Life Altering

The past couple months have been life altering for my wife and I. I have a son from a previous relationship that lived with his mother. She, (my child’s mother) was going on 5 years of continuous sobriety – as far as I am able to verify. She was a heavy IV cocaine user and would occasionally shoot up heroin to control the cocaine come-down. I wrote about her in my memoir.
She is now dead.
Another person added to the never ending list of addiction related deaths. Another, so close to home. A family torn apart. A daughter gone forever. A mother gone forever. A son, forever without his mom.
My wife and I have made all the necessary adjustments and changes to be the permanent care takers and parents for my son. The transition has been going really well considering what the poor boy has been through.
I quit my full time job and will be a stay-at-home dad for the near future. I want to build a stable bond with my boy. He has had so much change and disarray in his life that he needs a great deal of consistency and care from a stable and sober role model.
My wife has been completely amazing and flexible through this life direction whiplash. I have so much to learn from her generosity, love, and her unshakable companionship. She never ceases to amaze me.
My son’s chances of becoming dependant on drugs and/or alcohol are very high. Both parents’ were drug/alcohol users which covers the gene side of addiction and he comes from a single mother household, now a deceased mother, and already has an ACE (adverse childhood experience) score that is higher than his age. Individuals with an ACE score of 5 or more are 7 to 10 times more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs. That covers the environment and statistical side of things.
He has a huge mountain to climb and many obstacles in his path. We will do everything we can to get him through this with only minor bumps and bruises. It will take a lot of work and a lot more luck. Of course I am not a determinist, so I know everything I mentioned does not determine his life outcome, however, for us NOT to look at these things would be cowardly, and very dilatory parenting.
I will try to post another update on things within the week. I know I haven’t been consistent with my posts but things are beginning to mellow out here at home. More to come soon.
Any thoughts or comments in general would be great. 🙂

 

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Is the buying/selling/using of drugs immoral?

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Have you noticed that drugs are always portrayed as “evil” or “bad”? Since I have been old enough to understand language, society “as a whole” speaks about drugs with a morality factor attached to them. They, or “we” claim that the using, selling, and doing of drugs is somehow immoral. Philosophically speaking, this is just not true.

I should mention first the religious aspect to this right up front. As you may already know, I accept atheism as a valid methodology so my morality, or rather my ethics have to come from a universal standpoint. Ethics that are not universal are merely preferences or opinions. Some religious edicts state that our body is a temple and therefore to do harm to it is immoral. In that case, it is immoral to put sugar in your body. Rationally, that circle can’t be squared. Also, ethics that are brought forth by a power that is exempt from the same ethics put in place by that power is just rank hypocrisy. Thou shalt not murder! Great idea! I think we can all agree on that so lets not then turn around and create a global genocide.

As noted by early philosophers, ethics were invented by evil people to control and oppress good people. What that means is ethics are like a diet book for skinny people. Bad or evil people don’t care about ethics except as a means to lower their competition and for human control of the good.

It may seem like I am cheering on drug consumption and sales but as a former heroin addict, that is not the case. I am looking at drugs from a purely moral perspective; I’m trying to analyze drug use using philosophical first principles.

Initiating force or violence against another person when not in self-defense and  violating the property rights of another person are the fundamental core ideas of first principles.  Violating either of these principles is immoral. (If you are questioning “what makes first principles valid?” I can make that case but to do that here would take this post too far off topic and it would also make it far too long. If you want more info on first principles please comment below.)

So the next question is- Does using, selling, or buying drugs violate either of these principles?

Without the state sanctioned “illegalities”  of drugs, it would be easy to argue the crimes woven into the black market of todays drug world would disappear. When the government creates a prohibition law, what inevitably happens to the value of the now illegal good? It sky rockets. Every time, without failure. Not only does the value of the illegal good go up exponentially, crime rates rise too. One instance of this is the alcohol prohibition in the early 1900s. The rise in crime that followed was a major driver in the state’s decision to reverse the prohibition.

