Substance Abuse and Society IEdit
To the TopEdit
Substance Abuse and Society I
This ebook is dedicated to Barbara Boggs Sigmund, the late mayor of Princeton, New Jersey, my home town. “Laissez les bons temps rouler.” About the Dedication
How to use this book
Table of Contents Edit
Chapter I - Drugs - What are they?
Chapter II - Who uses Drugs and why?
Chapter III - The Drugs Themselves - A nonscientific system of classification.
Chapter IV - Race, Religion, Culture and Drugs
Chapter V - Legalization - Does making drugs illegal help?
How to use this ebook: Simply click on the Table of Contents entries to go down the page or to the next page. Click on return or Return to Table of Contents entries to return. Click on the more about... entries (ma...) for definitions, to learn more about a topic, etc. Click on the return entries to return to your spot in the reading. Open a second window of this book in your browser to keep the more about... entries page available, or "on top." Vocabulary - A vocabulary is included after each chapter. The defined words are highlighted and underlined. Click on them to go to their definition.
This ebook will be useful to: 1. Those who have not yet taken drugs, but who are "at risk," and desire information that can help them make an informed choice, or resist peer pressure to begin. 2. Those who are experienced and regular drug users, but who have encountered lifestyle and/or legal problems with using alcohol and/or drugs, and need support in permanently ending their drug habit. 3. Those who restrict their use of drugs/substances to the "lesser evils" of alcohol, nicotine, caffeine (beer, cigarettes and coffee, for example) and "over the counter" drugs, but who are nonetheless experiencing or anticipating health problems as a result. 4. Those whose loved one(s), friend(s), child(ren) or parent(s) is (are) or was (were) a drug or substance user(s), abuser(s) or addict(s). 5. Those who are placed in a role of support, trust, or dependency, such as parents, teachers and other caretakers, or students and other dependents. 6. Lawmakers or those whose job it is to advise legislators and lawmakers. 7. Law enforcement officers, medical personnel and doctors, attorneys and drug counselors.
Introduction Much has been written about recreational and addictive illegal drugs. The teenager has for decades been warned of the dangers of participating in the use of street drugs, ma... and counseled to avoid intoxicants such as alcohol, even as these have become an inseparable part of the ritual of growing up and coming of age. Yet drug use increases, affecting younger age groups such as pre-teens and infants, and promises to become the leading social and political issue in the United States in the not too distant future. Drug use has penetrated the Mayor’s office of the nation’s capital city, and perhaps even the Oval Office. Resistance to drug dealers’ propaganda is at an all-time low. Most children who are "at risk" smoke their first joint before the age of twelve. ma... Still, the amount of information concerning drugs and drug use is widely available, and another book about the subject may seem superfluous to many.
This work is unusual in two aspects. First, it has been written as an electronic course, an e-course, bringing its message and information to the computer user, among whom the young rank first in virtuosity and enthusiasm. Then also, this work is meant to be primarily an informative and realistic work, arming the intelligent reader with facts and theories so that they may better make the choices which will result in their actual lives. It is a kind of “dangers of the deep” advisory, not a “no swimming allowed” posting. People, especially the young and brave, will swim wherever they want despite posted warnings. But if by reading the words written on these electronic pages, the “swimmer” is able to resist or even avoid altogether one common hazard of growing up in America, the purpose of this ebook will be served.
It might here be warned that the book is written reflectively, that is after many years of experience, education and thought, and with the purpose of encouraging its readers to think. Therefore, the author asks the reader not to skip over material they think unimportant or redundant. Each and every word is calculated to empower them with reason so that they may offer effective opposition to those who would attempt to goad or trick them into trying drugs. Hopefully, the user of this e-course might also lead their friends and acquaintances who they suspect may be using or considering using drugs or alcohol to this electronic document, where they may be convinced to join those of us who are determined to live out our lives soberly - without resorting to the use of mind-bending or mood-altering chemicals - whatever our hardships or disabilities.
Chapter I - Drugs - What are they?Edit
Depending upon your source of information, illegal or street drugs are mind-bending poisons, pleasurable pastimes, pick-me-ups, social lubricants, food, pain killers (especially emotional painkillers), or ritualistic intoxicants meant to lift the user to a higher plain of consciousness. How could one word have so many different meanings and connotations?
First, every recreational and addictive drug or combination of drugs has a unique chemical formula. They are formulated to alter human behavior and sensation, and to cause aberrances of thought and feeling. Though most impair performance, and some even harm outlook and reduce excitement, that does not diminish the desire of the young to experiment with or use them. Sometimes they cause “goofs,” ma... that is hysterical outbursts of uncontrollable laughter. Other times they cause the kind of passive collapse which invites sexual advances. When stimulants are taken, the user may exploit the tremendous though temporary physical energy that results to accomplish a disagreeable task. Driving long distances and writing a term paper are two examples of such tiring chores which invite the use of illegal stimulants, or "uppers."
Illegal drugs are biologically active chemicals (biochemicals), causing their effect through partially poisoning the mind and central nervous system, or by stimulating or depressing the motor and nervous functions of the body. The words which describe them and their effects (intoxicant and intoxicate) have at their roots the word "toxic," which means poisonous or inimicable to life and life-processes. Many poisons will have intoxicating effects when ingested at a sub-lethal levels. Arsenic, ether, absinthe and the deadly Deathcap mushroom are among some of the poisonous substances that have been in the past used widely as stimulants or stupefacients. Chronic or heavy drug use, like chronic or near-fatal poisoning, may result in permanent disabilities, such as palsy, dementia or coma, which is a deep state of unconsciousness from which there is often no return. Without medical intervention, complete or fatal poisoning results in death, and drug use may have fatal consequences. The term used to describe a fatality or near-fatality caused by an excessive dosage of drugs is “overdose” or “drug overdose,” and for alcohol, complete poisoning is called “alcohol poisoning.” The symptoms of alcohol poisoning are a deep unconsciousness or coma, a faint or erratic pulse, and an inability to breathe. Stimulants and system shock drugs cause what toxicologists and medical personnel call cardiovascular failure when used in fatal quantities. The heart and circulatory system give out under the extreme stress of the stimulants, and the drug overdose victim's heart goes into arrest. An overdose of opiates and barbiturates may depress the cortical ma...reflex system so deeply, that the victim fails to breathe when stimulated to do so by the rise of the level of carbon dioxide in their blood. In many cases of drug overdose, without prompt medical intervention the outcome is the death or permanent incapacitation of the overdose victim. The substance ingested through eating, drinking, smoking or intravenously by hypodermic syringe, whether for recreation, stimulation or because of an addiction, has totally or fatally poisoned the user.
Illegal drugs and other intoxicants are never nourishing in the sense that foods are. Though foods may be consumed in such excess that the result is grogginess and near intoxication, and sometimes places where drugs may be available also sell foods, these are coincidental or tangential issues, and not core to the issues that the sale and use of illegal, addictive and intoxicating drugs raise. These have no nutritional value whatsoever, and almost always deplete the body of vital nutrients through excessive stimulation, or by "deceiving" the user into believing their need for nourishing food has been fulfilled when nothing of nutritional substance has passed their lips, and in fact their digestion may actually have been ruined. For example, alcohol, by impairing the function of the liver, depletes the body of glycogen, a product of that organ, causing a need for other sources of this essential body fuel, Heavy drinkers sometimes meet the need by consuming excessive quantities of red meat, a rich source of glycogen. This sets up the heavy alcohol user for more health problems, as a diet overloaded with meat contributes to obesity and heart disease. In other cases herbal stimulants are used to dull hunger pangs. Coca leaves are chewed by the natives of the Andean Mountains to obtain this effect. As a result, they may fall prey to a panoply of vitamin, protein and mineral deficiencies, even though the lime used with the coca leaf does break down the leaf releasing the vitamins and minerals contained in it. Users of cocaine, marijuana and other popular drugs may also experience nutritional problems caused by their ignoring their dietary needs in favor of the drugs they are abusing.
Glossary for Chapter 1 (Scroll down for all entries) Aberrance (ah-BEAR-ent-see), aberrant - not normal, erratic, deviant, straying, irrational. Aberrant behavior is behavior which is senseless, usually anti-social, and defies rational control. Abysnthe, arsenic, ether - These three poisons were popular in the last century among various user groups. The French used absinthe and arsenic, while ether was popular for a time with the Irish, who drank it. Ether, like beer, bloats the stomach and gives the drinker a feeling of a full stomach when they may have eaten nothing. In famine-plagued Ireland, this was a popular selling point for the substance. Arsenic may be used as a stimulant as well as a dangerous poison, and absinthe, a drink made from wormwood, a poisonous plant, was generally used in addition to and as a more potent and poisonous alternative to alcohol. Almost any poison can also be used as an intoxicant or stupefacient (stoop-i-FAY-shint). Jimson weed, also known as loco weed, strychnine, benzene, nearly anything poisonous will make the user feel "high" as well as sick when ingested. Society is concerned for those who abuse any and every poison they can get their hands on, especially the young. However, intoxicants which give their users pleasurable feelings and require the user to abuse them repeatedly and indefinitely to avoid becoming very ill are of much more concern to substance abuse authorities and social and political leaders. The fact that the Mafia assists in the widespread distribution of these addictive narcotics, the which readily cause physical and psychological dependencies should also be a matter of great concern to the general public. Addictive - Addiction requires that the addict must return to using the addictive substance again and again to feel normal. Ceasing use of the addictive substance will result in sickness and/or cravings for the substance. Because the science of addiction is relatively new, and cravings may be of any cause and are hard to "pin down," both to prove and to quantify, many addictive drugs have, in the past, escaped being labeled as such. Nicotine is one. Caffeine is another. THC (marijuana) is a third. Alcohol is addictive for many people. All of these alter human physiology when taken over a period of time, and should their user discontinue use, they will experience both cravings and illness (withdrawal) until they have resumed using the substance, or the body has rebuilt its supply of the natural substance replaced by the drug, and resumed the physiology which the abused substance subverted. Drug cravings and addictions are caused because the body will fail to produce various natural substances when not instructed to do so by a deficit communicated to the appropriate gland by the nervous system. The addictive drug masks the deficit, and fills or overfills the physiological need for the substance in identical or sufficient ways. When deprived of the drug, the illness that results is exactly the same as might be the case if the user had a natural deficit of the substance the drug imitates or replaces, such as might be caused by a medical condition or dietary insufficiency. Brain - The human brain is composed of three parts, the cerebrum, the cerebellum and the medulla. The brain stem or hypothalamus joins the spinal cord with the brain. The cerebrum, or forebrain, contains all the interpretive functions of the brain, gathering sensory data, and making conclusions based upon that data and the memory of other sensory data. The cerebellum contains the stretch reflex, balance integration, any and all motor control functions. These act to keep the body balanced and symmetrical, essential to quick starts, stops and reversals, and fast and efficient motion in any direction. The medulla, situated below the cerebellum, governs the behavior of the heart and circulatory system. The adrenal cortex, which secrets adrenaline, sits on top of the medulla. The pineal gland, sometimes called the third eye, is located at the top and back of the head and senses day and night, secreting melatonin to govern the all-important sleep period. The brain also contains other bodies of cells which secrete various enzymes and hormones, including serotinin, epinephrine and nor-epinephrine, the biochemicals which act as a neuro-transmitters, the on-off switches between neurons, or nerve cells. This is a vastly simplified picture of the human brain, however it reflects the unity of life processes, since every motile (moving) organism which has arisen through evolution from the worm onward, contains a nervous system incorporating the functions of the human brain in some degree, no matter how fractional. Coincidental - Occurring with or at the same time, but without a linking cause. Coma - A state of deep unconsciousness from which there is often no return. The sufferer may succumb to starvation as a result. However, if kept nourished intravenously, the comatose individual may remain alive indefinitely. Sometimes such a person is called a "vegetable," from the technical phrase of "being in a vegetative state," meaning "comatose." Consciousness - 1. The state of being awake, aware and alert. He was conscious, or he was awake and conscious of his surroundings. Opposite of unconscious or oblivious. He was awake and conscious of his surroundings. 