When my realtor handed over the keys to my first home in late September, I didn’t feel like I had realized the American Dream. I even had a car in the lot (well, on the street) and a chicken in the pot. But there was still something missing.

I felt closer to realizing the American Dream while doing drugs with friends in the Escalante National Monument. That national treasure in Utah is being gutted to exploit energy sources by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and President Donald Trump, but they can’t touch the memories I have of that place or the feelings they invoke.

As we pulled away from a National Park Ranger checkpoint with so much drugs and alcohol the four of us couldn’t finish it all in a week, I watched as unlucky hippies leaned against cop cars on the side of the road with their hands cuffed behind them. It made us all realize how lucky we were. Hell, I wasn’t even supposed to be out of the county without my probation officer’s permission, so staying my ass out of federal prison and going on to have the time of my life made it feel like the new American Dream was to do drugs in beautiful places with lovely people and not get caught. But that’s just part of the new American Dream. The new American Dream is to do all those drugs and then recover from whatever addictions you acquire.

It wasn’t until I quit drinking that I felt I had realized the American Dream. I’ve tried just about everything when it comes to stimulants and depressants, but it was alcohol that brought me the most trouble in my life. Sure I was on probation for possessing a pound or so of pot, but I spent more days in jail during that probation because of alcohol than I did for using cannabis, and I still managed to use cannabis pretty regularly. But I drank daily.

First I decided I’d “slow down” for my body’s sake. You know, drink fewer days during the week. And I did, too. I had just become really intrigued by body chemistry and nutrition, so when I started counting my calories, I got a good look at my problem. I drank less often, sure, but did I ever make up for it on the weekends.

When I found it difficult to meet my caloric goals because of my drinking, I drank faster so I could drink less, or I did more exercise so I could drink more. My weekly cheat day became my opportunity to get super drunk.

When I visited my hometown in Eastern Montana and was assaulted while drunk for saying I was a Socialist, I realized I was incapable of drinking responsibly. I drank for more than 12 hours that day and blacked out en route to a house party. The only thing I remember is saying “I’m a Socialist” and someone immediately suplexing me. Sure, it was a hate crime, but since I couldn’t remember a name, face or much of anything, I wasn’t about to make a big deal of it. I figure those people living with themselves has to be punishment enough.

It took a few more weeks before I actually quit alcohol for good. It was October 3rd, and the Minnesota Twins had lost to the Yankees in the playoffs, again. I drunkenly rode my bike home from O’Donovan’s Pub, where a bartender informed me that Twins’ third baseman Miguel Sano frequented the place, and one time, drank “16 beers” with his arms wrapped around two women while on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his leg. (Just under three months later, Sano was alleged to have committed sexual assault.)

I haven’t had a drink since I heard that story. The next day hurt worse than any hangover I’ve had, including the morning after the Socialist suplexing. I stayed home from work and chased Ibuprofen with soup and water. I had no alcohol in the house because I had finished it all when I got home the night before. Usually I would have handled that hangover with a Bloody Mary or Screwdriver, but I just couldn’t bring myself to leave the house to get alcohol. When I checked my receipts (apparently after I had closed my tab I opened another) and found I had spent $70 -- my average monthly booze budget -- in one night, I knew I was done drinking. I didn’t need an intervention or treatment to stop drinking because I knew if I drank again, I could drink myself to death.

That doesn’t mean alcoholics don’t need help. In fact, 95 percent of alcoholics who need treatment don’t think they need it. Maybe I’m just a member of that majority, and it’ll take a relapse for me to realize it. At least I could get treatment if I wanted it, and my insurance would even cover it. That’s not the case for every addict.

A 2016 report by the U.S. Surgeon General found that one in seven Americans will face some sort of substance addiction. The economic impact of those collective addictions amounts to $442 billion each year, which rises as healthcare premiums rise. And America has the highest drug-death rate in the world.

 Worse yet, we’re not even addressing the problem properly. Instead of providing the treatment addicts need, money is funneled by politicians to for-profit prisons instead of treatment facilities, leaving addicts without the treatment and supportive community necessary to keep them clean. The number of substance abuse treatment facilities in the U.S., which focus on drug and alcohol abuse, was reported to be 13,873 in 2014, a decrease from the 14,152 facilities reported in the previous year.

“Former inmates return to environments that strongly trigger relapse to drug use and put them at risk for overdose,” according to a 2012 study published in Addiction Science & Clinical Practice. Of the more than 21 million addicts in America, only 10 percent receive treatment, mostly due to a lack of healthcare coverage or lack of treatment centers in their area. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 80 percent of opioid addicts don’t get treatment, and a similar 2015 study found a million opioid addicts couldn’t get treatment for their addictions if they wanted it.