Back when heroin was legal, it cost 10 cents a hit. As soon as it went into the black market, it shot up

Prohibitions are also the main ingredient for mafias and gangs. How could mafias’ or gangs’ function without a black market? When you push things into the black and gray markets of the economy you are causing harm to the natural economic flow of the market. Drug lords now have a lucrative and prosperous foundation to build their violent mini empires. All this because we believe that using violence (using the state to create a law) to solve social problems is a legitimate way to fix complicated social issues. Same holds true for prostitution and illegal gambling. 

Prohibition is a real gun pointed at real people. We need to stop thinking we can solve problems by pointing guns at people.

Prohibition is a real gun pointed at real people. We need to stop thinking we can solve problems by pointing guns at people.

The amount of harm caused by prohibition is far worse than the harm caused by a drug itself.

1- With prohibition, there is no dispute resolution for buyers and dealers so weapons and other violence must be used.

2- With prohibition, there is no way to know the potency of the drug you are buying therefore you raise the risk of overdose and poisoning.

3- With prohibition, you may lose professional licensing or become un-hirable to companies for decades.

4- With prohibition, families are torn apart by incarcerations, financial fines, court and lawyer fees and the negative social stigma.

5- With prohibition, as mentioned above, the cost of product increases hundreds of percent causing more illegal activity. (I eventually had to break other laws to continue using heroin. It was too expensive.)

6- With prohibition, people who are addicted to drugs can’t come forward for help because it is treated as a criminal problem instead of a health care issue.

7- With prohibition, illnesses like Hepatitis and AIDS are spread around the drug circles because access to clean needles and other paraphernalia is made difficult.

8- With prohibition, many women turn to prostitution to supply their addiction.

This list could go on and on…

As we know, drugs are handled by the government as a criminal problem. The budget for the War on Drugs in 2013 was 26 billion dollars. Less than 2% of that was used in a treatment or preventative means. The vast majority of the budget every year is used on incarceration costs, police force, and other violent and aggressive tactics like multi-operation sting-ops that cost massive amounts of tax payer resources.

Confucius said “The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their proper name.”

What an amazing quote. Lets put this into practice. Lets call the “War on Drugs” by its proper name. The war on drugs insinuates that the state is at war AGAINST drugs. Is this the case? Have you ever seen a sack of weed in handcuffs? I know I have been in handcuffs but the heroin I had on me got off without a single charge.

With just a couple of seconds of thought, its easy to see that the clever wording of “the war on drugs” was used because it is hard to argue against. Most people don’t want drugs in their family structure so a war against drugs sounds great to the average person. “You are against the war on drugs? You must want babies to die too, right?”

It’s not a war on drugs. It is a war on families. Particularly minority families. Making drugs illegal will NEVER cause the problem to get better. When you use force and violence to attack a complex social problem you will see a short-term advantage and the long-term will be much worse. This is why the drug problem in the US has continually gotten worse since the WOD was initiated.

So how can we accept that legalizing drugs is the right thing to do? I know when I first heard about these arguments, I had a recoiling emotional response and I thought that legalizing drugs would be a terrible idea. Of course that was not based on any facts or evidence. It was an emotional response that was threatening my incorrect belief. Based on facts and evidence, I have now changed my stance.

Are drugs dangerous? Well, of course they can be but so can a paperclip.

Are drugs bad for your body? Overall, they can be very harmful to us. But so can cheesecake.

If I was selling you a $20 hit of heroin and I hand you the heroin and you hand me the $20, is either one of us using violence to get want we want? Is it not peaceful trade? Isn’t it a praxeological axiom that we both consider ourselves to be better off because of the trade? If it wasn’t, why did we trade? Is it fundamentally no different than if I was selling you a cheesecake or a box of paperclips? Trading, buying, selling drugs peacefully is not an immoral action. It may not be honorable or preferable, but it is not immoral.

People who need drugs are going to acquire them by any means necessary. Even if they are illegal. Even if they know they will go to jail. Even if they know they will lose their home. Even if they know they may die. We can see this very clearly now. The war on drugs; the criminalization of drugs is making this much worse. If drugs were legalized, we could rid society of the stigma associated with addicts who suffer under the life crushing violence of the state. Funds could then be used to help people who suffer from addiction problems. Open up more recovery options and widen the grasp of addiction treatment facilities. The possibilities would be opened up enormously and some real change could begin.