2. A kind of thought that remains, while the mind continues to occupy itself, processing other information or ideas. Conscious of guilt, conscious of it being right or wrong, conscious of being American, etc. Cravings - Understanding cravings is an essential prerequisite to understanding the problem of drug abuse. Cravings are irritating, nervous conditions which may be caused by any appetitive need, including those of sexuality. Vitamin or protein deficiencies, glandular deficiencies, even lack of exercise, fresh air and sunshine may all cause cravings. Cravings are a "specific hunger," "an itch which can't be scratched." Many times the resort of the sufferer is to substances which either act anesthetically, or which otherwise stop the craving short of fulfilling the biological need of the sufferer. Since almost all deficiency cravings are slow to repair due to the inflexibility of diet (among emigres, national or native food preferences remain even after language, dress and even choices for sexual partners have changed in favor of the customs of their new homelands), the choice of first resort of most uninformed sufferers is to a anesthetizing drug, one that will dull or mask the craving. Alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, cocaine, heroin and others "fit the bill" for the sufferer of cravings. These drugs create cravings of their own when they subvert human physiology by replacing vital substances, and trick the body into reducing or shutting down their natural manufacture. When these new cravings can only be satisfied by taking the drug again, and the illness repaired or symptoms alleviated, it is said that the user has become addicted. Moral authorities have in the past equated cravings with external irritants and hardships, such as cold, wet, heat, etc. They usually hold that these are to be resisted through acts of will, or the causes may be assuaged or satisfied through sacrifices of faith, charity and the workings of the other virtues. Only recently has science identified some cravings as symptomatic of underlying medical conditions caused by dietary deficiencies. Individuals lacking dietary sources of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, niacin, thiamine and protein will show the results in the following ways. Vitamin C deficiency may cause scurvy, where the teeth fall out and bones become brittle, thiamine deficiency causes pellagra, whose symptoms are skin disorders, Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets, a condition where the bones of the legs are too weak to remain straight under the stress of standing or walking, and a curved or bowlegged posture is the result, niacin deficiency causes beriberi, protein deficiency causes kwashiorkor and iron deficiency causes anemia. Dementia - A deterioration of the brain, especially the forebrain, or the part of the brain required for speech, reason, etc., so that it can no longer make the body act or respond normally, reason, or function as it should. Incompetence. Depress, depressed - 1. Lower or suppress the vital function. 2. A lowered psychological affect or general outlook. Pessimism, lack of mental energy, enthusiasm and reduced drive and ambition. Drugs - Drugs are usually thought of as either legal or medicinal in nature, or of the class that are used for the purpose of obtaining a "high" or becoming intoxicated, the so-called illegal or street drugs. In this course, the word drugs will almost always be taken to mean those substances or biochemicals which are ingested to obtain a feeling of intoxication or stupefaction for a period of time. Depending on the drug or combination of drugs taken, the user may experience freedom from physical and emotional pain, stimulation, heightened consciousness, hallucinations, dizziness, hunger, fear and paranoia, panic, etc. Palsy - Uncontrollable shaking. Recreational drugs - Recreational drugs is a term coined by drug pushers to facilitate the distribution of an illegal substance among those seeking "time off." The word was invented specifically for the purpose of marketing a kind of amphetamine known as ecstasy or x, to college-age people. Ecstasy is widely used by young people in Israel, Holland and the U.S., wherever there are party-goers who want to stay up and alert for long periods of time. Using ecstasy, particularly over an extended period of time, is an extremely dangerous practice since it raises body temperature, and may "cook" the human brain, causing temporary or permanent cerebral failure, and in some cases, death. Ritual, ritualistic - Practiced gestures, utterances and acts carried out by participants or devotees, usually with a leader, while specially garbed, groomed, or otherwise prepared. Tangential - Not core or essential to the issue or subject matter.
Chapter II - Who uses Drugs and why?Edit
Those who sell drugs on the street aren’t naive. They sometimes come from “the school of hard knocks,” and have survived bitter, disappointing and even traumatic childhoods. The optimistic and hopeful pictures painted by the protagonists of “the American way” found no reflection in the mirrors of their lives. To survive without marketable skills, or with no place to market the skills that they had, they could do only one thing to make substantial amounts of money. That was to sell drugs.
They found the market a willing one. Teens and pre-teens from all ranks of society, and for many reasons, seek out escapes and mood modifiers. It is a tough time in life. “Go away to college,” “Get a job,” “Move out of the house,” “He’s your child,” “No, he’s yours,” the voices of parents and other elders echo in their ears. And whatever the teenager's responses and choices, the results are disproportionately huge in terms of the effects they will have on the rest of their lives.
So the drug dealer, usually a hardened user himself, and the recreational or escapist user come together on street corners, behind the high school playing fields, or in downtown fast-food franchises, to make the transactions that may grant the drug user a temporary escape from hell, or be the mistake that will change the rest of their life, and make the imagined hard work and pain of the future just a memory, a dream that will fade before medical bills, court appearances, child care and support issues, or even the painful show of a funeral. The young person has substituted one choice for many, the decision to use dangerous and illegal substances for the tedium of learning the issues of life, and reasoning them out. Sometimes peer pressure has played a part in encouraging a newcomer to start down the road of drug use. A rumor circulates that a star football player smoked a joint of marijuana at a party, or used “X,” and the demand for those drugs escalates as his admirers seek to emulate him. Other times, the user might have overheard their parents reminiscing or quietly discussing the days when they smoked marijuana and got high. They may still, for that matter. The youngster seeks out others who, like them, are so predisposed, and they search for a supplier. Perhaps a very bright but reclusive tenth-grader is in need of spending money, and sees his opportunity to run a small drug ring at school. Less the risks both to the user and the seller, selling drugs may seem to him to be just another retail business. It takes some business acumen as well as the boldness to dally with the criminal elements of the community, but otherwise nearly anyone can do it. The high school dealer is given nods and winks by his buddies and others who appreciate the ease with which they can “score” drugs in school. However, despite his new-found popularity, the large amount of drugs that he normally “carries” ma... ensures that his own use of his product will cause him a crippling addiction or psychological dependency, and his dreamed and hoped for college career might well be transformed into a lifelong relationship with the correctional institution of the state he finds himself in after leaving his high school, home and hometown.
While casual ma... users experiment and make their life-choices, choices which are almost always made with the intent of taking them up and away from their homes and high schools, the drug dealers, often entrenched in their communities by the same adverse circumstances that resulted in their initial choices to use and sell drugs, bicker with their suppliers, the drug wholesalers and importers who are almost certainly either organized crime “families” or Mafia, or in contact with such. Mafia gangs are composed of dedicated or career criminals who band together for the purpose of promoting or undertaking criminal activities. Usually a family engages in a specialty, such as hijacking, protection, loan-sharking, or gambling and other vices. They may be involved in legitimate businesses as well, such as waste disposal, the construction industry, or the trade unions, sometimes to "launder" profits gained through more vicious activities. Drugs were, until thirty or forty years ago, despised by the major Mafia families ma...as an unacceptable avenue of criminal endeavor. The old-style "Dons" were afraid of being perceived as "pushers," making dangerous drugs available to high school and college kids through financing and backing wholesale smuggling and distribution. But financial considerations won out, and Mafia newcomers either shrugged the bad press or twisted it to their advantage, and now organized crime groups of every ethnicity and race compete to control and monopolize the various aspects of the drug trade.
A relatively small percentage of illegal drugs are either smuggled by free-lancers, grown for sale in this country, or “homegrown.” Drug users will most likely be supporting and collaborating with organized crime and criminals when purchasing or using illegal drugs. These will be as quick to resort to murder and terror to uphold their turf and collect what is owed them, as to shake hands or say “hello.” “Why can’t you sell more?” “Who are the narcs?” “What drugs are the kids looking for?” The crime bosses make the answers to these questions their business, and set their underlings, intermediaries and even their own children to working on increasing and securing the wholesale distribution of illegal drugs. They rationally calculate the risks of drug dealing, and imagine ways of augmenting demand for their product, many times from the security of nice houses in good neighborhoods, frequently using no more than a glass of wine or a few beers to obtain their own relaxation and recreation.
Before the Mafia began to participate in the drug trade, the largest amount of drug use in America was through the smoking of marijuana. The drug was usually brought in from Mexico for consumption by users within the Mexican-American community, and sometimes grown and consumed by Afro-Americans whose use of the herb predates their arrival in this country. Similarly, opium was likely to be found in the Chinese-American neighborhoods, while refined opiates, such as morphine, were confined to the druggists’ shelves. However, the profitability and economic potential of the drug trade became evident to organized crime interests during the Sixties when youthful rebellion was at a peak, and a vast, middle-class drug market began to open up. ma...
It was then that the first large shipments of Mexican marijuana in bricks or keys (for kilos) were attempted. These truckloads of pot found their way into the cities of the North and both Coasts, and were soon converted into bundles of cash. Criminal entrepreneurs then discovered that they could work the same profit-making magic with heroin, and the use of that drug, too, became epidemic. In those days (the Sixties and Seventies) cocaine was scarce and expensive and used primarily by the wealthy, or sometimes by athletes who valued it for its stimulative "kick." Without reliable ways to bring it to market from the remote mountains where the raw material for the drug, the coca leaf, could be grown and processed, it remained a rare luxury in the massive market for illegal drugs. Then, a new wave of South American drug lords based in the Colombian city of Medellin arose, and made the decision to emulate the systematic and violent ways of the American Mafia. Cocaine was cheapened, popularized, and finally made into the ultimate street fix, the five-dollar “rock” of crack, a smokable dose of cocaine that sends its user soaring for all of five minutes, but creates a dependency or addiction that can be, and usually is, life-destroying.
Once the South Americans proved that they could with impunity tread the same "turf" that the American Mafia once ruled unchallenged, Hispanic and black street criminals, for decades despised as mere street hoods and opportunistic criminals by the Mafia, began to emulate, imitate and even exceed the traditional overlords of organized crime, both in their organization and methods. They began producing glossy magazines glorifying the gangsters' lifestyle, financially backing music, clothing and other cultural artifacts in support of a criminal lifestyle, writing and directing films aimed at their growing following, and making forays into the world of politics.
Street gangs had always been a fact of life in the big cities, but drug gangs, hoodlums intent upon making money peddling the drug imports of the Mafia at the neighborhood level, proliferated beginning in the Seventies and Eighties. These have spread from the cities to the countryside, and today their influence is felt in the most remote parts of the country, even on Indian Reservations. School authorities in rural counties now find their greatest problem is not that of truancy caused by children being needed on the farm, the traditional complaint of educators in a rural and farm-based economy, but rather the inroads being made by hardened and organized city criminals, skilled at manipulating both the police and the courts, savvy about court proceedings and the contents of law books, quick to resort to lethal violence, and bent upon spreading the scourge of drugs.
