What causes addiction? Easy, right? Drugs cause addiction. But maybe it is not that simple.
What causes addiction? Easy, right? Drugs cause addiction. But maybe it is not that simple.
Alex Pietrowski – What is it about the human experience that calls so many of us into the abyss?
Alex Pietrowski, Staff Writer
March 21, 2017
The opioid crisis is happening all around us in the background of society, as overdoses from street drugs and prescription painkillers continue to rise. Talk to your local firemen and paramedics and you’ll quickly realize the situation is sucking up our public resources while ruining lives and destroying families. A crisis as devastating as this should be top priority for a sane society, however this issue gets very little media attention, all the while, pharmaceutical companies are reaping massive profits, and globally, the black market for illegal heroin has become a global industry.
Pharmaceutical makers are tweaking their product lines to supply more options for opiate addicts: stronger pills, weaker pills, new guidelines, overdose antidotes, and so on. Yet, none of this addresses the root of the problem, instead only targeting the symptoms of the crisis, and a bigger idea is needed to interrupt the trend.
Gabor Maté, Canada’s renowned addiction specialist recently commented on this issue, specifically addressing fentanyl, the super-potent new pharmaceutical grade opiate which, in some areas, has been found in up to 90% of street drugs tested at independent testing facilities. He first spoke about the genuine need for pain killers:
“The drugs these users choose are often opiates, the most powerful painkillers we know. In my years as a palliative care physician, I daily had reason to be grateful for the easing of suffering the opiate medications afforded my patients afflicted with cancer and other pain-inducing conditions. But opiates also soothe emotional pain; in fact, the suffering of psychic pain is experienced in the same part of the brain as that of physical pain.” ~Gabor Maté
Getting to the root, though, why is there so much pain which needs to be numbed in our society? This is the big question that when addressed is the only thing which can offer a way out of this crisis.
Maté asserts this epidemic is cultural, not physical, noting that the world we’ve created is, ‘devoid of a deep appreciation of the complexity of addiction and its sources in human experience.’
Human experience, the most vital notion in healing addiction. What is it about the human experience that calls so many of us into the abyss?
“What engenders such unbearable pain in human beings that they would knowingly risk their very lives to escape it?” ~Gabor Maté
Regarding human experience, psychiatrist Thomas Hora wrote:
“The meaning of all addictions could be defined as endeavours at controlling our life experiences with the help of external remedies. Unfortunately, all external means of improving our life experiences are double-edged swords: they are always good and bad. No external remedy improves our condition without, at the same time, making it worse.”
Mate’s primary hypothesis is that childhood trauma is the leading factor driving people to addiction, as he has personally seen in 12 years of working with addiction patients in urban Vancouver, BC, Canada.
“In my 12 years in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, ground zero for addiction in Canada, all my female patients reported sexual abuse in childhood, all the male patients abuse or neglect of one kind or another.
As large scale international epidemiological studies have repeatedly demonstrated, childhood adversity is at the core of the emotional patterns and psychological dynamics that drive addiction.
Further, childhood trauma shapes the physiology of the developing brain in ways that induce a susceptibility to addiction. Hence the addiction-prone person finds relief in substances that would not entice others, even after repeated exposure to the same drugs.
In turn, prolonged drug use also changes the brain in ways that further entrench the addictive drive.” ~Gabor Maté
Furthermore, he notes the need for a shift in how medical science looks at addiction is absolutely vital:
“And it would be of great help if all legal, medical and political professionals, as well as the general public, were informed of what modern research has taught us about child and brain development, and the tortured and manifold responses of the human psyche to early trauma. If the people now dying in this preventable epidemic were succumbing to a bacterial infection, we would declare a public emergency and mobilize to contain it.” ~Gabor Maté
This crisis is a pharmaceutical corporation/medical doctor created epidemic. The drugs are out there, and are not going anywhere. Record poppy production in Afghanistan coupled with the fact that pharmaceutical companies are flooding the streets with pills means that in order for this crisis to be resolved, we have to find a way for people to choose life over addiction.