I believe this is moving humanity forward and extending the value of personhood. If you look back through history you can see the major leaps forward in mankind. Those moral shifts have allowed freedom and growth to take place in the human species. We used to eat each others flesh. Then we realized “hey this is kind of gross and wrong…and used up too much salt and pepper.” Then we enslaved other humans. Women had little to no rights. Then we realized “we are all human beings.” We kept universalizing and extending our ethical guidelines. I hope soon we will do this for the little people. Our children. Once we start treating them as full individual human beings we will see a growth in the world like no other. If we could evaluate the last few decades of the war on drugs, we would see the disaster for what it is. Making more laws around the same system will not help fix the disaster the state created. We must legalize all drugs, gambling, and prostitution if we truly want to make the problem better for our society.

I don’t want children or future children to believe that drugs are okay to use and that there are no problems with drugs. But you don’t solve that problem by creating laws against drugs. You do it through the peaceful raising of children and maintaining a nuclear family. There is no more of a non-answer in solving the drug problem than believing that creating more laws is helping the situation.

I understand I am making some pretty wild claims. If you disagree with me, please tell me where I am mistaken. I will correct my mistakes if better and more truthful arguments are brought forward. I believe it is important to accept reason and evidence, especially when talking about the zeitgeist of societies. 

Don’t Spank Addiction Into Your Children!

Why are the most important and the most devastating topics either lied about, shied away from, manipulated, or just completely ignored on social media? Not only is it true for social media, these topics are ignored everywhere. Including television, radio, film, our daily interactions and even amongst our closest relationships. The topics I am talking about affect all of us in one way or another but yet we do whatever is needed to keep such influential arguments sequestered.

-If I say I believe in God, the collective society would allow me to continue my speech. However, if I state that I am a strong atheist, the majority would boo me, shun my ungodly disbelief and throw large, juicy tomatoes at my face.

-If I try to convince a mother to stop disciplining her children because spanking children has been linked to drug abuse, the lowering of IQ, and sociopathic behaviors. I would get told to mind my own business while catching another vine ripened mater to the head.

-If I claim that 9/11 was an inside job, I get met with hostility, indifference and categorized as a “conspiracy theorist”.

-If I voice the truth about the immorality of war, I am considered a disgraced adversary of our military and labeled “un-American”.

-If I make a claim that legalizing all drugs will only help society’s problem with addiction, I would be mocked by many for such a crazy and irresponsible ideal.

If you look at these different scenarios, you can see they all have one thing in common. The “correct” answer’s to these question’s are not at all based or driven from facts; they are all based on a collective acceptance. This tells us that we are full of shit if we say that we don’t care what others think about us. That is just simply not true. If we did not care what society thought about our beliefs, then we would tell the truth much more often. We could cure ourselves from this sick ailment called collectivism. Because of our need for acceptance as a collective society, we are continually forced to lie. I have found that facts do not alter people’s core beliefs- acceptance to this main-stream collective does. We live in a world where our reality is not driven by facts, but by a fake delusion of lies and deceit.

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I was raised in the belief that America is the greatest country in the world and that I should be proud of my culture and my flag. I think it is safe to say that the individuals on the opposite side of the world were raised to believe in similar ideas about their country and their flag. I do believe America is a wonderful place to live and has some of the most beautiful and majestic places in all the globe. However I do know that I was born in America by accidental circumstances and because of that, myself and the place I was born is no better than someone who was accidentally born on the opposite end of the Pacific Ocean. My country, my culture, my religion and my society were all accidental circumstances and I did not have a say in any of them. If I would have been born to Iraqi parents, I would most likely be a Muslim who spoke Arabic. I am a human being, and so are they. A line on a map cannot possibly be the guide of virtue or reason that separates good people from the bad. It is an imaginary line and it only exists on a map. Why have we allowed imaginary lines to guide us on who is virtuous and who is not? If I have struck a nerve, please tell me your thoughts. If you do, please be respectful about your argument.