Where rural youth might have formerly found the cash they needed to purchase an automobile by working for a farmer and bringing in the crop, now they find an equal amount of money carrying a stolen lawnmower or electric generator to a drug dealer. They might get a “bag of pot” in exchange, enough for themselves, and some to roll into joints and sell to friends and acquaintances. High school football and basketball games become a drug market as drug gang members eye up new prospects, and deals are made for the future. Word is quietly passed in whispers and gestures as to who is most vulnerable, such as by this one’s parents being out of work, or those because they are suffering the bias sometimes heaped upon Native Americans, Afro-Americans, or certain ethnicities. These young people, already challenged by circumstances, will be the ones targeted by the drug gangs. The girls can be persuaded to give sexual favors in exchange for drugs, while the boys might become “runners” and high school hallway dealers to finance their drug habits.
Even “good kids” from middle-class backgrounds are examined for weaknesses which might give them a reason to break with traditional family, community and school authorities and experiment with drugs. One might be watched for the effect that his parents’ divorce is having upon him. Another might simply suffer from an undiagnosed learning disorder, such as dyslexia, and this might be picked up on the street or in the classroom by his peers. His frustration might easily convert into a predisposition to use drugs, and this won't be lost on the drug pushers and their suppliers. Romantic frustrations are another of the factors which drive youth to try mind-numbing intoxicants. This two-centuries old poem by William Wordsworth is illustrative of the damage that may be done to a young person's life through romantic entanglement and parental neglect. Whatever the attraction that gangs exert on the young, it is certain that they seize what opportunities afforded them to expand their influence in society through taking advantage of feelings of powerlessness, despair and hopelessness felt by the young. Teenagers and pre-teens, though least equipped to cope with the mounting challenges life poses, are expected to meet or exceed all standards that society holds for young adults, thinking like their elders whether or not they share similar circumstances, goals or opportunities. This dichotomy or split may be at the roots of the proverbial "generation gap," once the daily bread of social commentators and commentary, a theme rarely far from the front page of the second section of most newspapers.
Alcohol consumption by elders is another of the traditional reasons for drug use by young people. The picture of parents and their friends slurring their words and reeling with the effects of alcohol consumption, or turning in idiotic circles after a few drinks, frightens almost any child. When, by contrast, they see the cool and collected manner of the user of pot after taking a dose, the seeds of a lifelong dependency might be planted. At one time, before marijuana was bred into the high-potency drug that it is today, it was hoped that cannabis sativa might prove to be a cure for alcoholism. Fortunately or not, that possibility never materialized as continued marijuana use created new problems for its users - dependency, irritability and even psychosis. The promise of a panacea, a cure-all, always hangs like a shadow over the world of the drug user, and dealers and drug makers will never discourage the rumors and whispers that one illegal drug or another is "good" for something, besides just getting high.(ma...)
While school kids use marijuana and other illegal drugs for recreational or rebellious reasons, others use them for their magical or sacred properties. The Native American churches might use peyote, the bud of a cactus plant which causes hallucinations, or Afro-American spiritualists smoke marijuana before consulting the spirits of the departed. Though they may not consider the drugs they use to be innocuous, they are culturally bound to ingest them in consummation of their obligation to mediate between this world and the next, the present and that which is to come, the ordinary and the supernatural. Psychoactive drugs may temporarily open new connections between the subconscious and the conscious, and through drug-induced dreams and visions, buried thoughts and lost images of the world might be recovered and recognized for new meanings.
Nausea, mental discomfort and dependency are for the ritual users regrettable side-effects, and though recognized as nuisances, tolerated. Further, the discipline that they must show as spiritual mediums or shamans lessens the chances of their acting irresponsibly in the use of the psychoactive substances which they have chosen or been taught to use. Neither do they normally as a matter of choice obtain their supplies through channels which lead to organized crime or violent criminals.
Besides the teenager seeking recreation, refuge and escape, and the shaman or spiritual medium opening doors to the subconscious, there are also those suffering from emotional pain who may seek the often temporary and false shelter that some biologically active chemicals may provide. These will most frequently misuse alcohol, painkillers and downers or sedatives, such as barbiturates or opiates, and may end up with lifelong addictions. The reason their drug dependencies are so intractable is that they have addressed the pain they are experiencing itself, and ignored its causes. This pattern of behavior may be so self-reinforcing that it will continue indefinitely, and they will lose what opportunities they might have had to “learn” their way out of their pain by changing their lifestyle, or accept new non-drug dependent therapies, such as meditation and psychotherapy. Heroin is the most dangerous and addictive of the painkilling narcotics, ma... but alcohol, everywhere and easily available, might just as easily create a complex of physiological dependency or addiction, compounding personal problems, and leading to financial and physical ruin when taken in sufficient quantities over a period of time.
One kind of pain, not ordinarily recognized as such, is depression and feelings of low self-esteem. ma... This complex of conditions related through a resulting pessimistic and bleak outlook, is extremely hard to treat, whether through traditional psychotherapy or chemical therapies. With subtle psychological reasoning, the depressive may behave defensively and adaptively, evading "reasonable" cures and solutions. In some cases, depressives may offer resistance to the most extreme result of depression, which is suicide, through "diving" into the world of drugs. The intervention of both psychiatry and antidrug counseling may be counter-productive and trigger a suicide attempt, since the intent of the sufferer of depression is addaptive. They seek to modify their current lifestyle in favor of one that is more appropriate to their sense of themselves, and are seeking the senseless and destructive effects of drug use to rid themselves of their high ideals and ambitions, and divorce them from the high standards which stand in stark contrast to their depressive feelings.
Depressives may be most driven to harm themselves when they find themselves in surroundings which might be termed materially, rationally, and even religiously high, excellent, or perfect places. It is as if the clash between the way they feel about themselves and life and the reality of their surroundings is too great to bear. Rather than be uplifted by society's high standards, the depressive is actually destroyed. The result is a chronic, nearly insufferable despondency and the result is that the depressive shuns their surroundings, and may attempt to destroy their connection with them, such as by abusing illegal drugs and alcohol, "burning" money, wasting property, or otherwise ruining or harming themselves.
Of all the forms of drug dependency, that of the depressive is the most dangerous to treat. And those who try to “put themselves in the shoes” of the depressive risk the possibility of experiencing the same feelings of loss of self-worth, and concluding that they, too, have nothing to live for. It is the strongest drugs that offer attractions to the depressive, such as heroin and crack cocaine. Cocaine delivers a jolt or shock to the nervous system which jet-propels the user out of their malaise, however temporarily, while heroin obtains for its user a "rush" of pleasurable sensation that obscures all other feelings.
Depressives are not alone in being "rushed to the psychiatrist's couch" when detected trying to treat or self-medicate themselves by using drugs. In fact, every other form of drug abuse is also treated through psychiatry. The reason for this is simple. A state of drug intoxication is not conducive to rational thought and thinking processes. Anyone, whether user, dealer, or enabler, would admit to that. However, both our educational and occupational systems are based upon European verbal reasoning, with its roots in the works of Plato, Aristotle and other classics of the Ancient Greeks. The Greeks taught the art and science of logical reason to the Romans, and the Romans carried their teachings throughout Europe. Classical reasoning isn't necessarily "right," but without a mutual meeting ground in Western logic or reason, those ordinarily assigned the task of counseling young people in educational and occupational matters (high school guidance counselors, teachers, etc.) are left with no direction to point their student-clients - nothing to suggest - since the drug user has, as a matter of fact and act, forsworn reason and logic through their use of drugs. The psychiatrist or psychiatric specialist is best equipped by Western science, logic and medical lore to offer advice to such a person concerning life problems, developmental issues and drug use. In fact, aside from drug professionals, they are the only individuals educated and trained to do so.
Another form of drug abuse, one having nothing to do with the desire to "get high" or escape, is the use and abuse of amphetamines for the purpose of losing weight. In our fashion-conscious society, it is imperative for many women that they don't gain a pound more than they have to. Drugs, particularly the amphetamines, offer a "painless" way to diet. Unfortunately, the same dependencies that other drug users experience with their chosen substances afflict the diet-pill addict. Nutrition should be another concern for those using diet pills, since the vitamins necessary to live an active lifestyle are foregone with the meals that are skipped in favor of pills. There does exist a class of substances, loosely termed metabolites, that do cause their users to lose weight through raising energy levels. These are amino acids and related compounds that work by "feeding the fires" of metabolism at the cellular level. They are nutritional supplements, the same elements found in certain nourishing foods, and should not be confused with amphetamines and other uppers.
Finally, there is the user who has no choice but to use drugs. How can this be, the reader may ask. After all, everyone has some control over what goes into their bodies. Anyone can say no, sooner or later. Infants in utero, or unborn children still living inside the womb, must consume that which their mother consumes. Whether she takes drugs directly, or is exposed to them through secondhand smoke, her unborn infant will experience the same dosages that she does as the chemicals cross the placental barrier. Should the mother smoke crack, her child will be born crack-addicted. The same goes for heroin. Marijuana will also have effects on the unborn, not the most serious of which is that the child will grow up with subconscious cravings for the drug. Others who have no choice are those who live in houses or apartments where drugs are taken by smoking. These inhale the secondhand smoke, and its effect, though not as great as that had by the user, may be pronounced. Those so affected might be siblings, children and other family members. The results might include a fall-off in performance at school and trouble on the playground, or even use, addiction or dependency in imitation or emulation of the drug user.
The story of the unwilling use of drugs by infants through second-hand smoke and mother’s milk, and by in utero babies through placental exchange, is perhaps the saddest chapter in a tragic tale. The identification by the baby of drugs with the nourishing substances of the mother creates problems that will accompany the child as it grows, perhaps even for its entire life. The child will probably also be born underweight, weak and malnourished as a result of the tremendous physiological demands placed on the mother by crack or other drugs which she may ingest during pregnancy, as well as the tendency of those ingesting all kinds of drugs to substitute their effects for the satisfactions of nourishing food. ma...Alcohol similarly affects unborn children, and the fetal alcohol syndrome was finally recognized a little over a decade ago. Before then, it had been mistaken for Mongoloidism, a genetic defect, and children suffering from the slight retardation typical of FAS children were treated as retarded.
It is a sad fact that individuals suffering from exposure to drugs as in utero infants may experience cognitive, or learning problems, as well as other behavioral difficulties from infancy, on. When drug dealers sell their dope to expectant mothers, they are wrecking not only the mother’s health and life-prospects, but also ruining the chances of her unborn infant to grow into a healthy and happy child. The same may be said for who supply alcohol to pregnant women. When an expectant mother drinks, is not only their own health that they injure or impair, but the life-chances and prospects of their still unborn children, as well.
