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Drug Nation

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Recent statistics from a variety of organizations have pointed to an alarming fact of life in the United States – we’re quite literally a nation of junkies. From over-the counter drugs, prescription drugs, painkillers, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, inhalants, steroids, crack, cocaine, heroin, meth, glue and on and on Americans are on some substance or the other. Getting zonked out is a routine; binge drinking at the nation’s college is part of “adult education” and alcoholism is the creeping epidemic in poor and depressed ghettoes across America.

This is the reality of American society: people go about their daily lives spaced out on prescription drugs, painkillers, alcohol or crack. From the High School kid smoking a marijuana “spliff” to a mid-Manhattan attorney shooting heroin in his veins to the crack-head getting a fix in the slum areas its happening daily.

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Funny thing is that nobody, except the few groups and organizations that fight drug use and abuse, seems to care. There is no “war on drugs” at home as there is an Iraq war and the approach by city, state and federal governments to this crisis has been to offer up periodic Band-Aid solutions to an endemic chronic cancer.

Five million teenagers (under age 20 years) use marijuana on a daily basis or put another way the entire population of every English-speaking Caribbean island combined. The nation’s High Schools are riddled with drugs. 2.5 million High school students say that they can buy marijuana within a day and some 5 million can get it every day. Just recently the police busted up a drug dealer operating out of a high school in Queens, New York selling crack cocaine to both students and others.

The illegal drug trade is a multi billion dollar industry that carries with it violence and murder. Large project housing complexes in population centers like New York, Los Angeles and Texas are oftentimes riddled with every form of substance abuse and use. For example, in parts of East New York in Brooklyn alcoholism is rampant. So is unemployment especially among Black males (48 percent) that spawn every kind of violence from domestic abuse to teenage gang violence.

Teenage parties are affairs when drug use and experimentation is a normal thing. Binge drinking mixed with marijuana, crack cocaine and other hard drugs oftentimes carry with it deadly violence between users took zonked out to know the difference between what is real and what is not. Marry that with illegal hand guns and the result is a deadly combination. According to the police the majority of teenage killings happen after 4:00 a.m in the morning – in other words after parties are over.

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And drug abuse also is an engine for serious diseases like AIDS, tuberculosis, Hepatitis and other STDS. With resistance down due to drug use people engage in reckless behavior on the spur of the moment that is fraught with regrets and pain for the rest of their lives. Even so-called “closed communities” have their share of drug abuse problems. The face of drug abuse in the United States is usually a Black or Latino male or female. But the reality is that this problem is just as bad – sometimes worse – in other non-Black communities. In the Jewish community for example the use of “designer drugs” like Ecstasy is on the rise and for the white community teens usually get high on a large variety of substances.

White teens abuse over-the-counter drugs like cough syrup, painkillers and other prescription drugs. They also sniff inhalants and glue and are more likely to mix these drugs with alcohol on are regular basis to get “high.” Chronic drug addiction is not confined to the Black or Latino communities although there are exceptionally high rates of addiction in these communities. That is because there are very few substance abuse programs that work in these communities when compared to white communities.

Moreover, drug treatment at expensive private rehab centers are usually out of the financial resources of most Blacks and Latinos. White teenagers can be “cleaned” by their parents who have access and money to get them in these hush-hush institutions and the community will be none the wiser that Mr. So and So’s son or daughter was a chronic junkie. On the other hand Black and Latino users are publicly ostracized; stigmatized and even when they desperately want to get clean the resources available to them are meager, inadequate and sporadic.

The end result is that Black and Latino junkies get a temporary clean fix that lasts for a few months, maybe a year, and then it back to the same old life that is repeated over and over until this poor hapless human being lives only for the next fix and a lifetime of being perpetually high and zonked out.

While President Bush and company are spending $29 billion each month to fight a losing war in Iraq America’s teenagers are swimming in a sea of drugs. The system is overwhelmed and broken yet nobody has declared a war on drugs. Our children are expected to study and get good grades in an environment that is characterized by drugs in and out of the school’s compound. Depressed and zonked out teenagers become violent, act out violent fantasies and glorify drug use.

Alcohol is readily available, as is marijuana, crack, cocaine, cigarettes, heroin and all kinds of other dangerous substances. Still, not all news is bad. According to recent data teenage drinking is down as is college binge drinking. Of course, that is not to say that the problem has been liked. Alcoholism is a disease and must be treated as a public health problem. Society’s ignorance of this health problem and its powerful physical and emotional pull on the sufferer leads to public blaming, family anger and intolerance that ultimately lead to the alcoholic getting deeper into chronic depression and as a result drinks more and more.

The fact is that Alcoholism cannot be cured at this time. Even if an alcoholic hasn't been drinking for a long time, he or she can still suffer a relapse. Not drinking is the safest course for most people with alcoholism. But the good news is that it can be treated and controlled. Drug addiction like everything depends on the individual and his or her willpower and determination to get help and get well. Unfortunately American society tends to treat drug abuse with another drug that carries with it its own “side effects” that are treated by yet another drug ad infinitum.

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And American medicine tends to focus on cures and not on prevention. New classes of diseases are accompanied with a battery of drugs, portions and pills which by themselves also carry the real possibility of addiction. Sometimes there is little determination as to what cures and what addicts. It is this that makes America a drug nation with pharmaceutical companies raking in big bucks for their newest and latest “medical break through” that cures some aliment or the other – with side affects of course.

Finally, a word about Crack Cocaine addiction. That requires crack cocaine detox and rehab to fully overcome the adverse mental and physical effects of the drug. Once a person becomes used to having crack in their body and brain, physical and mental addiction begins to take hold of the person. Crack sometimes makes the user feel superior, in control, psychic, even god-like.

These delusions are intense while using crack and lessen when not using. Because crack can make the person feel high artificially without the usual demands reality requires: like success, doing good, being acknowledged, etc, crack seems like a short cut to pleasure. The idea that crack cocaine improves life is the major LIE that crack users secretly hang onto. Users sometimes deny crack use and dependence and lie very convincingly to friends and family: as long as they can get more crack. Detox from crack cocaine requires a controlled environment away from the enticement of the drug.

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MICHAEL D. ROBERTS is a top Political Strategist and Business, Management and Communications Specialist in New York City's Black community. He is an experienced writer whose specialty is socio-political and economic analysis and local (more...)
 

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