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Addiction – it isn’t just about the drug

For the most part in this country, we’ve gotten past the moral argument against overall drug legalization, although that still exists. Today, it’s all about addiction. We can’t legalize drugs because they enslave people and cause them to be addicts, and if we legalize drugs their availability will insure that there will be a massive increase in addicts destroying society.

Of course, none of the actual evidence supports that view, yet the logic of drugs as enslaver still dominates.

A good article in the New York Times Science section yesterday: The Rational Choices of Crack Addicts by John Tierney talks about the work of Dr. Carl Hart (with video as well). Hart has been featured in “The House I Live In” and has also written the book “High Price.”

We’ve talked here before about the Rat Park experiments that showed if you provided rats with a positive environment as an alternative to self-administering drugs, they were less inclined to the ravages of addiction.

Hart did the same with human subjects.

“Eighty to 90 percent of people who use crack and methamphetamine don’t get addicted,” said Dr. Hart, an associate professor of psychology. “And the small number who do become addicted are nothing like the popular caricatures.” […]

Yes, he notes, some children were abandoned by crack-addicted parents, but many families in his neighborhood were torn apart before crack — including his own. (He was raised largely by his grandmother.) Yes, his cousins became destitute crack addicts living in a shed, but they’d dropped out of school and had been unemployed long before crack came along.

“There seemed to be at least as many — if not more — cases in which illicit drugs played little or no role than were there situations in which their pharmacological effects seemed to matter,” writes Dr. Hart, now 46. Crack and meth may be especially troublesome in some poor neighborhoods and rural areas, but not because the drugs themselves are so potent. […]

A similar assessment comes from Dr. David Nutt, a British expert on drug abuse. “I have a great deal of sympathy with Carl’s views,” said Dr. Nutt, a professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London. “Addiction always has a social element, and this is magnified in societies with little in the way of work or other ways to find fulfillment.”

So why do we keep focusing so much on specific drugs? One reason is convenience: It’s much simpler for politicians and journalists to focus on the evils of a drug than to grapple with the underlying social problems. But Dr. Hart also puts some of the blame on scientists.

“Eighty to 90 percent of people are not negatively affected by drugs, but in the scientific literature nearly 100 percent of the reports are negative,” Dr. Hart said. “There’s a skewed focus on pathology. We scientists know that we get more money if we keep telling Congress that we’re solving this terrible problem. We’ve played a less than honorable role in the war on drugs.”

[Thanks, Scott]

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45 comments to Addiction – it isn’t just about the drug

  • Matthew Meyer

    Really nice.

    You know, addiction is a biomedical discourse cloaking a moral argument.

    The gist of the argument is that drugs have properties that compel their consumption.

    If substances make people consume them, we can’t really say the people are making morally reprehensible choices.

    But we also don’t need to respect their right to choose, since the understanding is that they are not, in fact, making a meaningful choice.

    As Hart points out, the vast majority of users of any drug never have anything like this type of relationship to them. Given this, it is really important to keep focusing on the majority status of relatively non-problematic drug use, since it’s this idea of addiction that has come to justify public policy.

    • darkcycle

      Very well said. The entire premise of addiction is a loss of control. If control is not lost, but simply out of reach (Rat Park), “addiction” is the norm. Also, if the ability to affect one’s outcomes and have access to those things that add value to existence cause people to exercise choice and leave addictive behaviors behind in a substantial number of cases, then labeling addiction a “disease” is simply an excuse to abdicate society’s role in this sort of compulsion. It causes this old psychologist to reassess the entire disease model of addiction. The major problem with this explanation isn’t it’s plausibility or it’s testability, though. We have a very hard time in this culture accepting a sociological explanation for ANYTHING. It implies social responsibility, and we hate accepting responsibility.

      • primus

        I understand that for many people, sociological explanations do imply social responsibility, I just don’t happen to agree. Society has no duty to take responsibility for anything and everything that can happen to anyone, anywhere. It is not society’s responsibility to feed or shelter me, to ‘save me’ from myself, to make my decisions for me. Inevitably, some people end up in a bad situation. Their actions, their choices, therefore their outcome. My actions, choices, outcomes. Of course we don’t totally abandon them, we just don’t need to take responsibility for their outcomes.