Glossary for Chapter 2 (Scroll down for all entries) Adverse - Hostile or unfriendly, troublesome Carries - A dealer or user "carries" or "holds" his drug. Keeps it in inventory or stocks it. Collaborating - Cooperating with . Endeavor - Undertaking, effort Entrepreneurs - Persons who are seeking to make a profit by combining or bringing together various business resources, such as labor, capital, land and market. Freelancers - Individuals who are acting by and for themselves. Unorganized or independents. Usually marijuana growers in this country are freelancers. Some cocaine is also smuggled by freelancers, since the return on relatively small amounts is so great, and very profitable quantities of the drug may be carried on the smuggler's person, through airports, etc. In utero - A medical term used to describe the human fetus during its nine months in the mother's womb. Infant in utero. Infant in utero - Human child within the womb. Intermediaries - Go betweens, runners. Irrevocably - Without the possibility of undoing or going back. Mood modifiers - Substances whose chief effect is not to "get one high" or "stoned," but to alter one's mood, either brightening it or depressing it. Mafia - Originally the name of the secret societies which more or less governed Sicily and Southern Italy, especially all criminal undertakings in those parts. More recently the term has come to mean any criminal gang which is organized hierarchically, dresses in suits or other white collar wear), comports themselves as businessmen, and engages in planned criminal activity, such as drug distributing. Prone to use violence, especially murder and terror. More about... Naive - Clueless, ignorant, uninformed, without knowledge. Placental, placenta, placental barrier - The placenta is a permeable tissue that allows oxygen and nutrients to cross from the mother's bloodstream to her in utero or embryonic infant's bloodstream. It contains blood vessels belonging both to the mother and the infant, but these are never joined, and the infant's heart is responsible for moving its blood, while the mother's heart is responsible for pumping hers. Drugs, viruses and other harmful substances may cross the placental barrier. Protection - In center cities, slums, ghettos, etc., wherever police protection is undependable and the Mafia is well-entrenched, they may offer "protection" from the criminal elements of the community to merchants unable to depend upon the police for the same. The Mafia is known for its ability to suppress opportunistic crime, that is muggings, break-ins, drug robberies, etc. This ironic role, one usually reserved for the police in most societies, was one of their traditional roles in Sicily. However, they charge merchants, landlords anyone else with the ability to pay as much as they can for the service. Furthermore, if the store-keepers and other beneficiaries of their "public service" do not go along with the plan, may put them out of business, or otherwise harm them. Protagonists - Those who espouse or believe in something. Rush - A sense of being overcome by the effects of the drug. Dizziness, pleasure, contentment, these feelings must be overwhelming to call it a "rush." Score - Drug users "score" drugs. Slang for "buy." "Cop" may also be used in that sense, though infrequently. I'm going to score some drugs. Sicilian - Sicily is the island beneath the toe of the Italian peninsula, between Europe and Africa. About one-quarter the size of Cuba, it was in very ancient times a rich and fertile agricultural land. By the days of the Roman Empire it was overpopulated and exhausted by warfare between the Greeks and the Carthaginians. It became the first addition outside of Italy proper to the Roman Empire. Roman rule was harsh. The good land suitable for growing wheat was expropriated, and the Sicilians were enslaved. They arose in rebellion twice, and twice were defeated. The island remained subject to Rome until the Arab invasion of the Eight-Hundreds, and then was retaken by Christendom two-hundred years later through the efforts of the Norman adventurers and crusaders. Since that time, Sicily has been almost entirely under Spanish rule (eight-hundred years). At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, the Spanish Empire collapsed, and Sicily became autonomous. It joined with Italy when that country was created out of many city-states by Giuseppi Garibaldi. It is now considered an autonomous region of Italy. Unfortunately, because it has for so many centuries been a people and country ruled by outsiders, it developed at an early date a culture of secrecy and silent resistance, mostly to the government constituted by Rome, first the Empire and then the city which is the seat of the Papacy. The secret society that grew to lead this resistant has more recently embraced criminal activities as a means of financing its activities and enriching its members. Among these are drug smuggling. Currently the Sicilian Mafia enjoys wide currency among the Europeans, and is reputed to number among its associates and beneficiaries the President of Italy, Signor Brunneleschi. More about... Subconscious - While the conscious part of the brain governs the motor or muscular activities of the body where there is need and intent to act, and, as well, is responsible for reasoning, the subconscious determines in large part how we feel, what we believe, our emotions and other hidden mental processes. The subconscious may be unknown to the conscious, and revealed only in signs and dreams. The extent of the subconscious is unknown, and always expanding. Telepathy (the crossing of space with thoughts, images and words) is one of the paranormal phenomena whose causes remain hidden in the subconscious. Much that is behavioral, especially as it pertains to human social behavior, is confined to the subconscious. This is especially important to political scientists and others who study social behavior. The subconscious probably contains elements in common with the mental processes of the lower animals, one explanation of its strong symbolic content. Traumatic - In psychiatry or psychology, an event or events that are so disruptive of ordinary social and psychological processes and norms that the effects are long-lasting, even permanent. Almost always used with a bad or negative meaning. A traumatic childhood is one which leaves the one traumatized "scarred for life." The destruction of the World Trade Center traumatized almost everyone involved. In medicine, trauma is taken to mean great, life-threatening injury. The hospital's trauma center received the burn victims from the World Trade Center attack.
Chapter III - The Drugs Themselves - A nonscientific system of classification.Edit
Street and recreational drugs are notoriously impure. The active ingredient may have a distinct and discreet scientific formula, such as marijuana’s THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, but it is certain that both drug substances that occur in plants naturally, and those manufactured in illegal laboratories will be replete with related compounds, called analogs, and many contaminants. Sometimes they are harmless, and other times the contaminants can contribute to adverse side-effects, and increase the poisoning of the human biological system. The benzene used to make bazooka, a kind of roughly refined cocaine, can lead to brain damage and cancer. Strychnine, a poison used to kill rats, was once popular with drug pushers, who used it to cut heroin. It so impaired the junkies who "shot up" the blend that they thought the heroin they were getting was really good.
The “cutting” of illegal psychoactive and addictive substances is commonplace, and dealers almost always act without scruples where the welfare of their clients is concerned. After all, none are regulated, rather they may be the target of law enforcement at its roughest where their illegal activities are concerned. On the other side stand pitiless organized crime figures goading them on down the path of ruin. Their main concern is to maintain silence among their drug-using customers where the police and other authorities are concerned, and give them a drug experience worth remembering. Those that continue to maintain that marijuana is a “soft” drug, a joint being no different than a beer or a glass of wine (a myth that endures from the days in the Sixties when marijuana was one-twentieth as potent as it is today and never doped with cocaine and rarely with angel dust), do not take into account the efforts of the drug pushers to enhance the potency of their product with powerful hallucinogenic or stimulative additives. At any rate, despite the impurity of street drugs, both naturally and caused by cutting and contamination, let us try to classify the drugs in as useful a manner as possible.
First, there are the depressants. This is the largest, most commonly used class of drugs since it contains alcohol, the drug of greatest antiquity. Alcohol was first encountered in the ancient Middle East as a by-product of food conservation. By adding salt and water to food, it is possible to pickle the product through encouraging the growth of bacteria which produce acetic acid, a preservative. If oxygen-bearing air is excluded, yeasts, a plant-like organism, will produce alcohol. The transformation of sugars to acetic acid, the active ingredient in the pickling process, is prevented. This was done in antiquity by covering the fermenting brew with a layer of oil. With the spread and cultivation of the grapevine throughout the Mediterranean world, wine-making became widespread and commonplace. In the north, the same process was followed using the various cold-weather grains, such as barley or rye. These were at first fermented into beers, and in later days distilled into whiskeys.
Perhaps the use of alcoholic beverages was adaptive in some instances. Many of the sources of drinking water were polluted in ancient times, both by animal and human wastes. Wells were hard to dig, as water rarely lay near the surface in the semi-arid regions where grew up the culture of the vine. By drinking wine, sometimes diluted with water, the drinker was spared the illnesses that come of drinking polluted water, including typhoid. Then, also, the effects of wine are known to lessen the dangers of hypertension as it effects the cardiovascular system. However, it is unlikely that in ancient times heart disease was the problem it is today.
Unfortunately alcohol consumption was not to remain the relatively benign pastime it once may have been, and in modern times, beginning during the Industrial Revolution of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries, manufacturers began producing large quantities of sugar and grain alcohol, which was distributed to the buying public as rum and gin. This extremely profitable business, relying both on slave labor and massive capital investment in massive distilleries, targeted the working class and poor. Gin and rum ruined many working-class families when the breadwinner squandered his week's wages in saloons and bars, or lost his job from drunkenness. Entire neighborhoods sank into ruin through the ease with which potent alcoholic beverages could be obtained by both men and women. Even children were allowed or encouraged to join in the consumption of strong drink, and bars with miniature tables and chairs were built in back-alley saloons to take the pennies of the children of the street for tiny shots of gin, rum and whiskey. The business left these tiny, precocious figures the victims of various plagues and illnesses, and no matter how they hustled to hawk newspapers or sweep the leavings of the street, they nearly invariably succumbed to opportunistic illnesses before they reached the age of twenty. The famous and remarkable painting of an English neighborhood beset by hard-core alcoholism by Hogarth depicts the ruin wrought by the consumption of hard liquor. The houses are tumbling down and widows roam the street, tearing their hair and rending their garments in despair. A lesser-known painting by the same artist depicts a neighborhood where only beer is consumed in moderate quantities, "as a food" and with food. This cityscape illustrates the non-destructive results of the benign use of this mildly intoxicating beverage. The houses are in order and the people well-dressed and content. Both paintings are remarkable examples of the moralizing use to which the English put the arts, years after the advent of the Age of Reason.
Another place where strong drink was and is popular is in the harsh wilderness of the mountains of Eastern North America. It was there in rough and forbidding terrain, amid the oak and hickory forests that provide the raw material needed to make barrels and charcoal, that the American whiskey industry began and grew to its present size. Today, thousands of people make their livings growing grain, building barrels, and driving the trucks that distribute the many brands of Kentucky bourbon and rye whiskey around the country.
Alcoholic beverages, particularly the spirits or distilled beverages, act as powerful motor and nervous system depressants. They affect judgment by supressing the intellect or superego and "freeing up" the ego and libido, that is our love of self and our appetitive drives. Though it is a depressant, the use of alcohol may stimulate or predispose one to risky, aggressive, and even violent behavior, a so-called "opposite effect." Its effects might also subvert controls such as we might place on our own behavior and that of others, causing drinkers to act in ways they would recognize as inappropriate were they sober. This propensity to extroversion and "acting out" might be taken as an invitation to engage in sexual activity under some circumstances, and the depressing effect that drink has on the intellect could lead to mental confusion, leaving the user of alcohol defenseless against unwanted sexual advances. One result might be what has come to be known as “unsafe sex,” or sex which puts one at risk of contracting various sexually transmitted diseases, particularly AIDS. Those who defend alcohol as a “social lubricant” should be made aware of the awful consequences of contracting the virus which causes AIDS, the HIV virus. It is likely to lead to a lifetime of debilitating treatments by causing the sufferer a predisposition to infection which is often followed by fatal or near-fatal illnesses.
As stated above, the greatly expanded production of distilled alcohol coincided with a period of rapid economic growth and prosperity in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries known as the Industrial Revolution. A triangle of trade with Europe and Africa carried people from the "Dark Continent" to be used as slaves for the production of sugar and other agricultural commodities. Molasses, the syrup produced by boiling sugar cane juice, was carried in barrels to New England or Europe to be manufactured into sugar alcohol or rum. The ships then loaded once more with industrially produced alcoholic beverages and other manufactures, which carried them to Africa to be used in barter. The trade winds promoted this profitable trade, carrying slavers from Africa to the Caribbean and America, and merchantmen to Europe from North America, while sailing ships might hug the coast and rely on onshore breezes to make the trip south from English and European ports to Africa.
Today, the sale and use of alcohol is rarely outlawed and leniently regulated despite its debilitating effects on the poor and others who drink regularly and heavily of the distilled spirits, variously called rum, gin, brandy, whiskey or vodka. The Catholic Church uses wine in its sacramental offering called the Eucharist, and various European cultures depend on alcoholic drink as a cultural unifier. Islamic law bans its use, and for that reason regular or excessive consumption of alcohol is not usual in North Africa or the Middle East. However, China and India have no such religious proscriptions, and it is likely that alcohol consumption in those places will be on the increase in the future, especially if the major distillers are allowed to build their factories there, and price their products accordingly.
