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I sat down tonight to start my next diary in the series on the so-called "war on drugs" that I had promised. I wanted to start with a history of drug prohibition then work on from there. I discovered this to be a more difficult task than I imagined, plus I had so many thoughts along the way, that I decided it would be best to be able to look at the past through the glasses of the present, so to speak. I am just going to start typing and let it flow. I hope you like it, and I will take some well said advice and nix the apologies (in this diary, right now, at least.) It's going to be long, but I make no apologies for that - just a warning. It's also going to say some pretty controversial things - but I make no apologies for what I believe.

PLEASE keep in mind that my future diaries won't be controversial opinion such as this. But it's important for you to know who I am and what I think. Perhaps the fact that it's controversial is one reason I am posting it at 2am. Perhaps the other is it took 4 hours to write.

continued below the fold

In case you missed it, I made a diary on Saturday - Treatment for heroin/opiate addiction: a primer - in which, along with sharing the fact that I am a former heroin addict that is currently in buprenorphine maintenance treatment [and I don't think I made it clear, but plan to give abstinence a go sometime very soon], outlined the current world of heroin addiction treatment (with a focus on maintenance and legal aspects.) It sparked an interesting conversation, and many people shared their stories of current or former drug problems, themselves or with friends and family. Many people who don't have experience with drugs would be surprized just how prevalent the problem is. I have far more experience with drugs than just heroin, and I would like to share it with you. But first, let me ask you a basic question.

Are Drugs Bad?

It seems to be a simple question, right? "Drugs" are illegal, and they clearly ruin lives. So they must be bad, right? Well, quite honestly, my opinion is a resounding "NO!"

That might seem a bit shocking, and it really shouldn't be. Let me ask you another question. Are guns bad? I imagine some of you would say yes, and some would say no. The reason some would say no is because guns alone do nothing - they can't be bad if they do nothing. They are a tool, and only in the hand of someone do they become, as some people would say, "bad." Guns may appear to be for just one thing - to kill - but that isn't the case (in an ideal world, at least.) For example, the police use guns - at least they try to - to disable, ideally to save lives. This power is often abused, which is a very relevant point to make in this analogy. But drugs are not guns.

What is a Drug?

A drug, according to the medical definition, is a substance that alters the way your body is functioning. Sounds like a pretty broad definition here, no? Doing something as simple as taking a step alters the way your body is functioning. But drugs are very different, and unique, in that they are a substance, something you put into your body via various methods, often orally, that can change the way your body functions in so many different ways - essentially infinite different ways - providing an extremely powerful device, or tool. It's this instant ability to change yourself that creates the problem with non-medical drug use, and I will get in to that further when I tell you my story. But drugs aren't just for recreation. They are used for medical purposes - miracles such as penicillin (which technically isn't really a drug according to the clinical definition, but that's besides the point,) which can save lives. Drugs can save lives, allievate pain and physical suffering, and even assist with mental illness. I have some major issues with the mental illness part, in some instances and uses, but that's for another diary. And then there is "recreational drug use", right? Medical and recreational? Apparently not.

Drugs can be used for religious purposes, such as Native Americans for example who used a meriad of psychotropic substances for spiritual enlightenment, and the Rastafarians who used marijuana as another example. [Note: The Rastafarians brought a case to the supreme court arguing their religious freedoms entitle them to use marijuana. The supreme court shot them down, arguing that the consitutional right of freedom of religion doesn't trump the law.] Who are we to tell these cultures that they are wrong on a matter such as religion and spirituality? Many users of these so-called "soft" drugs would argue very strongly that they are not doing what they are doing for recreation.
Drugs can also be used as a tool, such as caffeine for example. People certainly don't use caffeine for recreation - it's not fun - they use it as a tool and to enhance their lives. Cigarettes would also fit in to this category (split, though, perhaps.) Many other drugs, which can be used for recreation, can also be used for enhancement and as a tool. For example, cocaine, which unlike caffeine most definitely can be used for recreation, for fun, can be used as a tool, such as a stock broker or college student who needs it to get through their careers or classes. I am not going to argue that doing so is OK - but I will argue that it is, much like a gun, a tool - and one that is feasible to be used responsibly - although it's a slippery slope, and another thing I will address soon enough. Whether it's OK or "bad" or whatever - they can be used as a tool regardless.