        • darkcycle

          Sorry, if the way we treat people causes them to become violent, or engage in addictive behaviors, then we need to treat people differently. If the way children are treated can be the difference between a Carl Sagan and a Jeffery Dahmer, and we KNOW the difference, then the Jeffery Dahmers become our responsibility. Those outcomes were preventable.

        • War Vet

          But what if the society creates the problem i.e. war or job outsourcing and recession? For every action there is an opposite reaction . . . if we created the action, we are responsible for the opposite reaction . . . or do we assume an entirely different set of physical rules apply when domino two etc fall down after I knock domino one down? But you are right Primus, it’s not society’s responsibility to make decisions for you, but it is our responsibility to not push or force people into a domino line that is known to or will fall down.

  • claygooding

    Any chance of the researchers that lowered the bar for addiction so marijuana could be listed as an addictive substance on the CSA as a schedule 1 drug confessing?
    Up until the CSA was written I think it was always reported as causing a dependency which was a really hard sell for people too fear,,we have a dependency for food and water,,if we don’t get them we die,,of course no one realized in those days that a lack of a dependency for marijuana was worse than having one.

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .

    At times I wonder how I can prove that there is only a limited cohort of people who are actually potential addicts. If addicts are born, not made then the law does nothing except to squander limited public resources for much less than no benefit to society.

    One of the more significant pieces of hysterical rhetoric that the prohibitionists like to regurgitate is the laughably absurd claim that there is more than a marginal cohort of people who are as sober as the proverbial judge because of the absolute prohibition of cannabis. While i’m certain that there are addicts who won’t touch an “illegal” substance I think that they’re belly up to the bar at this very moment. Perhaps they might be at Walmart buying a couple of gallons of Listerine, or sniffing gasoline fumes, strung out on hippie crack…I think you can understand my point.

    Evidence supporting my assertion? Well there’s that infamous “rat park” study where only about 2% of rats forcibly addicted to morphine chose to remain addicted when given a choice.

    Then there’s this chart that we’ve seen quite a lot of recently: http://cdn.theatlanticwire.com/img/upload/2012/10/12/drug-spending-v-addiction.gif Isn’t it interesting that the rate of human addiction is just about in line with those of the residents of rat park? Sure that rate is a bit lower among people but they also weren’t compelled to a physical addiction first.

    The rest of the facts that have convinced me of this came from my just over 36 years of observations of the habits of people who have a pathological need to get high. While I don’t have the semantical skills to adequately relate those observations, to me the totality of those observations are overwhelmingly compelling. The thought that people can “catch” an addiction like someone might catch a cold is laughably absurd to me.

    We might be able to steer problem users to alternative substances but why in the world do we steer them to drinking alcohol addiction?

    **************************************************

    Maybe a bit off topic but the FBI released 2012 arrest statistics.
    FBI data: American police made a total of 12,196,959 arrests last year

    For the people keeping score at home, if we presume one arrest per person that’s slightly less than 3.9% of the U.S. population according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

    /snip/
    Data released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation show there were an estimated 1,552,432 arrests for drug-related crimes in 2012 – a slight uptick from the 1,531,251 drug arrests in 2011. Marijuana offenses accounted for 48.3 percent of all drug arrests, a slight reduction from 49.5 percent in 2011, which itself was the highest rate since before 1995.

    Most marijuana-related arrests were for possession of the drug. By mere possession, there was one marijuana arrest every 48 seconds in 2012. Including arrests for distribution, there was a pot-related arrest every 42 seconds, the same interval as in 2011.
    /snip/

  • Servetus

    Oppression takes on many guises. Prohibition needs addicts, just as capitalism needs the poor and homeless to convince children they will be panhandling on the streets if they don’t adopt capitalist materialism as a lifestyle choice. If prohibitionism can’t find enough addicts, it will invent them by claiming false addictions to substances like marijuana, or to video games. It will make effective addiction treatments difficult to obtain, and it will throw real addicts into jails and forget about them.

    If we view prohibition as never having intended to solve a social problem, but rather a political system that strives to oppress and disempower as many people as possible, to make them more easily exploited and disposable by the wealthy, and to give reason not to listen to any disenfranchised citizen who may have reasonable objections to the criminal conduct of business and government, then we will have explained much of what prohibition actually accomplishes. Disempowering the citizen is the goal of the oppressor. It is through the process of categorization that such things are achieved.

