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I have been a long time lurker with only two comments to date. Recently though, I have seen a wave of drug war and mentally ill related diaries which inspired me. That and two recently viewed documentaries, courtesy of Showtime, A-K-A Tommy Chong and A Review of American Drug Policy (the title of the latter may not be 100% because I only had the chance to view it once and Showtime's website search feature is sorely lacking) gave me the courage to post here.

My intent is not to directly change anyone's mind but simply to ask them to seek the truth and use common sense. In the end, I suppose my real intent is that our politicians will do the same and help heal our seriously wounded country in the process...

I just hope this diary isn't too subjective and inspires objective comments.

Let me begin with just a little regarding my background and family history:

My grandmother died at an early age when my mother and her siblings were still mostly in their teens. She had multiple nervous breakdowns until one finally lead to her death. The actual events surrounding this death are still a mystery to me and many others since my very religious preacher grandfather would not allow the subject to be discussed, even many years after the fact. This mystery still remains as my cousins, aunts, uncles, and other relatives adamantly refuse to discuss the topic even to this day. My aunts and uncles from this family(7 in total) either became religious extremists (they were raised Southern Baptist by the way), had bouts with mental conditions which were self-medicated(read: became drug addicts), or a little of both.

My mother became a little of both, self-medicating with alcohol and later in life, becoming very religious in an attempt to heal the sorrows of her life. One aunt died from heavy drug use and an eventual overdose of prescribed drugs which lead to liver failure. One uncle was a raging alcoholic who eventually dried out and became a traveling evangelist (he was a preacher in those revival tents so often seen in small towns). Another aunt was an alcoholic and married another alcoholic who abused her badly. Following her drying out, she too became very religious. 2 of the other uncles became Southern Baptist preachers who threw brimstone and fire across the state of Alabama's northern counties. The last uncle decided to disown any immediate family members who did not become born again and proudly proclaim it.

As for myself, I am male, now 41 years of age and I have battled insomnia for over 30 years as well as what I believe to be some form of manic-depression. I too did some self-medicating in my teenage years. At first, it seemed just an experiment, but as I dug deeper into my psyche I realized there was this black hole in both my heart and mind I was seeking to fill. Luckily, I was cognizant enough to see how dangerous things like cocaine and alcohol were to me. I barely dabbled in cocaine usage (please imagine a manic on cocaine) and used alcohol heavily from 16 until my early 20s. My drug of choice was marijuana... It seemed to calm my overactive mind(manic) and make the lows seems not so low(depressed). As we speak now, I have not been drunk in over 10 years and there has been only a handful(less than 5) of occasions I have smoked marijuana in the last 2 years. My remaining vice is cigarettes and I smoke 2 packs a week. That particular topic I won't touch on now but, we all know how serious it can be.

In my early 20s, I began to seek help for my insomnia and mood swings. Luckily, the mood swings were not as severe as I have seen in some yet, they had their really bad moments. As for the insomnia, try going for 72 hours without a bit of sleep and try to remain level-headed and fully aware of your choices and environments. I dare you! The proscribed government facilities to seek help for the uninsured (aka me) required a detailed essay on my habits and other things about my life, immediately followed by a drug test. I was informed this was no place to get my drugs for free but rather, a place to rid of my drug habits. In my essay I clearly told them of my marijuana usage as self-medication yet, when the drug test came back positive(only for marijuana) they seemed shocked and disappointed. I was then scolded for my drug use and ordered to drug treatment. Great treatment so far eh? Have me spill my life details out onto the table and then try to shame me for being a druggie.

As a result of these drug tests, I was sent to drug classes before any serious treatment would be considered. These so-called classes format was talking with others in the class, which consisted of some seriously mentally disturbed individuals who would do anything for their drug fix, and then sharing your own stories. As they talked about things they did, I quickly realized I was out of place. As they heard me talk about my relatively peaceful life, they too realized I was out of place. There existed in that room not one bit of friendship or camaraderie. It was like watching a covered pot of boiling water waiting to spill over. I believe the only thing that kept some people going there was the ability to judge others and say, "Wow! I am not nearly so screwed up as I thought." Needless to say, I didn't last too long in these classes. Strangely enough, all I gained from these classes was the same thought as above. I began to think I was considered normal compared to these people yet, the problems remained.