One only needs to read "recreational drug use" the talk page for the topic on Wikipedia to see just how difficult it can be to try to slam everything with a label. We, as a society, feel the need to label everything, in order to pretend we understand it and decide what category ("bad", "evil", "good", etc.) it falls in to, and it all ties together. Doing such things also causes stigma and preconceptions, such as calling marijuana a "recreational drug" reinforces the (invalid) notion that it has no medicinal value.
Let me give you another example on the overly broad definition: for example, is sugar a drug? It is a substance that alters the way the body functions. But there is a difference, and that difference is that sugar is a natural substance that the body needs. So we try to subcategorize and make up definitions that aren't really all that accurate, which ends up leaving us with "medical treatment" and "recreation." That is, if we start using the standard definitions.

Obviously, there are drugs that can both be used for "recreation" (which in quotes, as used here, includes the other possibilities I have described,) as well as for medicinal purposes. The obvious example is opiates, which includes heroin. [Editor's Note: I don't think I made it clear in my previous diary, but there is no difference between opiates, including heroin, morphine, oxycontin(oxycodone/percocet), hydrocodone, dilaudid(hydromorphone), demerol, codeine(slightly unique in that it's a pro-drug, it's essentially just oral morphine with a ceiling), etc.) They all, except for a small group of exceptions which are in a slightly different category, have the exact same mechanism of action. There is no difference between them - EXCEPT - how they go about getting to that mechanism. How fast they get to it, how long they last, how "strong" their are, etc.] Heroin is not used in the USA for medicinal purposes, but it IS in other countries, including the UK (last I checked.) But many other opiates are. Anyway, the point I was making, is that opiates can both a cure and a cause of agony. They are used for both medicinal purposes and "recreational" purposes.

I want to take a small detour into the Controlled Substances Act briefly, as it follows this train of thought.

About the Controlled Substances Act (the CSA)

There is a miriad of drugs that can be used both for "recreation" as well as for medicinal purposes (reminder: recreation in quotes (as used in this diary) means recreation as well as all the other non-medical possibilities.) The Controlled Substances Act draws a distinct line in the sand between those with medicinal value and those without. It's called Schedule I and Schedule II. But let me first explain what exactly this act is.
The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (warning for paranoid users: DEA site link), furthermore abreviated as the CSA, is THE (federal) drug law. It was passed by congress and essentially initiated the so-called "war on drugs." It essentially superseeded all previous (illegal) drug laws and made this one massive all-encompasing law regulating any drug that has "recreational" value. All further drug laws passed merely amend this law, such as the DATA of 2000 mentioned in the heroin treatment diary. It stipulates all laws regarding illegal drug use, and sets up a system regarding how we prescribe and regulate medicinal drugs with recreational value. It created 5 "schedules." Schedule I are drugs that have no medicinal value and are simply illegal. It is very important and interesting to note that due to the shortsidedness of this legislation marijuana and heroin are placed in the same "schedule." It doesn't matter to them as long as they don't see medicinal value in the drug. Schedule II starts the drugs that have medicinal value, but have the highest potential for abuse, and it works up with less potential and less potential until it reaches Schedule V. In reality, there are only three real schedules. Schedule I - illegal drugs. Schedule II - medicinal drugs available by prescription, but in the eyes of the DEA are so bad that they require the harshest of regulations - and currently their crusade has grown so large that most doctors simply won't write Schedule II Prescriptions (pharmacies need to account for every single pill in their inventory for this schedule, FYI, and the DEA's crusade has recently been extended to pharmacists who simply dispense a prescription for what the DEA views as "too much".) Then there is Schedule III to Schedule V, which has little regulatory and stigmatic difference between them.