    Politicians and corporatists like to categorize or pigeon-hole individuals into groups because it’s easier than dealing with people one-on-one. It’s not about who can handle some drugs, and who cannot. If a shibboleth such as marijuana comes along that relies on xenophobia and ethnocentrism to dehumanize anti-authoritarians who appear threatening to incompetent or corrupt leadership, then its utility is recognized among the professional oppressors, and the more victims the better. European colonialism operated on these principles, and today’s inferior leadership will continue to operate on similar archaic means of social control until it is forced to cease and desist by a growing revolutionary movement that will encompass more than just illicit drug use.

  • primus

    That has been the cycle historically; first an oppressor becomes unbearable, is overthrown and replaced. The people think the new overlord is more acceptable than the old one, and he is at first, however after a while he becomes just as much of an oppressor as the old guy and is overthrown in his turn. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  • Sliver

    Can’t go with legalizing meth, sorry. Legalize pot all day, but I have first-hand experience with what meth did to my sister’s family. Total destruction.

    That said, I should be for it for the same reason I am for legalizing pot… it isn’t any of the damn government’s business what I ingest. BUT… meth, wow, it’s totally destroyed my sister’s family. Both kids in jail, repeat offenders. As long as they stay off of it they are ok but it always calls them back.

    Meth is pure evil.

    • allan

      Meth is pure evil.

      Bah, put a line on the table and watch, it just sits there. It’s inanimate. It has no life, no power… and most certainly, no evil.

      Common sense is the only “prohibition” that works.

    • War Vet

      But what about all the people dying from meth who don’t even use it? Like the kids in a bad cook or the citizens of Mexico, Thailand, Syria etc who get killed by weapons and bullets that meth money can buy? Don’t they deserve the right to have meth legalized? It’s pretty selfish to want to keep dope illegal because one or two people couldn’t handle their candy. In a world where no one used money or used trade, barter or work to gain objects and materials, you might have a point about keeping it illegal. But as long as we have the freedom to obtain goods via money, trade or work, we haven’t the right to decide the fate of others.

      The article was talking about how much easier it was for reporters to talk about the drug and not the social issues. Reminds me of what my teachers would call: sloppy writing or bad journalism . . . like focusing solely on the adjectives and adverbs and not the subject and verb.

    • DdC

      And I’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari
      Tehachapi to Tonopah
      Driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made
      Driven the backroads so I wouldn’t get weighed
      And if you give me weed, whites and wine
      And you show me a sign
      And I’ll be willin’ to be movin’

      Ice: The new menace and horror to society

      I knew someone who tried to overdose on meth, he ran out of money. Meth is the staple of capitalism. I prefer Ganja and don’t use white powders. But your hype never helped anyone. Just give me weed, whites and wine… Thats an old truckers song. Models diet pills or college kids cramming for mid term nark school tests. Mothers lil pick me uppers or now the brain dead government OKs it for kids with ADHD over Ganja. Speed Kills is what the hippies warned in 67, no one listened. Especially the rednecks working piecemeal jobs or the economy forcing two and three jobs while coffee just don’t cut it. Interns on 36 hour shifts and cops on stake out all popping bennies and dexies. So put your paranoia away. Prohibition is the only harm in any drug. I know that because doctors prescribe all the same drugs safely most of the time. Abuse and adulterated product comes from prohibition. Violence too. If someone is doing crank they are much better doing it with Ganja to smooth the razor edge tantrums. Snapping out in a blind rage, like Hitler when he popped them. But the nail in your prohibitionists coffin is the air force, army, navy and marines all pop go go pills and then downers to come down while the loony hypocritters ban yogurt with hemp seeds.

      AIR FORCE INSTRUCTION 44-121
      26 SEPTEMBER 2001

      The TestPledge program is a voluntary commitment by the North American hemp food industry to limit THC concentrations to levels where they cannot result in positive drug tests. Learn more here: http://testpledge.com

      … and they fly through the air with big guns…

      Air Force admits to being too stupid to manage drug tests

      USAF Cranksters

      Yankee Bombers Bombed
      Speed and downers are commonly issued to American forces, according to the Toronto Star (Sept 14th, 2002). An investigation report into an incident earlier this year when a US Air Force pilot in Afghanistan attacked friendly forces, revealed that Major Harry Schmidt had been issued “go pills” shortly before dropping a laser guided bomb on a company of Canadian Light Infantry, killing four soldiers and wounding another eight.

