‘Let’s stop punishing people in pain,’ Letter to the Editor Urges Drug Reforms
Welcome to our letters to the editor/opinion section. To submit yours for consideration, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please consider including an image to be used–either a photograph of you or something applicable to the letter. However, an image is not necessary for publication. Remember opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of Redheaded Blackbelt nor have we checked the letters for accuracy.After a friend died of an overdose the day before yesterday, Brandon Salus wrote us this letter to the editor.
We live in a culture doesn’t value life. We value dirty green paper. The more dirty green paper you can amass, the more value society places on you, your life, your rights. While we mourn our favorite artists and musicians, we step over the high school friend on the street as if he or she were invisible. Both self-medicating similar traumas. Let’s stop punishing people in pain.
It often seems the harder one is consumed by this dis-ease, the harder we seek to punish. I fail to see the logic. When I adopted an abused and scared shelter dog I didn’t think to beat her when she cowered. But that is the exact approach we take to the man who had no parents, no love, no security for a still forming brain to grow. The speed of human evolution left us entering the world as near blank mental slates. Three months maternity leave falls somewhat short of the first three years, while totally necessary and thoroughly neglected. We offer no patience for the grown woman who was repeatedly raped by her own father, The man with the touchy feely step dad, nor the totally absent parents out trying to make the rent. Those whose mind never had the security required to wire correctly. The worse the addiction, the worse the childhood trauma. Bet that.
Don’t expect your doctor to understand. It might not have come up in the couple of hours spent during the eight years in medical school. For the greatest hope there is still for the perfect pill. Morphine found useful in alcoholism, mostly as the alcoholic hits the streets looking to fight or fuck while the morphine addict wants to be left alone. Heroin seemed a promising cure for morphine addiction. Methadone and later buperenorphine for heroin. With each advance comes a stronger, more deadening, and increasingly harder drugs to detox. SSRI’s are of course the new answer for all ails.
If we want to recover as a community I suggest taking the steps. Not the 12 that may help free an individual from years of guilt surrounding just surviving this dis-ease. Not the steps where one assumes personal responsibility for a profoundly sick society.
1. Decriminalize ALL illicit substances. There is no war on plants. No war on molecular structure. There is a war on our friends, our brothers sisters classmates coworkers children and grandparents. Take the nickel and dime cop game out of the equation. Police have no business addressing (read: arresting) the sick. A cop who spends his time sticking his hands in the pockets of the most vournerable is a thief. Racking up arrest stats, pocket change.. once in a while a god hit might lead to a couple G tax free pay day. Address addiction and its root causes as the biological-psychological-
societal issue it is.
2. Immediately release and drop charges on all low level sales and possession cases. The job market isn’t clammoring for employees who have chemical imbalances and dependencies on their public record. This is doctor/ patient confidentiality type sh*t…
Only highly skilled trained and adept police, practiced at surveillance, retroactive investigations, execution of well written search warrants, Police who know how to prepare court documents and be an accountable witness. Target high end traffickers in drugs of abuse ONLY (The white collars: businessmen, politicians, developers, etc. The ones you are afraid to arrest as their city hall connections will have your badge). Every time I read the news and ensuing cheer of the arrest of another desperate drug addict arrested I’m absolutely astounded by the stupidity, the forebear of hate.. Do you think Mr. Street Bum flew the dope in on his private plane? Or just like to see the beaten get battered more? No low level drug arrests at all. Zero. Police target high end traffickers only. Prohibition does NOTHING to help the harm of addiction, only adds to the PRICE TAG and TOE TAGS. Insults to injuries. Bath Salts, Spice, Krokidil, and Carfentanyl are all far more dangerous than their prohibited predecessors. We already jail 1/4 of the worlds incarcerated peoples. This is what prohibition has done for us. Great for correctional officers and shareholders of private prisons… until it’s one of their kids found in the McDonalds bathroom with dirty needle in arm filled with toilet bowl water and fentanyl, because they lacked the political will to go forward with something as simple as a safe injection site. Research Insite in Vancouvers Downtown East Side if you doubt me.