Schedule II mostly contains opiate drugs, barbituates (hardcore downers that are the most dangerous drugs known to man in any sense of the word, but are necessary, mostly in inpatient hospital settings), and the hardcore stimulants. (It also contains, get this, cocaine! Yep, cocaine has medicinal value - IIRC only as a topical cream although I could be mistaken as to other uses. I will return to this, as I said. Needless to say, you won't be seeing a prescription for cocaine anytime soon, and I wouldn't be surprized if it's upgraded sometime soon.)
Schedule III contains the "soft" opiates - only two, really, hydrocodone and codeine (in most preparations). It also contains the weaker barbituates, which are used to control seizures in the more severe cases.
Schedules IV and V contain a meriad of substances - benzodiazepines (common tranquilizers, which have a meriad of possible uses, but are very addictive despite what the drug manufacturers tell you,) other sleeping pills, soft stimulants, opiate drugs that work through different less-addictive pathways (you won't find these on the street,) etc.

That is all I have to say on the CSA for now, and I will return to it in a later diary. It was a bit of a detour, but still relevant nonetheless, and something I thought would be interesting. Back to our topic.

So, Are Drugs Bad?

So we get back to that "basic question." Are drugs bad? My answer was no, and I gave a ton of background information and some initial thoughts to help us get better in to this. First of all I wanted to make the basic point that drugs are a tool, a device, that is nothing until used. And they can be used in many ways. So obviously the blanket assertion that "drugs are bad" is blatantly incorrect. So then we came to "recreational" drugs (when used as such). Are "recreational" drugs bad? Well, not really. As I made clear, "recreational" drugs doesn't necessarily mean recreational drugs (again, when used as such.) Psychotropic drugs of many kinds (such as marijuana and "magic mushrooms" are mostly harmless in the long run and can be used, as considered by some people, for spiritual growth and enlightenment. Is that really the best way to go? Is it our place to really say, especially not knowing the specific situation? And that's very important - the specific situation. [Let me just say real quick that Acid is one very special exception to what I said about psychotropics - which is why I said "of many kinds" - in that it causes permanent changes to your psyche. Whether that is something you are prepared for is up to the individual to decide - which he may decide rightly or wrongly - I will explain.]

Let me get a little more to the point before I get too far out there.

Are Drugs Bad - The Important Point

The point is that drugs are not bad, and drugs are not the problem, and I will tell you why. This is a fundamental concept that many addicts fail to address. As long as they keep blaming their problems on drugs - instead of themselves - they will fail at recovery. People use drugs, recreationally (no quotes), in most cases, to fill a hole. That hole is different for everyone. It usually comes down to a basic lack of happiness - one that may have a genetic predisposition, as indicated by recent evidence, which I will add in an update. But it could be a miriad of different things, different "mental illnesses." I would strongly argue that those that have problems with drugs don't really have problems with drugs - they have problems with themselves. When drugs are used in this way they simply bring to the surface all that is underneath. YES, there are some drugs, such as heroin, which rewire the brain to screw it up even more - which is exactly why they shouldn't be using drugs in the first place. But contrary to popular belief, most people who use heroin do NOT go on to become addicts. Can you tell me why this is? I certaintly think I can. The only plausible explanation, seems to me, is that these people who do go on to become addicts have that hole that heroin fills perfectly. So they have found their crutch. Heroin also causes physical addiction - a major problem - and one with any rational though process wouldn't touch. But people do. Why? Because it fills that hole, whatever it may be, it solves that mental illness, whatever it may be, and their problems are gone - and such an extreme power of being able to control your ups (and they are some ups) and downs is simply irresistible to these people.

So are drugs bad? No, drugs aren't bad. Drugs, when used irresponsibly by people due to the problems they have, are bad. Drugs aren't bad. Using drugs to fill holes in your life is bad. And telling people that they (drugs) are the forbidden fruit is exactly the inticement these people need to give it a try.

I mentioned that heroin addicts have "found their crutch." Everyone has a crutch, everyone has an addiction. It's a necessary neurosis to get through this modern world of the absurd, to be a bit existential. Some people have healthy addictions, ones that make them happy in a normal and productive way. Some people do not - they are simply depressed, a condition that our society, including modern medicine, has really found no way to cure. So they turn to drugs. That is bad, and in this case, the use of the drug is bad. But, you might be thinking, drugs are REALLY bad in these cases. And indeed they are - they are one of the worst ways to fill holes in your life. One of the reasons for this is the instant gratification I mentioned way up there in this diary. In this society, there is nothing more tempting and fulfilling (temporarily) than instant gratification. But if not drugs, believe me, they will find something else. Sex, food, whatever. Yes, at face value, these things may seem more inocuous than drugs. But they are, in reality, not all that much. People who have major problems in their lives will bring these problems into their addiction, and whatever it is, it won't be pretty. Drugs are usually just the easiest way to do it for the worst off of us - the forbidden fruit, the instant gratification - it just all adds up to the perfect solution. This is why it is vital for those raising children to solve their problems instead of ignoring them. This is what happened to me, for sure.

