Tag Archives: racism

10 questions about drugs

1. Which is the most common rape drug?

2. Which drug is associated with the most violence?

3. Which drug kills most people?

4. What kind of drugs are responsible for the most overdose deaths?

5. Name two drugs that have never killed anyone.

6. Name two drugs that have no or very little addictive properties.

7. Name two drugs that break addiction.

8. Name two drugs that are used to cure depression, trauma and abuse.

9. Which drugs are legal?

10. Which drugs are the most illegal?

 

You’ll find the correct answers below the picture.

Photo: Drug questions by Ano Lobb on Flickr.
Photo: Drug questions by Ano Lobb on Flickr

 

There are obviously legal, country and time specific variations to these answers, but this is the general picture.

1. Which is the most common rape drug?
Alcohol is the most common rape drug. Many think that they need to be wary of people who want to spike their drinks with other drugs, but in the overwhelming majority of cases it is the alcoholic drink itself that is the rape drug. Victims and offenders are often drunk and even when there are other drugs in the mix, alcohol is almost always the main drug.

2. Which drug is associated with the most violence?
Alcohol is involved in most cases of violence. 70 to 90 percent of all violence (wars excluded) is directly linked to alcohol. This is as true for domestic violence as it is for violent encounters between strangers. There are a few other drugs (mainly ego enhancing and consciousness decreasing drugs) that are also associated with violence, but even in cases when other drugs are present alcohol is usually the main drug.

This diagram gives you a hint at how many deaths are attributed to different drugs in the UK 2011. It is however misleading since the tobacco part of the diagram only shows England, while the other circles include all of the UK. In other words, the tobacco circle should be far much bigger than it is in this picture.
This diagram shows you how many deaths were attributed to different drugs in the UK 2011. The very large circle represent deaths due to tobacco and the next biggest one is alcohol. In third place we find opiates and opiate substitutes, which are mostly found in legal medications. In fourth place are legal anti-depressants and in fifth are legal benzodiazepines. In other words, all the big killer drugs except for heroin are legal.

3. Which drug kills most people?
Tobacco is by far the most lethal drug. Tobacco kills more people than all other legal and illegal drugs combined. Alcohol is the second most deadly drug and in third place we find prescription medications. Science is having a hard time putting these in relation to each other, but estimates are that tobacco takes somewhere between two and fifteen times as many lives as alcohol.

4. What kind of drugs are responsible for the most overdose deaths?
Pharmaceutical drugs/prescription medicines are the most commonly overdosed with a deadly outcome. One reason is of course the availability but another very important reason is that medications often are highly toxic.

5. Name two drugs that have never killed anyone.
LSD, cannabis and magic mushrooms are a few non-lethal drugs, but there are certainly more. The doses needed to die from them are simply so ridiculously high that it is physically impossible to consume such quantities of cannabis or mushrooms. In the case of LSD it is probably possible to take that much, but you would need to take thousands of doses and as far as I know that still hasn’t happened. It is of course possible to die in an accident or such while on these drugs, but even so these are not drugs that typically make users accident prone. Science rather suggests that people using these drugs are usually more careful and considerate.

6. Name two drugs that have no or very little addictive properties.

Photo: Hícuri by Mierdamian Rondana on Flickr
Photo: Hícuri by Mierdamian Rondana on Flickr

Psychedelics generally have strong anti-addictive properties and are therefore fantastic for breaking addiction. Some such drugs are LSD, magic mushrooms (psilocybin), San Pedro/Peyote (mescaline), Ayahuasca, DMT, Iboga (ibogaine) and Salvia Divinorum. Another thing that several of the psychedelics have in common is that the user’s tolerance towards them increases rapidly, so even if a user would want to use it several days in a row it would quickly become meaningless to do so because the effects would vanish.

7. Name two drugs that break addiction.
LSD, magic mushrooms and Iboga are all well known in the treatment of addicts, but psychedelics of all kinds can be helpful. Before being made illegal LSD was among other things used to cure alcoholism. AA co-founder Bill Wilson was an advocate of using it specifically to treat cynical alcoholics by giving them a spiritual experience. Ironically LSD had a higher success rate of curing alcoholics than AA or any other program has ever had.