      ‘war on drugs’ becomes ‘war ON drugs’

      One of the findings was that “The 332nd Air Expeditionary Group was not managing and monitoring go pill usage (according to) United States Air Force directives”. Pilots are routinely given the stimulant Dexedrine, generically known as dextroamphetamine, to stay alert during long combat missions. They are also given “no go pills” called Ambien (zolpidem) and Restoril (temazepam) in order to sleep when they return to base.

      PilotsToo many missions?,jpg
      Can’t stay awake in the air?
      Take Amphetamines!
      Watch out Canadians!
      Here comes the USAF!

      3 million children are taking stimulant drugs for ADHD (Meth)
      Ganja for ADHD

    • Servetus

      It’s interesting how people perceive relative harm. As an applied physicist, I’ve occasionally crossed paths with elements and chemicals straight from hell, to apply a metaphor.

      Plutonium, for example, generates heat while radiating protons and helium nuclei, or alpha particles. It has a half-life of 26,110 years, which means you could still incinerate an egg on it at the end of that time. Plutonium spontaneously combusts with oxygen. Because of the emitted alpha particles, theoretically, one pound of fine plutonium dust spread evenly throughout the planet’s atmosphere could kill every living thing on earth.

      So when someone says meth is pure evil, my attitude is…meh.

      • War Vet

        I love that Servetus. Good example.

      • allan

        indeed Servetus, you speaketh well my friend (again)…

        Zappa of course beat us to it:

        “A drug is not bad. A drug is a chemical compound. The problem comes in when people who take drugs treat them like a license to behave like an asshole.”

    • I’m sorry, but I’m confused. How did meth being illegal help your sister’s family?

      If meth was available in safe pharmaceutical form with controls on how much you could get, and with training on how to use it safely, would it have been worse for them?

    • strayan

      Why are you advocating for methamphetamine prohibition when this approach failed your very own family?

      Sure, excessive methamphetamine use can result in family breakdown, but so can excessive credit card use (not to mention having your job prospects erased with a drug conviction). Do you think credit cards should be banned?

      NB: I think it should be lawful to consume any drug including methamphetamine.

      This does not mean I think taking meth is good idea.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      For god’s sake it got Hank murdered!

      Wait, maybe it was the $80 million…or maybe the fact that left alive that Hank would have put the gangsters in prison…

      …actually there wasn’t a speck of meth even in the general vicinity when Hank got whacked.

  • Sliver

    And to be clear, they are not in jail for possession of meth, her boy is in for breaking and entering and her girl is in for dealing. She lost her kids now my sister is raising them.

    Meth sucks. Stay away from that shit.

    • claygooding

      Silver,,I used to be the same way until I remembered that when meth was manufactured in pharmaceutical companies it didn’t drive people too crime or make them look like a walking corpse,,most of the health issues now associated with meth is because of prohibition.
      As long as criminals make it and sell it the end results will continue to be deadly,,legalization of meth is a harm reduction tactic,,not a fix because there is no fix that will stop people from using drugs.

    • allan

      Meth sucks. Stay away from that shit.

      Now that I can’t disagree with. But I would add “street meth”…

      …’go’ pills do serve a purpose.

    • Freeman

      her boy is in for breaking and entering and her girl is in for dealing. She lost her kids now my sister is raising them.

      Ahh, but it wasn’t the meth that did any of that, it was prohibition.

      Meth sucks. Stay away from that shit.

      Agreed. But please note that abstinence is by choice. Prohibited or not, most anyone can and will consume all they want, when they want, just like your sister’s kids have.

      Wouldn’t you agree that it would be far better if meth weren’t illegal and instead of wasting resources locking up your niece and nephew over and over again, our society were instead offering them help dealing with their addictions? Do you even realize that you’re actually advocating for society to keep on locking them up?

      • Windy

        When black beauties (pharmaceutical speed) were still available, hubby and I used to do them about one weekend a month, it was safe to use, we got a lot done and had fun, too. When the various varieties of pharmaceutical speed were so restricted as to be unavailable, even to those who previously had a prescription for them, meth arrived on the scene, made in clandestine labs by real chemists; it too was relatively safe to use. Initially, that meth was pretty clean stuff and hubby and I would do that about 6 times a year. Then the prohibitionists using fear mongering propaganda made certain the ingredients to make meth were severely restricted so the clandestine labs (seldom, at this point, run by real chemists) started using other substances which made meth more dangerous to make and to use and much harder on the body; hubby and I gave up using it then, due to those less than pleasant effects and aftereffects. Prohibition is the reason meth is the terrible drug it is today.