You may be asking what this has to do with my usual posts about drugs and addiction. Well, the studies show that 7 out of 10 American parents are still spanking their children for disciplinary reasons. The majority of parents are not ashamed to admit it. Why? Because it is accepted in our culture. Our society is using the outdated and severely destructive “save the rod, spoil the child” precept. I couldn’t count how many Facebook posts I have read stating “When I was kid, I got my butt whooped when I was out of line! Maybe if more kids would get a swift kick in the ass they would learn respect!” This is just complete and utter nonsense. Even though it may seem that a child needs some form of aggressive discipline to “keep them in line” or because they won’t “behave themselves”, this actually does much more harm than good. The only good it does is make us feel power over another human being. That all too familiar hierarchy we have been so accustomed to. That is, at least by my standards, not a good thing.

Spanking has proven to cause a decrease in IQ, abnormalities in brain function, aggressive behavior later on in life, violence, criminal behavior, mental illness including addiction and severe cases of physical abuse have led to psychopathic personalities. Despite popular belief, children don’t get spanked because they act out, they act out because they are being spanked. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-me-in-we/201202/how-spanking-harms-the-brain

doll-340355We need to address this horrific flaw in our society. We continue to hide behind the evil curtain called “discipline”. Our society protects women who are in abusive relationships. Women have the choice to be in the relationship and we still feel it is only right to protect them. Would we accept our women being hit “just when they deserved it?” Of course not! How ludicrous does that sound? So why do we allow it for our precious children?! Our children are completely helpless in this matter. Why are we spanking our helpless and innocent children?! They are in a one-sided contract with us as parents. Our children did not ask to be put into the relationship. They did not choose their parents. If they are abused they cannot leave. They are economically dependent on us. The environment we build for our children is what will shape them as an adult. We need to stop teaching violence to our children. When we hit or spank our kids we are teaching them violence. Imagine a world that is violence free. Imagine all that can be accomplished by not teaching violence to the next generation of youngsters.

Instead of inflicting a “negative” on your child (spanking, yelling, time-out’s, grounding) take away a “positive” from them instead (reading after supper, cuddling on their favorite bean-bag chair, favorite treat). The importance of negotiation with our children is paramount for their proper growth into adulthood. We don’t need to always act like a house dictator. That only teaches them to tell their friends how big of an ass hole their parents are and they learn to rebel against it. That is why there is such a huge issue with bullies in the public school system. When you get angry with your child for telling you the truth, you have just taught your child that they need to lie to you from now on. This world of hierarchies is crumbling from underneath us. Believing that we need to have power over others will be the power that destroys us all. Lets end the violence. Lets stop spanking our children and allow them to reap the benefits of a violence-free, drug-free, truly peaceful world.

There are many sources that are easily accessible for helping parents raise their children without violence and the effects of violence. I am not claiming to have all the right answers. I do know that if there is one thing everyone as a collective society should agree on, it should be that we need to stop spanking our children.

 

 

Your Children and Addiction (Part 1)

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Pixabay Photo

If every parent could open their heart and their mind to the reality of the current addiction trend, countless children could be saved. I use the word “trend” lightly. A trend will usually wear out overtime and the next new thing will take its place. The “addiction trend” we are observing now is swallowing our country whole and shows no signs of slowing down. It has proven to be a ruthless, indestructible weed, squeezing the life out of the healthy growth around it. With its ever-growing list of victims, addiction will not stop when it reaches your child. It will wrap its roots tightly around your son or daughter and it will not stop squeezing until your child exhales their final breath. Where addiction is concerned, the odds do not look good for your son or daughter. Very few family structures in America get through the grip of addiction unscathed.

 

I am not writing this from an academic perspective. I do not hold any degrees in medicine, addiction, counseling or psychology. However I do have what would be the equivalent time frame of a PhD as a drug addict. In the 12 years of fighting my disease, I have lost many battles but also won many of them.