His most important question, however, may very well be this one: Who are we when we are not addicted?
Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and Offgrid Outpost, a provider ofstorable food and emergency kits. Alex is an avid student of Yoga and life.
With permission from
March 15, 2017
Marijuana has long suffered defamation and image assassination. Especially in the United States, the plant has previously been portrayed as a gateway drug.
A gateway drug is a drug which supposedly leads the user on to more addictive or dangerous drugs.
People were made to believe this through concerted efforts by the United States government and its federal agencies, as well as religious bodies. The main goal was to demonize the plant to discourage people from using it.
Between 1936 and 1939, a drama film titled Reefer Madness was released by church groups to warn parents of so-called dangers of allowing their children to use marijuana.
It was portrayed in the film that marijuana use led to mental illness or madness.
But recent empirical evidence on marijuana has showed the opposite. Numerous studies have proven that marijuana possesses a significant medicinal value. More people are now breaking away from the previous unfounded and mischievous claims about the plant.
More and more studies of the medicinal qualities of marijuana are being published on a more regular basis, despite the United States government’s refusal to delist marijuana from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act.
A new study published by two researchers from Canada has demonstrated that marijuana was never a gateway drug. The study, in contrast, revealed how marijuana can treat tobacco and opioid addiction, making it an alternative to painkillers.
Drugs containing opioids are manufactured by Big Pharma. In the United States, opioid addiction rates have skyrocketed over the last two decades, costing millions in health insurance and lost productivity in the workforce.
According to Fortune magazine, an estimated 254 million opioid prescriptions were filled in 2010 alone, enough to medicate every adult in the United States for a month on a round-the-clock basis.
In the same year, pharmaceutical companies generated revenues of $11 billion from opioid sales alone.
According to a fact sheet from the United States Center for Disease Control, cigarette smoking causes approximately one out of every five deaths in the United States each year.
Estimates of more than 480,000 people die from cigarette smoking annually in the country, displaying the harms of the legal drug tobacco, while marijuana remains an illegal substance.
The Canadian study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, and comprised of 271 participants enrolled in Canada’s Marijuana for Medical Purposes program. The researchers wanted to discover whether marijuana can help alleviate substance addiction or not.
“This study is the first to specify the classes of prescription drugs for which cannabis is used as a substitute, and to match this substitution to specific diagnostic categories,” the study findings stated.
The researchers said they analyzed 107 questions answered by participants and respondents during the study. Data provided by participants include demographics, patterns of marijuana use, and marijuana substitution effect.
According to the researchers, they found a whopping 63 percent of respondents used marijuana in place of prescription medications. 30 percent of participants also replaced pharmaceutical opioids with marijuana.
16 percent of participants turned to marijuana as an alternative to benzodiazepines — such as Xanax or Valium — for treating anxiety and insomnia, while 12 percent also chose marijuana over antidepressants to relieve symptoms of depression.
The study showed further that one-quarter of participants substituted marijuana for alcohol. 12 percent switched from smoking tobacco to marijuana. Three percent of respondents even replaced hard drugs with marijuana.
The study has been labeled as the first comprehensive study of people enrolled in Canada’s medical marijuana program.
The researchers said they discovered how marijuana possesses immense medicinal value, and that it must be brought to the attention of society.
“Cannabis is perceived to be an effective treatment for diverse conditions, with pain and mental health the most prominent,” lead researchers, Philippe Lucas from the University of Victoria and Zach Walsh from the University of British Columbia said.
The Canadian study also demonstrated people gradually realizing the medicinal value of marijuana, and are increasingly dumping Big Pharma’s opioids for the plant.
In 2016, a poll published by the American research company Gallup Incorporated revealed the percentage of American adults who smoke marijuana has nearly doubled in three years.
In 2013, the same Gallup poll revealed that 7 percent of American adults smoke marijuana.