As the years went by, I tried again and again to seek some help for my troubles. In the early 90s, there was a shift in the treatment methods. Almost immediately after putting in my application for help, they wanted to prescribe medications for me to take. I cannot say which ones they thought were good for me as I instantly refused treatment without some counseling. After all, how can they know I need these medications without a proper medical examination and nothing more than an hour long(or less) interview discussing my issues? This remains general policy at the many places I have tried to get help at to this day. Somehow, they can still tell me with a straight face that "this is not a drug dispensary" when I first arrive. Suffice it to say, I remain without treatment for my sometimes serious depression/mania and constantly nagging insomnia.

You may have already asked, "How is this related to the War on Drugs, as mentioned in your topic?" Almost 8 years ago, my (ex)roommate introduced me to someone who grew their own marijuana. At the time, I considered this one of the greatest things to ever happen. After a couple of years, I finally convinced him to give me a few cuttings to start my own minor crop of around a dozen plants in exchange for some of the crop for a year or 4 grow cycles. 4 years ago, that acquaintance was busted by a drug task force and his roommate, in an effort to save his own ass, began giving these enforcement officials every name he could possibly think of. Needless to say, these officials showed up at my door, with guns drawn, using coercion to convince me to give up my right of forbidding a warrantless search. It is amazing what you will give in to with a gun pointed at your head and several police officers screaming insults about how you look and smell. For the record, I have hair halfway down my back and I was little dirty and sweaty (this was in July in New Orleans) from cleaning out our little grow room. After further coercion, they squeezed a few other minor details from our tiny operation out of us.

The story was all over the news the next day regarding this massive bust. All told, they seized less than 200 plants from 5 houses in this major bust. On the news, they discussed how the operation involved months of effort to track down these grow houses. The video feed was looped back and forth in an effort to show vasts forests of seized plants. The monetary value was estimated in the hundreds of thousands. From my apartment, they got no plants and had only some old soil, extremely dessicated stems (left there by the previous tenant), a non functioning light (also left there from the prior tenant), and a light timer. My roommate and I were charged with felony cultivation, felony distribution, and possession of paraphernalia.Yet, when they appeared at my door, they did not even know mine or my roommate's names. They simply had nicknames the main bust target's roomie had given to save his own ass. I was uninvolved with the other targets of this bust but, I did know and meet them on occasions. Details were known of their operations but not minute details. Bottom line, they were growers for their own usage, and sold some minor amounts to earn a little extra cash (best estimate would be 35-50 ounces of excess every three months in total). The buyers were mostly known and consisted largely of long-time friends and friends of these friends. As a side note, the main bust target had previously lived in my apartment before I had moved in. The owner was a childhood friend of his who allowed him to keep a bunch of things stored inside the covered porch outside my door even after we moved in.

My first day in court came and the public defender urged us to take a guilty plea to avoid prison. Reviewing the police report, I saw gross distortions and exaggerations regarding our case. When I pointed these out, the public defender said little except that to fight it would take time and I risked incarceration. My roommate bowed to the pressure and became a felon on long term probation but no prison time. He could not understand my reluctance to fight the case but I remained firm. I talked to many lawyers about my case until I found one willing to help a very poor victim of this war. He was an ex-state trooper and ex-DA, now practicing as a defense lawyer. He worked with me on payments for his services and did not demand payment up front in full. This lawyer saved me and my record.

A year later, the case has not been resolved and the judge knows me by face and name. On multiple occasions she questioned me as to why I was still in her courtroom. My usual response was, "waiting for my jury trial your honor." Sometimes the assistant DA would mention facts of my case and asking why was I not accepting probation aloud in the courtroom, to no one in particular, when my case was about to be up next on the docket. Needless to say, these statements were typically demeaning and meant to shame me into accepting their deal.

A break would come in my case just after a year of fighting it. The lead officer from the state drug task force which arrested me, was himself arrested for running a gambling ring. He was arrested for multiple felonies and his good name now meant nothing. The very next day, the asst. DA called my lawyer and they finally backed down on my charges. I was given 9 months probation and plead guilty to simple possession. I almost fought this too but, I was tired of showing up and losing at least a day per month to sit in there. A typical court day for me consisted of sitting there from 8 a.m. until at least 4 p.m. with my case being one of the last for the day. Sometimes, their docket was so backed up, my case would never make it to the judge and I would be forced to return the next week for another long day of nothing. Please keep in mind, I had never before been arrested and did not have so much as a speeding ticket. I narrowly escaped becoming of a victim of the system.