3. Push for more Psychedelic research and use in rectifying addictions. Whether to sex or shopping, cough syrup or nitrous, or money power and prestige… These molecules are still the most interesting and promising oft forgotten or outright dismissed tool in addressing addictions since Bill Wilson and Timothy Leary exchanged letters 60 years ago. If addiction is a mind caught in a detrimental feedback loop, tell me what else on earth can and will disrupt the minds set and settings than an appropriately employed psychedelic. Why are none of our officials pushing for Ibogaine Clinics? You want advice? That’s the BEST you’re gonna get. Ayahuasca and Ibogaine both incredible compounds subject to slander from the smallest minds among us.
Why is it those with the LEAST to say seem to talk the most?
“LSD has been known to cause psychosis and paranoia in those who’ve never taken it” -Tim Leary (Though to be fair he denies saying it)
He did leave one thing out though.. before tuning turing and dropping… develop a craft. A trade. Like he and Alpert’s PHD’s.
This leaves monies for some real–not spare–change.
1. The Addicted:
a. Safe use sites across the county where amphetamines, heroin, cocaine, methadone, etc. is given clean, sans street adulterants, sans dirty needles and blood stained gas station bathrooms. No need to break into homes for the flatware, no stolen cars sent to Bay Area chop shops, and no sex work for ones medicine. This is offered FREE OF CHARGE at supervised sites 3 x daily, with increased and improved counseling. What presently passes off as the California Addiction Studies Certification Program is a review of failed and tired tactics from physicians, parole officers, recovery center moguls, and the total farce called the DEA justifying paychecks and ensuring return visits. Research the correlation between Rehab stays and overdose deaths. Most drug overdoses happen directly after such a period of abstinence. After a month or two in a safe place, where life is given value–for a price of course, otherwise there’s the free rehab options which focus more on the value of Christ’s life and all he did for you–but on the upside if you do live through it for another $10k you can try again. And again. And again. And again. Think I’m exaggerating? Man.. I must have left something out on the 4th Step.. because the program works for anyone who “is constitutionally capable of being honest with ones self”. Again, your pain is your fault. Let’s not look to a profoundly sick society for any answers. Trust me, this way’s easier. May be a lie… but easier.
b. Increased and improved supervised shelters/ safe camping sites for the houseless. It’s an ever increasing mass that cannot be ignored. County lands used for camping is A LOT cheaper than housing everyone at the Humboldt Hilton or continually cleaning up hazardous illegal campsites. Often the same sites, every week…Every. Single. Week. What’s the definition of insanity? Not the real one but the one used in 12 step groups.. At one time the South Jetty was as close to a working outlaw camp as ever existed in this century. I say that having had a car stolen there! Batman, the heavily tattooed mayor, wasn’t of much help.
c. Required *community orientated* jobs of anyone physically able. With the black market gone, safe housing and access to medicine now available::: TREATMENT BEGINS. For their clean housing and free medicine, addicts will be working for the city: Cooking at shelters, cleaning city parks and repairing playground structures, coaching after school sports, teaching arts at the senior center.. Everyone has a unique talent to offer.. and will do so. For the opposite of addiction is not abstinence, its HUMAN CONNECTION. Keep severing those ties from your addicted love one and exclaim expect death, either the addict, or that good natured part of yourself. Your choice, Tough love is an oxymoron. Being an integral part of something bigger than ones self is a prerequisite to happiness. To usefulness. To self and community worth.
d. INCREASE PENALTIES ON ALL OTHER CRIMES: Most all crimes involve a victim and/ or violence. That is except for addicts,. (who are usually the victims of childhood violence seeking only relief from a life of pain and shame).. Theft, Rape, Burglaries, Assaults, Fraud, etc…if you’re still out there committing crimes with safe access to medicine, you need locked up. And without drug addicts counting the days till the next hit, there’ll be plenty of room for your extended stays.