 

My goal is to help families who have found themselves caught in addiction and to educate about the real truth behind its many misconceptions. I do not claim to have all the answers. Through my experiences, I have learned what did and did not work for me. It has also worked for thousands of others. Through my destructive past, I have learned the “tricks of the trade” used by many addicts alike. Attached to addiction, you have all the advocates of self destruction, deceit, manipulation, lies and other repugnant idiosyncrasies. If your children begin to dabble in drugs/alcohol, these attributes will slowly begin to surface. They will look you directly in your eyes and assure you that your instincts are nothing more than an erroneous judgement on your part. It is unthinkable to believe your child, your own flesh and blood would be capable of such horrendous solutions to their problems. If you believe it is possible, you are moving a step in the right direction.

 

MY CHILD WOULD NEVER USE DRUGS OR ALCOHOL

 

My parents’ initial mistake was the belief that their youngest son would have no need for drinking or drugs; let alone become a full-blown heroin addict! After all, I had both parents’, a moderately religious upbringing. I wasn’t abused, raped, molested or beaten. Why should they think I would turn to drugs or alcohol right? I may have been a bit tougher to raise than my two older siblings but other than being shy and awkward around others, I grew up comparatively normal. I definitely wasn’t shouting HEROIN from any rooftops. In other words, there were no tangible warning signs early on.

Obviously I knew something was wrong with me before my family did. Not knowing exactly what it was, I hid it from everyone. I felt like something was missing. I did have moments of contentment but they were few and far between.

My Rubix Cube brain always seemed to be two or three colored squares off of kilter. The longer I went without addressing it, the worse it seemed to get. As time went on I became a master at hiding my emotional complications and acting like nothing was eating me up inside. It was also extremely difficult to explain what was wrong with me when I didn’t really know what was wrong. It is my experience that your child could be suffering greatly and they have no intention in letting you know about it.

 

WHY WOULD YOUR CHILD USE ONE SUBSTANCE OVER ANOTHER?

 

Many Americans’ have been led to believe that alcohol isn’t as bad as drugs for many different reasons. I’m sure it can still be debated but the bottom line is the same. We need to stop the squabbling and work towards fixing the problem at the source. We are on the ground smashing the ants while the elephants are trampling us to death!

Whether your child gets trapped by alcohol, prescription medication, street drugs, gambling, pornography, sex, or any other potentially dangerous lifestyle- the lifestyle don’t matter as much as the problem itself.

We now know that no substance in and of itself is inherently addictive. Studies have yielded these results over and over. So why do some people get addicted and others do not?

If the brain is incapable of producing adequate amounts of dopamine (feelings you get when rewarded) or endorphins (masks physical pain), that person will constantly yearn for that feeling of wholeness and contentment that is missing. This feeling is such an emptiness that I couldn’t fully describe in words. It’s like having a colossal craving for grease-dripping bacon cheeseburger and all you can fit in your mouth is a peanut. It’s like trying to enjoy a delicious Oreo shake through a coffee straw. If these dream-like scenarios happened with every single activity you did, you would start to see life like an addict. Having this feeling constantly nagging at you, every waking minute is hell on earth. All an addict wants is to feel like a normal human being. This is why we turn to drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol fills in these vacant receptor pods in our brain and for that short time, we feel human again; content and at peace.

 

I have noticed in my active addiction that most addicts either crave uppers or they crave downers. Of course as a heroin addict, I would do uppers when I couldn’t get heroin but overall, you either craved one or the other. If an addict’s brain doesn’t produce enough dopamine, they will more often than not, crave uppers (cocaine, meth, Ritalin). If an addict’s brain doesn’t produce enough endorphins, they will sway towards downers (pain pills, heroin).

 

Studies have shown that alcohol can fall into both these categories. It is my belief that many turn to alcohol instead of drugs because it is readily available and there is less societal stigma associated with booze. It is acceptable to say “I drank a fifth of whiskey” but not acceptable to say “I shot up 6 balloons of heroin”. Certainly there is other reasons; preference, legalities, etc.

 

A large problem can occur if your child turns to alcohol because it is easy to say “they are just in a phase” or “I partied when I was their age.” Alcohol can easily be justified. Illegal street drugs, not so much. You know better than to say your child is “just going through a heroin phase.”

 

 

HAVING “THE TALK”

 

-Too many parents believe that having a basic discussion about drugs will produce a drug free family.

 

-Too many parents believe telling their children to say no to drugs will keep their children away from  drugs.