Marijuana advocates say the sharp rise in marijuana use in the country is due to successes in educating the American public about medicinal and other beneficial values of the plant.
People are responding to the education and are ridding their former negative perceptions about the plant.
By Amando Flavio, AnonHQ.com
In recent years it has been found to have amazing success with treating various addictions, specifically addiction to opiates.
Its ability to mitigate intense opiate withdrawals was discovered in the late 1960s. Since this discovery, studies undertaken by many research and academic facilities have proved that one of the 14 isolate alkaloids of Iboga — Ibogaine — is an extremely effective treatment for addiction to most substances, even the most addictive, like heroin, methadone, cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol, and even nicotine.
Since opiate recoverers are often prescribed methadone for the rest of their lives to keep the intense craving for other, stronger drugs at bay, Ibogaine offers people hope for a completely drug-free future.
For many people, all it takes is one heroin experience to develop an addiction, and herein lies the beauty of Ibogaine treatment. It essentially resets the opiate receptors in the brain back to zero, which in turn eliminates the desire to use opiates long after you’ve made the decision to quit. This is what makes this treatment far superior to any others available today.
What we have yet to discover is how, exactly, this happens. What we do know is that patients going through Ibogaine treatment must refrain from using opiates, and if they find they cannot, they must take extreme precaution, as their tolerance will have diminished significantly.
Ibogaine works similarly to other treatments that block or take up residence in the receptor sites, but it does not need to be taken on a regular basis like other treatments that use methadone or suboxone, which create a chemical dependency. Ibogaine is non-addictive. It cleanses the body of the drugs, and it seems as though the memory of the drug is cleansed from the user’s mind and body as well.
Ibogaine also works to regulate and rebalance brain chemistry by levelling out dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, etc. to the same state they were in before the patient became addicted in the first place. Having these chemicals rebalanced drastically reduces the chance of the user relapsing,
After Ibogaine is administered, it is converted by the liver into nor-ibogaine, which stores in the body’s fat cells. This is what actually heals addiction, as it takes away the cravings and the thoughts of using. The effects of this treatment can take from 72 to 96 hours post treatment to be fully experienced. Aside from these amazing qualities, Ibogaine is also a documented anti-depressive that can establish a state of well-being and diminish negative thought patterns.
The use of Ibogaine for substance abuse disorders is relatively new, and should only be done under the care of trained professionals at an appropriate treatment center. Luckily, the use of this substance for treatment is legal in Canada, but it is illegal in the United States and Australia and is not available anywhere in the form of a prescription — at least, not yet, as more testing and research still need to be done.
The following information is from the Global Ibogaine Alliance:
The onset of ibogaine’s effects is generally noticeable within 1-3 hours after administration. This includes both a marked decrease in physiological withdrawal symptoms as well as the subjective effects, which are divided by Dr. Kenneth Alper into three distinct phases (Alper 2001). The duration of the effects mentioned below will vary based on dosage, the timeframe over which the doses are administered, and also factors that affect individual metabolism, including CYP450-2D6 phenotype.
This phase generally lasts between 4 to 8 hours, and include the most intense and visual part of the experience that was described above as oneirogenic. During this phase the physiological effects, especially the mentioned ataxia, will be most pronounced.
A groundbreaking study finds cannabis is not a gateway drug — and it can be used in the treatment of alcohol and opioid abuse.
Weed, they also found, simply isn’t the “gateway drug” politicians and detractors have claimed it is for decades.
Published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, the study — comprised of 271 participants enrolled in Canada’s Marihuana for Medical Purposes program — is considered one of the first to evince how cannabis can help alleviate substance addiction.
“[T]his study is the first to specify the classes of prescription drugs for which cannabis is used as a substitute, and to match this substitution to specific diagnostic categories,” the study findings state.
Called the first comprehensive study of people enrolled in Canada’s medical marijuana program, researchers pointedly found cannabis does not act as a gateway drug — the primary premise of pot prohibition.
