Posts Tagged ‘drug abuse’

Marijuana

8 April 2018
wild hemp Iowa farm

Relatives inspect a wild hemp plant, found on a farm in Iowa during a family reunion, summer 1980.

Yesterday I attended an event concerning marijuana use in California. The event was sponsored by my church and featured Bishop Ron Allen as the speaker. Dr. Allen is a long-time opponent of teenage drug use, and an ex-addict himself. The group attending was very small. There was only one person present who had a problem with a person she was close to and needed those kinds of answers. The rest of us were concerned with how best to counter the effects of legalization in California, and in particular in the Black communities. The church has developed an education program called Truth About Drugs which is operated by the Foundation for a Drug Free World. Bishop Allen has a more faith-based approach, but uses the Truth About Drugs materials. He has started his own group, called the International Faith Based Coalition. Its mission is to get effective drug education programs into all churches and being delivered to all young people.

But on that Saturday afternoon, with the eight or ten others that shared the room, Bishop Allen was mostly worried. He had come to realize that some of the government agencies that you’d expect to want to prevent drug use were instead pushing for legalization, supposedly due to the potential revenues from excise taxes. He found that they were buying into spurious and dishonest claims being made by pro-drug groups. And he recognized that the “black market” selling marijuana to minors continued to grow, with their costs now reduced due to legalization. He was also troubled by the continued problems in the black communities in dealing with drugs, crime and violence. He warned that the current focus on white-on-black violence was avoiding the more painful and prevalent issue of black-on-black violence, and of the broader problem of violence and war in human society. “All lives matter!” he said. And he repeated this many times.

All Lives Matter!

In embracing this concept, Bishop Allen to some extent turns away from teachings that require unwavering devotion to a deity but instead see deity in all people. Another way of stating this belief or awareness is: “What you do in life matters.” In other words, if an individual makes good choices, the effects of this will be felt by many others around him, and perhaps even improve the general environment. Conversely, if an individual makes poor choices, similar ripple effects will occur. This awareness is very similar to the awareness of connectedness that many who pay attention to the spiritual side of life acquire. This contrasts with the separateness that is implied or expressed in the popular pursuit of material advantage. Thus, Bishop Allen is confronted by a conundrum (puzzling problem) that has confounded the best thinkers of the ages.

Drugs

The Foundation for a Drug Free World pushes the message that all drugs are poisons. Biologically-created poisons are known as toxins. Toxin is a back-formation from toxic which comes from a Greek word for the poison used on arrows. The word “intoxicated” shares this root meaning. We start from this as our stable datum concerning drugs. If an overdose of something can kill you, then it is a drug. Otherwise, it is merely food, or a food-like substance, like vitamins. Certain drugs are also known as narcotics, the Greek root of that word meaning “numb.”

Because pain relief can be medically useful, the worlds of medicine and narcotics have become crossed – and have been so for a very long time. This should be understood as a problem of biology. However, the mind, and the mental effects of drugs, go beyond biology. This is the difficult point that many reach when trying to understand drugs, as many persons of this world don’t recognize the existence of any living thing beyond the realm of biology. In this they are most certainly mistaken.

Because pain and confusion can exist in the mind independent of the state of the body, the subject of drugs also crosses over into the realm of the spirit. This is one reason why churches are quite rightly involved and concerned. They can see this clearly; particularly those like Bishop Allen, who have been through the experience of addiction.

Addiction

Can physical and mental addiction be separated? Researchers say, “yes.” Spiritual people are not so sure.

A web article published by rehabs.com states:

In many ways, physical and psychological [addiction] are identical in that they activate similar brain regions.

The difference involves what happens when a person is deprived of the drug. Do they experience simple mental torture, or actual physical withdrawal symptoms (plus the mental torture)? That’s the difference. So we are talking about a difference of degree. One argument made about marijuana is that it is not physically addictive. But it is mentally addictive. Some call mental addiction “dependency.”