After alcohol, the most commonly used group of depressants are the barbiturates, commonly prescibed as a tranquillizer or sedative, although some pain killers (oxycotin, succinyl, etc), tranquillizers and even cold medications are also used above recommended or prescribed dosage to achieve the slowing and mind-numbing effects desired by the users of downers. Barbiturates, called “barbies,” or “dolls” on the street, are exceptionally dangerous when used in conjunction with alcohol. The synergistic effect on the neuromuscular system is so great as to create the possibility where the user fails in their attempts to breathe. Those who use barbies and alcohol together risk dying of suffocation as a result of the combined effect of the two drugs.
The most dangerous depressants are derivatives of the opium poppy, a hardy biennial of Central Asia, now found around the world. A whitish, milky sap is scraped from the immature seed pod after it has been wounded with a special knife. This goo is dried and hardened into opium, a smokable narcotic. The opium base may be further refined to produce either morphine or heroin, both highly addictive, injectable drugs. The addiction requires the addict to continue taking opiates whether or not they wish to. It is not a question of will, but of the failure of the body to manufacture dopamine, a side-effect of the presence of opiates within the bloodstream. The opiates have caused their effect at a molecular level by attaching to the dopamine receptors in the brain. These receptors initiate feelings of well-being, satisfaction and warmth that are physiologically linked to dopamine secretion under ordinary circumstances. Opiates overrun that system, and take over the job, giving the user intense feelings of satisfaction as well as relief from pain and anxiety. When the user fails to obtain the drug, their body cannot immediately resume manufacturing the small amounts of dopamine vital to maintain ordinary feelings of good health or well-being. The result is a collection of symptoms known as “cold turkey,” where the user experiences the shakes, sweating, nausea, vomiting, feelings of cold and spasmodic muscular reactions. Once the addict has experienced cold turkey, they will do almost anything to avoid the sickness. In the absence of methadone, a heroin substitute sometimes supplied addicts by governmental programs, heroin addicts, or “junkies,” are likely to resort to all sorts of criminal activities to obtain the dosages they need to avoid this drug reaction, also called “drug withdrawal.” Prostitution, theft, especially petty theft and muggings - any and all opportunistic crimes are the result. Junkies will invade and terrorize buildings and neighborhoods, building their opportunistic and desperate activities into efficient social and economic wrecking machines.
The heroin user is the archetypal drug addict, worshipping his drug on an altar made of the ruins of his life, while the hypodermic syringe (the spike), candle and teaspoon stand on the grim shrine as reliquaries of all he holds sacred. He stands beneath and behind all other druggies, a demonic shadow urging the neophytes and casual drug users on, daring them to indulge themselves in the ultimate downer, perhaps to pay the price by sinking as low as he. Onlookers are tantalized by his weird image, wondering what tremendous physical pleasure could convince anyone to forego and forswear all the "goods" of life, money, marital bliss, parental approvals, education, recreation and gainful employment. Should these, out of curiosity or foolhardiness, dare to dally with the criminals who use and push heroin, they will most likely succumb to the drug's overpoweringly addictive powers as did the incubus who first got their attention with his obsessed look and haggard, ruined aspect.
The use of opiates has not always been so identified with criminal activity in the West. In the Eighteenth and Nineteenth century, British and American merchants carried opium from India to the world ports of Shanghai and Hong Kong in China. Despite opposition by the Chinese government, Western governments and military might stood behind the drug merchants, and opium use quickly spread through the teeming and economically vibrant coastal cities of the Ching Empire. The raw drug was smoked for a less addictive high, and the natural discipline and restraint of the wealthy Chinese gave it's use a kind of “classy decadence.” However, on the other side of the tracks stood the opium dens of Shang Hai and Canton. These were truly repulsive to the American mind with their mobs of helpless and hopeless addicts crowded together, slowly wasting away in clouds of heavy, sweet opium vapors. These sickly images contrasted starkly with all that America believed it stood for. The American dream of enterprise and economic expansion along with the promise of a wholesome new civilization based upon industry and initiative held out hope and encouragement to all those of European ancestry. However, Asians, particularly the Chinese, were not to be included in this grand picture of technological progress and economic advancement for at least another century, and American opium traders joined willingly with their British counterparts, while the American government stood by with other Western nations to uphold them in their pernicious business using gunboat diplomacy.
The opium habit followed Chinese immigration to the United States, and found for the first time a Western following. These ranged from wealthy “chippies,” or occasional users seeking the thrills of experimentation and the exotic, to “skin poppers,” usually down and out addicts who injected a mixture of alcohol and opium subcutaneously, using an eyedropper and a hollow needle made for the purpose. When the processes to make the more addictive and concentrated opium derivatives, morphine and heroin, were discovered, and the intravenous needle or hypodermic syringe was perfected, opiate addiction became increasingly commonplace in the United States, peaking around 1970. Today heroin addiction still remains the number one drug problem in certain East Coast cities, despite the inroads made by the dealers in crack cocaine.
Stimulants - The second class of drugs that we shall consider are the stimulants or uppers. Almost everyone has had a cup of coffee or tea. The use of such is traditional around the world. Caffeine, the active ingredient, has the same effects on the human metabolism that uppers do. It accelerates the pulse, causes repetitiveness of thought and action, raises blood pressure, and reduces the user’s ability to sleep or rest. Though it is used with beneficial effect by hundreds of millions of people, it is not without side-effects, including sleep loss, irritability and a symptom known as spastic colon. Unfortunately, in Europe and America, caffeine has become irretrievably identified with intellectual work, and the writer who did not ingest the substance, particularly through drinking coffee, would be failing to take what has become nearly the sacrament of the thinking class.
Though caffeine is a legal ingredient of coffee and soft drinks, even at “drug” dosages, other uppers are not. These are the amphetamines, “bennies,” (benzedrine), “speed,” “meth” (methedrine), “crystal meth” (pure snortable or injectable methedrine), etc. The effects of these illegal drugs are extremely powerful, and send the user into tantrums of sensation, activity and thought. A new formulation of amphetamine is the so-called party or designer drug, "X" or ecstasy. This drug was created with the young, middle-class user in mind, and the results have in many cases been tragic. Rather than simply enhance the user’s pleasure at popular social events, sometimes called “raves,” the drug also damages the brain, causing a decrease in size and function. The street term which has grown up concerning this side-effect is “cooking.” As they say on the street, ecstasy cooks the human brain. The long-term effects are not yet known, but it may be that heavy ecstasy users will be permanently disabled, unable to work or even take care of their daily needs for their entire lives.
Some drugs are so powerful, they can only be called "shock drugs," though the term is of the author's creation. The shock drugs differ from ordinary stimulants in that they provide a tremendous kick in a total and overpowering way. Crystal meth, (methedrine in its purist form), crack cocaine (smokable cocaine), even nicotine in high concentrations such as from smoking cubebs, are so-called shock drugs. They deliver a huge rush of irresistible effect, sometimes energy, sometimes the paralysis of thought and action that results from overcharging the physiological system. They may also cause irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, or vascular failure and death.
The third and last class of drugs we shall consider are the psychedelics. Psychedelics are probably the most controversial of all the drugs, both legal and illegal. For almost all of the depressants and stimulants, a distinct and deleterious effect can be shown as a side-effect of use and abuse. They are most certainly poisonous, and in sufficient dosages may cause death. However, psychedelics affect the mind, and cannot be termed poisonous in the sense that one can die from an overdose. Marijuana, LSD, mescaline and psilocybin may cause psychotic episodes when taken in sufficient quantities, but an overdose will not result in arrested heartbeat, suffocation, or vascular failure. Complicating the case against psychedelics is the fact that psychotic episodes sometimes mimic paranormal phenomena. Some psychics are strongly convinced that telepathy, telekinesis and other paranormal phenomena are real and demonstrable, and users of psychedelics will assert that they are not getting high in the traditional sense, but are participating in psychic and paranormal phenomena through the medium of drugs. They assert that they are "expanding or heightening their consciousness or mind," "entering a new sphere or world," or otherwise altering their sensory experience. "Are you experienced?" was the substance and sole lyric of Jimmy Hendrix's famous one-line song, Purple Haze, part of a musical phenomenon known as "Acid-rock."
Since marijuana is the most commonly used psychedelic drug, let us consider its case first. After alcohol, it is probably the second most widely used intoxicant in the world. It’s use in this country became popularized by the children of those that most abused alcohol, the children of middle-class parents who came of age during the Sixties. These almost invariably resisted the Vietnam War, which was fought by the children of poor and working class parents, those who grew up far from the affluent suburbs which produced the hippie generation. During the late-Fifties and early-Sixties marijuana was imported primarily from Mexico by free-lance drug smugglers, and distributed by “outlaw” and “beatnik” dealers. Though Afro-American and Hispanic drug users were well acquainted with the drug, as were jazz and rock musicians who used it connection with their performances, the mainstreaming of marijuana only became possible when the college-educated, whether grads or dropouts, undertook to use it either in addition to, or as a replacement for alcohol, especially beer.
The active ingredient of marijuana, THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, causes the synapses or switches connecting the neurons of the brain, to become highly sensitive, closing most of them in a temporary “current flowing” position. One effect is that the user begins to cast about seeking new ways to accomplish neurological rest, or close off the flow of electrical messages to the psyche. The electronic overload may also cause feelings of wide-eyed euphoria, a kind of “know it all” feeling. However, if we use for the model of the mind a balloon with all the information that one “knows” printed on the skin, it might be said that THC simply inflates this balloon, allowing the information processing faculties of the mind to better see the "larger print," and makes more already known information available from the memory. This may feel like increased intelligence, and even test out as a modest augmentation of intellectual skills, but as soon as the high is past, the "balloon" collapses to its former size once more, and it is unlikely that the user has really learned anything, or accomplished any task of intellectual importance. Should a chronic or heavy marijuana user "build" on this chemical augmentation of intellectual skills, creating their life on a "plateau" of marijuana intoxication, it is likely that whatever their accomplishments, they will be inextricably tied or keyed to the process of procuring and using the drug. It will be the drug that is responsible for their gains, not the user, and the loss of the drug, through legal entanglements or otherwise, could result in a damaging drop-off in productivity, or even a ruined talent or genius.
Those who have tried to produce rational writings under the influence of marijuana usually have failed. The results are almost always nonsensical. However, critics might still seize upon this foolishness as both artistically meritorious, and revealing of inner or hidden truths given expert or symbolic interpretation. Only expressive musicians, such as jazz or rock musicians, seem to consistently benefit from using the drug before and during their performances. Perhaps the acuity it lends to their senses and the intense subjectivity of their art conspire to cause such a positive result. Visual artists experience less of a benefit, and ordinary users seem most likely to either fall asleep in a kind of narcoleptic ma...fit, or dissolve into hysterical and inappropriate laughter for no reason at all while experiencing fits of appetite, called the “munchies.” Other side-effects include a glassy, red-eyed stare, dry-mouth, giddiness or panic, and inexplicable and inappropriate sensations of hilarity.
The after-effects of marijuana use are not negligible. Irritability, headaches, perhaps a smokers’ cough - all these add up to worse health, and may cost the user greatly in lost educational or economic opportunities, and strained or broken relationships. The giddiness, silliness and mirthiness which are common symptoms of marijuana use make it difficult or impossible for a habitual user to remain serious about anything for long, no matter what the circumstances. Crimes of violence, even bloody atrocities might elicit laughter and giggles as the gravity of acts are lost upon the stoned onlookers. The Sharon Tate murders, hideous acts of butchery and barbarism were probably undertaken by attackers intoxicated by marijuana, among other drugs. Othertimes the perpetrators of marijuana-related crimes are members of drug gangs, or followers of cults where drug use is accepted, such as Santoria, Voodoo, or Hoodoo. They may resort to the sacrifice of living creatures according to the dictates of their faiths, or even murder or human sacrifice. Anyone may be inspired with or inclined to pursue violent impulses as a result of using marijuana and its derivatives, especially in conjunction with cocaine or other powerful stimulants. After all, it was the Muslim sect known as the Hashishans (from hashish, a concoction of marijuana resin) which gave rise to to the term "assassinate," a common synonym for a calculated and intentional murder.
