Addiction Is Stronger Than Love

Drug addict using syringe on yellow rock on spoon

My Strange Addiction

For many people who first start using drugs, the thought of one day becoming addicted does not cross their minds. It all starts with in the moment curiosity, excitement and even fitting in. Some feel initial nerves about trying the drug, but the adventure of exploring new territory is greater than the fear. Once they cross that invisible line, for many, addiction becomes stronger than love.

Once someone is hooked on a drug, the necessity to acquire more of it becomes greater than the love that they have for themselves or others. At first it’s the high: something out of this world that they glorify and start to believe is the greatest thing in their life. They start to chase the high because it provides them with a more entertaining and pleasuring mindset, than they would otherwise experience from other activities.

But the problem with drugs is that tolerance quickly develops, requiring higher doses to achieve the same high. But with higher doses come more consequences: more money is wasted, more time is spent acquiring the drugs, changes in personality, increased exposure to dangerous situations, ruined relationships, withdrawal symptoms, etc.

Once withdrawal symptoms are experienced, most addicts come to the realization that they either have to stop and seek help, or continue using. Many continue using out of shame of seeking help, “If I seek help, then it’s official that I’m an addict and everyone will look down on me. I can’t let that happen. Gotta keep using.”

At this point, the love, responsibilities and feelings for others are placed aside, and the mission of acquiring more of the drug to prevent withdrawal becomes the aim. Once the drug is acquired, the relationships resurface on their minds, but their family and friends start to notice their change in behavior, questioning what is driving it.

But they cannot divulge their addiction because of shame. So they continue using in the shadows, getting high and maintaining their addiction that becomes stronger than their love for others. The drug has become their new love and nothing can break them apart. They’ll continue using until they’re burned out, overdose, die or hopefully gather the strength to seek help.

Addiction overtaking love is not uncommon in the world of drug addicts.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Ending The War On Drugs

Officers with black goggles and assault rifles

An Outdated Policy

It’s without a doubt that police officers work hard every day to keep our communities safe from drug dealers, criminals, rapists, stalkers, etc. But the war on drugs is an outdated policy that no longer serves our society any good. The opioid and meth epidemics continue to spiral out of control, with no improvement in outcomes.

When the U.S. government banned pseudoephedrine pills, the meth market in Portland, Oregon became controlled by the Mexican Cartel. As a matter of fact, the Mexican Cartel controls up to 60-80% of the drug market in the United States. While kingpin busts occur here and there, new lieutenants await around the corner to replace them.

Many of these drug smugglers are also illegal immigrants who eventually get caught, but because of their legal status, get deported back to Mexico with a slap on the wrist, only to start over from scratch. This is all while our fellow citizens continue to remain hooked on these deadly drugs.

If the war on drugs worked, we wouldn’t be facing drug epidemics in our country. You cannot defeat criminal organizations who rely on lucrative methods that make millions of dollars every year. As long as the demand for drugs continues, which it always will, the drug cartels will continue to work overtime to amass their wealth.

So what is the solution? We need to change our perspective on addiction. Rather than viewing it as a criminal act, it needs to be viewed as a public health concern. Addiction is a brain disease without a doubt. The only possible way of defeating the drug cartels, is most likely by legalizing all drugs.

When you have the U.S. government responsible for the manufacturing and regulation of all drugs, it will establish safety measures that will ensure the purification of drugs and the establishment of specialized drug centers where users will be required to consume them. Users will not be able to walk into a store similar to a liquor store or marijuana shop and take their drug of choice home.

If addicts want to use a certain drug, they will be required to spend a certain amount of time in a specialized drug center, as well as sign up for social services and mental health counseling. Many drug addicts will admit to you that it’s no longer the high that they are chasing; they are chasing the good effect that will get rid of their withdrawal symptoms.

The war on drugs has not worked since its inception. Is it not time to try something radically different, since we are dealing with multiple epidemics in our country with no clear solution on the horizon?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

What No One Ever Tells You About Addiction — Thought Catalog

Addiction is a brain disease that, through a series of biochemical mechanisms resulting from repeated behaviors, creates an overwhelming, animalistic urge as pressing and intense as the bursting bladder.

What No One Ever Tells You About Addiction — Thought Catalog

Trapped By Greed

Greedy man holding debit card while typing on laptop

More Money, More Problems

Materialism is so relevant in modern-day society, that it’s very easy to become obsessed with it. Becoming trapped by greed involves your excessive admiration and pursuit of material goods, even at the expense of relationships, morals, values and your soul. Greed has no boundaries; it can infect anyone at anytime.

Greed is a particular problem in modern-day society because we are easy to be awed by fancy cars, exotic houses, expensive brand name clothing and advanced technological gadgets. We are also living in an ultra-competitive society where a lot of people strive to get ahead of others academically, intellectually, financially and physically.

As evidenced by the college scandal in America, even celebrities who have millions of dollars are willing to sacrifice their integrity in order to secure a spot for their teenager at an ivy league school. It seems that the more you have in wealth and materialism, the more you continue to seek it.

The greatest rapper of all time, The Notorious B.I.G. wasn’t lying when he made the song, “Mo Money, Mo Problems.” Because for many, there seems to be some truth to this saying: when you start to accumulate wealth, you also start to desire more in the flesh. It becomes a psychological addiction to accumulate more material goods.

As with alcohol and other drugs, the brain releases great quantities of dopamine when you accumulate more material goods. When dopamine is released, you relate materialism with the sex-like or high-like feeling of the dopamine rush. So your mind becomes programmed to keep chasing wealth and materialism; this is what is meant by being trapped by greed.

The way to help alleviate greed is to focus on others. Rather than storing up treasures for yourself, you can become involved in the community or start meaningful and honest charities that are meant to help people who are struggling. When you redirect your energy onto helping others, your desire for materialism will start to dissipate.