Today, I keep myself aware of drug policy information, even though it just causes me to despair most of the time. Even though my mental (and probably physical) issues are minor compared to many, they are still very real. Every day I battle exhaustion, despair/mania, and live in an almost constant state of minor confusion. Combine these facts with the fact that I am an avid reader and somewhat of a social activist and you may begin to see why I don't have much hope for us humans. Hope does exists within me but it is a constant battle to keep seeing its existence. I can only imagine how hard it is for those who are far more sick than I. Our prisons are filled with these people whose only crime is lack of proper care and dabbling in drugs. They do not leave prison in better shape, in fact, they often worse off. It is well known to many that prisons are hotbeds of drug activity, violence, and rape. Well known to all except for most politicians and police officials anyhow.

As for drug awareness, drug treatment, and mental illness treatment, why do we lack common sense and empathy for those who are involved? If you go to a business seminar, they employ experts in their fields to share strategies and form new ideas. For drug awareness, we often employ righteous religious types who ask you to replace one obsession with another. These gatherings are full of disinformation and often use shame as a tool of enforcement.

For drug treatment, we treat the users as criminals and then we do not employ ex-drug users to share real facts regarding the consequences of their actions. These lost souls are then filled with more disinformation,shame, and religion. Admittedly, my statement is sometimes false but then, that case is quite rare in my experience and the experiences of friends who went through these programs. Some may argue that religion is there to give them hope but, I argue that hope can be gathered from other sources. So often I have met people who successfully passed these treatment plans and have become so intolerant to other drug users that I am struck with awe. They claim religion has changed their lives for the good but has it? If this was true, how can they be so insensitive to the plight of others who are just like they were and damn them to hell (aka prison) for their sins? Again, this is not always the case but, so often it is the case. We must somehow find a way for these people to become more self-reliant without seeking aid from a higher power for their problem. This higher power treatment program, allows people to easily remove themselves from their very real plight (and life) and in essence, seek happiness on the other side.

As for the mentally ill, so often they lash out at others or themselves in an effort to seek help. Often they self-medicate with far worse drugs than I have tasted and then stumble into improperly refined chemicals and other pollutants to the body, which worsens their condition. We then treat them as criminals and lock them away in prison. Too often, they are then abused and maltreated further, leading to even more desperate cases than before they were incarcerated. These mentally ill individuals are part of the reason our prison system is one of the biggest growth industries in the USA and shows no signs of slowing down.

In summary, it is my opinion that just about every aspect of the War on Drugs and treatment of the mentally ill is deeply flawed. Both issues are quite often used for revenue generation (asset seizure and big pharma) and common sense and empathy are ignored. Ignoring the problem has done nothing but help it blow up into epic proportions. We flood the problem with disinformation and somehow expect it to resolve itself. Where is the common sense in that? How much longer must we wait until our country and its leaders take an honest, objective view on these issues? I cannot say but, I still have hope. However, that hope is often tested and fades with each passing day as I watch things get worse and worse in my life and the lives of so many others.

Please, decriminalize drug use. Speak the truth to the people. Care for our sick as if they were ourselves.

Originally posted to CentristandProud on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 04:12 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar (12+ / 0-)

    and an apology. I hope my grammar was ok and I did not use too many parenthesis. I am not a writer but more of a thinker.

    The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

    by CentristandProud on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 04:14:15 PM PST

  •  I come from the other side (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bablhous, C Barr

    Universal Mental Health Care

    The truth is that many people with mental illnesses "self medicate" with what ever they have access to.  Legal drugs.  Illegal drugs.  As you discovered personally and through your family "self medication" rarely is successful.  The consequences can be tragic.  Or fatal.

    Bipolar, AD/HD and depression all predispose people to use drugs, abuse drugs and become addicted to drugs.  Some people who have substance abuse problems are fortunate to get treatment - just for the drug problems.

    Even if their drug related problems get better, they still have their original problem.  

    Why not....
    Treat the mental illnesses so that people don't end up turning to whatever they think will make them feel better because they are so miserable?

    There's no perfect drug for mental illnesses but they seem preferable to "self medication".  

    Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

    by Fabian on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 04:32:35 PM PST

    •  no doubt they prefer self-meds (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If the more seriously ill than I have to go through some or more than what I have dealt with, why should they bother going through official channels? I mean, I have been recommended multiple medications in my attempts to get help and not one of them was a doctor that was recommending me for meds! How many seriously ill patients are receiving meds that make them feel even worse or add new symptoms? Big Pharma has a hand in all of this for sure.

      The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

      by CentristandProud on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 04:56:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In reviewing the comments I realized (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I did not directly respond to yours.

        That too is a big issue (drug treatment for  mentally ill). You see, even after my arrest I began to seek help in the hopes that someone would spend a little time evaluating my issues. Just ONE person to show a little concern for ME. Either I was not mentally ill enough for serious treatment or they brushed me off as seeking free drugs. The way the system is now, if you are in need of help, you need a small army of backers to get attention drawn to your case. Even then, who is to say if the root of the problem will be addressed or if they will just medicate and hope the problem goes away.

