The Root Source of Drug Abuse

The US government and media has spoken about drug abuse for decades. Constantly seeking one influence or another to blame. Migrants, minorities, drug companies, etc.

The biggest problem with nearly any discussion on drug abuse is that the root cause of drug abuse is too often ignored, downplayed or completely omitted.

While we are seeing a massive increase in opiate addiction and overdose, this is not the first instance of this in US history. Prior to the creation of government agencies to regulate drug use, opiates were common and sold over the counter. Morphine, codeine and other opiates were in everyday medications like cough suppressants. At one time, Coca-Cola contained cocaine, derived from leaves from the coca tree, hence the name of the most popular soda in world history. 7-Up once contained Lithium, which is now used as a psychiatric medication used to treat manic disorders and allegedly acts as a mood stabilizer. Today, the US comprises 5% of the world population yet accounts for 80% of global opiate consumption.

At the same time we are seeing an increase in opiate use/addiction/overdose, the US also has seen an increase in antidepressant use since 1999. Benzodiazepines such as Valium, Xanax or Ativan saw prescriptions roughly double between 2003 and 2015, that most recent data compiled which I saw in a cursory search.

In addition to opiate use, the rising trend seen in illegal drug trade is bath salts. Bath salts act as a dopamine reuptake inhibitor, causing elevated mood in the user.

Whether we are talking about legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, bath salts, opiates or antidepressants, the same trend becomes evident. Each of these substances has specific similar effects, meaning decreased anxiety/elevated mood. To be clear, increased dopamine production or slowing the reuptake of dopamine, results in a similar response. Dopamine is the “feel good” hormone produced by the brain.

So, the question is, why are we seeing a desire for chemicals to improve our mood? Some like to claim it is a matter of privilege. Yet they cannot then explain why drug use and addiction are either constant across income levels or worse among the least privileged in society. Or why countries with higher income levels do not have higher rates of use and addiction. In general, why has addiction become more common in the past few decades in the US, while income levels have remained stagnant? Why do drug and alcohol use increase during times of severe economic downturn?

There have been studies on antidepressant use among younger Americans which show clearly that their depression is very real, for very real reasons which pills cannot cure. The same reasons apply to all forms of drug use and abuse.

Here is a short list of reasons we are seeing chemical use rise in the US-

This country has been at war for 18 continuous years. Many younger Americans see family members and friends enroll in the military due to lack of other opportunities. Those family members and friends change, become different people. Then they may not come back or come back injured, damaged physically and/or emotionally. Young people who do not enroll have a very real fear of a draft being enacted at some point. That fear has a very rational basis.

From young to old, we see people struggling to make ends meet. Many working multiple jobs. Younger people are staying at home much longer than previous generations and it is all due to financial reasons.

The price of education has skyrocketed far beyond the rate of inflation, leaving millions with student loan debt for decades, along with the associated interest. Defaults on student loans are the highest they have been in the history of this country. Meanwhile, many who are graduating are unable to find employment in their chosen careers, even when their degrees are in business management, accounting or vocational occupations. Which leaves them earning low salaries with high levels of debt.

Vehicle loans are seeing high numbers of defaults, with the average car payment today being over $500 a month. Or a person has the choice of spending many hours every day on the worst public transportation system of any first world country. Imagine doing that when you have children. Or maybe you don’t have to imagine it. You may be reading this while riding the bus, for all I know.

There is the constant fear of mass shootings, either in schools, churches, theaters, malls, night clubs. Meanwhile our CONgress remains in the pocket of the NRA, refusing to take meaningful action. If the same number of people died every year from an illness or certain class of vehicle as from assault weapons, we would have large sums of money thrown at it and the banning of that class of vehicle entirely.

Anyone being pulled over by police has no idea if evidence will be planted on them or in their vehicle. Road side drug tests are proven to be unreliable and are inadmissible in court, yet you can be held in jail for days before a more valid forensic test proves your innocence and even that will not help if a dirty officer plants evidence. Of course, you also have the chance of being shot while reaching for your wallet.

Racism is rampant. People of color fear being victims of hate crimes just walking or driving. Or being shot by police for the crime of not being white.

Women fear being physically and/or sexually assaulted. Men fear being accused of things they’re actually not guilty of.

People are afraid to speak to each other. Period.

