals. “I don’t really remember a lot of that time, everything was really foggy. I wasn’t really awake or anything.”
There is still an air of mystery—and an open investigation in Eugene, Oregon—surrounding just what happened to Drugan that evening. As he remembers, he was supposed to be attending a poetry slam for school credit at a local café. When authorities found him laying on the railroad tracks, he was also missing money from his wallet, and had a fractured eye and nose. Regardless of what happened and what Drugan didn’t know or couldn’t remember, he would one day realize an entirely new method of mobility and his childhood dream of medaling in the X Games.
Adjusting to this jarring new reality was understandably difficult for Drugan and his family. It wasn’t until a bout with food poisoning struck—leaving Drugan unable to keep his medications down—that he recalls his parents suggesting that he smoke some cannabis to help with the nausea and vomiting. As Drugan remarked, “I had already smoked weed before and my parents knew. They weren’t exactly big on a 15-year-old being a stoner, but it was better than seeing their son getting all tweaked out on pills every day.” Here, Drugan’s parents’ bravery opened the doors for a plant-based conversation in the midst of seemingly endless pharmaceutical options.
Speaking with Drugan, he is obviously grateful to have experienced a road to recovery not riddled with painkillers. “After the accident, I was in pain and in need of something. I just had such a traumatic thing happen to me. But it was about doing it at home, not going out and doing it or looking for something else to try.”
“I’m going to the Paralympics, so I’ll clean up for that—and at that point I don’t care if they know that I smoke weed. It’s like, ‘Of course, come test me. I know you’re gonna.’”
It was four years after losing his legs that Drugan found the sport of sit skiing—or Mono Skier X to those familiar with the X Games. Training with Oregon Adaptive Sports and discovering that he could canvas the mountain with even the best of skiers revealed an entirely new path to the medal podium, which once upon a time Drugan had hoped would be for skateboarding. “That’s why I ski for one, when I’m on the mountain just kicking back, I can go and be in these spaces and be more able-bodied than most people. There’s no boundaries to me, it’s all skiable—I can do anything that anyone else can do. And that’s really empowering, but it’s also about just being in nature and enjoying the scenery. Just stopping on the mountain and taking it all in, it’s epic. It doesn’t matter how fast you get up there or how well you ski—it’s just getting up there and seeing the view.”
While Drugan remains opposed to the misuse and abuse of pharmaceuticals that’ve grown commonplace in today’s society, he doesn’t shy away from candidly praising the many benefits he feels he receives from his cannabis use. “Sometimes I think I use it as a performance enhancer. Like I said, it makes a day of skiing better or makes you not scared. That’s when it comes in with the stress aid and keeps you down to earth. But it’s totally legal in adaptive skiing and in the Paralympics to eat pharmaceutical medication. So I’ll be atop a race and people will be eating Percocet and Vicodin, and drinking Red Bull—right there, pounding them. And that’s all okay, but I can’t smoke a joint? The majority of America is on pharmaceutical drugs, but people are still frowning down upon cannabis. What’s wrong with it? Even alcohol is a more dangerous drug to me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun and tastes delicious, but still. You can get into a lot more trouble drinking than smoking weed from what I’ve seen.”
Nonetheless, Drugan has full intention on following the rules that govern the sport. “I’m going to the Paralympics, so I’ll clean up for that—and at that point I don’t care if they know that I smoke weed. It’s like, ‘Of course, come test me. I know you’re gonna.’” Here, Drugan has chosen to never obtain a medical cannabis authorization, avoiding the potential glares from the International Paralympic Committee. While he believes in the medicinal value of cannabis, he prescribes to the point of view that you don’t need a prescription for a plant.
At the end of the day and all substances aside, Drugan holds himself with a remarkable energy and outlook that speaks volumes to the strength of his newfound perspective. While Ravi Drugan’s path to the podium wasn’t an exact reflection of his childhood dreams, the world works in mysterious ways and has a righteous way of revealing a new path. As he concluded:
“I think I have a really wide open perspective on life, but at the same time a very narrow perspective on life. Everything can be what you want it to be. For those people that walk around stressed about work and not liking your job—you can do whatever you want to do. I think it has made me realize that your life is very short, and you should do with it what you want to do with it and represent yourself with whatever you love to do. But do it in a way that leaves a positive mark—a way that makes it better for the next person.”