8. Name two drugs that are used to cure depression, trauma and abuse.
Again, psychedelics are fantastic tools for curing depression, trauma and abuse, especially LSD, magic mushrooms, Ayahuasca and San Pedro/Peyote. They make the user more aware of his/her situation and give insights and experiences that help the user deal with past trauma. Within a spiritual context the plants are especially helpful since they actually speak to the user in a way that an isolated substance cannot do.

Western chemical based medicine often uses medications such as anti-depressants but these medicines most often only put a lid on things and sedate the person. These medicines are also highly addictive and toxic, which makes them very dangerous in comparison.

9. Which drugs are legal?
Alcohol and tobacco are legal, although you need to be of a certain age to buy them. Prescription medications are legal as long as you have a prescription.

10. Which drugs are the most illegal?

Contrary to what many think today's drug laws are not based on science but on politics. For example, did you know that the push to make cannabis illegal was mostly based on racism?
Contrary to what many think today’s drug laws are not based on science but on politics. For example, did you know that the push to make cannabis illegal was greatly based on racism?

Class A drugs are defined as drugs that are especially harmful, have a high abuse potential and that have no medical value. Among these you will find heroin, crack, cocaine, cannabis, LSD, magic mushrooms and mescaline. Which class a drug is placed in is however a political decision, not a scientific one. From a strictly scientific point of view this classification is utterly absurd. Heroin and crack would definitely fall within the definition of a class A drug, but so would the legal drugs alcohol and tobacco since they obviously are extremely addictive, harmful and lack all medical value. The psychedelics and cannabis on the other hand are proven to have huge medical value and do very little harm, so they would be stricken if the list was based on science. It appears however that drug policies are among the least scientifically based policies today.

Main photo: fififififiesta! by Adriano Agulló on Flickr

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What I learnt by fleeing Macau

When I landed in Macau, China, as an exchange student, I saw myself as quite the globetrotter. It is easy to suffer from hubris if you are a white, well-off European. One might even say that it is part of the role. My hubris was particularly severe with a super inflated ego.

If I had gone to Hong Kong, just east of Macau, I might have managed. There the British successfully ruled together with the local Chinese people, which gave a certain respect. Macau on the other hand was ruled by the Portuguese, and they imposed an apartheid like regime that systematically oppressed the Chinese people. The shoe now being on the other foot, the Chinese in Macau let the Whites know what they are worth. They ranked me lower than a dog.

I went to a shop.
In shops clerks usually dealt with me in one of two ways. Either they had me under constant surveillance, as if I were a thief. Or they would constantly move around in the shop to make sure to stay as far away from me as possible, which made me feel like a leper.

I went to a restaurant.
– I do not eat meat. Can I get vegetables? I stammered in beginners Chinese.
The waitress looked at me as if I was an idiot, turned away and began to fold napkins. I tried to attract her attention. She didn’t give a shit. Finally I went up to her and interrupted her napkin folding with sign language.
– Here, look, menu. My mouth, here. Need food. Give me anything. This. Please.
– Yawn, she gestured back and continued folding napkins.

I needed a taxi.
I went to the first in the queue. The driver hastily took off without me in the car. So did the next one. And the next. They obviously didn’t want me in their cars. The only way for me to actually get a taxi was to sneak up from behind, jump in and buckle up before the driver had managed to escape.

During one of the few lessons I actually took at the university in Macau I got to know the I Ching – a Chinese divination book. In desperate need of guidance I asked what I should do. It warned of the consequences of a panicky retreat.

It didn’t take more than a month before I broke down completely and fled in panic. That evening I squeezed aboard the boat to Hong Kong and then lied to get on board the first flight back to Europe.

My culture clash with Macau left me with a broken ego and zero self-esteem. I was annihilated. Worthless. Just as the I Ching had warned I fled instead of confronting my hubris, which left me a wreck.

The depression that ensued lasted for four horrible years.