Like I said, this is a short list of reasons we are seeing such an epidemic of mind-altering chemical use and abuse. Yet the discussion regarding those chemicals, the root causes for the prevalence of their use is rarely discussed. The media and government steadfastly refuse to discuss the issues leading to the problem because doing so would result in lower profits for major advertisers and donors, such as drug companies, for-profit prisons and weapons manufacturers selling to police departments. They all want to continue the failed war on drugs which has raged on for nearly 50 years and only escalated with the results being what we see today.

If we want to see a change, we have to change the approach. Up to now, it has been doing the same thing every single year and expecting different results. So it is up to us to insist on the discussion to change topics. That real problems be addressed, that new solutions be enacted. Too many lives have been destroyed by the current approach. If we don’t absolutely demand that things change, millions more lives will be destroyed.

We have no idea how many innocent people have had their lives and the lives of their families torn apart by planted evidence. Even if guilty of possession of drugs, does that alone warrant paying for it for the rest of your life?

The war on drugs to date has cost us uncounted trillions of dollars. Mock hearings, millions of people in prison, families on public assistance where they were not before, children and innocent adults caught in the crossfire, decimated careers, psychological therapy for any number of related issues and militarized police all cost us every day of our lives in ways we can never account for financially or emotionally.

The ultimate truth about our drug problem is that it leads to many other problems which are far more costly on every level. It is caused by other problems which are too often ignored or viewed separately. We will never solve the drug problem unless we address the problems which lead to it. We will never stop the problems it leads to unless we solve the drug problem.

In other words, drugs are not the problem, they are a symptom of the real problem. The real problem is capitalism. Does that mean we would have no drug problem if we lived in a Socialist society? No. It means we would address the drug problem in far different ways, ways which preserved society instead of ripping it apart. The only reason we are not doing so right now is because of the profit motive of those truly in charge of our society. If we discuss ways to reduce the cost of any problem, capitalists instantly think, “But we’ll make less money!”

If we talk about treating addiction as an illness using a nationalized treatment program, they scream, “But who will pay for it?!” We would. We would pay far less than we do now in every way. We would have more money, more freedom, less violence, less crime, less depression, less anxiety, less anger, less paranoia, fewer suicides, fewer guns, fewer families ripped apart, fewer absent parents, less racism, lower medical costs of treating poisoned chemicals made in garages in other countries…

In the end, we need to wage war against the war on drugs.

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We’re All Mentally Ill

I’ve said something in the past which I want to repeat here. We are all mentally ill.

That is, according to the psychiatric field. If you listen to the psychiatric field, or at least the way it is portrayed, every human being walking the face of the planet has some form of mental “disorder” which we can be diagnosed with.

Of course, that’s not true. The truth is that the mental health field only considers something a disorder when it impacts your ability to function at a normal level. The truth is public perception, driven by media portrayal and exaggeration. Honestly, the most mentally deranged people in our society work for the media and corporate management. They will push any agenda at all, no exceptions, for profit.

Personally, I have a long string of “disorders” which could be applied to me. Bipolar disorder is one. I genuinely do have this but did not know it until I was in my 30’s, in nursing school. It was later confirmed unofficially by a psychiatrist I went to for voluntary stress management. He asked if I wanted to be treated for it. I said I was already in my 30’s and had not been treated for it up to then, so no. We agreed and it was never entered in my medical file because of the problems such a label can cause. Fact is, many overachieving people who are quite accomplished have been bipolar. One Surgeon general. Many artists like Neil Diamond and Billy Joel. Billy Joel wrote a song about it, “I Go To Extremes”. Listen to the lyrics and you’ll understand. I had someone say, “You just like the manic state.” I looked at them and said, “Yes, I do. I get a lot done when I’m manic. It helped me through nursing school.”

I’ve been called OCD. Then again, name a good nurse who does not have OCD to some level. I know I have ADD but I compensate by maintaining multiple interests at all times. It does suck when I get bored. I have made people quite fearful if I was bored because they had no idea what came next. Especially when I had access to explosives in the military. Nobody got hurt, so I have no regrets.

Only a few months ago I realized I have PTSD. Growing up in a rough neighborhood near a military base during Vietnam, having been beaten, stabbed, shot at, gone through two live shooter events, three bomb scares and being in the Army in Germany the day The Wall came down and they refused to tell us why we were issued live rounds and guarding one of the largest ammo points on the planet all have a cumulative effect over time. Imagine that. Oddly, I remain calm in a crisis. I just avoid loud environments and disorganized crowds. Oh, and never put your hand in my face, you may lose it.

