Lately I have been noticing something. And while this thing that I’ve noticed is not new, I definitely failed to make the connection until just recently. What I’m referring to is the state of our society, and how it relates to the conditions of our hearts.
Let me be clear, I don’t believe that what I am about to say is a magic cure-all. I simply want to expand the conversation on the issues plaguing our society today. I want to expand the conversation because I have noticed that almost no one is discussing the root of the issue. And the people who are discussing it only do so in a cursory fashion. Keep in mind that when I refer to “people”, I am referring to laymen. Not professionals in the field. But I want to dive deeper. I want to explore the possibilities of rewriting American, and world history with a simple and intuitive approach. Of course this is going to sound so far fetched that I would get laughed out of any room I spoke in, but that doesn’t change the reality of the message.
What I am proposing is that we completely revamp our approach to social issues. Instead of attacking people who are hurting, what if we actually tried to help them. I’ll give you an example of what I mean. Almost everyone you talk to on a daily basis knows someone, or has been affected by addiction themselves. Whether it’s, alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex/porn, or shopping, more and more people are finding outlets to pacify their carnal need to be gratified. In the name of brevity, let’s just talk about drug addiction. In America, drug addicts are seen as social pariahs, either filling our prisons, or the streets of low-income neighborhoods. Most of the addicts that are on the streets are only there until they inevitably get busted again. The revolving door does nothing for the recognizance of the inmate, all it does is siphon more money out of the wallets and purses of law-abiding, tax paying citizens. Not to mention the judges have the added incentive in the form of kickbacks from the privately owned prisons to keep them at capacity. Now is it just me or does that sound like a gross conflict of interest?
Nevertheless, this is the current system in place in America. We are at war (what a joke) with drugs. Of course we are not alone in this approach. Many other countries have adopted a very similar fight to get drugs off the streets. One such country is…or rather was Portugal. You see, up until 2001, Portugal had a drug policy that nearly mirrored Americas in almost every way. The lion’s share of their budget was spent on apprehending and incarcerating drug addicts and dealers in a vain attempt to purify the streets. Then in 2001 they rolled out a radical new drug policy. Instead of attacking the people suffering from addiction, they decided to treat addiction like any other illness. They shifted the bulk of the budget to addiction recovery and counseling services. They went so far as to hire substance abuse counselors and other trained personnel to drive around the city and visit the darkest dirtiest drug infested areas. They do not come to these places to chastise anyone, or apprehend them; instead they show up for two very different reasons. The first reason they are there is to offer any of the addicts who are ready to get clean free transportation to a facility designed to help them recover. The second reason they make these stops is to offer clean needles and other paraphernalia for the addicts to use. Now initially this may seem like some kind of kooky co-dependency nonsense, but take one look at the data, and it will begin to make sense. Susana Ferreira summed it up best, I believe, in her article written for The Guardian when she said:
The opioid crisis soon stabilized, and the ensuing years saw dramatic drops in problematic drug use, HIV and hepatitis infection rates, overdose deaths, drug related crime and incarceration rates. HIV infection plummeted from an all-time high in 2000 of 104.2 new cases per million to 4.2 cases per million in 2015.
She goes on to say that the changes cannot be entirely attributed to new laws, and this is where our views converge. For me, the idea of addiction being a sickness is not a new one. I have personally watched happy healthy people plummet in to anger, depression, and even suicide because of actions that led them down a path of addiction. I used to think, like others do, that addicts simply choose to be that way. If they didn’t want to be addicts, why wouldn’t they just stop? And then it hit me.
At the beginning of any addiction there is a search. A search for meaning, for affirmation, for euphoria, or the urge to forget or erase some hurt you are feeling. I am purposefully not including people who are forced in to drugs by someone lording over them because well, they don’t have a choice. And that is a discussion for a whole other post. But we can go there if any of you would like, just let me know in the comments. No, I’m focusing on people who make a conscious choice to begin their path of destruction. Unfortunately most people don’t realize they have addictive tendencies until it is too late. But when I started to actually look at addicts as ill human beings, I started to notice a pattern; everyone is suffering from a heart issue.
And so it is my firm belief, that most of the issues surrounding addiction, can be solved with love. (Break out the hippy bashing music) What I mean is, once we start to love the addict again and stop treating them like some sort of lower life form, I think we can actually start to make a real difference in the world. And it starts long before they are middle-aged and begging in the streets. This is a process that needs to begin from birth essentially. Parents are the front lines, and need to create a home environment that is wrapped in love. Where the child feels safe and able to share whatever is going on in their lives. That means the parents have to get their act together long before they have kids. Then we as a society need to continue this trend in our schools, by putting far greater emphasis on the mental health of every student. And if we are going to continue paying higher and higher taxes, can we at least make sure every kid can go to school without worrying about how they are going to eat. Seriously! It is 2018 and we are Americans. Why is childhood hunger still a thing? And since there is no perfect system, the ones that slip through the cracks and make it to adulthood with a debilitating addiction, let’s just circle them with support. Make it impossible for them to have it any other way.
Of course, there are always going to be exceptions. Always, but if the rule becomes the emphasis, the exceptions will begin to dwindle. No one is suggesting that our police force should pack it up and go home, or that we should just hug every criminal until they apologize. But what I am saying, what I know in my heart to be true, is that we have a much better chance of success as a nation if we stop dividing our own. If we actually come together again, as one nation, setting aside all of our cultural and religious differences, I believe we can put America back together. There can be a day when our children are no longer born in to a war they didn’t ask for.
As I was writing this, I began to think about all the advancements that are being made in the treatment of depression and PTSD. Specifically, I think there is real promise in the area of micro-dosing. I have read a few studies, nothing exhaustive mind you that suggest the micro-dosing of LSD can drastically reduce the effects of PTSD by rewriting neural pathways. I’m no expert that’s for sure, but I think it is worth looking in to further. I want to be clear on my position. I believe there are drugs in this world that should be eradicated, mainly the deadly vile man-made concoctions that do nothing but destroy lives. I also believe there are a myriad of drugs that have been demonized by governments for decades that can actually have powerful medicinal effects if researched properly.