Looking back I can honestly say that it is among the best things that have ever happened to me. If I wouldn’t have crashed I probably wouldn’t have been on the healing journey that I am on today. I would still have been super inflated.

Another thing that I learnt from the entire ordeal is that I am still a pampered European, simply because it is in my power to have such a panic reaction and flee. Others are less fortunate. They flee from their homes and when it gets too hard for them, when people are racist and cruel, they are not able to swiftly escape the situation. They are forced to remain in it, which often comes at a terrible cost. We should help refugees far more and far better than we do today. One reason why we don’t is that our Western society as a whole has a super inflated ego and hubris. We could all need a trip to Macau so that we can get our priorities straight.

Photo: Lift off… 3 by Simon Allardice on Flickr

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When the oppressed oppress

I once signed up to be an exchange student i Macau, China. It was a deeply transformative experience, but not in the way that I had imagined. I fled the place after just four weeks with my ego shattered, which plunged me into a four year long depression.

You see, I went to Macau thinking that I was the great globetrotter that could handle anything. I was hard headed, to say the least. What I didn’t know when I signed up was that Macau is extremely racist towards white people.

In nearby Hong Kong the Chinese generally get along well with whites. There the British ruled and they did so very well, letting the Chinese be a part of the system they built. Macau was a very different story. The Portuguese ruled Macau and they did so in an apartheid manner, oppressing the Chinese and keeping them away from any kind of power. So while they like Westerners in Hong Kong, they absolutely hate them in Macau. And I unknowingly stepped straight into that with my white male globetrotter ego flying high.

They treated me like shit, so after only a few perfectly awful weeks I fled in chock. Of course, being a white Westerner I have the privilege to flee uncomfortable situations, which refugees and such do not. In retrospect I am very happy that I had that experience. Yes, it did shatter my ego, but my ego was in desperate need of being shattered. Yes, it did plunge me into a four year long depression, but working through that gave me so many insights into how people work and tools to help. And it has also given me humbleness towards the hardship that refugees face. But having said that, I suffered nothing less than a deep trauma.

There are many that are like the Chinese I met in Macau. People who have been so oppressed and that are so angry over the discrimination that they feel they have suffered, that they are willing to unleash the same kind of hell on others. They have been so badly mistreated that once the table has turned they mistreat others. Two for me obvious examples are the Jews in Israel and some feminists, especially the younger more radical ones. Although I can definitely understand the reaction, I cannot sympathize with it, since it adds to and thus perpetuates the problem.

Photo: Angry mob? by Karla Fitch on Flickr

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Structures vs The power within

Once upon a time I saw oppressive structures everywhere. I felt restricted, bullied and forced. By chance that feeling fit very well with my life as an alcoholic, which I lived back then. As an alcoholic it was always very convenient to have someone else to blame for my shortcomings and failures. I was angry and it was nice to know that it was someone else’s fault that I had no job, felt bad about myself or simply didn’t get things done. When I studied at university, I was a strong supporter of all theories that confirmed what I believed – that it was someone else’s fault.

Then came my awakening which made me stop drinking from one day to the next. The essence of that awakening was that everything begins within me. The ultimate power over my life lies in me and it is up to me to create that life. With that understanding I chose to remodel my life. I freed myself from alcohol abuse and began a journey of personal and spiritual development. I chose to heal and grow. Every single step on that path was taken with the conscious knowledge that I create my own life.

The past few months have not been comfortable for me. I have gone back to university and now I have once again been drowned in theories about the structures that oppress and bind us, but this time they feel like a lower vibration. Of course, I understand that there are actual oppressive structures, but it has also become clear to me that many, if not most, who embrace such theories ultimately do so to be angry, to have someone to blame or to be able to rest in their victim role. Even I started searching for ways that I am a victim and I managed so well that I soon understood how I was the most oppressed person in the room.

But there was something gigantic and for me very important missing – that which enables personal growth and recovery. Low feelings of oppression, anger and victimhood can certainly be channeled into action, but for many they mostly seem to be paralyzing. And let me clarify this and say that I do not see, for example, going to a demonstration or rally as an active action. In order to develop as a person or to heal, such seemingly active actions can on the contrary be very passive and even dulling, since they do not force us to question our roles or assumptions.