And this turns in to a vital concept for quitting drugs. Until the hole is plugged productively, until the root of the problem that caused you to turn to drugs in the first place is solved, you will never get clean. And THIS is (but one reason) why I advocate maintenance treatment for heroin addicts. You simply cannot solve these problems overnight, and maintenance treatment gives you the freedom to do so without (in most cases) the issues of relapse and further decay down the spiral.

I'd like to mention another thing about addiction. Not physical addiction, which I addressed, and which is considered "the easy part" by addicts - and for a very good reason. It's not the physical addiction - it's the psychological addiction. And this psychological addiction is often partially a placebo effect. You have all seen the joke about the guy who is high off his rocker only to find out what he was smoking wasn't even real. Addiction, psychologically, is much of the same. You want to fill that hole. And if you haven't, if you haven't addressed the root of the problem, your mind will keep jumping to drugs, the only thing you know to fill it, in a way that is irresistable. And yes, in cases of drugs such as heroin, it provides real relief from those holes. But in many cases, also including heroin, it is at least partially a placebo effect.
Bringing it into drugs in general, If what you are told what you are given will solve your problems, believe me, it will in most cases, even if it's a sugar pill. Even heroin addicts given a shot of nothing, being told it's heroin, will occassionally identify it as heroin - especially if their physical addiction is minimal or nonexistant. No one wants to admit they are fooling themselves, believe me, I know it's tough - but it's simply a fact of life. This was made blatantly clear to me when I saw some of the stuff being sold on the street. Stuff that has some mild CNS (central nervous system) effects, but for sure, has no recreational value. Yet people don't seem to realize it! I will get more into this if asked.

Finally, I'd like to mention that drugs can be used socially with very little problems if any at all. Alcohol is the perfect example of this. It is also the perfect example of a drug that has significant problems associated with it's (improper) use - serious addiction with life-threatening withdrawals, negative behavior - including to society in general - such as violence, heavy use can be life-threatening in itself, I could go on and on. Yet alcohol is drank by the truckload day after day by social drinkers with no real problems. This only underscores the point that I am about to address: the root of the problem of people with drug problems. Heroin, too, can be used en masse by troops, such as in Vietnam, but when they came home, a vast majority (but not all) of them were able to drop their habits with little issue? Why is this? The reasonable explanation, seems to me, is that the root of the problem is gone - except in the cases of those who couldn't drop their habits.

Even heroin, believe it or not, can be used responsibly (relatively speaking) by addicts who just can't quit. There are addicts out there, although you wouldn't know them, that's for sure, that manage to - in face of their inability to go clean - use heroin as responsibly as humanly possible. I can point you to such people, but I would rather not do that to them.

So, to summarize, are drugs bad? No, they aren't. Using drugs to fill holes (which may or may not be genetic) is bad - and, unfortunately, in many cases, the user doesn't realize this is the case. Let me make it very clear: using drugs to fill holes is VERY bad. But if not drugs, there will always be something else. Yes, drugs can be especially bad when used to fill holes - no doubt about it. But prohibition only inflames this instead of solving the problem and helping to address the ROOT of the problem. Seems common in American Politics and culture, no?

Onwards to politics...