Imagine, if you can, that you have the body of a robot. Your body works on electricity which is supplied by some sort of power pack that is designed to run for years. You have been taken out on a long space tour, and you miss your robot buddies back on the home planet. You are sad about this, as you see no way of returning to your friends. You discover that when your smell sensors are overwhelmed by the presence of certain solvents (such as alcohol) in your environment, you forget about your lost friends, and switch to a different line of thought. So, to relieve your sadness, you seek out such solvents, and hover over them. You, a robot, have started on your path towards addiction. With a machine body, you could never get physically addicted to anything; you don’t eat or drink! Here on Earth your problem would be classified as psychological addiction, or dependence.

An addicted robot? OK, perhaps a little far-fetched. But I wanted to stress the mental component of addiction and by extension, the spiritual component. In the end, it is the spiritual being who is addicted. And this is backed up by numbers: The most effective drug rehab program is Narconon, and that program addresses the being, not just the body (detox). Though withdrawal can kill a body, it is mental attachment, not physical attachment, that drives addiction.

Medicine versus Salvation

It has been the hope of Ron Hubbard, from the beginning of his work, that medicine, science, and spirituality could someday be harmonized into an overarching theory and practice that would handle any human condition.

However, it appears that medicine, as an institution (“trade union” as LRH has called it) has come to see spiritual practices as a threat. In this we see that some “doctors” have walked away from the ideals of medicine and into some other realm, which could – frankly – be labeled as criminal. This is an unhappy circumstance, as most practicing doctors would not agree with this. They still want to make their patients permanently better, and they haven’t given up hope about this. Those currently in control, however, seem to have different ideas.

Ron came to understand this to be a “dramatization.” A compulsion to display non-optimum conduct for reasons that have been totally buried and seem to be totally lost. But Ron’s Tech can handle dramatizations. It works on many drug addicts. It could also work on many doctors.

Meanwhile, though, we have a problem. Organized medicine is opposed to many health-giving therapies because they aren’t medical! They have been pushing an anti-spiritual, anti-religion message for decades, only recently slightly relenting in the face of the overwhelming popularity of some of the simpler non-medical practices, such as meditation and acupuncture.

Whole industries have been built up that take advantage of various human weaknesses and conditions. So now we have business people and bankers also being lured into the criminal attitude that a sick population is better for business than would be a healthy population.

The Role of Government: Decriminalization versus Legalization

I have expounded in other places about the problem that government has with crime. It is summed up in the phrase: “If you can’t beat them, join them.” This is considered to be sound political advice. However, it contains a connotation of deceit, in that you could remain an enemy of a group while pretending to join it, and thus operate within the group as a traitor.

I have proposed – and this is not a new idea – that many people in government, if not whole governments, have been taken over by criminal interests because the criminals appeared stronger than the honest people they victimize. They are certainly not spiritually stronger, but in the physical universe – especially if given superior physical weapons – criminals can appear to be the stronger force.

This has been and will continue to be a problem for beings who want to do right. The most workable strategy has been to use spiritual strength to one’s advantage. Scientology adds the discovery that you can actually improve, or rehabilitate, the spiritual strength of someone if they decide to stay honest. Thus what we see playing out here on Earth – in really just its beginning stages – is an attempt by honest beings to recover control over the institutions of Earth, fought against by criminals using technologies of an increasingly devious and destructive nature.

These technologies very much include Bernay’s approach to marketing and public relations, which involves taking advantage of human psychological weaknesses.

So you have a situation on the planet now where the economy has stagnated and in some sectors collapsed. Governments, which depend on healthy economies for their own existence, become desperate for funds to continue providing the public services that the population expects from them. And so they become open to arguments that law enforcement costs would reduce and tax revenues could increase by legalizing (but taxing) activities that have become popular in the culture, but were previously seen as illegal. While some governments have only reduced criminal penalties for some acts (such as possession of marijuana – decriminalization) in the hopes of increased revenues from fines, others have opted for legalization for adults, as has been done with cigarettes and alcohol, expecting, we presume, even better economic outcomes.