Indeed, weed has been targeted by so-called anti-drug groups for years as the gateway to harder and ostensively dangerous substances, facilely providing the impetus for politicians and officials to keep it pegged as a Schedule 1 drug — alongside heroin, cocaine, and LSD.
For the study to prove not only that isn’t true, but that cannabis can replace opioid painkillers and other pharmaceuticals — as well as alcohol and tobacco — makes it foundational, if not revolutionary.
“Cannabis is perceived to be an effective treatment for diverse conditions,” wrote lead researchers, Philippe Lucas from the University of Victoria and Zach Walsh from the University of British Columbia, “with pain and mental health the most prominent.”
Analyzing the 107 questions study participants answered online, concerning “demographics, patterns of use, and cannabis substitution effect,” researchers found a whopping 63 percent used weed in place of prescription medications — 30 percent of whom replaced pharmaceutical opioids with cannabis.
Fully 16 percent turned to weed as an alternative to benzodiazepines — such as Xanax or Valium — for treating anxiety and insomnia, while 12 percent chose cannabis over antidepressants to relieve symptoms of depression.
One-quarter of participants had substituted cannabis for alcohol, and for 12 percent, weed was preferable to tobacco — three percent of respondents even replaced hard drugs with pot.
Essentially, the findings could be viewed by the pharmaceutical industry and prohibition-loving politicians as a threat to the wallet.
However, for-profit prisons, police, and attorneys likely will salivate at the telling detail that 42 percent of participants obtained their cannabis through unregulated or illegal channels.
Of course, that’s by design of the U.S.’ global war on drugs. Maintain cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug without medical benefit — despite mountains of solid scientific evidence to the contrary — and Big Pharma easily maintains a skyrocketing profit margin on opioid and other medications.
Backlogged court systems, overcrowded prisons, and extortive penalties levied through police complete the circle of pot prohibition profiteers.
“The findings that some authorized patients purchase cannabis from unregulated sources and that a significant percentage of patients were charged for medical cannabis recommendations highlight ongoing policy challenges for this federal program,” the study authors conclude.
High Times points out that “[a]s we’ve seen in the United States, keeping medical marijuana in an illegal status not only creates an unsafe scenario for the patients who obviously can benefit from it, but also results with a major revenue loss. Not to mention the health, law enforcement and social costs resulting from the opioid epidemic facing our country.”
Considering the findings from this breakthrough study and others proving the seemingly endless medical and psychological benefits of cannabis, those societal costs prove insignificant in the eyes of those who keep this miraculous plant highly illegal or difficult to obtain.
“If you want to know why you drink and use, quit drinking and using.”
Source: Addicted to Doom | The Fix
Like most alcoholics, I wake up every morning, open my eyes and think, “I’m fucked.”
I was born this way. When I was a six years old, I would make my mom promise no less than 45 times before I left in the morning that she would be waiting for me when I got off the bus, because I was petrified I’d be kidnapped. I was the last stop on the route. My driver would ask me when I would suck my thumb, “Which flavor is it, chocolate or vanilla?” He was probably making harmless conversation with a six-year-old, but in my mind, he was planning on taking me to the bus yard to murder me. No exaggeration, this is where my brain went, when I was six.
When I was 8 years old, we had a school assignment to write and illustrate a book. Most kids wrote fun-loving stories of unicorns and pirate adventures. I wrote a heartbreaking tale about a bird dying called “The Cycle of Life” that made my teacher cry.
At 10 years old, I was wandering through the Connecticut woods—half talking to the gnomes I was 100 percent sure existed and half worried about being molested by a drifter—when I came upon a man’s gravestone from early colonial America. Barely visible from decades of erosion, I could just make out, “Beloved son, father, husband.” I sat there trying to imagine his entire life, what it must have been like, what it was like back then…and as I imagined this world, I realized everything I was imagining took place in the tiny dash between those two dates. His whole life reduced to a couple of inches. At that moment I realized I was in my dash, and had an existential crisis that shook me to my newly developing core. I was inconsolable. “We’re in the dash, we’re in the dash,” I cried. My parents shook their heads and told me to try not to “be so deep,” but I’ve never looked at life quite the same way ever since.