        At least some of the people receiving drug treatment that are mentally ill have a small chance of the cause being noticed by a caring social worker. If you are on the outside of the help system though, it usually takes committing a serious crime (murder/assault/rape ) to become noticed.  Sad but true...

        The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

        by CentristandProud on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:36:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You watched relatives (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        opinionated, Cassandra Waites

        kill themselves with alcohol.  That's self medication.  The side effects of that particular drug are severe and it doesn't help the root problem.  

        And it is perfectly legal.

        Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

        by Fabian on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 02:29:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  it's more then lecal (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          not only is it legal, it's worse then that.

          If I want to use psychology to help one person get better, I need a license and years of training.

          If I want to use psychology to manipulate millions of people into drinking more alcohol then is healthy, I need no license.

          it's easier to use psychology to manipulate people (marketing) than to use it to help them.  All the work a psychologist does to help an alcoholic, and the next day, equally sophisticated psychological techniques bombard them with ads for beer.  

          •  It's Socially Acceptable! (0+ / 0-)

            Isn't that wonderful?

            I know what you mean about marketing too.  Hate it.  Loathe it.

            I ran into a book called "I Can Make You Thin." .  Let's see - first of all there's the "I Can Make You" which probably appeals to authoritarian types.  Then there's the promise of Thinness.  Not "lose weight" or "become fit" or "create healthy habits" - but "thin".  Who is that appealing to?  People who want to be "thin" but don't care about anything else.

            That's just the title of one book.  Marketing is everywhere.  And it doesn't have your best interests at heart either.  It doesn't care if you get thin or not, it just wants you to buy the damned book.

            Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

            by Fabian on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:24:07 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Pot for health (6+ / 0-)

      I have a bad back. A really bad back. It took years to learn to stay out of trouble with it. During that time - now a couple of decades ago - I was sometimes a pot smoker. On the days when I smoked I was much better at paying the proper sort of attention to my back. I would never have learned how to effectively resolve my back problems without smoking. In all likelihood, pot saved my life. If I went for a full week without smoking, I became seriously incapacitated with back spasms.

      Orthodox medicine had no answers. Chiropractic was only a temporary fix. Pot was essential to the cure.

      In recent years I no longer smoke. But pot is a great gift, an essential aid to healing for many. It's also pretty damned good at facilitating psychological insight, not to mention a large part of the essential American music of the last century and more.

      For those who keep it illegal there's a simple word: evil - in their acts if not in their souls, at least in this.

    •  yes but (0+ / 0-)

      Treat mental illness for sure.

      But drug use is about a lot more then medicating.  

      This isn't self medication:

      If I can't ingest a substance because I like the way it makes me feel, I don't have freedom.  

  •  drugs are bad, drug laws are worse n/t (0+ / 0-)
    •  far worse than most people realize (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      C Barr, Jake Williams, washunate

      I view drug laws as a way for politicians to say, "Look, I am doing something!" while they focus on more serious endeavors, that is, enriching themselves and their friends. The movie Traffic really got me because of the ending.

      The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

      by CentristandProud on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 04:52:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Preying on society's most vulnernable (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn, bablhous

        people as a way of acting tough.  That's what the war on drugs has devolved into.  You can't declare war on an inanimate object, only on people.  That's exactly what is happening.

        Thanks for telling your story, unfortunately, it is all too common.  Only speaking out and telling the horror stories will make people realize that the war is far more criminal than the drugs...

        If Bush can revoke a pardon, then surely Congress can repeal FISA immunity!

        by Red no more on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:09:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  thanks for your thanks (0+ / 0-)

          I let loose a few tears as I wrote this.

          The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

          by CentristandProud on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:17:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have a similar story- (0+ / 0-)

            that I diariedlast spring.  

            There are so many tragic stories from this stupid war.  It's time for a change - wasn't that what we voted for?

            If Bush can revoke a pardon, then surely Congress can repeal FISA immunity!

            by Red no more on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:25:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              one of the biggest reasons for such treatment of fellow citizens is to keep the lower rabble in their place. Maybe this sounds paranoid but, consider what typically happens with movie stars, sports stars, or politicians when they get arrested for these things. They grease a few palms, say a few speeches, pay out some of their thousands and thousands of dollars, and then their life resumes a normal course. For those of us not in the favored few, our lives and few riches we managed to scrabble for and obtain are stolen from under us, without so much as an "I'm sorry."