e. Thinning the Herd (pun intended): There’s good reason why Police and Prison Guards Unions lobby so hard against the legalization/ decriminalization of drugs. There’s good reason police are called the biggest gang in America. Without the nickel bag cheap weak bullies arrests clogging the system, the cops who prefer to sit and wait to issue a seat belt ticket, or shoving their hands in a homeless mans pants in hopes of finding $5 worth of crack and a cheap stat= robbing taxpayers, making the streets LESS safe (High speed pursuits on the Avenue of the Giants?? The crime= Failure to Stop. Shootouts in midday downtown Eureka??) making an ever increasing force of lazy overweight grudge bearing trigger happy–because they lack proper combat skills NOR the discipline required for competent combat–incompetent police force ok? We won’t be needing you. With extra time and resources officers will have the opportunity to chase the big fish. The politicians. The developers. The open rape cases covered in a decades dust. Home invasions, property theft, the somehow still open ONE murder case in Arcata might be met with competence. Knowledge of retroactive investigations of heinous yet open unsolved crimes Ability to correctly fill out and execute a warrant. We won’t need hiring sprees of anyone who can pass a pee test and a couple CR courses. It amazes me the folks we give a badge and a gun to. No more cheap cops or their cheap stats. No more over-weight under-qualified bullies. We won’t be needing you.
Before Nixon and Anslinger’s wonderful war on the part of the population thoughtful enough to question an erroneous war, being a police officer was a respected position. As it damn well should be!
(On that note I need to say I’m leaving race aside for now.. as the history between police and people of color is as despicable as it was 100 years ago. I find it interesting the NRA was formed in the early 1870’s. Probably just a coincidence, but this exactly when the KKK was outlawed, and black slaves were beginning to outnumber their masters. The NRA ensured blacks still could not own guns)
e. USE EVERY TOOL in the Tool Belt; Ibogaine and Ayahuasca, TMS and DXM, ketamine, psilocybin, acupuncture, hikes, vision quests, sensory deprivation tanks, psychotherapy, art therapy, sweat lodges, maxed out bench presses, healthy non-processed foods, 12 step support groups and opportunities to serve others…we could increase the list ad infinitum. Present thinking won’t allow me to celebrate the years off cocaine and heroin as I do not adhere to this profoundly misleading statement: “A Drug is a Drug”. Right. And food is food so sit down and shut up it’s mutton and crickets for dinner. Just don’t put sugar on that plate as it’s not only the deadliest drug in the US, it also carries the highest public health costs of all others…combined. Whats that other one.. “Repeating the same thing and expecting different results”? Research, innovation, and implementation are the back bone of any company which seeks to succeed.
2. The On Their Way
a. Just Say Know. Drug education in schools that tells the Truth about everything from sugar (the gateway drug) to cannabis (an exit drug), gambling, shopping, copulating, and every other dopamine surging activity. Ritalin, Remeron, Serequel, Buspar Gatorade, and the new “cure-alls”, the SNRI and SSRI’s. You can’t fool the youth. Nancy Reagan tried that. I had her campaign slogan all over my room. “Just Say No”. From the day I tried cannabis and laughed harder and longer than imaginable, everything that came out of her mouth started to smell like actual human shit and every new drug I came across became grist for this mill. If she had been honest about the difference between cannabis and heroin, I might have never tried the latter. The latter might not have totally dominated 20 years of my 40 on this ride. To my mind she is responsible for more unnecessary deaths than her husband his vice and the vice’s son.
(You can research the many mass school shootings and the current cure-all anti-depressant connection. As terrified as most doctors are now to dispense a single Vicodin, someone has these SSRI and SNRI’s flying off the shelves, and the kids taking em aren’t experiencing “slowed breathing” thank god. Just shooting up their schools). Morphine was once called Gods Own Medicine proving itself so valuable during the brutal Civil War. Still looking for that magic pill that might make a sentient person questioning a society that severely lacks it care just a bit less… but one that needs to be taken daily. You know.. this fiscal quarter need beat the last… sentient or not.
Dear Doctors: There ARE miraculous medicines out there. Most have thousands of years of use behind them. Ibogaine, Ayahuasca, 5-MEO-DMT, Kambo, Cannabis, Kratom, Peyote, and Poppy tea.. but none come from the loving arms of big pharma, and none are required daily. Most more like once a year, or even once in a lifetime. Some are just tree leaves…and that doesn’t serve Your dealers needs.
b. Youth centers across the County including everything from boxing to basket weaving to badminton, basketball, batik, baking, building, etc etc etc . What do THEY want/ need?? We ask Them and We provide. The same for seniors. The opposite of this scourge is connection. Everyone needs somewhere they can go and feel included, engaged, wanted. Many kids, seniors, and addicts do not get this anywhere.
c. Mentors. Coaches, Sponsors. For All! Every kid has a unique talent but even the lucky few with both parents teachers and coaches around—specifically ones who have come to terms with their own issues first—so many go mentor-less, tutor-less, directionless. With the need for community and connection so important, without direction kids scramble to fit in somewhere. Gangs are taking up the slack as the most readily available ‘other’ option for community, for family, for purpose. Everyone wants to contribute something, some more than others, Let’s ensure everyone has that chance. Again, the opposite of addiction is not abstinence (a concept fully loaded with blanks) it is human connection.