All this was very uncomfortable to me, because on the one hand I realize that there is a truth to this with structures, but on the other hand I know even stronger that all power in my life comes from within and this realization gives me the power to heal and grow.

Then came my third introduction to sociology in this lifetime and once again I had to wrestle Marx and the other guys. More specifically I became interested in the concepts of alienation and commodity fetishism. When we create something and put our heart into it, it can be felt that it has a soul. We have imbued it with our own energy and in many cases the process of making it has also developed us as human beings, even if it might only be technically. When the production moves into a factory, the process is fragmented and workers only perform a part of the whole, the soul is lost and the product is disconnected from those who created it. In short we become alienated from what we have produced. The item becomes a simple gadget without a soul, something outside of ourselves that has very little to do with us.

Then I found the sentence which released me from my discomfort. “The same dynamics characterize all sectors of […] society: people start to believe that social structures have their own life […]”. (Ritzer 2013, p. 231 – translated from Swedish) People create structures, but since we alienate ourselves from them we begin imagining that they are separate from us. When we want to change them we therefore approach them as something external to us. We attack them from the outside as something that needs to be solved or even fought.

Had we not been alienated from the social structures, we would have recognized them as reflections of our inner selves, which would have led us to seek the solution within ourselves. When we begin the process of reclaiming power over what we create, we soon see the truth that has been present throughout my journey – all power originates from within.

Once again humankinds less sympathetic traits shine through. We have the tendency to seek scapegoats outside ourselves. We want the problem to be somewhere else, with someone else or in something else. When we place blame we do so by pointing away from ourselves, but as the saying goes, three fingers are pointing back at us.

If you want to help others, start by helping yourself.
If you want to heal the world, heal yourself and you will heal everything around you.
If you want to destroy racism, begin by healing the racist within. When you do so, your whole appearance will shift so dramatically that you will plant love in the heart of others.

It all starts with you.
You are the Alpha and the Omega.
You are the universe expressing itself as a human.

When you change yourself, everything else changes.

Photo: Sam’s Organic Universe by Nicolas Raymond on Flickr

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The effects of todays drug laws

At any point in time there are ideas that are so taken for granted that we find it difficult to imagine that it could be otherwise. They are so deeply ingrained in us that we are provoked if anyone questions them, even if the questioning is fully rational.

Drug legislation is such an idea. When weighing in all good and all bad that it brings, there is only one reasonable conclusion: the law is foolish. But say that out loud in Sweden today and you will be mocked, booed and threatened. All sense and logic seems to take a vacation whenever the subject comes up, and otherwise seemingly intelligent people suddenly behave like hateful narrow-minded bigots.

But all such ideas eventually collapse. We call it a paradigm shift. There is such a shift on its way right now. The USA, that has been aggressively active in what has become a war on drugs, is changing direction. Right now cannabis is being legalized, and as more and more amazing results in scientific studies of psychedelics are published, it is only a matter of time before substances like psilocybin (mushrooms), LSD and MDMA are also legalized.

This week I will try to show some of the worrying problems with the current situation, give you some users perspectives on certain illegal substances and propose some measures that I think should be taken into consideration in a future legalization.

● ● ●

When the first steps were taken to create the drug laws we see today, the aim was mainly to minimize addiction problems. The aim was to use the law to steer people away from getting caught up in addiction, destroying their lives and committing other criminal acts. There have been other, more shady reasons also, such as racism, but I want to see the good in people, so let’s say that is the primary reason.

So what has been the outcome of the criminalization of drugs?

Criminal organizations have become immensely rich.

The black market on drugs funds a wide array of criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, mafias, paramilitary organizations, biker gangs and suburban gangs. This lucrative market finances other criminal activities, such as acts of terrorism and militarization.

Violence has increased many times over.

