People took such awful chances with chemicals and their bodies because they wanted the quality of their lives to improve. They lived in ugly places where there were only ugly things to do. They didn't own doodley-squat, so they couldn't improve their surroundings. So they did their best to make their insides beautiful instead.
Look!You want to see? See! Feast your eyes, glut your soul on my cursed ugliness! Look at Erik's face! Now you know the face of the voice! You were not content to hear me, eh? You wanted to know what I looked like? Oh, you women are so inquisitive! Well, are you satisfied? I'm a good-looking fellow, eh?.. When a woman has seen me, as you have, she belongs to me. She loves me forever! I am a kind of Don Juan, you know!.. Look at me! I am Don Juan Triumphant! -Erik in The Phantom of the Opera