The situation is further confused by the fact that centralized legal systems have never served the population well, and so popular sentiment is often in favor of fewer prohibitions. From the viewpoint of an honest citizen, this is a justifiable position. Laws are routinely used selectively on the population, enforced on persons that are dissidents or rivals, and not enforced on friends and family. There is also a significant and undeniable legacy of false and forced imprisonment across the planet and down through the ages, used by governments to prolong the reign of leaders or cabals who have outlasted their tenure of popular support. It is a common criminal practice, sometimes referred to as a “frame-up.”

That police departments continue to work with churches and the Foundation for a Drug Free world in anti-drug education programs and other forms of community outreach attests to the basic goodness and decency of people – particularly those who have pledged to work for the public good – but not in all instances, unfortunately, can the same be said for their political leaders or funding sources.

In the face of this morass of ethical and moral confusion at the leadership level, the question of whether or not to legalize becomes irrelevant. Leadership must first decide to unconfuse itself and start to lead for real. Leaders in government could then begin to serve their communities in some useful way, and would rise up out of the criminal situation where so many of them currently find themselves.

A vision based on reality

In the real world, for ages past and for ages to come (I hope), people will do what they decide to do. Yes, laws can serve as guidelines towards the better path. But they can never replace the resolution of a being to pursue his choice, no matter what. Thus, a “legal system” based on guilt and punishment will never fulfill its purpose of improving conditions, but will tend to worsen conditions. Only a legal system based on education and real understanding could hope to do that. Where beings lose hope that they could ever attain their ideals, the improvement of conditions becomes impossible. Thus, absent a general improvement in the population on the subject of happiness, a general improvement of the human condition on Earth (or anywhere else for that matter) will not occur.

Thus, this vision starts with The Way to Happiness. I wish there were other choices I could recommend; I know of none that do the work of this book, without once mentioning God, heaven, or scriptures. We need a universal moral guide, and this is the only one I am aware of that exists on Earth. In it are our stable data, the foundation on which a better society may be built.

Next, groups need purposes to survive as groups. Put otherwise, they need games, goals, visions of the future to work toward. The lowest common denominator purpose on Earth has been war. That has to change…but not necessarily that much. How do you turn a game from something destructive for the larger group, to something constructive? There are two main ways: 1) Construct the game in ways that allow the defeated rival to survive and play again, as in sports. 2) Pick a rival that is external to the group, either physically or conceptually. Thus, “fighting human aberration” becomes a playable game if it doesn’t actually destroy human life, but only strives to remove the self-imposed barriers to a fuller life experience. In the hands of psychiatry, “mental health” became a criminal game. But it doesn’t have to be. With effective mental technologies, it is a game very much worth playing, and winning.

In this vision of the future, what does government and law look like, and how can we move in that direction from our current scene? Would marijuana be an “illegal drug” in that new world?

If we start with The Way to Happiness as our foundation, then we can imagine that law, to the extent that it was necessary and desirable, would parallel the Precepts. Take Care of Yourself. Be Temperate. Be Industrious. If someone was abusing marijuana, they would have problems in some of these areas. And their community would be organized to assist them to change their ways. If they got into Ethics trouble, say for missing work, they might be assigned a Condition. If they could not get out of that Condition, an investigation might be undertaken to determine if that person had criminal ties or tendencies. If so, further handlings would be recommended. If those handlings did not result in turning the individual around, a justice procedure might result in the person being placed on a list of persons with unhandled drug dependencies, limiting the sorts of employment and assistance that would be available to them. They’d have a hard time in life. Would they go to jail? Possibly not. Would they be given opportunities to detox and get rehabilitated? Probably so. It would be in the community’s interest to turn such people around, so the community might even help pay the cost of such services. Or maybe the addict would be billed for the cost, and expected to repay after he got cleaned up.