In addition to the criminal violence that drug profits are used to finance, there is plenty of violence at all levels of handling drugs, from the producers down to the final consumer. There is an outright war against drugs today, and parts of that war are being waged with military strategy and equipment. The majority of the violence takes place abroad and just as in other wars, many of the victims are innocent civilians. Drug conflicts are destabilizing entire countries and regions.

Police and other resources are being wasted.

'Hard Stop' conducted by the Armed Garda RSU by Secretive Ireland on Flickr
‘Hard Stop’ conducted by the Armed Garda RSU by Secretive Ireland on Flickr

There are vast resources spent on combating drugs, resources that could have been used better. If all those resources that are now being spent on chasing and punishing people who use drugs, were instead spent on helping addicts, we would have the most amazing addiction treatment the world has ever seen. We spend much more on fighting and punishing, than we do on helping or treating addicts.

More criminals are created.

When drugs were outlawed that instantaneously created a large new group of “criminals” whose only crime is that they like certain substances more than others. The vast majority – more than with alcohol or nicotine – don’t have and will never have any problems with the substances they use. The only contact many of these people will ever have with a criminal underworld is when they buy drugs. Even so, they will be treated as criminals and addicts if they get caught and will get a ticket to the same prison as other criminals. Through the legal system they are stigmatized, forced into debt and are given more criminal contacts, which in the worst case is a gateway to a criminal lifestyle.

The laws are used to harass people.

Drug laws are used by the police to take people with a certain appearance, taste in music, or ethnic background into custody without any realistic suspicion. Many of the drug laws have racist roots, reflected in today’s application of them. People are also indirectly harassed through the exclusion that they are forced into and the stigma they face. The system embedded hypocrisy in all of this is especially noticeable when many of the ones being hunted use significantly less dangerous substances than the legal alternatives.

Addicts are prevented from getting proper care.

No name by Daniel Oines on Flickr
No name by Daniel Oines on Flickr

Addicts are sick, but are treated as criminals, and authorities can at any time deprive them of any security and impose unreasonable demands on them. Even those who voluntarily seek government help to get rid of their addiction are treated as a criminal and are often given late and inadequate assistance, if any at all, because the resources are rather devoted to controlling and punishing the person. This creates a high amount of stress among many addicts, which undermines recovery and triggers relapses, with exclusion and alienation as a result.

Creates a black market that wants people to be addicted.

The criminal organizations that control the black market have an interest in keeping people hooked and to attract them back into using. One result is that the market prefers more addictive drugs such as heroin rather than opium.

The lack of quality control is lethal.

On the black market, there is no quality control. Drugs can be diluted with other dangerous substances. They can also be something quite different from what they are said to be, giving the user an experience that s/he didn’t anticipate. Sometimes the substance is much stronger than what the user is used to, which may lead to severe accidental overdoses. Many deaths that occur on drugs are because of accidental overdoses, combined with a fear to seek help.

Research Chemicals harm and kill.

Another dangerous development is that people who want to avoid breaking the law buy so-called Research Chemicals instead. These are new compounds that have not yet been classified, and are therefore legal, but they can sometimes be deadly. Knowledge about dosage and how they react with other substances (such as alcohol) is often virtually non-existent, which is a very dangerous combination. Thus drug users who want to stay on the right side of the law are steered away from well-known and less hazardous substances, to substances which are unknown and in some cases even fatal.

Alternativetreatments are being prevented.

Ironically many of the substances which are particularly effective to help relieve addiction are classified as drugs without medical value. LSD-assisted therapy for alcoholics had, when it was legal, a far higher efficiency than the 12-step program has ever had. Ibogaine, an incredibly powerful psychedelic substance, has been shown to cure heroin addiction in just a few doses. But rather than give heroin addicts access to Ibogaine, we lock them in other addictions, such as with Subutex/Suboxone or Methadone. In the current situation there is no treatment that comes close to being as effective as psychedelic assisted treatment, but these therapeutic tools have been wrongly classified as drugs.

● ● ●

Now imagine that you step back in time to just before today’s repressive drug laws were first passed. You are a decision maker and it worries you to see the addiction problems associated with some of the drugs. On the table is a proposal to ban a variety of substances and impose severe penalties.