The Fear and Blame game: the Oh-So-Convenient Political Tool

This all comes down to the whole "war on X" game the (US) government loves to play, and quite to their benefit (in very crooked ways.) I have three words for you: label, blame, and fear. Label everything, because the unknown is scary, Blame something else for problems that you (or your society, or your government,) is at least partially responsible for, and invoke fear, fear, and more fear. I am sure you know what I am talking about. Ignore the root of the problem, as that would be just to frightening to address, and focus on something tangible you can blame for everything. The government has found this works miracles and allows them to do so many things they otherwise couldn't. With UN Mandated drug prohibition (thanks to the good 'old USA), the US can make drugs illegal everywhere - and use it as a reason to do just about anything anywhere. You become the global police, in the name of stopping "evil." We now have terrorism in place of drugs, and one would hope this could mean the end of the drug war - although certainly not under Bush. Not that terrorism is a better substitute - in fact, even from my perspective, it's far worse - as it can destroy our civil liberties and justice entirely.

I will write a whole diary on this, probably the next one or the one after that, as I said assuming I have an audience, but I wanted to just touch upon it, as it's very relevant to this diary.

My Story (names have been changed to protect the guilty)

I was going to write my whole story, but there simply isn't the room in this diary. If there is interest, I will devote a whole diary to it. But I will address the points that are relevant to this diary, at least. Either in the comments, if that is what is necessary, or I will edit the diary and add it here. In any case, as I said, I will devote a whole diary to my story, if you want to hear it. Believe me, there is plenty to tell.

Originally posted to nephalim on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:25 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar. (3.90)
    If you aren't going to comment, at least let me know you appreciate my work with a tip (so I know people are listening.) But I would greatly prefer a comment.

    Resuscitate investigative journalism! Reality-Based does NOT mean investigations are wrong - it means investigations are essential.

    by nephalim on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:17:34 PM PST

    •  Why aren't more Dems... (none)
      ...talking about this? We got close with Carter, but his support of legalizing pot was distracted by politics. This is yet another pointless "war" dreamed up by Rethugs to fatten their coffers and keep oversight on our personal choices. And they're the party of "small government?" The fact that alcohol and cigs are legal and pot isn't is simply beyond logical understanding. I'm a former high school English teacher, and I had a student write a research paper once that made the very good point that the only way pot could kill you is if a bale of it fell out of the sky and hit you on the head. Thanks, nephalim, for bringing this issue back into the community conversation. I'll look forward to reading more from you.
    •  Filling a hole.... (none)
      ...or "self medicating" mental pain? As a recovering alcoholic myself (and former avid pot smoker, and a dalliance with crack cocaine when I was younger, and, man, gimme some benzos!), I found that I was trying to address chronic depression, a condition I still battle with. Substance use addressed the agony of that condition, as opposed to filling a gap or a hole.

      Most, I would guess about 90% or higher, of the alcoholics/addicts I have known struggle with depression, and quite a few have had a history of childhood sexual abuse. I imagine they were suffering from a form of PTSD. (Note: I am not an expert, don't claim to be, a lot of my experience is ancedotal, but after a lifetime of reading and dealing with this I feel qualified to throw a few ideas out there)

      I think if we address the metal illness that underlies a lot of drug abuse we will go a long way towards a solution. The hard part is "curing" mental illness; removing the stigma first of all, identifing exactly what form of illness a person is experiencing, i.e. depression, PTS, various psychosis, etc., and then begin to treat using a combination of drug therapy, counseling, group therapy. Whatever might be helpful in helping the addict cope with the inner anguish and crawl out of harmful addiction should be tried, and that road will be long and difficult, not to mention expensive.

      I have a feeling that brain chemistry is as individual as finger prints and that is what is going to make it so hard to treat. There is no "one size fits all". We are in the infancy of understanding exactly how brain chemicals work, and the drug companies will keep throwing new drugs out there until these "experiments" produce a solid track record of efficacy. We are a nation of guinea pigs in that regard.

      We will get there someday if we keep moving forward. Unfortunately with the current crop in power, I forsee that progress being halted (for now). There simply won't be the funding. Domestic issues such as this will take a back seat to paying for the war machine and giving the rich folks their tax cuts. Georgie doesn't just kill internationally, he kills domestically, too, and this is one area where the death toll will grow unnoticed.

      •  I agree with (none)
        the idea of self-medication, but see that as part of what I refer to as "rational irrationality".