 

-Too many parents think lying to their children about drugs is helpful.

 

-Too many parents don’t study addiction before having a discussion with their children about addiction.

 

I am scared to death to think that someday I will have to give “the talk” to my children. I cannot give experienced advice from a parent’s side on this, but I sure can tell you want would have been helpful to hear from my parents’. I will have my mother give some parental thoughts and ideas on this subject in part 2.

 

A basic discussion about drugs is clearly not enough to prevent anything. All that did for me was made me curious and I had more questions than answers.

Using the phrase “just say no” or “say no to drugs” can be very dangerous if used by itself- especially if your child is a teenager. If you use that phrase, you might as well tell them to go experiment with drugs. We all know that adolescents make it their duty to do the opposite of what is asked.

If your child asks a question regarding drugs or addiction, do not lie to them. When they find out you lied, and they will, your child will lose trust in you. They will find out because their friend or their friend’s friend will know more drugs than you do. That takes us to my next point.

 

There is nothing more crucial for your child than your knowledge and love. Learning everything you possibly can about the realm of addiction. Like they say “What you don’t know may hurt your children”. Don’t let your ignorance control your children’s fate. I was never told anything about withdrawals. I thought if I became addicted to something, it only meant I would really like to continue doing it. No one told me I would be vomiting and having diarrhea at the same time. Stomach cramps and leg spasms more intense than anything I had ever felt in my life; fever, chills and sweats, heavy uncontrollable drooling, insomnia. I was told none of that. At the proper age, our children need to know all the important factors of addiction.

 

Check your findings. Cross reference with other websites. The more research you do the better equipped you will be in handling addiction.

 

THE ADDICTION PARADIGM

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Even with as much as we know about addiction today, it is still very difficult for a non-addict to fully understand the thought process of an addict. It is possible to show sympathy or compassion for someone who just lost their mother or father, but until it happens to you, it is very difficult to know exactly what that person is experiencing. Addiction is the same in that way. Many people wonder why a sober addict will choose to relapse, even when the addict knows the consequences for doing so. This type of response is typical. If you are asking that question its only because you still don’t understand what addiction is. The more you understand about addiction, the greater chance your children will live a successful character building lifestyle.

 

Ignorance in addiction has been used to create the judgmental stigma towards addicts that we see today. This separation of mankind- this wedge between humanity has stopped a great deal of forward progress in the fight against addiction. Thankfully, over the last few years I have noticed a partial paradigm shift in the way society views addicts/alcoholics. This is the single most important epiphany we could have as a collective society. No longer can we view addicts/alcoholics as “the weak link” in society.

 

The revolving door of the American justice system is designed to generate massive amounts of wealth in the pockets of government. It is not designed to help individuals plagued with crippling mental disorders. Until the current system receives an overhaul, it is left to the people of the United States to change the paradigm of addiction. When it comes to fixing the crux of the problem my friends’, this IS the solid base in which we build on. This paradigm shift needs to happen.

 

Addiction will never be under control in America until we all accept addiction for what it is. Addiction is not drugs, it is not laws, it is not alcohol, and it is not pornography or sex. Addiction is not a homeless man begging for change. Addiction is not that selfish thief who needs his next fix. Addiction is not will power. It is not the prostitute on the street corner or the guy sitting in a cold, damp jail cell. Addiction is a mental illness. Addiction is a brain that does not function properly. Addiction is in no way the fault of the addicted. We did not choose to have this brain damage. It is a form of brain damage so why don’t we call it what it is? The paradigm shift needs to continue. We need to be more aware of what we are fighting.

 

We can easily look ahead and see that our ship is headed for a huge iceberg. We can change the course we are on. We must change the course we are on. It is a matter of life and death and the number of deaths continues to rise.

For so long we have fought against the wrong opponent. Many addicts are victims of rape, brutal beatings and sexual assaults as well as products of poor or misguided parenting. Why would we ever want to side with the perpetrator of such crimes? In one way or another, the addiction manifested because of the landscaping and surroundings of that individual. I am still searching my childhood to understand why and how my addiction got planted.

 

END OF PART 1—

Next blog- Part 2 (Signs to Look for)