Being Ashamed Of Your Drug Addiction

Addicted young man in front of messy bed praying

It’s Time To Come Out

There are many people who remain in hiding because of their drug addiction. Many are ashamed to tell their families because of their religion and stigma surrounding drug use. Drug use has no boundaries: it affects all races, nationalities, ethnicities, religions, ages, mental illnesses and whatever else has not been mentioned.

People find it easier to hide their drug addiction in order to avoid the uncomfortable and embarrassing conversations that often follow. In an addict’s mind, the energy and stamina required to cope with these conversations is simply not worth the effort. Time becomes more valuable when it’s used to obtain the drug and enjoy its high.

But living in shame is not the answer in the long-run. It might work for a few months or a few years, but your mental health slowly breaks down from your shame and misery. All you’re doing is suppressing your drug use into your unconscious mind; you’re essentially building a ticking time bomb.

Then there are the people who don’t care about being ashamed of their drug addiction, because they prefer to just enjoy the high and ignore the consequences. This scenario too does not last very long. Eventually the risks outweigh the benefits (getting high) and something always goes wrong.

Drug use has and continues to be associated with concealment and privacy. But it’s time to come out of the shadows and reveal your drug addiction to the world: “Hi. My name is Lisa and I’m a drug user.” “Hey. My name is Mark and I’m hooked on drugs.” We’re not attempting to embrace the use of drugs; we’re just attempting to initiate the first step much sooner, which is admitting to the world that you have a drug problem!

The stigma of drug use remains alive and kicking, but this is exactly what public enemy number one has been all this time. The war on drugs was a legitimate attempt by the U.S. government to help protect its people from the serious evil addiction to drugs. But the problem with the war on drugs is that it had the wrong enemy identified from the start.

The enemy of the people are not drugs. The enemy of the people is the stigma associated with drugs. Stigma is behind the secretive and allusive nature of drug use. Stigma is what keeps people in hiding and their drug use flourishing underground and well-hidden. If you eliminate the stigma, you eliminate an entire mindset that is associated with the use of drugs.

This is not in any way promoting the use of drugs. This is helping bring drug users out in the open in order to be exposed to help much sooner than perhaps “never later.” Exposure to treatment and support earlier in the addiction process has a much higher success rate than exposure later in the process.

Public enemy number one has been revealed. Are we ready to finally initiate the right war?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Addicted To Addiction

Closeup photo of green and white signage of person running towards arrow and door

Warning: Addiction Territory Ahead

No matter the amount of pleasure that some people seek and receive, it never seems to be enough. Either more of where that came from is their thought process, or they seek a new form of pleasure. Not every source of pleasure is derived from a substance, but all sources of pleasure have the potential for inducing an addiction.

Why are some people more prone to developing an addiction? What is an addiction? Why do we feel the need to provide ourselves with pleasure? These are all fundamental questions that need to be answered in order to better understand ourselves, and the decisions that we make in our everyday lives.

An addiction is a state of mind that involves a person becoming dependent on a source of pleasure. Dependence is a state of relying on or being controlled by something. People can be dependent on alcohol, drugs, sex or even other people, known as dependent personality disorder!

Some people are more prone to developing an addiction because it has a great deal to do with their personality traits and genetics. If their relatives had addicting personalities, there’s a high chance that their genes were passed onto them; genes have a great influence on personality. Some people also enjoy pleasure more than others: what might be “fun and cool” for one person hitting a fat J, might be “amazing and dope” for another.

The “amazing and dope” person could be that one person who develops Cannabis Use Disorder, Severe. The same applies with sex, eating, gambling and any other type of pleasure that happens to be very reinforcing. Reinforcing means that you want it over and over again, because of the intensity of the pleasure; your behavior for seeking a particular activity is credited, strengthened or reinforced with pleasure.

We feel the need to provide ourselves with pleasure because it’s human nature to feel rewarded and happy. Without pleasure, life would be mundane. Depression and suicide rates would probably be astronomically higher than they already are. But keep in mind that pleasure can also lead to a mundane, depressing and suicidal state of mind!

At the end of the day, pleasure is innate in all of us. We need pleasure to survive. But what we don’t need is that invisible line that we are all susceptible to crossing over into addiction territory. You’ll never actually see the line, but you’ll be bombarded with warning signs and flashing lights! When this happens, stop and return back from where you came from. It means that you’ve overdone it with pleasure.

Don’t overdo pleasure; it’s much sweeter in moderate amounts.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Sugar Addiction

Young brunette woman smiling while holding pack of candies inside grocery store

My Addicted Sweet Tooth

A sugar addiction is not as serious as it may sound. Nobody goes to rehab for eating too much sweet-tasting foods. But the addiction to such foods poses many physical health problems which one should be wary about. Eating too many sweets can impact your weight, health, appetite and even your motivation to exercise.