              Of course, I simplify the problem here. These two issues I have touched on are just a very small part of a massive problem. In some ways, I am lucky I owned no property at the time. I am certain I would have gone bonkers if they had seized it and left me with nothing after all was said and done. Too often that is the case and that property is never returned, even when you are found innocent.

              The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

              by CentristandProud on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:44:33 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It feeds the beast- (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                There needs to be a constant influx of prisoners to keep our police departments, courts, and prisons humming.  If they didn't make a marijuana arrest every 36 seconds, where would the human fodder come from?

                The system is designed so that once you're in it, it's very difficult to escape.  You lose your job, you can't pay child support, you're right back in jail.  Your drivers license gets suspended so you can't work, then how do you support yourself?  Drug offenders are banned from food stamps, welfare, and public housing, so what, you live under a bridge or become a criminal to survive.

                It should be obvious to anyone paying attention that the system is rigged against people succeeding, but somehow any sense of logic is lacking from the whole endeavor.

                If Bush can revoke a pardon, then surely Congress can repeal FISA immunity!

                by Red no more on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:59:21 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  you and I said (0+ / 0-)

                  the same thing but yours sounded just a tad less conspiratorial. But only a tad because the reality is so frightening that it seems unreal.

                  The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

                  by CentristandProud on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:20:06 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  I'm just waiting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    For the first person to write and tell us that reforming the drug laws isn't important.
    Of course your story is repeated several hundred thousand times each year, but somehow the total chaos this makes of peoples lives isn't important.

    •  well (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fat old man

      Of course your story is repeated several hundred thousand times each year, but somehow the total chaos this makes of peoples lives isn't important

      This fact made me almost not bother with making the diary but, in these times I needed to feel some hope by sharing with others and seeing that I not so alone. Been out of work for a long time and I am not too far from being out on the street. It is only thanks to the kindness of friends I am not there yet.

      The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

      by CentristandProud on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:23:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary! I know just what.... (0+ / 0-)

       you are feeling. The War on (some)Drugs is one of the most shamefull things our country has ever produced. Especially when you finally realize that MUCH of it is done solely to keep Cannabis illegal. Have you ever seen a drug commerical from the ONDCP that didn't involve Cannabis? I haven't. Gen. Barry McCaffery is on record as saying that "the problem isn't that we have too many drugs; we have too much money". This was from the Last White Hope, an excellent documentary that I would recommend to EVERYONE. Remember, the FDA approved a synthetic THC (Marinol) in the mid-1980's. Why do we need a synthetic version of THC when you can get it from the Cannabis plant? A plant that was put here for us to use for it's umpteen different uses. WTF!  And, I have used Cannabis for my PTSD for the past 5 years. It is vastly superior to any other drug for my treatment. It helps me sleep w/o nightmares, it evens out my moods, and I don't have flashbacks when I use it. I know in my heart and mind that Cannabis is a sacrament, a helpful medicine and is maybe the safest herb/drug that there is. It is not the boogeyman that our illustrious government has made it out to be.

  •  Please. write a book about this. (0+ / 0-)

    And if I can help, please let me.

    This should be Steven Spielberg's next movie, for fuck's sake.

    What an amazing, gutsy story, more beautiful for all of its prosaic moments.  It almost makes me hopeful that humanity can survive.

    Maybe it makes me believe in a more than an outside chance.  Thanks to you.

    I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

    by SERMCAP on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:26:46 PM PST

    •  I honestly thought (0+ / 0-)

      your comment was snark until I followed your profile. As for a book or movie involving Steven Spielberg... eh...

      I used to keep a regular journal and just amaze myself as I read over previous months and years. The changes in my mood were just incredible. Never did I consider my life book worthy, much less a movie worthy of direction by Spielberg :)  I am afraid the life of Indiana Jones is far more profitable and exciting.

      Thanks for reading.

      The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

      by CentristandProud on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:56:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But what profit a man... (0+ / 0-) gain the whole earth if he lose his soul in the process?  And bubba, you got a story with some soul.  That's the one we need to see.

        Think about it, and don't lose those journals.  Thanks again.

        I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

        by SERMCAP on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:22:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  sadly (0+ / 0-)

          I am one of the victims of Katrina and now living in Florida. I am not very happy here but, I have nothing to go back home to, my mother and brother died in the last year (I still have a younger brother), and as for those diaries, they would not fit in the little bit of luggage I manage to get out of New Orleans before the storm.

          Before I get to crying again, I should stop talking about the things I have seen and been through just in the last few years alone. Certainly not nearly as rough as some but devastating relative to me.