From a very young age I’ve had to fight the fatalistic thought that none of this matters, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that I took to alcohol and drugs like a duck to water. I blacked out the first time I drank and it was glorious. Five minutes after smoking my first joint, I was buying a pipe. Marijuana gave me reprieve from the algorithm of doom that constantly unfolds in my mind; sure, I became a delusional conspiracy theorist, but at least I was CHILL AF about it all, man. The relief I got from my brain the first time I ever did heroin, just the blissful SILENCE, is a feeling that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
Researchers say men are more likely to use drugs alone, which has been called a death sentence in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Drug overdoses killed hundreds of people in British Columbia in 2016, and no group died more often than men.
Men accounted for more than 80 percent of OD deaths across the province, or 605 of the 755 recorded deaths between January and November of 2016. Nearly 60 percent of them were between the ages of 19 and 39.
The super-potent opioid fentanyl has been detected in 299 male OD cases so far, compared with 75 cases involving women.
Though the gender gap appears to be a striking one, it’s far from a new trend. Over the last decade, the proportion of men dying of overdose has hovered around 75 percent—rising from 72.2 to 80.1 percent since 2011, according to coroner data.
Why do so many more men die of drug overdose than women? As anyone who has ventured onto a Reddit comment forum can probably guess, it’s difficult to raise this question without eliciting a fair volume of rage and anti-feminist conspiracy. What you don’t tend to hear are answers based on scientific research and first-hand experience. VICE reached out to a few experts to get a fuller picture of what’s going on.
One of the reasons for the disparity, say researchers in the field, is that men on average take more hard drugs than women. The most recent Canadian survey on alcohol, tobacco and drug use found that about one percent of women reported taking “hard” drugs (including coke, crack, ecstasy, meth, acid, or heroin) within the past year, compared with three percent of men.
According to a University of British Columbia nursing professor who studies youth, gender and drug use, the way men and women use drugs may also be a contributing factor.
“Some research has shown that women tend to use with others, and are less likely to be alone when they’re injecting drugs or using other medications,” UBC’s Elizabeth Saewyc told VICE. When other people are around, there’s a better chance that someone will be able to respond quickly and get them some help, she said.
With the rise of deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil, which have increasingly been found in BC street drugs, the risk of dying while using alone has risen significantly. On top of using alone, opioid-dependent men may be less cautious, according to Saewyc: “It may be that they’re taking larger doses without recognizing the potential risks there.”
Frontline activist Sarah Blyth, who helped establish a cluster of volunteer-run overdose prevention tents in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, told VICE that theory is backed up by her experience on the ground. “Men are more likely to use alone,” she said. “Using alone is the thing that’s actually killing people.”
Blyth added that men are also over-represented in Vancouver’s homeless population. “It’s not surprising to people in the Downtown Eastside,” she said. “There are more men than women living here.” The latest homeless count in Vancouver found that about 76 percent of the city’s street homeless were men.
Although the percentages may match up, Saewyc warned against jumping to conclusions about street homelessness and overdose rates. “You have to be careful about definitions of street homelessness, and who gets counted where,” she said. “If women are able to temporarily access couch surfing, or go home with a sexual partner, they may not be counted… I would be cautious, as we don’t have an underlying denominator.”
Though risk taking, drug use and homelessness are cross-cutting issues, Saewyc says more research is needed. “It’s clearly a huge health issue, and one that we definitely need to get a better handle on,” she said.
VICE reached out to the BC Coroner for comment, but did not receive a reply by press time.
Follow Sarah Berman on Twitter.
Photo by Jackie Dives