    • sub = robopoems x g x h

      When we regulate something we do NOT automatically condone it’s use; the regulations concerning alcohol and tobacco are there to protect us from the vast increase in criminality that would otherwise exist were these substances to be prohibited.

      A regulated and licensed distribution network for all mind altering substances would put responsible adult supervision between children and premature access to drug distribution outlets (illegal street dealers). Regulated and licensed distribution would reflect and respect society’s values, thus preventing children obtaining easy access to these substances. What we need is legalized regulation. What we have now, due to prohibition, is a non-regulated black market to which everybody has access and where all the profits go to organized crime, corrupt politicians, and terrorist cells.

      Prohibition causes massive crime and suffering, causes government/police corruption, causes America to have the highest prison population of any nation in the history of the planet, causes Americans to lose all their rights and all their true values, causes the waste of trillions in taxpayer dollars, and causes wars, violence and death.

      The prisons are bursting. Much of the judiciary and most (if not all) law enforcement agencies are corrupt. We are no no longer safe in our own homes. The whole country is on the verge of a total social and financial collapse. Please wake up!

  • darkcycle

    Crimes committed to procure drugs are crimes brought about by prohibition, not the drgs. If the substances weren’t so artificially expensive, and didn’t take so much effort to make and or procure, the breaking and entering and the dealing would likely not have had to happen.
    You are confusing the behaviors that were a result of the prohibition of meth with the meth itself. Don’t get me wrong…Meth is not harmless, but that isn’t why your family is in a mess.

  • darkcycle

    Crimes committed to procure drugs are crimes brought about by prohibition, not the drugs. If the substances weren’t so artificially expensive, and didn’t take so much effort to make and or procure, the breaking and entering and the dealing would likely not have had to happen.
    You are confusing the behaviors that were a result of the prohibition of meth with the meth itself. Don’t get me wrong…Meth is not harmless, but that isn’t why your family is in a mess.

  • strayan

    The Myth of Drug-Induced Addiction: http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/sen/committee/371/ille/presentation/alexender-e.htm

    Most Canadians believe that certain drugs cause catastrophic addictions in people who use them. This conventional belief is reflected in such familiar phrases as “crack cocaine is instantly addictive” or “heroin is so good, don’t even try it once”. It is also implied in the professional literature which routinely describes certain drugs as “addictive”, “dependency producing”, or “habit forming”. The belief that drugs can induce addiction has shaped drug policy for more than a century.

    However, the only actual evidence for the belief in drug-induced addiction comes 1) from the testimonials of some addicted people who believe that exposure to a drug caused them to “lose control” and 2) from some highly technical research on laboratory animals. These bits of evidence have been embellished in the news media to the point where the belief in drug-induced addiction has acquired the status of an obvious truth that requires no further testing. But the widespread acceptance of this belief is a better demonstration of the power of repetition than of the influence of empirical research, because the great bulk of empirical evidence runs against it. Belief in drug-induced addiction may have deep cultural roots as well, since it is a pharmacological version of the belief in “demon possession” that has entranced western culture for centuries.

    This is more than an academic issue. Canadian policy decisions frequently are constrained by the public’s strongly-held belief in drug-induced addiction. Draconian laws, sentencing, and even police violence have been justified by the need to keep addicting drugs out of the hands of the nation’s youth at all costs. As well, it is almost impossible to experiment with medical administration of heroin or cocaine to addicts for fear that the medical profession would be seen as dispensing an addicting drug that could find its way to the public. Introduction of methadone maintenance into most parts of Canada was delayed for years, largely on the basis of the argument that, since methadone is pharmacologically similar to heroin, diversion of methadone from addicts to their neighbours would cause a new explosion of addiction (Alexander, 1990, chap. 8). No form of drug legalization can be credible when drugs provoke fear in the public mind of the sort that demons did in olden days.

  • Addiction is such an abstract term. Is it the drug or isnt it? Its never anything to start with but the person himself. No matter what drug intervenes, it begins and ends with the person himself. No successful half way house I have ever worked in or seen didn’t address it from that angle.