Besides marijuana, there are several other psychedelic drugs which have risen and fallen in popularity through the years, but never achieved the widespread and accepted use of marijuana. They are LSD, psilocybin (a kind of mushroom), mescaline, (the active ingredient of the bud of the peyote cactus), and even the Death Cap mushroom (Amanita muscaria). Death Caps are so toxic that even a small overdose can permanently damage the liver and cause death without massive medical intervention (liver transplant). However this does not prevent their traditional use in Western Siberia, or young people in this country from experimenting with them for their hallucinogenic properties. Since they regularly sprout from the ground beneath pine trees everywhere in the Northern Temperate latitudes, and from Florida to Maine on the East Coast of the United States, this source of hallucinogenic intoxicant should be closely watched. Young people, wild to get their hands on anything that might get them high, will be quick to seize on these white, flaky-capped, four-inch wide, toadstools. Not able to differentiate between the many fungal species, they might estimate that the pretty parasols are not more dangerous than the psilocybin or cow-pie mushrooms. But Amanita muscaria are much deadlier. Just a small amount will entirely destroy a person's liver, and without a liver transplant, the result is death within three or four days. The vivid dreams prized by the users of the poison are probably a result of liver-death.
All the above-listed psychedelics cause symptoms, such as visual, auditory and olfactory hallucinations, which mimic the mental disease known as schizophrenia. Frequently paranoia, or the fear and belief that one is being attacked, followed, investigated, or otherwise molested also attaches to the effects of the drug. With continued use, or by some predisposition, the user may develop symptoms typical of schizophrenia in addition to their “daytime” or pre-use personality. Has the user actually become mentally ill? Have they developed into a classifiable, if not treatable, schizophrenic? Without cause, which is usually an inability to work or function due to hallucinatory phenomena such as voices, visions and even smells, psychedelics users will probably never be classified or treated as psychotics. When plagued by such effects, rather than submit to medical intervention, ma... they may simply drop out of the mainstream economy, and earn their livings at peripheral pursuits and occupations, such as day labor and junk dealing, or some similarly undemanding and impulsive occupation.
Stupefacients - Some drug users seek neither stimulation, expanded consciousness, nor the slowing effects typical of a "high" on downers. These may resort to the use of inhalants and other substances which stupefy the user through depriving them of oxygen. Gasoline (called benzene by the English, various glues, and some aerosols may all be used as stupefacients. Continuing or chronic use of these substances almost always results in permanent brain and liver damage.
Mixed Drugs - No discussion of drug use would be complete without considering mixed drugs in a category separate and distinct from any and all other drug categories. Just as users of alcohol routinely mix and formulate their alcoholic drinks into concoctions with various effects and uses, both real and imagined, so users of drugs mix and match various illegal drugs and substances to obtain new and wilder "highs." Users might also seek remedies and counter-effects after too many hours watching the same spot on a vacant television screen, or enduring other unwanted symptoms of drug use. Mixing intoxicants is probably the rule rather than the exception where drug use is concerned. The most common mix is marijuana and beer, or marijuana and wine. Intoxication by both drugs further compounds the effects the user is likely to feel. Other combinations are LSD and marijuana, cocaine and heroin, uppers and downers, and PCP, crack cocaine, or Angel dust and marijuana. “Uppers and downers?” you may query incredulously. Yes, people who have been taking uppers for a prolonged period of time, and need to “come down” or rest, will take downers to do so.
Mixes of drugs invite synergistic and unforeseen side- and after-affects. The drug cocktails that dealers and users devise are almost always intended to incapacitate their users. These are a favorite at parties and other places where young people of both sexes are invited in, sometimes to be used as bait or worse by sexual predators. If one is so unfortunate as to be placed or place oneself in the position of experimenting with or casually using drugs, it is best to try to limit one’s intake to a single substance such as alcohol or marijuana, and never combine drugs.
Chapter 3, Continued - Drug Effects - How illegal drugs and substances affect their users in the short and long term. Drugs are notorious for being unpredictable in their effects, especially when mixed, which is the way in which most regular drug users take their drugs. However, for the convenience of the reader, we will try to list some of the better known effects that the most commonly used drugs and substances have on their users. Alcohol Marijuana LSD Other Hallucinogens Opium, Morphine and Heroin Cocaine, crack cocaine Barbiturates Caffeine Nicotine Inhalants, including gasoline, paint, aerosols, etc. Amphetamines
Alcohol - Alcohol is a depressive, and affects the stretch reflex center, the motor control (coordination) and the balance center of the brain (cerebellum). Consumption of moderate amounts may cause slurred speech, unsteady gait, uncoordinated movements, inability to sense cold and heat, sweating, nausea and vomiting. It will also diminish inhibitions, increase bravado or false courage, and encourage the user to risky behavior. The effect of releasing the user from inhibitions may appear and be felt as a stimulative, which in this case would be an opposite effect. Ingesting large amounts of alcohol causes decreased pulse rate and ability to breathe (suffocation), vomiting, unconsciousness, and may result in death. Withdrawal from habitual consumption results in alcohol cravings. Alcohol is metabolized by the liver. However, it is toxic as well, and impairs the function of that organ, which is to produce red blood cells and make and store glycogen, the "fuel" which the muscles use. The short term result of alcohol abuse is a lack of glycogen in the body and drop in blood pressure, causing a "tired" and "headachey" feeling, or hangover. Many alcohol abusers try to correct this condition by eating red meat, a rich source of glycogen. However, this practice may in turn lead to obesity and a high cholesterol level in the blood, conditions which present other problems, such as the risk of diabetes and heart disease. The toxic effects of alcohol cause scarring of the liver, as well as the formation of alveoli, blind pockets which decrease the function of the organ. The condition of a scarred and enlarged liver is called cirrhosis of the liver. In the long run, continuing consumption of alcohol may also cause palsy (shaking) and other symptoms of mid-brain (cerebellum) deterioration. Among those exposed in utero, the cognitive faculties may be seriously impaired. This is known as the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or FAS. Heavy beer drinkers, those using that beverage as an intoxicant, often suffer bloating, a condition where the stomach inflates with gas in response to a lack or absence of solid or bulky food in the diet, as well as the carbon dioxide gas contained in the beer. This condition is an indicator that the alcohol user is ignoring a nutrient-rich diet in favor of a diet of alcoholic drink, and may be suffering from other nutritional and diet-related problems, as well.
Marijuana and hashish (Weed, reefer, joint, bu, smoke, hash, hashy, hably-bobly, French tobacco) Marijuana and hashish may have a variety of effects, sometimes on the same user. A strongly psychotropic, or mind-altering drug, the user may variously feel stimulated or sleepy, hungry or not, full of "huge thoughts" and dreams, or simply dazed. Though inhibitions are not affected, the user may "hatch" wild schemes or carefully planned out crimes while under the influence of the drug. Feelings of silliness, giddiness and mirthiness make it difficult for a user under the influence to remain serious even in grave circumstances. Othertimes they may laugh senselessly or inappropriately as a result of inexplicable and inappropriate feelings of hilarity, even when confronted with the consequences of violent acts, such as murder and mayhem, or personal failure and ruin. There is no "overdose level" where marijuana and hashish usage are concerned. The brain can absorb and will use only so much of the active ingredient (THC), and then the remainder of that ingested by the user is either excreted in the urine or stored in the liver prior to detoxification, as would be any non-lethal poison. Withdrawal effects are irritability, aggressiveness and various cravings. Long term effects include the inability to concentrate, and the inability to "feel" things without resorting to use of the drug, as well as other effects such as might be expected where the brain has lost its ability to produce serotinin in the quantities needed to make up for the THC which it has come to depend upon as a replacement, such as dullness, disinterestedness, memory-loss and confusion. This may result in the downside of the "plateau" effect that is a part of chronically using most illegal drugs and substances, or, alternatively, a psychosis where the personality dissociates or fragments, causing a kind of schizophrenia, usually called schizotypal behavior by psychologists and other mental health workers. Such serious symptoms may remain latent, undiscovered and unreported for may years after a user has ceased using the drug.
LSD (Acid, acid trip) LSD is the "one-punch" psychotropic drug with the most unpredictable effects and side-effects. Because it so completely implicates the mind, and the psyche is so thoroughly involved with the substance at a molecular level, the state of mind of the user before "tripping" is critical to the kind of "trip" they will have, and this is magnified a thousand-fold. Should the user feel helpless before taking a dose, the drug will make them feel like something less than an ant. If the user has feelings of power and competence, they might decide they can actually fly when on the drug, and leap from a building or other high place convinced that they will simply float off into the air like a bird. All kinds of personality distorting and fragmenting (kaleidoscopic) effects occur with the use of LSD, while mood swings and even suicidal feelings may be seriously aggravated. Repeated usage accentuates the schizotic effects of the drug. Users are known to stare at the same spot for hours, and see tremendous beauty in the most insignificant things, while at other times see terrible visions of ugliness and terror in equally bland phenomena. Internal or subjective judgments or feelings are amplified, and made to seem real by the drug. There is no withdrawal effect for this drug, however the user may experience "flashbacks," that is, the unwanted recurrence of a period of intoxication at a random moment months or years after the drug was taken. A repeated user may also suffer from what has been called a "permanent trip," where the effects of the drug, hallucinations, etc., simply refuse to subside. This condition is clinically identical with acute schizophrenia. Long term effects may include personality deterioration, loss of competence, inability to conform to reasonable norms or standards of human behavior, inability to reason, focus, concentrate, etc. Long term users may be classified as clinically insane (acutely schizophrenic) should they be examined by psychiatrists.
Other Hallucinogens (Mescaline, Psylocybin, PCP) None of the other hallucinogens come close to being as dangerous as LSD. However, though they may not be as hazardous as the most potent hallucinogen, they may still cause hallucinations and intense sensory experiences, such as bright lights, colors, etc. Withdrawal symptoms are negligible. Some users report nausea.
Heroin and the opiates (H, horse, smack, scag) The opiates, especially heroin and morphine, are probably the most addictive of all the drugs. In the past, the term narcotic was reserved for the King of addictive drugs, and all of the opium derivatives were termed hard drugs, to distinguish them from marijuana and other "less addictive" substances. This is probably the result of the doubly addictive effect that opiates hold for their users. Their use results in not only a physical inability to stop using them without becoming seriously ill, but also in a psychological dependency or need for the intense satisfaction, freedom from pain and anxiety, and feelings of well-being and warmth that the drug inspires. The natives of Afghanistan, without sources of fuel in the barren and frigid mountains, sometimes use opium instead to "heat" themselves, that is, to make themselves insensible to feelings of cold, and so stay comfortable through the long winter nights. Withdrawal - Withdrawal symptoms are perhaps the most serious for all the drugs. "Cold turkey," or heroin withdrawal, brings with it nausea and vomiting, chills, shakes, head and body aches, and similar symptoms. Long term intravenous use greatly increases the chances of contracting blood-borne diseases, especially hepatitis and AIDS.