What we can do right now is push The Way to Happiness into use. All the police organizations of the country of Colombia know this book! They used it to help create a truce with the FARC rebels. In Los Angeles it has been used to reduce gang violence, with similar results in Denver and many other cities.

Even the Ethics technology has made some inroads into society, and should be promoted as an adjunct to the criminal justice system. Third Party Investigations have been mentioned as useful in conflict resolution work in Los Angeles, and deserve much wider recognition and use.

These are both educative technologies, and that’s what the planet needs right now. Some reach for it. Others know they need it, but are afraid to ask. You can often get cooperation just by assuming that you will.

That’s the way – briefly stated – to run a community, a city, a state, a planet. Care about everyone. Make sure they know and understand their moral and ethical choices, then let people get on with it, and see what happens. The curbing of crime and of criminals is an important aspect in such a world. It simply has to be done in an honest and humane manner, with the application of as much effective mental and spiritual technology as seems practical. Earth, after all, is not the end of our problems. Even now, as many more than do should realize, other worlds – worlds many of us once participated in – are knocking on our doors, inviting us to learn and play their age-old games of commerce and war. Do we meet those invitations with the moral compass of our ancestors, or with The Way to Happiness? What we decide in the next few years could make a big difference over a long stretch of our future.

As for pot and drug addiction: I’m sure glad I didn’t have to worry about that this lifetime. Was there an anti-drug education program in my school when I was growing up? Yes! Will such programs save everyone? No, but one saved me. Can I get an amen?

Advertisements

Answers to Drugs

22 September 2017

Yesterday I attended a public information session concerning the increasing use of marijuana and other drugs. This session was organized by Bishop Ron Allen who heads the International Faith Based Coalition. This is an anti-drug-abuse group. (Not an anti-drug group, though.) He had this session video-taped for use in his outreach work.

Two of the presenters were with the Colorado National Marijuana Initiative. They were there representing the President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy.

From official websites:

A component of the Executive Office of the President, ONDCP was created by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 [which extended an act by the same name passed 2 years earlier]. The ONDCP Director is the principal advisor to the President on drug control issues. ONDCP coordinates the drug control activities and related funding of 16 Federal Departments and Agencies.

ONDCP also administers two grant programs: the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) and Drug-Free Communities (DFC).

The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, provides assistance to Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States.

The National Marijuana Initiative (NMI) is one of three national initiatives within the HIDTA program.

Other presenters

Another presenter was with the California Dept. of Justice Advanced Training Center.

The first presenter, who did not sit on the panel, was the ED of Omni Youth Programs, a non-profit, non-governmental “agency” operating in Sacramento County. She is college-trained with a background in both traditional and non-traditional therapies. She is assisted at Omni by a trained Family Therapist.

She explained to the audience that Omni’s approach to drug abuse is to target correlated factors such as child and family violence. These factors are linked to drug abuse (alcohol abuse in particular) by many studies (I assume mostly done by sociologists). These factors are addressed through group training programs. Omni trains the trainers who then go out and train groups. If this training is like other methods I have heard about, it focuses on changing “undesirable” behaviors into more desirable ones. We can assume that this work is moderately beneficial, but it uses technologies that can also be applied to more sinister forms of social control, and involves no real therapy on a personal level. Measures of the effectiveness of this work were not stressed in her short talk, but the website indicates positive results in 6- and 12-month follow-up studies.

Criminalize it

The federal approach to the drug problem is to criminalize drug production (where possible), trafficking, and use. About half of all Federal prisoners are there on drug trafficking charges. This is about 100,000 people. There are only about 250 people in federal prisons for possession only, but in state prisons there are roughly 50,000 more. There were roughly 160,000 drug traffickers in state prisons in recent years.

These figures must not include many major in-country producers, as drug production figures show no sign of heading downwards. However, many of these drugs, even Meth and LSD, have significant non-US sources, and most illegal drugs are majorly produced outside of the US.