That leaves a lot of Americans on our own to struggle through our addictions. I’ve resisted to commit to Alcoholics Anonymous or the 12-Step Program because I wasn’t convinced I had a problem. Now that I am convinced, I realize the importance of having a community to support you and your decision, but I still haven’t attended an AA meeting because the 12-Step Program utilized by AA most often relies on a commitment to religion. Giving oneself up to “a higher power” is the first step, and it wasn’t until I read Russell Brand’s Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions that I found a non-religious means to put the 12-Step Program to work for me, an atheist.

Since publicly announcing my problem with alcohol on Facebook on Oct. 12, 2017, I found I did have a community in place to help me through my problem with alcohol. Friends of mine who’ve long been out of touch and also quit drinking offered their support, as did my family. Not every alcoholic has friends and family with experience overcoming addiction, however. I guess I’m lucky to have excessively drunk alcohol and done drugs with people willing and capable of realizing and accepting their powerlessness over substances.

Prisoners aren’t leaving prisons with that community in place. They’re reentering communities where they’ll be tempted around every corner. So until we stop putting nonviolent, drug offenders behind bars and instead put them in treatment centers to get the help they truly need, we’ll be inching ever closer to making the new American Dream overcoming addiction.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk

Published in Health

If you’re a cannabis user living in one of the 42 states where cannabis is still illegal without a prescription, you’re probably planning to march down to your capitol building and lobby your representatives to end cannabis prohibition on April 20. To effectively lobby your representatives requires more than just the commitment to get off the couch one day a year to sit down with your representatives, or more likely, representatives of your representatives, and requesting they support legislation to legalize cannabis in your state.

I was lucky enough to win a scholarship from Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) to lobby my representatives in Washington D.C. in June of 2013 to legalize cannabis federally. It was a most rewarding experience, and I picked up a few things at a lobbying training seminar led by then executive director of SSDP, Aaron Houston. So here’s the cannabis user’s guide to lobbying on 4/20.

1. Don’t be Stoned

You have to understand that your representative isn’t going to appreciate you wasting his or her time or the time of his or her staff with your drug-induced ramblings. Even if you are a capable orator under the influence, just the appearance or odor of being stoned can undo all your good work and that of your sober comrades.

Getting arrested for smoking a joint at your capitol doesn’t look good, either, so if you must smoke, stay at home on 4/20, where you can still submit a comment to the Food and Drug Administration to remove cannabis from the list of Schedule I drugs. The FDA is requesting interested persons to submit comments concerning abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use of five drug substances: the cannabis plant and resin, extracts and tinctures of cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, stereoisomers of tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol. Comments are due by April 23.

2. Dress to Impress

If you wish to be treated as an equal by your representatives or their representatives, dressing as they do is a good place to start. You can’t expect your representatives to thoughtfully consider your recommendations if you’re wearing sweatpants and tennis shoes and look like you just rolled out of bed.

The dress code for members of state congress is business professional, which is exactly what you should be wearing while working in their arena. That’s either a suit or a collared shirt, slacks, a tie and dress shoes for men, and a business suit or an appropriate blouse and skirt or dress for women. “Appropriate,” in this case, refers to an appropriate amount of naked skin displayed, which should never be used as a means to your end. You want your representative to respect you, not covet you.

3. Sell Yourself

You’re not just selling your stance; you’re selling yourself. There’s hardly an instance you’re not selling yourself, but in this case, it’s especially important to approach the lobbying of your representatives as you would a job interview. Your interviewers should want to have you back when you leave.

Your representatives can’t dislike you and like your stance. They have to like you before they will even consider your stance. The old saying “you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar” is never more true than when lobbying your representatives. Turn up the charm to 11. Smile, and if you can make your representative laugh, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your first goal in lobbying your representatives: being liked.

4. Appeal to the Heart, Not the Head

It might not seem like it at times, but politicians are people, too. They have family and friends they love just like you, and appealing to their feelings will force them to empathize with you. Tell them a personal story of why you use cannabis and how it has helped you. Make yourself the hero of your story and make it easily relatable.

For example: “I suffer from degenerative disc disease that causes chronic lower back pain. Upon being diagnosed at 23 years old, I was immediately prescribed opioids to manage the pain. The plan was to manage the pain until it became surgical, which is when the pain travels down the back of a leg and past the knee. It took a year for my pain to become surgical, and had I not applied for and received a medical marijuana prescription in Montana during that time, I’d either be addicted to opioids or dead.