Cocaine, Crack Cocaine (crack, blow, snow, coke, rock) Cocaine, particularly crack cocaine, is the drug with the greatest potential for abuse outside of heroin. The effects of snorting a "line" of coke, or smoking (actually vaporizing) a "rock" of crack are an overwhelming, sometimes heart-stopping rush of energy and sensation. The user is able to do things that they might not otherwise be able to accomplish, such as dancing wildly, or engaging in repeated sexual acts. Thereafter, the anesthetic effects of the drug eliminate worries or anxiety, and stop hunger pangs or other cravings. Withdrawal symptoms from continued cocaine and crack cocaine use are depression, malaise and cravings for renewed cocaine intoxication. Long term use of cocaine may result in extreme and suicidal depression, "nerves," and an inability to recover a normal metabolism as a result of numerous vitamin and metabolite deficiencies. Enlarged heart, a condition usually affecting older athletes (especially mountain-climbers), that results in an inability to maintain or regulate blood pressure at an adequate level when resting, may also be the result of continued cocaine or crack cocaine use. Among young users and those exposed in utero, the cognitive faculties may be seriously impaired. Users are also more prone to engage in "risky" sexual activities, and thus more likely to contract HIV and other blood-borne diseases.
Barbiturates (barbies, dolls, tranks, downers) The effect of using barbiturates are various degrees of drowsiness, insensibility or numbness. Withdrawal from long-term use usually results in cravings, "nerves," or jitters, and feelings of being unable to cope. Long term use may result in depression, physiological dependency and suicidal feelings.
Coffee, tea and caffeinated beverages of all sorts (Caffeine) The effects of high doses of caffeine are similar to those of the amphetamines, but generally not as long-lasting. Withdrawal usually entails severe headaches or migraines, and symptoms akin to depression. Long-term use may result in spastic colon, or the inability of the user to control their bowel movement, and various nervous conditions, or neuroses.
Tobacco (Nicotine) A nicotine rush is the result of the constriction of the circulatory system (blood vessels), which raises blood pressure, and drives blood to the brain. The effect is much like a panic attack, and the user experiences increased wakefulness and wariness. Withdrawal causes nervous conditions, such as shaking and anxiety, headaches and intense cravings. Depression may also be a result of nicotine withdrawal. Long term use may result in the formation of various cancers, formerly associated with smoking tobacco, but now known to be caused by all forms of tobacco. All of these cancers are fatal without early and massive medical intervention (surgery, etc.). Tobacco smoke also causes the alveoli of the lungs (the minute air sacs which facilitate the transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide from air to blood and back) to collapse, forming larger sacs. The total area of these larger sacs is less than that of the smaller sacs, effecting a reduced exchange of vital and waste gases. Consequently the user of tobacco may suffer shortness of breath, leading to apnea (sleep disorder) and panic disorder, and added strain on the heart and circulatory system. Tobacco smoke also paralyzes the cilia, or hair-like structures lining the trachea or windpipes, which are responsible for the removal of dust, particulates, phlegm and foreign matter from the lungs. The result is an accumulation of debris in the lungs, and this is responsible for the hacking "smoker's cough" that habitual tobacco smokers often suffer from.
Inhalants, including gasoline, paint, aerosols, etc. The effects are dizziness, insensibility, and other results such as might be caused by near-suffocation. The user might expect headaches as an after-affect of abuse. There is no withdrawal effect. Long term effects may include brain damage (loss of cognitive faculties) and liver cancer.
Amphetamines The effects are to give the user energy, wakefulness, alertness and loss of appetite. Withdrawal requires that the user rest or sleep for long periods. Long term effects include "burn out," pathological weight loss, and loss of essential minerals and nutrients from the body.
Mixed Drugs Since any and so many drugs may be mixed and matched by the drug user to obtain ever wilder and weirder effects, it is impossible to go into depth as to what this or that drug combination might do to a user. However, the most commonly used drug combinations today are: Oolies (Marijuana rubbed with crack cocaine) This mixture would seem to the author to be a particularly dangerous combination, calculated to enable criminals and crimes, since the marijuana gives the user the ability to wildly scheme and a disregard for serious consequences, while crack cocaine should give the user the energy and confidence they need to carry out the plan. Snowball (Heroin and cocaine) While heroin slows the pulse and lowers the heart rate and blood pressure, cocaine does the opposite. Why drug users would seek to dose themselves both with a drug and its "antidote" is a mystery. However, this is one of the preferred combinations of drugs used by hard-core drug users. Wickystick (PCP and marijuana) Marijuana is the "tomato" of drugs. Where, according to Italian cooking lore, "the tomato goes with all things edible," marijuana also mixes well with all other drugs, according to experienced drug users. PCP is a potent hallucinogen, and when mixed with marijuana, dramatically accentuates both drugs' affects, according to reports. return to table of contents
Glossary for Chapter 3 (Scroll down for all entries) Cutting - Diluting, making a stronger mixture weaker, so that it contains less of the active ingredient. Decadence, decadent - Fallen from the true type or ideal of a culture or civilization. Generally the term is reserved to describe those who are still at the core of the culture, but failing in their duties to promote and preserve the culture through serving cultural ideals, and otherwise "standing tall" as far as their society is concerned. However, retreating to a farm or monastery, and living the simple or good life, may also be a symptom of cultural decadence. Drug use is often identified with decadence. Not necessarily a pejorative, or "bad" term. Oppressive societies which have lapsed into their decadent phase, and thereby fail in their oppressiveness, are usually thought of as preferable to those which continue in their oppressive ways. The French Monarchy of the Eighteenth Century is an example of such a society. Inextricably - Caught fast, entangled, hopelessly caught up. Incredulously - Unbelievingly, with disbelief. Query - Ask, question, inquire. Procuring - Obtaining through purchasing or otherwise. Psychoactive - Those substances which affect the mind. Replete - Filled, full of, filled up.
Chapter IV - Race, Religion, Culture and DrugsEdit
Drug users are quick to say two things when challenged. First, they will assert that they don’t agree with the law. If one doesn’t agree with a law, one usually obeys it unwillingly, or challenges it. There are and were many laws on the books, such as those prohibiting people of different races from keeping company in public, that ordinary people of goodwill would challenge as unfair and without validity. These might be challenged through petitioning the legislature, or by actually violating the law and defending oneself in court. So, it might be said that each incidence of drug use, particularly the “harmless” pastime of marijuana smoking, is a challenge to the drug laws in addition to being a diversion. The law must defend itself, or go off the books as a matter of fact or law if it is wrong or unfair.
Secondly, the drug user might say that matters of race, religion, culture and ideology are as important as the law where the use of illegal drugs and substances is concerned, and it is commonly accepted that drug users often do form a subculture, that is a society within society. Elsewhere, religious groups may allow the use of intoxicating substances, either sacramentally, or in the pursuit of their religious goals and ideals. The Catholic Church and some North American Indian tribes are two such examples. The Catholics use wine in the sacrament of the Eucharist, while the Native Americans use peyote to induce the visions they deem Holy, and sent by the Creator or Great Spirit. Some drug users would like the general public to believe that they too should enjoy similar rights as a distinct cultural entity, whatever the law. They may even exhibit the paraphernalia, trappings and fashions of the drug-using world as evidence of the uniqueness and integrity of their social group. But clothing, jewelry, hair dyes and other such adornments are superficial, and simply cannot compare to the religious and traditional justifications of the Native American tribes that use peyote.
Drug users will rarely invoke the defense that drug use is typical of their race, or the race with which they hope to join. However, marijuana use was so identified in former times with Mexican and Afro-American drug users that those of other races were often forced to both buy their supplies of the drug from blacks or Mexicans, and acculturate to these groups in the process of obtaining the drug. Are race, religion and culture a valid defense for drug users? Can they be excused for their habits through the reason that their group, or the group with which they identify, has adopted the substance for general use, or to be used in racial, religious, or cultural pursuits? Theoretically, each and every user may claim a higher purpose or right to live as they please as a justification for using any substance proscribed by law. America is the land of the free, and infringements upon individual liberties through legal regulation and laws criminalizing various behaviors and providing for harsh enforcement measures are not taken lightly. However, the cost of going to court and winning is usually prohibitive. Both users of illegal intoxicating drugs and sellers of unlicensed medical drugs face huge uphill legal battles should they be apprehended in the act of using or distributing contraband substances.
In response, groups such as NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), which might be considered lifestyle or cultural champions, have grown up in defense of marijuana users. These usually seek a relaxation of drug prohibition (the reform of drug laws), or pursue appeals where marijuana growers have received exceptionally harsh sentences. They are less likely to defend drug smugglers and distributors, as these will probably have ties with organized crime. Generally, the kind of drug users that drug law reform groups have in mind and embrace restrict their own usage to marijuana, preferably the kind grown in California or Hawaii. As they are better educated than the average drug user, they guard their health, and carefully measure the amount of intoxicants they ingest while remaining conscious of their source and purity. Whatever their agenda, reform groups are as limited as the ordinary user in the justification they can claim through association with traditional racial, cultural and religious authorities. Like the general population of drug users, they are on their own, their greatest defense being the right every individual enjoys to use one's body as one wishes, and indulge oneself in "harmless" vices, faults or weaknesses that affect only the actor.
Objectively, racial and ethnic groups seem to share within their membership certain responses, resistances and reactions to various substances that they have, as a group, traditionally been exposed to. An example not having anything to do with intoxicating substances is the resistance that Italian pipefitters or plumbers showed to lead poisoning in Nineteenth Century England. The Italians had come to England for work in the fast growing industrial sector, and it was soon discovered that when employed in the various industries using lead (painting, plumbing, smelting, etc.), they showed none of the symptoms of lead poisoning that afflicted their English co-workers who were exposed to the substance, and alongside of whom they worked. Could it have been that the traditional use of lead in drinking vessels and water pipes along with the extensive mining and smelting of the metal during Roman imperial times caused a situation where individuals living within the empire at the time who were resistant to lead survived to adulthood while those sensitive to the substance perished or languished, and that this genetically determined trait of resistance to lead poisoning persists to this day among their descendants? More to the point is the case of alcohol use, at least the use of beer and wine. Where use of the substance has a long history, such as in Italy, France and Germany, and is thoroughly embedded culturally, there are relatively fewer cases of overt alcoholism among the population. That is, it is rare to find individuals who must drink alcohol in a compulsive and addictive manner, usually in the absence of food and with no object other than to satisfy alcoholic cravings. Again, it appears that over thousands of years, reproductive patterns in these countries have favored the survival and promulgation of individuals resistant to the disorder we call "alcoholism." When alcohol was introduced by Europeans to populations to whom the substance was unknown previously, such as the American Indian, the incidence of alcoholism among the new users turned out to be much higher than in the traditional user groups. It is likely that other well-known drugs, such as cocaine and marijuana, also find among new user groups different levels of susceptibility to untoward effects, such as addiction and poisoning. However, should an individual have a genetically and perhaps racially determined predisposition to addiction, having nothing to do with their character or circumstances, neither must they be justified or condemned should they become substance dependent or addicted to illegal drugs as a result. It is simply one more factor that must be taken into consideration when and where developing policies and tactics aimed at avoiding or curing drug and substance abuse.