The law-based approach to drug abuse control gives a lot of people a lot of things to do, but gives no particular sign of being effective. As is the case with most lawmaking, anti-drug laws are on the books because they are demanded by popular opinion, or give the government the feeling they are “doing something,” not because they are effective at dealing with social problems.

The federal people at this event argued for a continued legal and regulatory approach to the problem, bolstered by information campaigns, which have shown some effectiveness.

If marketing is effective, why bother with criminalization?

My take would be to trash the legal approach and continue the information campaigns. This might seem hypocritical to some, but passing laws about things just doesn’t seem to work. Private corporations, which have no direct ability to make law (though they do lobby abundantly, per all reports), have grown strong on marketing alone. Marketing and propaganda can breath life into a failed idea or kill a successful one. I think the effectiveness of marketing stems from its stress on giving people reasons to do things rather than reasons to stop doing things. Starting remains more popular than stopping in this society and probably always will. The stoppers are doomed to a minority status, even if they gain control of government or industry for a time. One of the greatest paradoxes we live with today has been our success at starting wars. Wars have always been seen primarily as stops because of their destructive results, but we have become convinced that they have “constructive” purposes in society, so they are now broadly supported (at least in the US).

That wars are constructive is of course a lie. So what we have in the US is a situation where the public is being lied to broadly and believing most of it. This is a sad situation, and is the road to a totally out-ethics (self-destructive) nation, which we are rapidly becoming. Drug use is a part of this greater overall picture.

The Scientology approach

Several programs sponsored by church members address these issues. They operate independently of church organizations:

Narconon handles the drug abuse problem by operating rehabilitation facilities across the planet.

The Truth About Drugs program backs up this work with drug education materials and activities.

United for Human Rights seeks to empower victims of criminal abuses by informing them of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Way to Happiness program distributes a secular moral code across the planet in about 100 languages.

That booklet is also used by Criminon, which is a criminal rehabilitation program.

Applied Scholastics seeks to improve study skills, as laid out in LRH’s Study Technology, through its international teacher training center and in schools across the planet.

Hubbard College of Administration similarly teaches Hubbard’s management technology.

The Volunteer Ministers are organized to assist in disaster relief, often working alongside the Red Cross and government groups. Volunteer Ministers can also get trained in all facets of Scientology so they can help friends, neighbors and strangers more effectively.

And the Citizens Commission on Human Rights seeks to put ethics in on the psychiatrist-lead mental health system.

 

Drugs and Psychotherapy

The connection between drugs and psychotherapy might not be apparent to some, so let me clarify: People seek therapy usually due to experiencing some “mental problem.” They quite often don’t make this move until they are acutely suffering. Traditionally the therapist talks to the person (now often called “talk therapy”) in the hopes of giving the person some helpful realizations. This sort of therapy is no longer popular; it is not covered by many forms of medical insurance, and it takes a lot of time. So if the talk therapy doesn’t work or is unavailable, drugs are resorted to. Usually some drug can be found that will alleviate the symptoms. It will do nothing about the underlying cause. That means that drugs can “hook” people, because the symptoms return if drug use stops.

So we see drug use as a result of ineffective psychotherapies, as well as lack of access to any therapy other than drugs. Drugs are seen by beginning users as therapeutic, and in the past have often been sold that way. For instance, laudanum – a strong opioid drug – started as a pain relief medicine. So did the modern forms of opium, morphine (still used), heroin and cocaine. To that list add “legitimate” drugs prescribed by psychiatrists, and we see that whole profession falling into the pit of hiding symptoms behind a drug fog, rather than treating root cause. And: As long as they continue to believe that the mind is the brain – a widely disproved misconception – they will continue to fail in their assigned role in society, if they even care what that is.

The result of the failure of psychotherapy to deliver relief where it is most desired has resulted in the current drug situation. The only real solution is to start providing a psychotherapy (or whatever you choose to call it) that really works.

None of the panelists at the event I attended suggested this.