          The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

          by CentristandProud on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:27:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  So... (0+ / 0-)

            ...starting tomorrow, what you do, while you manage to keep body and soul together, is you write about today, and about something that you recall from a specific past, as you did in this diary.  

            My whole family--including me, like you with only a 'tetch'--is bi-polar, so I know how down you can get when the bottom drops out.  But keep at it, because I'm telling you this: if we manage not to destroy all chances of human survival, your voice and your story are important.

            Another possibility: a cheap digital voice recorder; start doing podcasts.  Send me anything that you want to share, and if I catch a break in the literary world, I'll find a way to share it with you.  

            Jon Kabat Zinn wrote a book that helped me with my swings.  Wherever You Go, There You Are is the title.  Good luck, and keep me posted.

            I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

            by SERMCAP on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:52:36 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Very cool that you fought your case (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It was quite interesting that there was an aversion to your getting a trial by jury (maybe just coincidence?). Perhaps they were worried about sympathetic juries? It only takes ONE person to hang the law, so to speak, one person with enough intelligence and integrity to know when a law is unjust.

    I pity inanimate objects

    by dRefractor on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 08:29:51 PM PST

    •  actually (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BYw, petral

      my lawyer said something very similar. He also mentioned that the court system actually hates going through the hassle of putting together a jury trial so, unless their case was really strong (it was not) they are reluctant to go ahead with it.

      The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

      by CentristandProud on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 10:02:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some obviously true things about drugs (0+ / 0-)

    1.)  much drug use relates to spirituality.  Cannabis and psychedelics are one very natural way for people to have spiritual experiences.  To anyone who has had a religious experience on drugs, it's completely orwellian that we pretend to have freedom of religion in this country.  We don't.  The most direct way to have a powerful mystical experience is illegal.  That's not freedom of religion.  See  It is more healthy to have a spiritual experience with a psychedelic drug then with a baptist preacher who uses cold reading and subtle psychological tricks to manipulate you into believing crazy things like you should do what the jesus voice in your head says.  Martin Luther split from catholicism saying people can have a direct relationship with God.  The bible says God put the plants here for us to use.  Yet if I bend over and pick up a psilocybin mushroom to have a spiritual experience, you will point a gun at my head and put me in a little tiny cage for years.  That's insane.

    2.) many drugs have psychological benefits.  For example, autism is becoming more and more of an issue in many people's lives.  We know for a fact that studies in the 60s showed LSD was very useful to autistic people.  Why can't these studies continue?  We know for a fact that MDMA shows promise in treating PTSD.  PTSD will be a huge problem for soldiers returning from Iraq. Yet a recent study on the safety of MDMA was shut down by political pressure.  We are sacrificing families of people with autism, and soldiers with PTSD on the altar of our war on drugs, along with our own kids who we know have about a 40 percent chance of using them.  Why do we do this?  It's insane.  

    3.)  knowing someone who was bad at using drugs well is a bad reason to oppose drugs.  I know people who are bad at having sex in a healthy way.  That doesn't mean that healthy people go to jail for having sex.  That's insane.  

    4.)  Most people live lives of quite desperation and would be much happier if they knew how to have sex without feeling guilty and get high responsibly.  Most of our culture is built up on using people's quiet desperation to get them to consume mediocre products that promise them relief from the subtle dread they constantly feel.  Using the right drugs the right ways will help people  feel less desperate.  I got news for you, a cruise ship vacation is not the best way to bond with your mate.  The best way to bond with your lover is to take an entheogen together and fuck.  It's insane that people beg their government to protect them from those things which could do the most to help them be happy.

  •  The aim of the 'war on drugs' (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BYw, WhatsReallyGoingOn to make money on privatized penal systems, weapons & ammo and to further inflict damage on communities that may organize against the status quo.


    "Sunlight is the best disinfectant" - Louis Brandeis

    by the national gadfly on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 08:42:57 PM PST

  •  thank you for telling your story (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BYw, petral

    I need to find out if things are about the same in my area (Seattle). I don't understand how a court-ordered drug treatment could include religious proselyzation.
    One thing that's different in my state is that medical marijuana is legal. And one thing that's different in my city is that the citizens voted for a resolution specifying that pot arrests need to be lowest priority for law enforcement. And it sounds like the law enforcement is kinda happy about that. They can still make arrests, but it has to be very aggregious behavior, and there's a board that reviews the annual arrests to check it.

    Pot should be legal, but Meth really sucks. I don't want people to go to jail for being addicts, but how can you stop them from doing it?