Your weight is the first change that you may notice upon eating too many sweets. For men, that’s the accumulation of fat around the abdominal region. For women, fat usually accumulates in the buttocks region. An increased weight raises your chances of developing diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular problems, and may affect your confidence and self-esteem as well.

If you have a low confidence to begin with, worsening it with an increased weight gain secondary to a poor diet will only affect you adversely even more. Low confidence is associated with less motivation to be active and to socialize, and an increased risk of developing a mental illness such as depression.

Eating too many sweets also has an impact on your appetite. While you may have noticed that sweets are not a replacement for a meal, they still fill you up to the point of causing you to eat less than you would have had without them. Add some coffee to go along with those cookies, and you have created yourself a killer appetite suppressant.

Lastly, eating too many sweets can affect your desire to exercise. It can be a challenge for many people to remain motivated to exercise on a consistent basis. Add to that mix an increased weight gain secondary to eating unhealthy food, and there goes your drive to remain fit. For many people, it’s easier to maintain a pattern of immediate gratification: unhealthy eating + not exercising enough + enjoying that sugary taste!

Always keep an eye out for how often you indulge in sugary delights. One way to decrease your consumption of such foods is to simply stop buying them. There’s no magic secret to it! If you decondition yourself from not eating sugary foods, you will no longer crave it as much as you once did.

It’s all about mind over matter!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Glued To Our Cell Phones

People holding their cell phones while sitting in public outdoors

Technological Addiction

The idea of going one day without your cell phone is unimaginable by today’s standards and expectations. You’d probably have your family members and significant other entertaining the thought of filling out a missing persons report. Cell phones are probably the most addicting technological piece of hardware known to modern mankind.

The fact that smartphones can basically do everything from GPS to tracking your heart rate, keeps people from putting them down for even one hour of their day. But it’s not so much the features that keep people glued; the idea of instant contact via texts, calls, emails and social media is driving this madness!

People love to socialize, and what better way than on-demand access at their fingertips? This form of connection via FaceTime, iMessage and social media is almost replacing in-person meetups; why leave your home when you can communicate from your couch? Don’t get me wrong, people still meet up all the time.

But we’re not as motivated to meet up because of the on-demand access; especially when it comes to dating. Why get dressed to go out when cold and rainy, when you can just use Tinder or Bumble to match with someone and hope to get a chat fired up? Our phones are literally learning how to control us with every yearly upgrade.

Have you ever tried disconnecting yourself from your cell phone for at least one day? Try and see if you can put your cell phone away for one entire Saturday! You will see how difficult it is, because your mind has become trained to continuously use apps and to anticipate people contacting you.

Even if we want to put our phones down, it becomes very hard to do so because our minds have become addicted to it. However, we don’t consider it an addiction unless someone goes overboard with it, as per societal standards. But aren’t we all overusing our phones on a daily basis?

So what is the solution? The expectation that you’ll use your phone for less than 10 minutes per day is out of the question; achieving that is unrealistic, unless if you are a monk! But you can decrease your usage and the way you view your cell phone by literally not caring so much about it.

Stop viewing your cell phone as this be-all-end-all technological prize. Appreciate what it can do for you, but learn to replace cell phone time with meditation, praying, in-person communication, reading and even thinking! Do we even think anymore? That’s an entire separate subject to be considered.

Just remember that you are greater than your cell phone; don’t allow it to take a hold of you.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Planet Covered In Marijuana

Field of tall green marijuana plants during daytime

Recreational Marijuana For Relaxation

The debate continues as to whether marijuana is a good tool for relaxation. As a whole, it seems like were driven by a motor running on coffee, stimulated by nicotine when stepping out for a breath of fresh air, and turned on by alcohol when in the company of others. But does marijuana play a role in our lives as well?

Not everything that grows naturally is good for the human body and brain. Cocaine comes from the coca plant, yet people become addicted, develop nasal perforations, stroke out and even die of cardiac vasoconstriction. Tobacco comes from a plant and is the most addicting substance known to man!

And here comes in marijuana . . . a plant that provides beautiful flowers that humans can ingest and feel relaxed as well as high. The question is whether marijuana can be safely used by the masses for relaxation purposes, without bringing in all of the baggage that alcohol and tobacco have brought in.

Marijuana is not simply a pretty plant that smells great and provides sticky fat buds to roll up with. Along with the beauty comes the hidden dangers: the increased risk of developing psychosis; a lack of motivation; dullness of the mind; anxiety; social isolation and even violence in some!

