Why is Our Country on Drugs? A New American Reality

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addictionWhy is everyone addicted to drugs nowadays? If we, as a country, have spent billions of dollars on research to cure Cancer and AIDS/HIV and all kinds of other diseases in the past 3 decades especially, why has addiction seen little to no national attention towards a solution? The more important question being; Why hasn’t our government come to terms with not only the epidemic, but also that our current solutions are not working? 

I grew up in the mid 80′s and early 90′s. Something that often goes overlooked, is that crack was deemed an ‘epidemic’ back then. I remember my mom watching the nightly news, and Oprah, and seeing these stories about ‘The Crack Zombies’ taking over Newark, New Jersey and Detroit, Michigan and other inner cities. Little did I know at the time, what was actually going on, or what the law and government decided to do to make the ‘epidemic’ better.
 
The solution were the ‘crack laws’. Crack laws, simply put, loaded on the felonies when one was arrested with a simple possession. Even with a single rock. So the theory was to make the consequence so insurmountable that it would make the user, or addict think twice about doing the drug. Reality check. Crack is still everywhere. It did nothing but imprison the sick and suffering. And so they sit. Imagine being charged felonies for recreational use, and not being able to afford an attorney. Imagine being charged with intent to distribute, when in reality, you just couldn’t stop and could never fathom selling or distributing a piece of your precious crack. Well, some of those poor souls are still locked up. And those are the ones I start my prayers out with every single day. The sick and suffering.
 
States are beginning to decriminalize marijuana. And the Federal Government, and local state economies stand to make a significant profit from the new commerce, and the tax money in supplement. But possession of marijuana and distribution of marijuana is still a criminal offense at the Federal level. That means the population has raised their voice loud enough that the state has taken notice, which resulted in change. So we know factually, on the issue of drugs, that the state and Federal Government clearly are not seeing eye to eye. This sends a message to our Country.
 
The message is The White House wants to have its cake and eat it too. The big boys want their arrests, and NEVER want to admit wrongdoing or wrong spending via the billions spent on marijuana as a gateway drug campaigns, time effort and money spent on jailing those arrests and silly don’t do drugs campaigns by 80′s childhood stars, who all did drugs. What we need is synergy, what we need is THE TRUTH.
 
Many who have never experienced the grips of alcoholism and the disease of addiction first hand, or closely enough to feel it, are left to wonder why this is such an increasingly relevant topic in America. And it’s a great question. The best question really. Now I am not a doctor, and I have no college education. I come equipped with some common sense, a decade of drug experience from the streets, and 6 years of practical sobriety from a 12 step fellowship and a belief in a God that didn’t exist for me before. 

Alcoholism and drug addiction are categorized as a three part illness (spiritual, mental and physical) and now The American Medical Association have not only gone as far as to promote our condition as a disease, but also to render those afflicted temporarily disabled during a relapse or period of active addiction. So, they consider us disabled. That’s like a handicap. Handicapped people get their own parking spots. We get special programs like drug court. And I favor drug court, because it gives an opportunity for the addict to get help and not sit in a jail stuck in futility. So, states are taking some measures to see to it that those that need the help, get the help. But – they are not nearly as lenient on those who are ‘habitual offenders’. Guess what world ? Sobriety doesn’t just happen. And the threat of jail, or an arrest here and there often isn’t nearly enough to stop someone like me. And that sucks. It should always be a matter of help before imprisonment. Always. 

The spiritual malady defined in our disease is the part that really concerns me. Why are so many Americans turning to the dealer, rather than some other form of solution in their life ? It is my belief that we live in a pretty spiritually devoid day and age. Your average citizen would rather stare at their cell phone than interact with the guy who makes their coffee. We stay in and watch Desperate Housewives rather than enjoy the beautiful sun and gorgeous world outside.
 
We obsess over nail appointments, and shop til we drop, and raise our kids with an iPad, and follow Kanye West and Kim Kardashian rather than current events. And this isn’t aimed towards everyone, for those who want to nit-pick, but none of us can argue that this is a new American Reality. I never knew the beauty of doing something for someone else without telling anyone about it, until I was taught. I never knew that the key to life was love. And I sure as hell never knew that the best high I could ever get, was doing something the hard way.
 
While we sit back and overlook these values, we do it at a cost of the growth of our soul. And if we aren’t being taught, then we surely aren’t teaching. The Holocaust is stressed in History Classes all over our nation, because we teach the past to never relive it in the future. Well, we as a country need spiritual growth. And I am not afraid to say it. I am not saying that this could have thwarted my addiction preemptively, because it couldn’t have in me. But it may in someone else. What if we put as much effort into the homeless, rather than looking in disgust?
 
What if we stood up together for a cause and raised our voice, rather than keeping silent ? How about we care as much about those we don’t know, as those we do. And share the beauty in our life, to pass on to those who don’t ever get to see that. I am only grateful when I prove it. Like I said, none of this came naturally to me, so I had to be taught. 
 
Look, I have made mistakes and done shit I’m not proud of. Even in sobriety. Being a good person wasn’t just in my nature, I had to learn first I didn’t want to be a bad person. But it all starts with a day. One day I was a drug addict, and the next I wasn’t. One day I was a thief, and the next I wasn’t. Progress, not perfection is what we claim. I dedicate myself to growth. And I want the same for our country. We are a nation founded on breaking the rules and taking the road less traveled. So maybe we should. Together. There will always be drugs, but together we can help those who aren’t able to help themselves. Speak up. Let’s mandate Narcan in our states and save lives. Let’s teach not just the dangers of drugs, but the dangers of selfishness. We cannot prevent, but we can help. No more prisons for the sick and suffering, its time for programs.
 
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JS