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10 percent of US adults have drug use disorder at some point in their lives

This study reports a huge number of Americans are using or struggling with some sort of drug use disorder.  They explain that there are low rates of Americans seeking treatment.  I can think of one reason that dominates all other reasons that was not mentioned.  Drug Addicts are marked as criminals.  We put people who use drugs in jail.  People could potentially lose everything if anyone was to find out about their substance use or misuse.

Now, some of us already are outed, like myself.  There is no way for me to hide the fact that I have had substance use problems.  It is all over the internet, arrest records, hospital statements etc. – before the new insurance laws I could not even buy private insurance because I was too high risk.

I am considered disabled by the federal govt. for having bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder both of which have substance use as side effects; however I have a criminal record that is full of simple drug possession.  I have never been arrested for any offense except possession of drugs.  No stealing, no property crimes, no nothing!!!  There is no reason for me to try and hide who I am – my only choice is to be an activist…..but, for the people who have managed to keep it under wraps.  For the people who using is a private matter….they have every reason to keep it that way.  Nothing good can come from outing yourself…..(except freedom from secrecy) and becoming an activist which AWESOME.

When people know something like that about you (meaning your drug use)  they can destroy your life with it.

We drug test people in work situations and they can be fired for a dirty drug test, even if there is no indication that their work is in any way suffering from their use of substances.

We say that drugs are so awful.  Most peoples problems with drugs are drug policy problems not drug problems.

They are illegal…..the cost is sky high.

Example:  If they made cigarettes illegal tomorrow there would be people doing all kind of crazy shit for a smoke.


Our lack of access to information about how to stay healthy and use substances is one of the largest problems.  People are not given any real drug education.  The drug education we are exposed to is propaganda and absolutely inadequate.

As soon as someone tries any of these drugs and the terrible things that are promised don’t happen…well, i’m afraid that people discard everything they  learned.

The idea that the rats exposed to cocaine pressed the cocaine button until they died, its bogus.  They did not give the poor rats anything else to do.  When the rats were put in rat park and given some rat lovin’ and rat play place, none of the rats killed themselves with cocaine.

Now add prescription drugs to the mix….people with money, they go to the doctor and get a script for:  oxy, xanax, and adderrall –what’s the difference between them and the person who does meth, smokes pot and takes heroin.  Well, I would argue the only difference is socioeconomic status.  The drugs are similar and people would use them for the same reasons; the difference accessibility.  If you have the money you can make sure that you have many of the drugs you like just with a LEGAL stamp of approval.

Once you are marked as a person with substance use problems you might loose your legal access to the drugs making your only option the illegal versions of the drugs.  Once you are in the system it is designed to keep you there and not let you out of its clutches.

Remember drugs solve some sort of problem or people would not use them……

So back to my main point.  Why would anyone choose to enter the status of Criminal drug user?  Only if they had to.  Rehabs have become subsidiaries of the court system.  Even AA and NA are court mandated (which is NUTTTTS) since the only requirement for membership is  a desire to stop using or drinking, which most court mandated people do not have.  Also, the court has deemed mandating people to AA and NA unconstitutional but drug court and judges continue to do it every day all day.

I really don’t know what the classification for drug addict should be, disease, behavior….all i know is this, you can’t tell me I have a disease and then treat me like I am a criminal.  So as long as we are locking people up for addiction, we cannot dare say disease.

Here is one other reason people don’t choose rehab.  The basic premise of 12 step abstinence based rehab is all or nothing.  You are either completely sick or completely well.  It even says “half measures avail us nothing”.  What I see when I read this is that I might as well not even try if I am not going to be completely abstinent.

Our treatment programs regularly tell 15 and 16 year olds that they are drug addicts and can never use any mind or mood altering substance again ever, or their disease will return and then they are headed for jails, institutions and death.  Most 15 and 16 year olds, hell most 30 year olds don’t go from chaotic use to wanting to be completely abstinent for the rest of their lives. Plus there is really no scientific basis for this.  People are completely abstinent from drugs except caffeine and nicotine yet this does not “waken” their disease!    Thinking back I was taken to AA when I was 13 years old.  I had only experimented with drugs and alcohol. The old timers laughed at me and said we spilled more liquor than you ever drank girl!  I was told to start saying…hello, Im xxxxxx, and Im an alcoholic at 13 years old.  Hell, I don’t think thats a good thing to say over and over to yourself at any age but especially not at 13.

Most people are using for some reason.  Once that is identified people are able to manage and maintain.  Most users figure it out without rehab.  There is not one drug addict narrative ……even though we act like there is.  Some people use chaotically for years and then are able to maintain.  Age, experience, and life all affect how and why people use.  It is far more complex at least from what I have seen.   The real damage done to drug users is the criminalizaiton, their loss of access to mainstream economy, their status as FELON, prevents them from getting jobs, homes, accessing social services.  Bottom line, stigma shames us, and from that we don’t recovery very well.   I have never met a drug user that has not done some serious work and soul searching that has a healthy sense of self.  Our society brands us as liars, thieves, no account nobodies.

If you know someone who uses drugs or struggles with addiction be kind to them. I promise they are harder on their selves than you could ever be to them.

If you use drugs join your local drug user union…If there is no local drug user union call us and start one in your area!

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