Friday, April 20, 2012

A Couple Of Thoughts On 4/20

It's that day, again, and though nobody seems to know why or when it started, it's time to fire up. Or e-smoke, or bake some brownies in celebration of America's favorite leafy green substance. Usually this translates into a couple of teenage stoners getting busted by cops, teachers or parents; a handful of news pieces proclaiming  a: pot is the ruination of youth and Western Civilization or b: the miracle drug of the age, bringing bliss, pain relief and a renewed appetite to sick and aging boomers.

It's also a prime market day for purveyors of test-at-home pee kits.

I would like to suggest an alternative.

How about a day dedicated to thinking about our complex, contradictory and generally messed up drug laws, with the intention of actually developing a coherent national drug policy.

When Governor Christie of New Jersey commented against the incarceration of marijuana offenders, the howling and moaning was loud and long. when he put the flag at half mast after the death of Whitney Houston, and had the audacity to say that she had died of a disease, it was worse. Somehow, it ended with him accused of not supporting the police.

All of which serves to explain that we are crazy when it comes to drugs.

We seem to believe that locking everybody who uses, traffics and generally gets high is going to fix things, although thirty years of this has only increased the prison population a thousandfold and stemmed the tide of drugs and addiction not a bit.

Isn't doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result a definition of insanity?

Just a thought, but maybe, just maybe, the decriminalization of marijuana would save the country an estimated 13 billion dollars. Is it conceivable that a legal pot, regulated and taxed like alcohol and cigarettes, would become less likely to fall into the hands of children?

I don't know the answer, but I know that what we are doing is not working.

And this goofy stoner pseudo holiday is as good a day as any to start thinking about doing something different.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Good Drug!

We have one hell of a history with alcohol.

About 4000 years worth, give or take a millennium.

It's what gets us through the rough times and helps celebrate the good ones. It's mentioned approximately 248 times in the bible (more than bless, but slightly less than sin.) It's been the object of numerous crusades, both by prohibitionists who managed to outlaw it by constitutional amendment; and by moonshiners who started an armed insurrection protesting it's taxation. (The prohibitionists won, for a while; the moonshiners lost.)

It's a major cause of death among kids with cars, the drug of choice at all sports events (imagine dancing syringes of heroin during halftime at the Superbowl.) There's a strong chance that if it went before the FDA for approval as a new drug it would get laughed out of the process. Imagine the questions at the trials:

  • Q. And what, exactly does this alcohol do?
  • A. It produces a warm glow and feelings of well being, then proceeds to attack every major organ in the body, leads to cirrhosis, brain and nerve damage and death. Not to mention depression, delirium, DT's and dead weight falls.
  • Q. Hmmmm....this doesn't sound good.
And it doesn't. Yet that warm, good glow is what we crave, and in moderation, what we get. But that doesn't mean that we should overlook the other dangerous consequences.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and the links below are helpful in doing just that, making us more aware of the potential dangers of alcohol use, especially among the young. 

It may be our good drug, but it's still a drug.

For more information, click on these links:

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Long Good Friday

No one could call him an alcoholic.

He stopped drinking every year, for Lent.

No Windsor; no Schmidts. No ice cubes clinking in the glass in the kitchen after he got home from work. No snap and hiss of a pop-top.

From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.

Dry.

Not a drop.

Although the house was quieter, the woman and the boy found it hard to relax. There was a tension that never found a voice.

He smoked more.

He ate a lot of peppermints. Sometimes at night the boy would hear him walking down the hallway to the stairs, and down the stairs to the kitchen. He could picture him sitting at the kitchen table, smoking.

On the weekends, watching sports, he would make the boy sit with him. He drank soda. He would hold it under the boy's nose.

Smell it, he would say. See? No booze. Tell your mother. Tell her no booze.

He would tell her when she came in from the store. The woman would say, that's good.

But she didn't smile.

The man said, I gave it up. For Lent.

The woman would say under her breath, for Lent.

Good Friday, they would go to church and do the Stations of the Cross. The man would seem distracted. When they got home, his mood would change. He would laugh loudly, and sometimes suddenly clap his hands together, and say boy, oh boy. The woman would busy herself in the kitchen. The boy wasn't allowed to go out to play on Good Friday, so he would go to his room. He could hear the man talking loudly to the woman.

Lent was almost over. No one could call him an alcoholic. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

30 Million

A story I posted Thursday from MarketWatch.com reported that 10% of all Americans identify themselves as recovering from an addiction.

That's 30 million people. Think about that: 30 million.

That's more than the combined populations of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia.

30 million votes are a significantly higher number than the winning margin of the popular vote in every Presidential election in history.

Sweden, Denmark, Afghanistan, North Korea, Switzerland and Austral; all with populations well below 30 million.

If there is enough of us to win an election, fill a city or populate a country, then how come we are doing such a lousy job of making our presence felt?

Have you heard a politician--just one politician--say anything substantial whatsoever about addiction or recovery? Have you had someone close to you need treatment for a substance use disorder, only to encounter lengthy waiting lists for treatment beds? Or ridiculous admission criteria? Or an insurance company that agrees to the need for treatment but simply refuses to pay?

And that is just one little area. Whether you think about the courts, social approbation, issues related to health and welfare--ask yourself what other special interest group of 30 million people would let itself be so rudely treated. Ask yourself what 30 million votes could accomplish.

30 million. Just a thought.