        I'm an alky with almost 20 years sobriety.  I started drinking alcoholically when I was a senior in high school.  I'm not going to get into a long family history here, but short form is that my mother truly flipped out (and she'd never been very stable to begin with) following an emergency hysterectomy.  I was the only child left living at home, and I never knew when my mother would start screaming -- generally at my father, generally starting at 2:00 a.m. or so, usually about an affair he allegedly had had 30 years earlier, or about the "butchers" that he'd hired to turn her into a "spayed cat".  But often she screamed about anything, at whatever target was handy.  And I had no way out.  My father felt guilty, so wouldn't push to have her committed.  My siblings were all out of state.  But Mom had booze hidden all over the house, so I took to having a belt or two or five before going to sleep, so I could, perhaps, sleep through the early a.m. screaming fest.  Given the situation I was in, drinking was a very rational response.  It's that it just led to irrational drinking for the next 9 years -- a pattern that had to be broken.  In the end, to stay sober I "divorced" my mother: I couldn't change her, I couldn't change how my family dealt with her (she died as whacked out and bitter as ever last year, having never been treated for mental illness).  I didn't hate her, but became indifferent.  On the few occasions when we were together, I was polite, like you'd be with a spouse from whom you've been divorced for a decade or two, and from whom you'd moved on.

        But dreamin' just comes natural, like the first breath from a baby -- John Prine

        by Frankenoid on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 06:36:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly. (none)
          Drinking/drugging to deal with out-of-control life stress such as yours is how a lot of us get started. The insidious magic of these substances is that they work, but as you know, only for a time. Eventually it will turn on you, and by then it's too late. You're hooked.

          I also believe in a genetic predisposition to addiction. I've known people that just quit, walked away from cocaine, alcohol, or especially nicotine, and have had few withdrawl problems or urges to return. (lucky bastards!)

          For me, if you take away my cigarettes (my current drug of choice) you will have to lock me in a rubber room for a time! Last time I tried to quit I literally had sweats, stomach aches, nausea, headaches, mood swings- the whole withdrawal ball of wax. There is something different going on with my body chemistry than those that can just walk away. This is an area that needs to be studied more. How is it that some can quit, with seemingly little problem, and some just cannot?

          •  Exactly. (none)
            Drinking/drugging to deal with out-of-control life stress such as yours is how a lot of us get started. The insidious magic of these substances is that they work, but as you know, only for a time. Eventually it will turn on you, and by then it's too late. You're hooked.

            Well said.

            Resuscitate investigative journalism! Reality-Based does NOT mean investigations are wrong - it means investigations are essential.

            by nephalim on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 07:20:17 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Genetics have (none)
            a huge role to play in this, I'm sure.  Like you, I'm struggling with cigarettes: really, really, really want to quit, but just haven't hit whatever point it is that will make the desire to quit stronger than the desire to smoke (and having another, equally-addicted smoker in the house doesn't help, Ah tell ya whut).  With drinking I hit whatever tipping point that is, and after 3 tries and 3 years I poured out the cheap vodka, stopped drinking, spent a while figuring out how to re-arrange my life so it wasn't hard to stay quit, and here I am.

            My siblings are not exactly paragons of mental health.  None developed drug addictions, but of the 6 of us, I'd only count one as "normal", and of the rest only me and my bi-polar sister, forced through our physical/psychological problems to confront some of the demons from our very unhealthy upbringing, are what I'd call pretty stable.  The other three, I'd say 2 are candidates for treatment for depression, and one has non-chemical addictions and is, in general, as whacked out as my mother (and yeah, I've divorced that sister, too, although I'm pretty close to the rest of my siblings).

            But dreamin' just comes natural, like the first breath from a baby -- John Prine

            by Frankenoid on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 08:12:44 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Cigarettes... (none)
              I was able to quit once for 3 years, with very little cravings. Why?
              I had woken up one morning with tight chest, pain, and the more I tried to relax and just breathe, the more I could not.  I kept taking my pulse...it was so rapid. I kept trying to listen for breath sounds with my stethoscope, and all I could hear was my heartbeat pounding away.  
              I wouldn't go to the hospital where I worked for treatment, because I was afraid I'd hear, "Well you smoke, what the hell do you expect?"  And I love my kids.  I cried and cried.
              Next day I quit.
              I think my body chemistry was scared into letting me quit without many cravings, that's all I can think of. I had tried many times before w/o success.
  •  There's a terrific piece in the Observer (none)
    from the other day about the devastation that drug (and specifically cocaine) prohibition has done to Latin America. It is a piece ultimately, persuasively, and reluctantly in favor of legalization, and a must-read:

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,6903,1385987,00.html

    "If no one seems to understand / Start your own revolution and cut out the middleman" Billy Bragg

    by spot on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:29:52 PM PST

  •  Thanks for pointing out the Scheduling... (none)
    When I have told people that marijuana is classified as Sched I, which puts it in a class that defines it as more dangerous than cocaine, most just scoff and think I'm making shit up...

    It it just one of the absolutely unexplainable way our society deals with drugs, and to me, is emblematic of how insane this whole 'War on Drugs' is to me.

    But then again, this 'War' was formulated under a Repug preznit...another 'War' that can never possibly end, giving the right-wingers yet another constant source of 'enemies' to fight on our own soil...

    Many thanks to you, Nephalim, for your extensive and thoughtful research...

    YEE-HAW is not a foreign policy.

    by molls on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:31:23 PM PST

    •  Thanks molls. (none)
      I get so many thank yous, it's just so wonderful...you are quite welcome, molls, it's my pleasure. I can't possibly answer them all, so please don't feel like I have ignored you if I haven't, it would look silly if I did anyway...

      Resuscitate investigative journalism! Reality-Based does NOT mean investigations are wrong - it means investigations are essential.

      by nephalim on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 06:36:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nice work. (none)
    There is a common perception among younger drug users (among others) that life is more fun if you use drugs, or you are funnier, wittier, smarter, etc. Especially pot.  I try to teach them that they can have fun without drugs by just being themselves.  Self-acceptance, as you mentioned above, has a lot to do with the felt need to use drugs.

    The ...Bushies... don't make policies to deal with problems. ...It's all about how can we spin what's happening out there to do what we want to do. Krugman

    by mikepridmore on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 12:12:58 AM PST

  •  According to the M.O.P. Multiple Offender (none)
    Program Alcohol is far more dangerous than heroin- both in its physical damage it does to the alcoholic and mental damage. And the societal damage is catastrophic.
  •  To Really Get a Handle (none)
    On how ridiculous some of the Scheduling nonsense is you need to go back and look at the Pure Food & Drug Act (think that's the correct title; it's close at least), and how drugs were regulated prior to 1914 (and Prohibition.)  Not saying we should go back to those days, but the contrast is startling.

    I think they all think that their guy will do a better job, but I think they make dishonest arguments. In their eyes, the ends justify the means. -Jon Stewart

    by Slade on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 03:48:57 AM PST

  •  My drugs of choice (none)
    Coffee and chocolate and alcohol is about all I do these days and not much of any of them. If I ever come in contact with pot or mescaline or peyote or mushrooms again, in the right circumstances, I probably would.

    I still consider refined sugar a drug, but since that definition is too out there I don't mention it.

  •  A Topic Well Worth Considering (none)
    The overall damage done to our society by the war on drugs, especially marijuana, is worth quantifying and publicizing.  In an era where there are people trying to kill us for our freedoms, does it make sense any more to lock up people for possession of a wild plant?

    It truly is insane.

    I have a book coming out this summer Becoming Mr. Henry, (it's about becoming a high school teacher) in which one chapter looks at the way we try to control kids around drugs and sex.  Basically, my points pretty much mirror the diarist here: saying "no" to kids without a real relationship or explanation functions as one giant invitation to try it.  Drug abusers are the victims here and should be treated for their issues instead of locked up.  Zero tolerance and drug dogs at school are driving people into illegal and dangerous behaviors at every level of our society.

    Finally, even on the analogy of guns.  I use:  Drugs don't kill people; people do.  (With apologies to the NRA.)  Funny that guns are legal and even harmless drugs, like pot, are not.

    This is a huge issue, with incredibly therapeutic potential for this country and the world.  And, it is a non-starter politically, even though Canada and England have recently moved to decriminalize marijuana.  The most we can do is to work below the radar to soften some of the harshest, most Draconian policies against kids and hope that a new generation has more sense than the current ones.