    In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

    by Lefty Mama on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 08:50:38 PM PST

    •  the majority of alcohol treatment programs (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BYw, petral

      are religious in nature. Go read the AA manual as just one example. While it may be non-denominational, it still asks you to seek strength from a higher source. I have no gripes against religion on its own because I have seen it do much good (and some very bad) but, doesn't it make more sense to self-empower individuals who are weak and then if they choose at another time to join a religion, they can join by free will ?

      Luckily, there are some programs who demand the individual take responsibility for their own actions and don't use religion, but these are a minority.

      The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

      by CentristandProud on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 10:08:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  incidentally (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lefty Mama, BYw, petral

        the guy who founded AA later discovered that LSD was a better treatment for alcoholism then AA.

        yet alcoholics can not get lsd to treat their alcoholism.

      •  my friend who is longtime AA and a minister says (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Some AA programs are very bad because they essentially replace the addiction to substances with addiction to religion. They are both crutches. He gets mad at that because he thinks it's idolatrous (and I agree...) But I didn't think they'd court-appoint you to AA, because it is religious in nature - or is it so non-denominational/inter-faith that it doesn't qualify? Maybe they don't specify the program and let you fend for yourself, then? It just seems that wouldn't work at all for a lot of people. Although it's great for a different lot-of-people.

        In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

        by Lefty Mama on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 11:08:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can confirm that the courts will specify (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lefty Mama, BYw

          the particular program you will attend. No matter their/your schedule conflicts, no matter the costs, and no matter any other circumstances. Attend or go to jail...

          Maybe it is not the same in all states but definitely so in portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. I have little to no real experience(or experience indirectly via friends) with other states regarding this particular issue.

          Not too long ago I read a detailed article regarding this exact issue in other states. It said the exact thing I am saying here.

          Regardless, so often these addicts have mental issues that are wholly ignored, which just reinforces the topic of my diary.

          The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

          by CentristandProud on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:00:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  jury nullification (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BYw, petral

    remember, if you are ever on a jury in a drug case, do not vote guilty.  you should never vote to put a human being in a cage at gunpoint for nonviolent drug offenses.

    •  In the three times I was called (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BYw, petral

      for jury duty I was not selected simply because I gave truthful answers and told the lawyers I would not condemn someone for a law I did not believe in. Strangely enough, the last time I was called for jury duty was well over 15 years ago...

      The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

      by CentristandProud on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 10:10:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  lie (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        they lie all the time in all sorts of circumstances.  they lie to get the laws passed, to investigate, to write their warrants, when charging (like saying they got 15 pounds of marijuana that's 1 2 pound plant growing in 13 pounds of dirt, or overestimating street values of drugs), when talking to people in police stations, and when prosecuting and when people come up for parole.  your honesty in a weapon they use to put human beings in tiny boxes, at gunpoint,  where they are brutally and repeatedly raped for years at a time.  lie to get on the jury, then nullify.

  •  Very good, and well (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    done diary.  I am sorry you have not found the help you have sought.  I, too, have had a lot of experience with the mental health system in the past.  It can be frustrating, demoralizing, and a huge let down.

    I wonder if you were to make a copy of this diary, and seek out a clinically licensed social worker/therapist, if that would be an avenue for you.  Social workers, as part of their "oath", are advocates for people, and have a very different approach than most psychologists and psychiatrists.  I would try as many as it takes.

    You might also try the Mental Health Association.  They are also an advocacy group, and may be able to point you in a helpful direction.

    You make excellent points about the drug wars, too.

    You might also want to check into supplements and herbs--like melatonin, for sleep aides.  I would do thorough research before you try any, but they can be helpful as well.

    I wish you the best, and keep writing!  You did great!

    History is a collection of choices made and actions taken at a given time.

    by New Aeon For Change 93 on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 09:03:08 PM PST

  •  I am freaking out (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, BYw, petral, orlbucfan, alamacTHC

    that my diary made the rescue list. I felt it had so many holes in it that it would not possibly get to here. Due to space limits, I left so much out of it and asked the reader to make some connections I only hinted at. Somehow, I knew at least some of y'all would make that leap.

    My only reason for posting it was to not feel so alone and desperate. I am honored to see it recommended so many times...

    The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

    by CentristandProud on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 10:15:48 PM PST

    •  But your diary is AWESOME! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Please don't feel you have to self-edit yourself to death.  I thought your diary was honest, touching, and a catalyst to action.

      I come from an alcoholic family and wasn't able to get treatment for any of my obvious problems until I was in my late twenties.  Then I committed one-third of my take-home pay to get into therapy.  (Later, I got health care that covers part, but not all.  I'm fortunate to have insurance, having lived much of my life without it.)