On the table there is also an analysis on what other impact the law would have. Among the consequences you read are: criminal organizations will become immensely rich, violence will increase and even lead to war in several countries, the drug profits will fund terror crimes and wars, police resources will be wasted, more criminals will be created, addicts will get worse care, drug users will be exposed to more addictive substances, the lack of quality control will lead to more deaths, more dangerous substances will be researched and sold in order to circumvent the law and the most promising treatments to cure addiction will be stopped . But despite all this, the number of actual addicts will remain about the same.

Would you vote in favour of such a law?

● ● ●

This blog post has been inspired by, among other things:
∙ A challenge from a friend who is a politician to show how legalization could work
∙ The TEDx talk by James Leitzel that does just that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_Px4nYbJoQ
∙ Organisations and initiatives such as Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (http://www.maps.org/) and Transform (http://www.tdpf.org.uk/)

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It’s all about the Sweden Democrats

Photo: Green party of Karlstad. The sign reads
Photo: Green party of Karlstad. The sign reads “Turn your back on racism”.

In Sweden one would think that this EP election is all about one single political party – the racist Sweden Democrats.

Stories of them are absolutely flooding my newsfeed, and I don’t even think that I know anyone that votes for them. But everyone is going out of their way to get them into the spotlight. They are booing, turning their backs on them, criticizing their campaign, sending back their material to them and just keep going on and on about them.

Are the other political parties even campaigning? I don’t know, because even the other parties seem preoccupied with talking about the Sweden Democrats.

The consensus seems to be that everybody hates them and want them to shrivel up and die.

How they are going to achieve that by giving them 90 percent of my news feed is absolutely beyond me. The Sweden Democrats hardly have to put up a tent before the place is swarming with people making it into a media event.

Here’s a suggestion. Instead of following them around and turning your backs on them – try not being there in the first place. Don’t give them the time of day, don’t bother about them at all. Don’t repost all kinds of shit about them and don’t drown everyone around you in bullshit concerning them.

If that doesn’t keep them away from power, at least it will make my news feed a lot nicer.

Photo: Almedalsveckan Sverigedemokraterna Jimmie Akesson_20140701_0134 by News Oresund on Flickr

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Psychosis? Welcome!

Dimensional Compressive Contrast by Jesus del Toro Garcia on Flickr
Dimensional Compressive Contrast by Jesus del Toro Garcia on Flickr

I have had a couple of comments about psychosis, so I thought I’d share my own experiences.

I have had two episodes of psychosis in my life. Both were of course perfectly horrible and none of them had the slightest thing to do with substances.

The first was when one of my early girlfriends dumped me. I remember it quite vividly. It was dark, it was raining and I collapsed all alone by a tree in the town square. The episode only lasted for a couple of hours, but as I have worked with my own growth this is a block in my energetic system which I have had to return to several times. It made it very hard for me to handle rejection and it took me almost 20 years to get rid of it (15 of which I was totally unaware that I had a problem). The trigger was BROKEN LOVE.

The second time was when I totally freaked out when I was an exchange student I Macau, China. I arrived there with an ego ten times my size and when the Chinese were done with me four weeks later I was absolutely shattered. The episode lasted for a couple of weeks, but plunged me into a four year long depression. The trigger was RACISM combined with an EXAGGERATED WHITE MALE EGO.

These two episodes are among the best things that have ever happened to me, because they have given me the challenge to heal and grow. I am truly grateful for having had these experiences, even though they were absolutely awful. They have made me a bigger, more empathetic, stronger and more beautiful person.

Dimensional Compressive Contrast (Cocoon) by Jesus del Toro Garcia on Flickr
Dimensional Compressive Contrast (Cocoon) by Jesus del Toro Garcia on Flickr

Psychosis is spoken of as if it is something that should be avoided at any cost, but what if the cost is that we stagnate as human beings? What if the cost is that we stop evolving, stop growing, stop getting involved in ourselves and each other?

Yes, some people are plunged into psychosis with the help of certain substances, even though such triggers as LOVE are far more common. So what? What a wonderful opportunity to grow. Embrace it!

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