    A person is addressing a need or a want by taking a drug, and hoping to have it fullfilled. You can always address the drug’s effect on the person. The person has to address his own motivations and decisions as it relates to his drug taking. In rehab you can’t do one without the other and be successful.

    Just compare what is being done with SSRI’s in medicine. The most physically addictive drugs I have ever seen. But its not called withdrawal when a person goes through sheer hell trying to get off of one (a SSRI). A term that does not relate back to that nasty drug term – “withdrawal”. A new nicer sounding medical term was coined=”SSRI discontinuation syndrome”. See, it doesn’t make you think of heroin at all that way. Our thinking on the subject has been manipulated to fashion how we think and operate on all these drug subjects, including how we expect it will be if faced with “addiction”. It affects a persons rehab and it effects how we fear – which plays right into the prohibitionist mindset. This way of thinking, this paradigm, has manipulated American opinion about drugs.

    There is no substitute for knowledge instead of propaganda.

  • thelbert

    here’s what carl hart has to say about addiction.http://tinyurl.com/nknpuwv

  • CJ

    hi, im CJ, i’ve not written here in awhile but i check it every single day without fail. i used to contribute way more.

    id like to speak about this for a second, i hope noone minds.

    i used to come to these wonderful blog with my wonderful fellow readers, and i was a..lets say, i was a morbidly depressed individual. As a matter of fact, for the first few months, I was in the last few months of mandatory treatment, which….somehow I managed to get through… ill tell you that for me, the thing about it was, i knew i had to do at most a year and i knew everyday that when it was over and these people with their powers to force you into treatment, i knew they would no longer have the proverbial leash on me and i would be free once again to pursue the thing in life that had and has, after 28 years, probably 25 of which i’d spent carefully considering what pleases me and what doesnt (how much rational thinking do we do between ages 1-3? thats why i say 25… though maybe 4, 5, 6 etc is just the same…whatever). I KNOW from experience that most people are unfortunately incapable of doing that year of treatment and the trouble perpetuates it’self with the continuous failed drug tests etc. I was able to tell myself that, enough failed drug tests (cause there were some during that year) will get me transferred into a different program or prison or whatever, it didnt matter, what mattered is, the 1 year i’d have to do would be prolonged which was unacceptable on all accounts. I know alot of people cannot have the discipline or self control to think like that in those circumstances, it’s been said countless times but of course the “system” and it’s treatment is generally predicated on the “12 step” / “AA/NA/xA” programs…. which inherently state that a person has to want to change for it to work… I was homeless and ambushed at a heated train station booth in mount vernon (it was winter time) by two cops. They found a knife (for protection – i was truly homeless) 19 empty bags of heroin and dirty needles (i wasnt in needle exchange then). Yes just because they found those things and I got in trouble I was absolutely not interested in getting clean at all… the forecast was bad… forced entry into a program that states i have to want it for it to work.

    Well the year went somehow, i was posting here alot but just as Dr. Hart says you know… I made a rational decision to get back on heroin and yes, after about 4-5 months, having been unemployed and thus no steady income coming in, i did not have a means to successfully support the heroin habit… (this versus when i worked in a restaurant in greenwich ct. and worked “high” on opiates for 10-12 hour shifts, 7 days a week for four years, nobody knew and every week i’d spend like 70% of my income on opiates but 30% WAS saved.) Inevitably i was kicked out of where I was staying and once again homeless in the lower east side of manhattan as happens over and over and over again.

    indeed the pain of starvation is next to intolerable, when you see homeless people it is definitely a safe assumption to make that they are either mentally ill or heavy consumers of drugs/alcohol… that doesnt mean there arent any homeless who are drug/alcohol free/mental illness free but i can honestly tell you having been homeless so many times for so long i cant recall ever meeting one who had that story.

    the thing is, every single day i knew that if i went into a detox program (and some arent so bad) and did all that stuff, i’d have heat, A/C, TV, endless supply of food, career opportunities (Through fam/friend connections) etc. etc. alot of the everyday pains i’d experienced, not necessarily physically (though starvation is a physical pain for sure) would be gone. The trade off was of course heroin.