Sometimes it’s not a weakness but a strength. I know many people with PTSD, usually from domestic abuse. They tend to have strong responses to certain triggers but nearly every one I’ve ever known internalized their reactions unless things escalate beyond a certain point. It is abusers who are most likely to escalate situations. Those with PTSD tend to be more rational and attempt to deescalate tensions, talk rather than argue, reason rather than fight.

I know many with bipolar disorder. They are generally highly functioning once they learn to balance.

Those with ADD are usually people most capable of multitasking without becoming overwhelmed.

Is it really a “disorder”? So, I fail to see how these things amount to disorders. They are all different normal human conditions, either by biology or conditioned response. Of course, one can take drugs for these things. Most of the time drugs are not really necessary. Like I said, I was in my 30’s when I learned of my ADD, 40’s when I was called OCD and reasoned out the PTSD at 56 years old. Oh, well. I consider them all means to understanding myself better. I’ve never considered myself “normal”. I look around at what is considered “normal” and will always reject that label.

Change your view. The real fact of the matter is that what may be considered a “disorder” is often not. It all depends on how you, yourself view a condition, whether you learn to balance and compensate for it. Be open with friends and family members. Are they supportive or judgmental? If they are judgmental, it may not be you who has a problem at all. I will be honest and say some people will use their own labels as a crutch for aberrant behavior or substance abuse. Though substance abuse is an issue and illness all on it’s own. It is rare that a psychological condition resolves one of personal responsibility, aside from schizophrenia.

Of special note. Some people use labels as a means to justify emotionally abusive behavior toward others. They try and use labels to make themselves feel superior. In reality, what they reveal is their own apathy and insecurity. Strong people do not have the need to demean others

Stop labeling. One of the biggest problems with any such “disorder” is that too many people define a person by the label. Sometimes they define others by a label, or they may define themselves by a label. I’m not “a bipolar”, I am a person with bipolar “disorder”. Likewise, a person with an anxiety disorder is not necessarily an anxious person, they are a person that has a problem with anxiety. In all cases, what comes first is that each of us is a person. We are human. We have problems, we have flaws, we have individual personalities.

Societal evolution. Over the last few decades, society has undergone an evolution. Where any form of mental problem was once a stigma, many forms of mental or emotional issues have become mainstream. In some circumstances and cohorts, a person may well be considered an outsider if they do not have certain “disorders”. Depression and anxiety disorders have become overly mainstream among young people today. Medications have become trendy. Celebrities use discussing their own “disorders” not as a means of spreading awareness but as a means of gaining more popularity.

Striving for balance. This is the biggest challenge. We all must strive to reach a balance. To accept various aspects of the human condition as exactly that, while reaching for understanding when a condition may reach a critical juncture. Which means we cannot rely on a pill bottle for all the answers. We cannot define ourselves or others by only one aspect of an individual’s personality.

Teams play to each member’s ability. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Not all baseball players are great pitchers, not all pitchers are great hitters. Teams arrange their playbooks according to the strengths and weaknesses of the players. In healthy relationships we tend to seek and accept partners with qualities which compliment our own. If both partners had the same strengths and weaknesses, the relationship becomes unbalanced. Of course, if partners or team members judge and attack one another, then the relationship and performance suffer and may lead to failure.

Medications are not enough. Psychoactive medications have become things used all too often as chronic, lifelong prescriptions leading to dependency. Those medications really should not be used in this way in many cases. Some, yes but not as much as they are. Psychoactive medications are meant to be used in conjunction with therapy. The ultimate goal for most people should be to gradually decrease or even eliminate the need for medication by increasing the coping skills and ability to adapt by the patient.

Self acceptance. The absolute best thing a person can do to maintain emotional health is to learn self acceptance. Though this does need to be in a way that does not cause harm to themselves or others. Abusers can accept themselves, that does not mean they are mentally healthy. Stop seeing yourself as flawed, stop thinking you or others have to be perfect. The day you meet someone who is perfect, let me know.

Hate And Fear As Addictions

I’ve written about this before but re-doing it once again because it is an important concept. I am approaching this in a rather clinical manner, seeing my history of nursing.

I find this especially important at this time. Right now, the midterms are over. Yet by and large people are more likely to be acting out emotionally, not thinking rationally. And that’s the goal of the parties and media machines. React, don’t think. Feel, don’t question. Get angry, even when you don’t know why.