But we have been trained by NORML and other organizations to believe that marijuana does not cause violence. If you are in the mental health field, you know very well that psychosis and violence go together like peanut butter and jelly! How do we know who is predisposed to developing schizophrenia before they take that first hit of Banana Kush?

On the other hand, marijuana and relaxation go together like milk and cereal: your body melts into the couch; your mind absorbs your iTunes; your eyes relax upon something beautiful; the touch of another human being feels silky smooth; your creativity sparks up a notch or two and sleep pulls you in like a black hole.

As governments around the world legalize the green skunk, we have to remind ourselves that it’s still our responsibility to use this tool appropriately, responsibly and maturely. The governments always have their own agenda and so we can not always rely on them.

The planet is covered in marijuana. Are you?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Destructive Nature Of Binge Drinking

Two young women holding beer bottles and binge drinking

Slowly Killing Your Happiness

Binge drinking is defined as 5 drinks for men in one sitting at least once in the last 30 days, and 4 drinks for women in one sitting at least once in the last 30 days. The psychological rush that binge drinking brings is what reinforces the behavior. It is not the same as drinking every day like an alcoholic does.

Binge drinking brings upon a rush before one even consumes the first drink. Just the thought of “going out tonight” and getting intoxicated reinforces the behavior. This is followed by “pregaming” or drinking multiple drinks before arriving at the event. The pregaming part can be especially addicting!

Pregaming is exciting because it sets up one’s mindset for the evening, especially if one is in a good mood to begin with! The act of “chilling” with your friends and slowly becoming intoxicated while sharing stories is very pleasurable. This usually lasts for 1 hour at most, followed by the actual partying.

Once at the final destination, large amounts of drinks are consumed to the point of becoming drunk. At this point, one slightly loses touch with reality and is in a state of mind focused only on pleasure. This pleasure can be flirting, dancing, talking or sexual interactions.

The worst part is the hangover the following day. Besides the physical symptoms, the hangover can put you in a depressed mood, make you feel guilty or anxious and just makes you feel bad in all possible ways. The hangover day has basically one goal: to get through the day and wake up the next morning at one’s baseline.

What is destructive about binge drinking is that “this weekend” I did this, so “next weekend” I would like to do that! Memories are a very powerful experience, whether good or bad. It is memories and experiences that motivate one to keep binge drinking; the more one does it, the greater the tendency to repeat the behavior.

Avoid binge drinking. If you enjoy alcohol, then just stick to a few drinks at most.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

America’s Playground: Hooked On Drugs

Drug addict holding cash and cigarette in hand

Welcome To The Candy Shop

Many chronic mentally ill patients who have been discharged from the hospital continue to abuse synthetic marijuana, known as K2 or Spice. It is readily available at bodegas, online or through the hands of drug dealers. There is no apparent good reason given by psychiatric patients for their usage of K2, besides its cheap price tag.

But countless times, whether sunny or rainy out, you can witness the flashing siren lights of a speeding ambulance rushing towards the hospital. You know right away: another K2 medical emergency. Many of these patients admit that they are addicted to the substance.

K2 is just synthetic marijuana: THC synthesized in the laboratory and mixed with other chemical compounds. Its users don’t care what chemicals make up K2; as long as it gets them high and gets them high quick! Many of these users will sit outside all day and just pass K2 joints in circles.

It’s a tragedy to see poor people waste their brain cells on this synthetic drug. Many even end up in the ICU on a ventilator and come out to light up again a week later. With vaping, K2, bath salts, “smart drugs” and other synthetic but legal drugs flooding the market, there is no knowing where this drug culture will take us next.

The two main drug epidemics engulfing the United States are heroin and methamphetamine: heroin on the east coast and meth on the west coast. East of the Mississippi, white powder heroin is more prevalent; west of the Mississippi, black tar heroin is more prevalent.

The meth capital of the United States is Fresno, California, with the addiction expanding eastward. But in-between, we have all these minor epidemics which include vaping, K2, alcohol, tobacco and stimulants. Stimulants are definitely on the rise! And yes, alcohol and tobacco are epidemics!

What we have here is America’s playground:

  • Legal deadly killers: alcohol and tobacco
  • Illegal deadly killers: heroin and methamphetamine
  • Legal stingers: K2, vaping and bath salts
  • Illegal stingers: cocaine and other stimulants

Marijuana is not mentioned in the list above because it’s not really a killer. But psychologically, the potential for addiction is great and is still considered a gateway drug by many. And no concrete evidence exists to demonstrate that opioid usage has gone down in states that have legalized marijuana.

This is America’s playground. It’s better to sit this one out, would you agree?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Should Drugs Be Legalized?

