Saturday, September 14, 2013

Crack Babies: A Tale From the Drug Wars

During the mid-1980s, reports of a new killer drug called "crack" took the public by storm.  In the beginning, crack was purely an inner city problem affecting a minority of low-income residents in LA, Chicago and other major cities.  By the time the media was finished, every child from Orange County to the hills of Appalachia knew about the $5 rock that could get you sky high.

Perhaps nothing tugged at our heartstrings more than crack babies.  Even the staunchest legalization proponents agreed that these babies were victims of something they did not sign up for.  These poor, underweight souls would shake violently and were expected to suffer extreme intellectual setbacks in the future.  In fact, an entire generation was dubbed "the generation lost to crack".

This 10-minute report puts the nail in the coffin of the crack baby myth.  Prepare to un-learn everything you thought you knew about "hard drugs".  

The crack baby scare is yet another example of lawmakers using "save the children" scare tactics to justify trampling the rights of consenting adult citizens.  It's Reefer Madness, '80s style. 

If you get nothing else from this report, remember this:  whether it's marijuana, crack or bath salts, the media cannot be trusted to tell the truth about drugs.    

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Q&A: Helping Vs. Enabling

QuestionMy son is in jail for repercussions of his opiate abuse. any suggestions on how I can help him when he gets out?  I personally Don't like the word 'enable'.  what's a mother to do?

~ Anonymous

Answer:  Let me begin by saying I'm not an addiction specialist, so please continue to seek advice from a professional in that arena.   

Addiction is a family disease.  Consider entering a rehab program for loved ones of addicts, such as the Betty Ford Center.  If that's not possible, try to attend some form of counseling regularly, preferably with an addiction-literate psychologist or counselor.  Talk therapy can help you form a more functional relationship with your son while providing emotional support for you.   

It's a very fine line between helping and enabling, especially for a parent.  The goal is to love him without loving him to death.  Here's a short list of Do's and Don'ts to get you started:

Listen and be there physically when he needs to talk.  "Listen" is the key word.  Avoid judgmental statements or unsolicited advice.  Sometimes people just need to vent and feel heard.  Physical affection is good too.  A gentle embrace or pat on the back goes a long way. 

Invade his privacy, make accusations or force your ideals/opinions on him.  He's an adult who must make his own decisions and deal with their consequences.  (Within reason, of course.  If he violates any of your major boundaries, you must follow through with swift consequences each time.  Only you can decide what those are). 

Be positive about his recovery and encourage healthy hobbies.  Support him in whatever rehabilitation program he chooses, even if it's just outpatient meetings or online support groups.

Provide financial help of any kind while he's still using.  Again, he's an adult who should be supporting himself financially, though it might take a while to get on his feet after prison.  Addicts have no motivation to stay sober if they're living comfortably on someone else's dime.  It has to be his decision to get clean, but you can influence it by removing the luxuries of the lifestyle.
Focus on your own health and happiness.  Make time for relaxing activities that don't involve your son.  You can't let his disease rob you of your life.  This is one of the hardest aspects of loving an addict, but remember:  you can't help anyone else if you're not healthy yourself.   

Lose hope if he relapses.  Relapse is a normal part of recovery for most addicts.  Just make sure he's educated on harm reduction practices to decrease his chances of dying.  (For instance: taking the same dose of drugs as before can lead to overdose after a period of abstinence). is a great place to start. 

Hope that helps!  Best of luck to you and your son.

~ Mary Microgram

Sunday, August 18, 2013

5 Herbal Highs That Actually Work

Plant drugs, also known as entheogens, have been used since the dawn of man to alter consciousness.  One major misconception is that plant drugs are somehow "weak" or "bunk" compared to synthetics.  The opposite belief--that plant drugs are "natural" and therefore "safe"--is equally flawed.

In truth, plant drugs can be powerful allies or toxic foes.  Or totally bunk.  You just have to know which ones are worth the effort.   Here's a list of herbal highs that definitely work:

Coca (Classification:  Stimulant)

     Erythroxylum, better known as the coca plant, is a tasty treat with a high nutritional content and numerous medicinal properties.  It also happens to be the source of a little drug known as cocaine.  In its natural state, the coca leaf provides a gentle energy burst similar to that of caffeine (only without the jitters and crash).  By comparison, it's less potent than yerba mate, espresso or any of the energy drinks in your grocer's freezer, yet it's a tightly controlled Schedule II substance.  Despite its dubious legal status, coca can be purchased online easily.  It may be consumed as a tea or chewed in a "quid" with a pinch of baking soda for its psychoactive effects. 

Kava (Classification:  Sedative)

     Kava is an exotic entheogen popular in Fiji and other Pacific islands.  It produces a state of intoxication somewhat similar to alcohol and is highly sedating at higher doses.  This makes it useful for anxiety, insomnia and other conditions involving over-stimulation of the mind.  There have been instances of severe liver damage with a few specific brands of kava.  While those appear to be isolated cases, there is some evidence that kava can be hard on the liver in general.  It's best to avoid it if you drink frequently, take acetaminophen regularly or have liver disease. 

Kratom (Classification:  Opiate)

     While not a true opiate, Mitragyna speciosa (a.k.a. kratom) is a leaf that works on opioid receptors in the brain to produce similar effects.  In low doses it acts as a stimulant while higher doses produce a sedative effect.  Kratom comes in many strains and forms, such as White-Vein Sumatra and Red-Vein Indo.  Its effects can be compared to codeine or hydrocodone in potency and duration.  Like other opiates, kratom can be physically addictive when overused. 

Salvia (Classification:  Hallucinogen)

     For anyone doubting the power of plant drugs, I have two words: salvia divinorum.  Youtube is teeming with freakout videos of people under its mighty influence.  Whether it's an enjoyable experience is up for debate.  When smoked in its whole leaf state, it produces powerful short-lasting visual hallucinations.  Many of the "freakouts" result from the more potent extracts (20x, 40x, 80x, etc).  Salvia can also be used orally like chewing tobacco for a milder experience. 

San Pedro cactus (Classification: Hallucinogen)

     Like its illegal cousin peyote, the San Pedro cactus contains mescaline, a powerful phenethylamine.  Its effects include powerful closed-eye visuals, physical stimulation and feelings of empathy/euphoria.  The main drawback is the preparation process, which can be time-consuming depending on which method you choose.  Also:  the taste and texture are gag-inducing, with a bitter/slimy quality akin to...well, nothing you've tasted before.  Nausea is a common side effect regardless of how it's prepared.  With effects lasting between 10 and 14 hours, San Pedro gives more bang for your buck than many other herbal highs.  It has several psychedelic cousins, including Peruvian Torch and Cardon Grande.