Once I received my medical marijuana prescription I had no need for the opioids, the dosage of which had increased almost every time I needed a refill. Cannabis is a safer and healthier means of managing chronic pain than opioids, and research has shown that medical marijuana laws may reduce deaths from opioid overdoses.

But people are struggling with ailments and diseases for which medical marijuana prescriptions aren’t allowed, too. I am also an alcoholic, and I’ve been alcohol-free since October 4, 2017. But I couldn’t imagine kicking alcohol without cannabis, and I and thousands of other alcoholics don’t qualify for medical marijuana prescriptions to treat our disease. Instead, we’re called criminals for treating our disease in a safe and healthy manner. So cannabis, a drug that’s never killed a single soul, remains illegal while more than 1,000 Minnesotans die annually from alcohol.”

A cannabis prohibitionist needs a reason to change their mind on cannabis legalization. If they find out their alcoholic family member could quit drinking with the help of cannabis, they’d be more likely to adopt your stance than if you were to feed them a bunch of statistics about fewer fewer deaths in states where medical marijuana is legal.

5. Remember, You’re the Expert, Not Them

Your representatives are overwhelmed with legislation spanning a multitude of topics, so it’s unlikely they have a firm grasp on a specific topic unless it’s one of their campaign talking points. Given the reluctance of just about every politician to openly discuss cannabis, in almost every instance, you will know more about cannabis and the effects of cannabis prohibition than your representatives.

You are not lobbying your representatives because of your good looks. You’re lobbying your representatives because you know something they don’t that will help inform their eventual decisions on the matter. Deliver your message knowing you are an authority on the subject, and the confidence you exude will go a long way in persuading your representatives.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Drew Pearson Live, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Cannabis A to Z

Published in News & Information

Americans consume. Whether it’s food, energy, cars, second homes or home furnishings, Americans consume most of the world’s supply. Americans waste 30 to 40 percent of our food supply. America also has an entire city dedicated to sin, so it felt wrong to leave out things Americans obviously don’t need but buy anyway, legal or otherwise. America was built on tobacco after all, and still is a leading producer of tobacco leaves, producing 766.6 million pounds in 2012.

Tobacco

While cigarette use is declining in the United States, e-cigarette use is way up. Disposable e-cigarette sales increased an incredible 320 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who would never consider smoking cigarettes smoke e-cigarettes instead. Smokeless tobacco sales were also up over the same period. Despite smoking-related illness costing the U.S. $300 billion each year, Americans were third in cigarette consumption globally (albeit a distant third to China).

The upside of using an addictive, cancer-causing product, if there is an upside, is If you’re buying cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in America, then you’re supporting an American company. It’s that easy. Virginia’s Altria, formerly known as Philip Morris and parent company of the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, raised $25.43 billion of revenue in 2015. Vector Group, owner of Liggett, headquartered in Durham, N.C., raised $1.6 billion in 2014. Reynolds American, parent company of RJ Reynolds and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco, makers of American Spirit cigarettes, raised $8.236 billion in 2013.

American-made e-cigarettes, however, are harder to find. White Cloud, ProVape and Hana Modz are apparently American, but ProVape has closed. If you’re going to smoke or vape, and I nor GCN Live advises you do, smoke or vape American.

Alcohol

Like Scotland and Scotch whisky, and France and champagne, America has places known for alcohol -- most notably bourbon and Tennessee whiskey. While the two are grouped together for international trade reasons, producers of Tennessee whiskey don’t label their product as bourbon, which is why I drink bourbon. I also drink “sparkling wine,” which is champagne made anywhere but France using the exact same method. I can’t afford Scotch.

Like tobacco, alcohol misuse costs Americans a pretty penny -- $249 billion in 2010 according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. And Americans are consuming more alcohol than in the past, but aren’t in the top five as far as nations go.

It’s pretty easy to determine whether or not your alcoholic beverage is American-made. Just check the label. Thrillist ranked the top 25 American craft distilleries recently. A few of my favorites -- Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark -- are owned by Japanese company Suntory Holdings, Ltd. I know, it reminds me of Lost in Translation, too, and kind of makes me want to cry, but both are still made in Kentucky, with Maker’s Mark being the oldest operating bourbon distillery in the world.

Beer is the alcoholic beverage of choice amongst Americans, though, accounting for 85 percent of the alcoholic beverage market. If you’re into microbrews, you’re pretty much in luck if you live in America. You’re not only drinking American, but shopping locally. All that money you spend goes right back into your community’s economy. There’s over 3,000 American breweries and over 2,500 American breweries on this map. You can find one near you here.