    There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio. --Shakespeare

    by Mi Corazon on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 05:26:02 AM PST

  •  A few comments. (none)
    First of all, in case you missed it, I will fully outline the war on drugs. Since this was almost fully an opinion piece, and several people liked the info on the scheduling, I will definitely do a history next - focusing on law. This one definitely didn't "take off" like the other diary, but I didn't really expect it to. As long as the next one does. In fact, it is kind of better that it doesn't - that people read it slowly and don't get into arguments and such.

    Second, when I said a "hole", I was using a pretty generic term. This could be anything you are trying to solve, such as depression, and I guess I wasn't very clear on that.

    I didn't really go into whether drugs are ok, bad, good, whatever in the case that you aren't trying to solve a problem with them. That's a much better wording - solve a problem - although it could go even father than that. Anyway, I didn't address it, because it cannot be addressed. It's one of those fundamental questions that can't be answered. The only case where I will say yes, it's bad, it with children. They are developing, and are unable to make the proper decisions nevermind what the drugs do to their growth as a person. Even marijuana.

    I will have plenty of more opinion on this topic, but only as it is relevant to the topic at hand, and it will be opinion I will try to state as objectively as possible backed up with fact.

    Resuscitate investigative journalism! Reality-Based does NOT mean investigations are wrong - it means investigations are essential.

    by nephalim on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 07:18:41 AM PST

    •  Part of what is missed (none)
      in most discussion of "recreational" drug use is the natural human craving for new experiences, and to experience altered perception/reality.  Perhaps its related to our knowledge of our separateness and differentness from everyone else, and wanting to "try on" being someone else.  But, use of chemicals, religion, meditation or other means of altering consciousness is ubiquitous to the human animal (and, indeed, non-human animals, as animals in the wild will seek out fermented fruit, cats love catnip, and who hasn't read about rampaging, drunken elephants?).

      Having 2 addict parents, my children are at high risk for addiction.  We let them know that.  We also tell them that drug experimentation is normal, but until adulthood their bodies, minds and perceptions will be changing rapidly enough without adding the additional challenge of having their perceptions being changed chemically, and that it is wiser to wait until they are comfortable with whom they are, and then decide whether to experiment.

      And, while I fully applaud the movement to take drug abuse out of the court system, and into the health system, I have problems with the way the change is being implemented.  If you're popped while in possession of a "controlled substance", you're termed an "abuser", whether you smoke 1 joint every six months, or six joints every day.  Wastes money, and does nothing for the efficacy of treating those who truly should be diverted into a treatment program.

      But dreamin' just comes natural, like the first breath from a baby -- John Prine

      by Frankenoid on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 09:24:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Excellent post (none)
        And something that flew through my mind several times as I was writing this. I will be sure to discuss it when I discuss the detrimental effects of prohibition, both objective factual and subjective..

        Resuscitate investigative journalism! Reality-Based does NOT mean investigations are wrong - it means investigations are essential.

        by nephalim on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 09:37:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's true (none)
        My sons' father is a recovering alcoholic so I make sure they know that is a very real possibility for them.   I told them that he started with beer and ended with beer, and never considered himself an alcoholic. Still doesn't.  
  •  Hey..Nep... (none)
    I just read this diary..glad I put you on my subscribe list..it went away so quickly..next time becareful when you post, and that you stay around for the debate or questions that people may have, that way your Diary will stay around longer. Maybe tell your story next, I am interested. The first one was so great that I added you to my Sub list, you are one of three that I have on it. I have always had such a problem with Medication/Drugs having such a bad name in this country. They are there for a reason, and if used properly they can not only help people tremendously, they can save lives. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

    educate 'em when they're young

    by Chamonix on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 05:38:33 PM PST

    •  Thanks, Chamonix. (none)
      I really did want to write about my story next, but I just can't envision many people really caring. It sure is spicy, though.

      Thanks for giving me something that I really needed. I appreciate it, even though it's honest, that doesn't mean you have to share it. Thank you.

      Resuscitate investigative journalism! Reality-Based does NOT mean investigations are wrong - it means investigations are essential.

      by nephalim on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 06:23:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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