When you focus your mind on emotional outrage, offense or fear you are not trying to find solutions to problems. You are seeking to satisfy your emotional state. The biggest problem with this is how people keep going from one outrage to another to another. When was the last time you personally were notin one of these states?

The biggest reason you are always in some heightened emotional state is because of the media. Fear, anger and offense sell. It’s profitable. So they make it continuous. Day after day, each media source trying to come out with the next outrageous headline to put you in one of these states. What stories are you most likely to share, forward to your friends and family, blast on loudspeakers, etc?

Now here is the biggest problem. Anger, hate, fear and offense are addictions. I mean that in the literal sense of the word. Most Americans, if they look at themselves honestly and objectively, can see the pattern of addiction in their own behavior.

Anger, hate and fear cause the same chemical responses in the brain as drug use. Especially resembling methamphetamine use, they cause a chemical response of increased adrenaline production coupled with heightened endorphin production, especially norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine.

What is worse is that addictions keep getting worse as time goes on. Drug addicts develop what is known as tolerance. That is to say, the same dose becomes less effective over time, so they seek more and more, higher and higher doses of the same substance. Or they seek new substances that will give them the same euphoria, then continue on with the pattern, often mixing substances until they are taking a cocktail of chemicals which slowly damage and poison their bodies.

One of the most damaging long term effects of chronic stress and anxiety is increased stress hormone production, which leads to high blood pressure, digestive disorders and weight gain. So keeping yourself in a state of chronic stress willingly truly is damaging and even potentially lethal, shortening your life span while decreasing your quality of life.

I know some people will claim that comparing these emotions to addiction is ludicrous. However, look at how much pleasure people derive from watching horror movies. Violent sports like football. War movies. Cop shows. All of these portray events which in real life are atrocities, tragedies. However, when we are dealing with the news, atrocities are being played out in real life, not dramatized.

So, what are some of the behavioral signs of addiction?

First, the addict cannot control the behavior. They consciously or subconsciously seek the object of addiction on a frequent basis. This continues even after they have identified the addiction. Remember, alcoholics and ex-smokers often refer to themselves as “recovering”, indicating they have not beaten the addiction even years after giving it up. Instead, they keep the addiction under control.

If addiction is not controlled (such as an addict in denial), the addiction gets worse. They develop tolerance. They seek out more and more of the object of their addiction. In this case, they will actively seek out things which cause the stressful state they desire. Check the comment sections on Progressive pages or RT and you will find many whose sole purpose on that page is to express anger and seek conflict. Many who dislike Trump subscribe to his Twitter feed. Others seek out story after story attacking Trump, Russia or whomever else offends them by mere mention of the name.

That tolerance may have begun as having some reaction to stories that came up in the media but over time they began to seek those stories more and more frequently. Eventually, they could not go even a few hours without genuinely needing that stress. They actively seek out things that provide that stress multiple times a day. That can include news by TV, internet or discussion, sports, movies, TV shows, computer games and other influences.

That stress spills over into their everyday lives, causing more problems. Like an addict, they will seek out those who share the addiction in the form of similar viewpoints, rejecting opposing anyone with opposing views. Express a dissenting view and they commonly become abusive. That includes to their family and friends.

The only way to deal with this problem is to deal with it on a personal level. The first step is admitting a problem exists. Be honest with yourself, look in your mental mirror and see if the description fits. Then take action accordingly.

We all need to be engaging in interventions with family and those in our social circles.

Addicts always make excuses and divert responsibility. There are no excuses. The social and political environment is not an excuse. The food you eat is not an excuse. Chemtrails are not an excuse. The responsibility is on the addict and should not be allowed to be cast elsewhere. Don’t be an enabler.

Some readers may want clinical documentation of this comparison. Is that really needed? Behavioral evidence should really be sufficient. If you really want the clinical documentation, there is a lot of it available online but separately addressing amphetamine use and anger. I’m just giving a cross reference. I’ve read the clinical information which merely confirmed my theory.

Side note: The example I originally used in this theory remains valid. That example was racism. If a person is racist against (for example) black people, it does not remain against only black people. A racist continues expanding their bigotry and hate to include Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, Atheists, etc until it becomes hatred of anyone that is different. However, that is far from the only example, as noted above. So, this is not directed at one political or social leaning. It applies universally.