      Isolation and desperation go hand-in-hand with the kind of issues you describe. You certainly are not alone with them! Thanks for coming into the Kos community.  I'm glad to meet you, and hope to hear more from you in the future.

  •  Thank you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you for your moving piece. I appreciate how hard it must be to open up about some of these issues in a public forum like this. Thank you for writing anyway.

    "Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live." Mark Twain

    by southern and liberal on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 04:13:15 AM PST

  •  A friend of my mother (0+ / 0-)

    has trouble sleeping and pretty much stays up all night every night.  I read recently that such behavior has now been labeled as a syndrome by the medical profession. Brain chemistry is involved.  There are now medications that are being used to treat this.  I recommend that you do some internet research for starts.  Good luck and thank you for this excellent diary.

  •  Like reading my own story... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    GREAT DIARY!  15 years ago I was arrested by a Federal task force for possessing 317 plants (average half-ounce each--but charged as a kilo each according to then-Federal law).  I did 5 years Federal time for it, even though the evidence was overwhelming that I was NOT "dealing" and that my claims of a medical condition (bipolar disorder) for which I was growing it are true--but irrelevant because there is no medical defense to Federal drug charges.  I lost my 40-acre ranch; all my property; my law license (I was a lawyer); and--very nearly--my life after my medicine was taken from me.  Unlike your roommate, though, I refused to cooperate with the thieves who arrested me so I got "the book" thrown at me.  Now:  I still use a cannabinoid (I have a Marinol prescription) and another herb (St. John's Wort) and am almost completely stable.  

    THE DRUGWAR IS INSANE and insanely cruel.  Cannabis is real medicine and should be treated as such.  As for drug addiction:  Leave it to the doctors.  Police do more harm than good.  Diaries like these are what we need more of:  The more people know the facts, the more the Kafkaesque cruelty of the drugwar will be exposed.  

    •  you say Kafkaesque (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and I say Hitleresque. How else do you describe the mass incarceration of millions of people whose rights are stripped away(in most states felons lose the right to work and vote) and they are forced to perform unpaid labor(might as well be) while enduring the horrors of prison life?

      The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

      by CentristandProud on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:58:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Hitleresque" (0+ / 0-)

        Actually that is an excellent description if one considers that the fundamental reason for the drugwar, besides money, is racism:  The drugwar overwhelmingly destroys the lives of minorities more than whites, even though rates of drug use are almost identical.  (I am white, but I am more the exception than the rule.)  I believe an argument can be made that the drugwar persists more for its usefulness as a club with which to pummel minorities and disfavored political groups (including DFH's like me) than for any other reason.

        •  the logic escapes me (0+ / 0-)

          why they bother with this war if it is truly meant for our own good. I hate to think in conspiracy terms but, when you exhaust all other logical reason(s), the illogical or devious reasons must be examined.

          Mind you, I cannot say I wholeheartedly agree with full legalization of all drugs, but certainly decriminalization. The seemingly simple change would have far reaching implications and do so many people so much good.

          Imagine if you will, our prisons reducing populations and horror... closing some of them down.

          The Centrist part of my name simply means that neither of the two major parties have all the answers.

          by CentristandProud on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:27:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Cui bono? (0+ / 0-)

            It's always useful, when trying to parse the reasons for a policy, to remember the principle of "Cui Bono":  Who benefits?  Or as Senator Sam Ervin said during Watergate:  "Follow the money."  The prison-industrial complex makes something like a hundred billion dollars a year from these policies with the result that we are the most imprisoned nation on earth.  Good example:  I was incarcerated in 1996 when the good people of California passed Proposition 215 which relegalized cannabis for medical purposes (unfortunately this only applies to state law).  The #1 donor to the anti-medicine side?  The California Prison Guard's Union.  And so it goes...

            •  Others who benefit... (0+ / 0-)

              For people who manage to stay out of jail AND have access to some kind of medical care, Big Pharma benefits.  I owe a debt of gratitude for my current well-being (such as it is) to legal prescription drugs, but I am well aware how much pharmaceutical companies earn off the misery of others, and how much I'm paying in co-pays.  Plenty of people would be just as comfortable with home-grown marijuana rather than Marinol, but as all of you have pointed out--most recently you, alamacTHC--the risk of discovery can be devastating, life-threatening, soul-deadening.

              I am also grateful to the doctors I see, but still am amazed at how much they are earning for workweeks considerably shorter than my equally-well-educated husband's. And the insurance companies appear to be in fine financial fettle, what with all the people they exclude and how much they charge.

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