If you drink Budweiser, Busch or Miller beer, your money goes to Belgium. Anheuser-Busch owns Miller now. If you drink Coors, your money stays in the U.S. and Canada. If you drink Sam Adams, your money goes to Boston. If you drink Old Milwaukee or Pabst Blue Ribbon, your money goes to California.

Speaking of California, the American wine industry is buoyed by California’s Napa Valley, and 90 percent of all American wine comes from the West Coast. Again, figuring out if your wine is American-made is as easy as reading the label. Wineries aren’t shy about it. Constellation Brands, the largest wine company in the world, started in the Finger Lakes region of New York. If you drink Barefoot, your money goes to California. If you drink Franzia, your money goes to California. Keep in mind that trying wines from different places is like tasting the place itself, so don’t let an American bias stop you from trying an Argentinian Malbec or Italian Chianti. That would be a shame.

Marijuana

Only Icelanders smoke more pot per capita than Americans. A Gallup survey in 2016 found that 13 percent of Americans were using marijuana regularly, up from seven percent in 2013. Marijuana has become a $6.7 billion industry in the United States, according to Forbes.

It’s a pretty good bet the weed you’re smoking is American if you’re smoking it within American borders. The closer you get to a border, the worse chance you have of coming across un-American marijuana, but with the public opinion of marijuana changing and legislation legalizing the drug increases, supply and demand also increase. Business Insider was nice enough to put together a list of the 25 best marijuana dispensaries in every state in which it’s legal, either medically or recreationally.

If you’re in Colorado, visit The Farm in Boulder or Doctor’s Orders in Denver. Each place has a great deal every day. If you happen to be taking a tour of wineries in the Columbia Basin of Washington, stop by Green2Go in Prosser.

Opiates


Americans consume 80 percent of the world’s opiate pain pills. That’s what we call an epidemic, and Donald Trump has put Chris Christie in charge of solving America's’ addiction to pain pills. It’s personal for Christie, too. He lost a longtime friend to an opiate overdose.

The problem with opiates is they’re easily available to those with health insurance, and doctors prescribe them like candy. If marijuana was legal for medical purposes throughout the United States, opiate use would decrease, but until that day comes, Americans will continue fulfilling their cheap, addictive prescriptions.

Purdue Pharma of Connecticut had a lot to do with the opiate epidemic and was ordered to pay $635 million in fines and penalties for misleading the public about the addictive properties of their drug, Oxycontin, which produced $3.1 billion in 2010 revenue alone.

Opiate pain pill pushers have even targeted areas struggling with opiate overdoses. Over 9 million pain pills were funneled to West Virginia by three companies -- McKesson (now German owned), Cardinal Health (Dublin, Ohio) and AmerisourceBergen (Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania).

Cocaine and Other Prescribed Stimulants

That’s right, cocaine can be prescribed by a doctor. America is third in the world when it comes to cocaine consumption and second in consumption of prescribed stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin. The U.S. is fifth in consumption of amphetamine-type stimulants, so a lot of Americans are amped up.

Cocaine is expensive and hard to find in most places, but most people can easily get a prescription for ADHD medication and quickly move up the scale from the extended release capsules (which contain beads that are designed to keep people from crushing and snorting them) to the immediate release pills (which are not).

I actually suffer from adult ADHD and take 15 mg of immediate release Adderall most workdays. It has increased my production immensely. I’ve gone from working with 30 tabs open in my web browser to 10 or less, but before you schedule an appointment, check out this list to see if you actually suffer from ADHD symptoms. And when you take the test given by your doctor, take it honestly. In the words of my best friend, “It’s a tool, not a lifestyle.”

If you’re already using a generic stimulant, which most people do, it’s likely produced by New Jersey’s CorePharma.

Ecstasy (MDMA)

America is ranked eighth in consumption of Ecstasy or MDMA. Unless you have a test kit, it’s almost impossible to determine whether your MDMA is pure let alone made in America. If you’re taking Ecstasy you’re likely taking meth as well, so unless you’re one of the people using the drug for PTSD in clinical studies, just steer clear of Ecstasy until it’s legal and regulated (as early as 2021).

So there are the most common vices of Americans. In order to assure your consuming American-made, though, check your labels and do some research into the companies providing the products.

Next up in our Made in America series we’ll look at American-made firearms and compare them to foreign firearms.

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live

Published in News & Information

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