    Withdrawal is, without a doubt, the most incredibly painful thing I have ever known in my life, worse than the death of a loved one or the end of a 3 year relationship you were totally enamored with the chick. I mean listen if you’ve never experienced it we cannot try to help you understand by equating it to the worst illness you have ever experienced. It is sooooo much worse than that. If youre a person who “chases experiences” well, knock yourself out. It is unquestionably to me the worst most horrible thing in the world…

    and yet you accept it. you accept it as it eats away at you for hours while you sit on that unmerciful unforgiving concrete with your sign out… i would say i averaged about 3 dollars every 4 hours and its about 10 bucks a bag of dope in NYC so yes it is an EXTRAORDINARY commitment and an EXTRAORDINARY amount of pain… but let me tell you this, im sitting here at the computer right now writing this, no longer homeless (though how much longer i wont be remains to be seen) but still every day going through this and i hate to break it to those disease theorists but this is without a doubt my choice.

    that year when i first started coming here, i mean, i remember wanting to die, seriously, alone in my room, sometimes on the methadone program, whatever… just sitting there crying about wanting to die, sure im sure it sounds pathetic and pitiful to you if your a compassionless individual but its true. And while withdrawal makes you wish you were dead, i can tell you now, regardless of everything, in the midst of all that is going on since february (when i was finally free to do what i wanted) i choose this every single day without a doubt. And I can tell you that there is no therapy that exists that can cure my affliction… ultimately with psychology for instance, what the formula relies upon is words. spoken words from patient to doctor, right? it’s true. oh sure they do breathing exercises or whatever stupid garbage but at the end of the day, the “healing” occurs with the conveyance of some words aloud. LOL. No doubt it works for some people, I’m sure, but let me assure you I am not alone and there is simply no words to be uttered to a psychologist, to a room full of “addicts” to myself or anyone. Words will not cure the troubles in my heart and soul, in my face (chronic pain) etc. I do what I do and that year was awful, these times can be so horrific too BUT what I have now that I didn’t have then is peace… maybe for a few hours a day… and im telling you im finally happy again. It is so freaking painful every single day but yes, indeed, with exasperation, there is finally some peace and relief in my life and it hurts to be villified over it by friends and family.

    I even got a job, yes, in the midst of this so called “addiction” i started work on monday for the first time since 2010. The hope of course is to repeat what was the greatest time in my life, when i worked in CT, paid my bills, paid for my drugs and had a merry life. I believe payday is friday, i get a check every wednesday too. I’ve got about 120 bucks right now that i have to make last until payday and then i have to make payday last until wednesday (not spending a cent on anything but the thing i need most).

    Dr. Hart is so right, and even though no longer homeless all my friends are homeless users, mostly heroin but a few crack smokers/injectors as well (yes, you can inject crack with vinegar or lemon juice) and i am telling you its hilarious, the idea of the deranged, mad, incapable of rational thought, out of control lunatic seen on the dave chapele show. These people are so rational and honestly, having had a little college experience, far more intelligent than anyone i’ve ever met in any academic setting.

    You can say ‘these are the rules, i dont feel bad for you, you reap what you sew” etc. OK cool, it’s true, im defying the law and the pain that i deal with from withdrawals, not having money, insane anxiety over finding money, it’s all apart of the system but you know what im saying the system is wrong and flawed and if your reply to that is “too bad” then i am afraid you lack that american spirit that founded this country when, although not narcotic in nature, choices made by founding fathers were deemed against the system and thus a revolution was begun.

    When friends pour into a car or apartment a few times a week and put together their money, call their friend/connect and go and meet infront of a park car infront of car, or a delivery is brought to your house and then everybody gathers around the blunt, they make a choice. A choice is made. Rational as anything. The same is true when you sit out there with a sign praying for a 20 dollar hit off that you will then race to the nearest pay phone and arrange to get that rock or those bags. To be totally honest, some of the best times I’ve ever had were doing my thing alongside someone smoking weed, to be honest, better even then hanging out with like minded folks. It’s like a uniting of different cultures that just gel.

    • crut

      You have quite the story to tell good sir.

      Seems like you are no longer sinking into the quicksand.

      Honestly, I would like to be able to relate more to your situation, but my experiences are so different as to say that they didn’t even take place in the same world. I can glean enough from your story to say that there is a lot of societal and spiritual truth in your life experience that is and has been restricted by the cloak of ignorance that has been cast over the world. I am extremely pleased that you are able to find peace in your chaotic (from my perspective) existence. And also, I, like others here, am excited that this cloak has finally begun to become tattered and worn, with large holes and rips that will eventually expose the pedantic asshole authoritarians on the other side.