People in marijuana legalization rally

Mind-Altering Substances

Drugs have been around since the beginning of time. Even prior to making them illegal, opioids, marijuana and cocaine were being used for their medicinal and euphoric effects. People died back then and continue to die today. People are turning into addicts faster than the U.S. congress coming to an agreement on an important bill.

This begs the question, “does keeping drugs illegal help the population in any meaningful way?” There is a large consensus that the war on drugs has been a failure: addicts continue to rise, drugs continue to flood our streets and potency is only increasing.

Is anyone benefiting from keeping drugs illegal? Criminals are being placed in prison while addicts drop out of rehabs and continue abusing drugs and spreading HIV and hepatitis C. In San Francisco, the city is swarming with homeless people; stories reek of homeless people breaking into stores and defecating on the streets.

Is this a by-product of keeping drugs illegal? Advocates of drug legalization argue that all drugs should be legalized and regulated by the governments, just like tobacco and alcohol. This would prevent the black market from flourishing and would make certain that people would be getting pure products and clean needles.

Opponents of drug legalization argue that legalizing drugs is just promoting its use and would expose people who hadn’t previously used them. Many people don’t use illicit drugs because of their legality. But if a perfectly legal “Coca Bar” pops up in Chelsea New York, would non-users suddenly try the drug out of curiosity?

Marijuana is the latest drug that is being slowly introduced to the masses in a regulated and controlled manner. As more states and countries around the world continue to legalize marijuana, society will slowly find out in the near future whether legalization works.

But no matter the legality of a drug, your mental, physical and spiritual health always come first!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Alcoholic Mouthpiece

Bartender making cocktail beverage at bar

Thirsty Inner Demons

No matter what your mood is, alcohol has a great potential of helping you spill the beans, whether you like it or not. This disinhibiting substance can make a sorrow person explode, a happy person make a fool of themselves or a mellow person turn into the life of the party.

You have to be careful when indulging in alcohol because you may reveal some very sensitive information that was unplanned for. When this happens, you may be left feeling embarrassed and ashamed of your actions. In return, people may look at you differently and even avoid future interactions.

It’s not wise to consume alcohol if you are in a bad state of mind. This doesn’t apply to all drugs. For instance, marijuana may help relieve stress for someone in a bad state of mind. But alcohol . . . it can intensify your inner emotions and turn you into a monster if too much is consumed in a short period of time.

It’s always best to share your concerns with someone who you can trust while in a sober state of mind. The reason many people don’t is because alcohol gives them confidence to share sensitive information; it provides them a mouthpiece through which they can vomit their emotions.

This behavior may also be reinforcing. One may start to believe the following, “hey, that convo went quite smoothly on that Old Fashioned, I’m going to try that again!” And they do try it again. In fact, they try it again on many more occasions, until they wake up one day and realize that they have turned into an alcoholic.

Control your inner demons the right way and don’t give them a mouthpiece from which to live from!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Cocaine-Induced Depressive Disorder

Depressed woman sitting on wing chair withdrawing from cocaine

When Cocaine Steals Your Happiness

The withdrawal from cocaine can be so intense that users literally become depressed, when the drug is no longer inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine in their synaptic clefts. The depression is not severe enough to qualify for a diagnosis of major depressive disorder; hence the diagnosis of substance-induced mood disorder.

Cocaine causes a very intense but short euphoria which makes the user feel on top of the world; think Al Pacino as Scarface. But because the euphoria lasts 20 minutes or less, this promotes the increased usage of the substance. As the user repeats this behavior over and over again, tolerance develops, followed by withdrawal when the cocaine is no longer consumed.

“The crash” is the intense depressive withdrawal state that a user experiences after cocaine is stopped. Many users will binge on cocaine for weeks or months at a time in order to prevent the crash. But more cocaine only worsens the situation: it reinforces the addictive behavior, destroys the brain and body and no longer delivers an intense high.

Either a user battles through the storm and quits cocaine for good, or goes back to using the drug to avoid feeling depressed. This is the addiction in and of itself. At this point, a user does not even feel that high anymore; the drug basically makes them feel themselves again.

Instead of feeling very low or very high, cocaine makes a chronic user feel “normal.” This is not too say that higher doses will not get the user euphoric again; they will, but never at the level of their first highs which initiated the entire chasing process in the first place. At this point, the user is in a never-ending roller coaster ride.

Is it worth trying cocaine? Besides the physiological effects and bodily harm which it does, it also tremendously increases your chances of developing psychiatric illnesses such as depression and psychosis. And you never know how you will react! You may be that one person whose brain loves cocaine and never wants to stop.

Don’t try it. Cherish your god-given happiness.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)