The Game: Get Paid
As still promoting itself as the “only game in town” 12-Step groups and themed rehabs often build and back a dangerous divide between modern medicine, modern thought, even modern myth and dogmatic belief the likes of which can be compared only to the Bible or the Quran. The all out refusal to accept new information is something to be seen. Mention Ibogaine in an NA meeting and see what I mean. Despite the research coming out (see this months ENTIRE National Geographic devoted to Addiction Research) Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation still isn’t available at any of the recovery centers I called about this piece. We’re not talking Schedule 1 ibogaine, for which there is still no excuse for everyone in said “recovery industry” to not be pushing for.. HARD. Anyone can get a device similar to rTMS. So what’s the wait? As hard as it can be to even get into rehab, it’s just a repeat of a repeat. I’ve seen Vicodin addicts come in and put on Suboxone. If you’ve done either you know one is MUCH stronger and it’s not Vicodin. I’ve seen alcoholics given Ativan (probably the worst choice with it’s quick onset and offset, severe peaks and valleys between doses. Librium is the gold standard,, I guess the manufacturers aren’t taking doctors golfing anymore.. I love it when a doctor tells me about a book he read in Africa after I just told him I spent the last 20 years there. The best ones, the ones I keep take notes as I talk. God Bless Em. Anyway, we hope you enjoyed your stay. Come back soon.
Sugar boasts the highest death toll and public health costs of any drug in our country though you’d never know the way it’s consumed in recovery circles. That’s if you don’t include petroleum addiction, petrol and plastic. The neurological soup of pleasurable chemicals released when in love has caused a great many addicts to STAY CLEAN. Bill Wilson did not need to take a “War on Drugs” and its ramifications into account, BUT WE MUST. The best a collective of recovering addicts could come up with in writing the preamble to Narcotics Anonymous was Nixon’s Drug Scheduling? Cannabis is not heroin nor is it chocolate cake.
But most importantly, the 13 year old girl who decides to stick a needle full of cocaine in her arm is not exactly like the 50 year old man that takes to the bottle after loosing his wife. An addict is not an addict anymore than a person is just a person and a dog just a dog.
We are not “terminally” unique nor need we recover on the bones of others.
WE ARE MARVELOUSLY UNIQUE. AND WE NEED EACH OTHER.
Recovery is also not a contest. Life is not a contest. I really don’t care about your clean time other than to say I’m glad you’re alive and well today. When Darwin speaks of EVOLUTION, he speaks of Cooperation, not Competition.
This idea that the woman in her 50’s, having traded self worth. home, children, work, friends, and will to live for HIV, Hep C, a 5 year prison sentence and an alley to sleep in and some new STD ravaging her pussy needs to hit bottom = Ludicrous. Exclusivity sucks, especially when it’s being served by bottom feeders. People genuinely happy with themselves feel no need to compare themselves to others.
Anyone on whatever self selected or doctor prescribed medication they need to survive that day needs to have a voice and a seat SOMEWHERE. If you are going to call yourself the “only game in town” make THAT seat available and tell the 20 year member on repeat to keep quiet. Or at least update the preamble to read: “We see about 1/100 who commit themselves to this program make it to 5 years, 10/100 die in those 5 years, and the rest Mature Out. Yes the support system helps. It may need expansion.
This is just a start. The problem runs so deep. The Need for More: gas, money, meetings, therapy, land, kids, sex, business, sweets, God, exercise, clients, paintings, praise, and especially shoes.. must be examined. I won’t suggest Ayn Rand unless you’ve a month to spare, but try reading Johann Hari or Gabor Mate: We are ALL somewhere on the addiction spectrum, indeed our economy would collapse were it otherwise.
In a letter back to Europe an Early American writes something to the extent:
The rivers here are so full of fish you can practically reach in and grab one. It’d hard to even row an ore through!
Love the player. Hate the game.
-B-Boy. (Brandon Salus)