      And I can tell you that there is no therapy that exists that can cure my affliction… ultimately with psychology for instance, what the formula relies upon is words. spoken words from patient to doctor, right? it’s true. oh sure they do breathing exercises or whatever stupid garbage but at the end of the day, the “healing” occurs with the conveyance of some words aloud. LOL. No doubt it works for some people, I’m sure, but let me assure you I am not alone and there is simply no words to be uttered to a psychologist, to a room full of “addicts” to myself or anyone. Words will not cure the troubles in my heart and soul, in my face (chronic pain) etc. I do what I do and that year was awful, these times can be so horrific too BUT what I have now that I didn’t have then is peace…

      Whose judgement is it to say that your “affliction” is one to be cured? My experiences again, are different, so this part of your story resonated in a way that you may not have thought of. A big part of the therapy that I’ve had to deal with was not with words being spoken, but with ears listening. If a psychologist is only talking, then no words are ever going to help. It’s only when the ears and mind open up past their own personal biases/barriers that a therapist can even begin to help.

      I’m no psychologist, I bang on a keyboard all day, so my opinion could be total bunk, but I would venture to say that a good portion of the therapy that has worked for you is to be able to relate your truths here on this board to people who don’t instantly judge you because of your hobby.

      Peace and happiness cannot be bought or sold, only found. I’m glad you’ve found them, and I hope you are able to continue to.

    • You’re always welcome here, CJ. You provide a perspective that is valuable to our discussions.

    • darkcycle

      CJ…good to see you, buddy. Thanks for checking in.

    • Hey CJ good to see you’re still in the fight.

      Brother let’s be honest here, you need heroin. When you’ve had multiple failures with abstinence based treatment, methadone and buprenorphine and years of injection opiate use you should be a perfect candidate for HAT (heroin assisted treatment).

      It’s not easy to just up and leave the country but I’ve read accounts of people who have done that and the results and nothing short of miraculous. Heroin is actually a very benign drug, on the proper dose of pharmaceutical grade heroin people can actually live normal lives.

      Think about it dude…no more spending all your money on opiates. No more living in constant fear of interacting with police because you’re carrying. No more worrying if that next shot is cut with something that will make you sick or kill you. No more spending your last $50 only to get home and find out the material wasn’t any good and you’re still sick. You can actually get your pain adequately treated (if you have a history of narcotic addiction you will NOT get anything near adequate dosages to relieve you’re physical pain). In short, you can actually have a life. You have EU citizenship and therefor have a way out that others do not. Yeah its easier said than done just up and moving to another country, but you have a real chance to end your suffering.

      • Freeman

        Opie! Good to hear from you. I’ve been wondering if you were still hanging around here.

        • I’m not online everyday, but do check DWR regularly. I’ve been having some computer trouble lately so I’ve been reading my blogs on a cell phone (my fingers are too big to type on the tiny touchpad which makes writing comments difficult).

  • sudon't

    We need to draw a line between actual addiction and compulsive behavior. Opiates are addictive. Cocaine, (like most recreational drugs), is not addictive, but some people can begin to use it compulsively. There are no withdrawals upon cessation.
    That said, why the assumption that addiction, per se, is bad? To be addicted to opiates simply means that you have take the substance a few times a day. Is that really so horrible? We have exactly the same relationship to food, yet no one feels particularly enslaved by it. The trouble comes when you don’t have access to food. Then it becomes unpleasant.
    Likewise, when addicts are given an adequate, affordable, legal supply, such as methadone or buprenorphine, their problems end. They can then live a perfectly normal life within the restrictions imposed by the rehab industry, or the law. Every problem that addicts have are created by these gatekeepers to drugs.
    I think that some drugs should be restricted, such as antibiotics. There you have a case where misuse hurts everyone.

  • I agree with the stance Russell Brand seems to be taking against drugs and addiction. Some people can use them and not get addicted but if you have an addicted tendancy then you can’t really do anything without going over the top. Whether it’s alcohol, drugs, sex… anything that gives you a bit of a high you will keep searching for the next high until it becomes detrimental to your health.