Chapter 4 Glossary (Scroll down for all entries)
Adornments - Decorations Diversion - Pastime Eucharist - The transmutation through Priestly prayer of bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The parishioners are then given a morsel of the changed substance to eat. The ritual is similar to the pagan "morsel of execration." A bit of food was enchanted by a pagan holy man, and then given to one who was accused of a crime. If they could eat it, they were not guilty. If they choked or refused, they were deemed guilty. Catholics must confess themselves of all sins, and be absolved by the Priest before taking Holy Communion,. Integrity - Goodness, thoroughly good and whole, without fault or wrongness. Sacrament, sacramentally - A Holy rite or ritual. Paraphernalia - Anything used or useful to those acting through a process or ritual. Often used in connection with drugs. Drug paraphernalia includes hypodermic needles used for injecting drugs, pipes, cigarette papers, roach clips, etc. Superficial - Shallow, on the surface. Uniqueness - Standing alone, sole, without peer or comparison. Incomparable.
Chapter V - Legalization - Does making drugs illegal help?Edit
Using drugs is risky and dangerous. No one would deny that. However, even those that admit to the hazards of drug use argue that making them illegal only compounds the effects that legislators of past years found so deleterious and disagreeable. They argue that incarceration for marijuana use and sale is totally without justification by the reputation of the drug, the widespread use of which, some sociologists surmise, brought an end to most gang violence in the big cities during the decades from the fifties to the time when crack cocaine was introduced to inner city communities. Further, making drugs illegal boosts their cost to the user, and makes huge profits available to the producers, smugglers and pushers, returns which can be translated not only into larger incentives to deal dope, but more advanced techniques, as well. Then also, the illegality of drugs make them especially attractive to adolescents, who are living through their most rebellious years. Were drugs and alcohol universally available and thoroughly acculturated, they simply would not be the option that they are now for rebellious youth seeking to flout their elders’ opinions, as well as "the establishment" and the law, or so argue the pro-legalization lobbies.
Users of all ages develop secret second lives in response to drug law enforcement, learning by experience the tactics of domestic espionage from hardened narcotics agents, (" narcs"), and aiming these "dirty tricks" at those around them, much to the dismay of their parents, teachers, non-using peers and others. They may also use violence or the threat of violence in imitation of their suppliers, the Mafia or gang dealers. Novice drug users grow up fast in the shadows of secret deals, troubled by the memories of vanished friends, who may have disappeared into the correctional system or worse. They may be haunted both by fantasies of the huge amounts of money to be made by joining with the dealers and "making the big time," and the fear of going to jail to be made, more or less, a permanent outcast from society.
As the user advances down the road of drug use, they, sooner or later, almost always comes to grips with the fact that there is no easy way out, no simple way back into the mainstream of society. Groups of users may themselves form subcultures, perhaps disguised as motorcycle clubs, or simply as associations of friends who know each other, and on occasion meet with the purpose of furthering the usage and distribution of illegal drugs. Sometimes, especially in places where drug and alcohol abuse are common, their drug habits may become adaptive, and with the support of drug-using friends and others who are sensitized to the needs of drug dependent persons, the user takes and holds down a job. This is the most optimistic occurrence, the best-case scenario. Usually the results are much worse as drug use magnifies every existing social issue and economic problem, from divorce and child-support, housing shortages and code problems, to homosexuality, lesbianism and rust-belt or hard-scrabble rural economies.
How long does the fall from “mainstream- kid- on- the- road- to- fulfilling- middle-class- ambitions” to “outsider- existing- by- their- wits- on- the- edge- of- society" take? Not five or ten years of heavy drug use, as some naieve outsiders might guess, but as little as or less than a year. Most small and mid-sized towns in the United States simply do not have the will or the information to coddle, reeducate, or rehabilitate drug users, and even if they did, the expense involved would be a deterrent to many. Then, too, there is the issue of the rising generations. "Why should society’s resources be spent on those that have failed the test of drug use?" ask some. "No high school graduating class is measurably smaller than the one that came the year before, and it is these new graduates that demand the attention and approval of the authorities and elders of the town, not the slackers and dropouts that moved out last year." Whatever the case, the result is that young people who get started down the path of drug addiction stick to it.
What will become of the young people who embark upon a life of drug abuse, many even before they entered high school? Again, it depends upon the social environment of the place, but sociologists agree that social labels are made to stick, and once youngsters are branded drug users, it is more likely than not that the image of the "down- and- outers- who- were- good- kids," or "might- have- beens- but- never- will- be- because..." will grow over the years whatever the efforts made by those individuals so marked to counter or change the picture. And even should they quit and stay "clean and sober," these former users will prove magnets to neophytes and those at risk, who advance on them no matter what their current circumstances, seeking advice, the consolations of older "like-minded" persons, or perhaps even to ask them for help in purchasing drugs and alcohol. Youthful or high school drug use is one condition that time does not heal well. Rather, it is more likely to lead to a lifetime membership in the PLDD, People Looking for Drinks and Drugs.
In the worst possible case, should grown children, having lost all feelings of youthful immortality, hope and joie de vivre, seek to cast blame or revenge themselves on those they believe are at fault for their predicament, they might return home only to turn on their aging parents in a murderous rage. Their only thoughts are for the losses in life that they now realize they may never recover, damages that they must always and more certainly ascribe to their decision to use drugs and/or alcohol, and their parents' failure to stop them from doing so. "Mom wasn't strict enough about drugs and alcohol, and now I'm through." It doesn't sound like a death threat, but should a grown person with nothing to look forward to feel anger or rage in connection with such an opinion, it might translate into a murderous last act, either against his parents or aimed at innocents who happen to be standing in their place. Teenage drug use is very serious business. ma...
It is a cruel world, one that rarely takes into account the pain of a dysfunctional home life, the discomfort and disadvantages of living in substandard or slum housing, or learning disabilities such as dyslexia and bi-polar disorder. Still it continues, whether or not the best interests of the drug user are served. In some instances, drug users may remain loyal to each other, and drug dealers supply their clients with "fair bargains" and clean drugs. It is more often the case that buying and using drugs turns into a dirty rip-off, with users stealing from (burning) each other and the mainstream world with no thought for the consequences. Even though they may face a future as bleak as that of a “lifer” in jail, the instinct for survival often prevents overt suicide, and it is the opportunistic disorders and conditions, such as AIDS and homelessness, that finally bring an end to the saddened existence that began when a youngster first took a "toke" on a joint of marijuana.
In light of the costs to and ruinous circumstances endured by drug users, how can the pain and punishment inflicted by the law on those who passively use proscribed substances in addition be justified? Certainly it is selective, for the same unhealthy effects, if caused by alcoholism, are largely ignored by lawmakers and law enforcers. Terrible accidents may happen, or hideous crimes might be committed by those under the influence of alcohol, but the makers and distributors of the substance never spend a day in court. Laws intended to keep “package goods” stores away from schools may be ignored or scoffed at, and small liquor store owners push pints of whiskey and "six-packs" of beers over the counter to underage buyers, while local authorities turn a blind eye. Colleges are a prime locale for underage drinking, and the main commercial streets in many college towns are lined with bars and liquor stores, while town councils issue yet one more "liquor license." Surely, this is selective enforcement at its worst, reason many, and the laws outlawing drugs, this latter day Prohibition, should be repealed, or whiskey and distilled spirits should be outlawed as the equals of drugs in their deleterious effects on society.
Once alcohol was banned by Federal Law, the so-called Temperance Act, and the result was a catastrophe in the nation’s largest cities. Though its intentions were good - the law was enacted the morning after women obtained the right to vote, and was probably the result of femininist lobbies seeking to halt the terrible abuse inflicted upon women as a result of drunken behavior brought home by their husbands from the bars and saloons - the Mafia quickly took over the production, importation and distribution of alcoholic beverages. Thereafter, the huge profits they made by price-gouging and monopolistic practices made them a powerful presence in the economy across the nation. Bootleggers’ profits, like the slavers’ and distillers’ profits before them, fueled huge investments and growth in such sectors of the economy as gambling, monopolistic waste disposal companies and the construction industry, particularly resort and hotel construction. Now, drug dealers’ profits promise to make the same impact upon the economy, buying up legitimate corporations and businesses, particularly banks, and turning the techniques of organized crime to their management. Gangster-style violence and intimidation may well become an accepted part of corporate America in the not-to-distant future.
Would this be prevented or checked by legalizing marijuana, alone? Since marijuana, if legalized, would still be age-restricted, just as alcohol is, the benefits to be had by decriminalizing the drug would be limited. Only those twenty-one years or older would be able to obtain the drug legally, and younger users, who are the fastest growing and most vulnerable segment of the illegal drug market, would still be in a lot of trouble for buying a "lid of grass," or "lighting up a joint," and so remain within the black market for drugs. Then, too, other drugs, such as the opiates and cocaine, would probably remain unlawful, and these would continue to fuel the growth of the illegal drug industry. Could the really "hard" drugs ever be legalized? If the past is to be a guide, the body politic will probably remain set against the legalization of hard drugs for the foreseeable future. What the final outcome will be, centuries from now, cannot even be guessed. Perhaps Aldous Huxley will prove correct in his prediction that the government itself will by law require that its citizens take a "normalizing" or tranquilizing drug, and this drug will "cure" dependencies on and addictions to all other substances. We can only be sure of one thing, and that is change.
return Note: Fines, jail time and probation may be the legal penalties that first greet a convicted drug user or dealer, but other sanctions soon follow. Depending upon the state, a person convicted of possessing narcotics may lose their entitlement rights (welfare and food stamps), their driver's or operator's license, be denied issuance of an operator's licence to drive articulated trucks (big rigs), face eviction from their rental, face insurance premium hikes, and be terminated from employment or fail in being hired due to the arrest record. Even should a user not be apprehended in the act of using or distributing drugs, there is a good liklihood that prospective employers and other social contacts will smell drugs on the user's breath, clothes, etc. Having done so, they might easily act in the spirit of the law, denying the user their right to a fair hearing and throwing them back on whatever legal remedies they can muster. Glossary for Chapter 4 (Scroll down for all entries) Acculturate - To bring something which was foreign and not socially acceptable into general acceptance throughout society. Refers to behavior, style or fashion, and not laws. Laws are adopted by legislative bodies (from various sources), and not acculturated. Aldous Huxley - An English writer of the first part of the Twentieth Century who wrote of the future, especially Brave New World, and Animal Farm. His works were generally pessimistic. Ching Empire - With the conquest of China by the Mongols, a Mongol-Chinese Empire was established. Kublai Khan was the greatest of the Ching emperors. The Chings were noted for both their cruelty and their huge ambitions. Decriminalizing - Making legal or less criminal. Great Spirit - The Supreme Being as recognized by many Native American tribes. Often identified with God. Infringements - Encroachments, Ideology - A system of beliefs, usually rational or reasoned out, which form the core of a political philosophy. Locale - Place, locality. Normalizing - Making normal, or returning to feelings of normality. Price-gouging - Charging exorbitant prices, usually because of a lack of competition. Schizophrenia - A mental disease, sometimes but not always characterized by the afflicted person suffering from multiple personalities (Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde). A psychosis, or disease of the mind. Sufferers may also endure hallucinations, delusions, nightmares, and be unable to distinguish reality from mental phenomena in their own minds, such as telepathic events, or memories. Scenario - A possible sequence of events. The best scenario would be... Tranquilizing - Calming, restoring to a calm and normal pace or state of mind.
About the Glossaries - There are chapter glossaries after each chapter, and a complete glossary at the end of the ebook. The chapter glossary terms are linked to words that might be defined or explained for the convenience of the reader while they read through the work. The main glossary serves to further educate the reader as to the history, ways and facts of drug and substance use and abuse. The author suggests that the reader go first to the chapter glossary, and check to see if there are terms that they are unfamiliar with. Then, after learning the meanings of those words, they will be more easily able to read through the subject matter without "stumbling" or being distracted through having to look words up.