There’s nothing wrong with being motivated to accumulate wealth, but know the fine line of modestly purchasing objects once in a while versus extravagant purchases every other day. Don’t become trapped by greed; as with any deadly sin, it has the potential to rob you of your soul. And what good does that do to you?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Gateway Drug

Person passing marijuana joint to another person's hand near outdoor trees

From Marijuana To Other Drugs

When people hear marijuana being the gateway drug, they are quick to become offended and dismiss the saying right away. But what they fail to admit is how marijuana increases one’s curiosity to either get higher or try a new substance that will provide a new effect. The gateway theory is not as farfetched as many would like you to believe.

Marijuana does an amazing job at enhancing your senses, making you think outside the box and helping you escape reality. Your perception while high is significantly altered: movies become more interesting, Netflix becomes your best friend, iTunes glows louder than ever before, hooking up feels better than ever before, etc.

Guess what happens when one starts coming down from a high, especially after having a good time? They want to get right back up. And that’s what they often do. The reinforcer is all the pleasurable activities that are enhanced by marijuana itself. But many eventually give up on marijuana, and not for a good reason.

They give up on it because they have lost their taste buds for the substance. They want something more potent that will take them to Pluto instead of Saturn (even though Saturn might be more safe and fun). And so that’s when marijuana users become influenced by others around them, “Hey man, have you ever tripped on acid before?”

In general, the use of marijuana can lead to an interest in recreational psychedelic use. Because high doses of marijuana itself can be a little trippy, it’s not unusual for many users to be attracted by the allure of tripping on magic mushrooms (psilocybin), LSD or even DMT.

But tripping is not done very often; nobody dedicates every weekend to using hallucinogens. So now the user scratches his or her head and thinks of a new drug to try. That’s when they become influenced by others around them again, “Hey man, there’s a party this weekend. Have you ever tried coke?”

In conclusion, that is what is meant by the gateway drug. People might wrongfully believe that “one hit of marijuana means hit one of something else”, but that’s incorrect. The gateway theory is based on the idea that regular use of marijuana can slowly spark one’s curiosity to alter his or her mind with a more powerful substance, or a substance that provides a different effect in general; not necessarily a stronger high.

That’s the gateway theory.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)


Bottles of liquor lined up on concrete surface outside

Bonding With Liquor

There is much concern in the media about vaping, opioid use disorder and even the legalization of marijuana, but why are we forgetting to address alcoholism? The world keeps spinning and new drugs keep reaching the surface, but alcohol has been around since 80 million years ago, when our human ancestors consumed rotting fermented fruit rich in ethanol.

We’ve been bonding with liquor since the beginning of time; alcohol is the real epidemic that needs to be more carefully addressed! The question is, why do you like alcohol so much to the point of sacrificing your health, relationships, job or even your life? Many people will give you different responses, some honest and some based on denial.

The most uncommonly common answer is, “I just like it!” You have to understand that not all alcoholics have developed their addiction based on the unfortunate circumstance of getting hooked on the drug. Many simply just like the taste, smell and high that they get from alcohol.

When people think of alcoholics, they believe that something bad must have happened in their lives, and that they unfortunately self-medicated with alcohol to the point of becoming addicted. That’s not always the case! Many people also started binge drinking in college for the sake of partying, and eventually lost control.

Many adolescents start binge drinking in high school and eventually lose control. The loss of control over the use of alcohol happens for many reasons. Again, one big reason that is often left out of the picture is the love for the high that alcohol provides. It makes the user feel elated, relaxed, disinhibited and it’s easy to consume: just pour it in a glass and enjoy!

Bonding with liquor can be a truly enjoyable process as compared to other drugs. The ingestion of alcohol is so convenient and there’s always the mental comfort that it’s legal to use. But with other drugs such as marijuana, the act of smoking or even worrying about legality is too much of a pain and concern.

In addition, not everyone likes the feeling of other drugs such as marijuana or opioids, because they still want to be functional while under the influence. With alcohol, one can still go to work intoxicated and no one may have a clue! Alcohol is also very easy to disguise: just mix it with some Pepsi or Coca Cola and you have yourself a concealed mixed drink on the go!

Overall, ease of use, functionality, disinhibition, burial of negative emotions and a pleasantly confident high are the main reasons why alcoholism develops, and why more than 15 million people struggle with an alcohol use disorder in the United States.

What are your feelings towards alcohol?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Tobacco Buying Age Raised To 21

Single cigarette stick on conifer leaf

Harder To Consume Tobacco

The Trump administration has officially raised the tobacco buying age to 21. But why did it take this many decades to pass this common sense policy? History has taught us that banning a substance does not work: alcohol prohibition was a failure and the current schedule I classification of marijuana is quickly crumbling.

But something different is at play here. While tobacco is not illegal, young adults will now have to wait an extra three years to purchase it on their own. While there are many teens who rely on their older friends and family members for such types of purchases, there are also many who will now not get their hands on tobacco. Three years is a lot of time for a young adult’s judgment and planning to improve.

For every less person who now consumes tobacco, that’s another victory in the bag for the the medical field. While this policy will not prevent tobacco use altogether, it’s a step in the right direction: it spreads a message that the government is not willing to stand by and casually observe the youth ruin their throats, lungs and mental health with tobacco products and vaping.

Nicotine is the most addictive substance known to mankind. It’s the perfect deadly combo: it’s legal, it doesn’t get you high and it makes you feel good. Making you feel good is not equivalent to getting high. Getting high is when your mind is intoxicated: your thinking is impaired. Feeling good is when your mind is relaxed, as if your mind is taking a “breather” from life.

But as your mind takes a breather, your lungs take a hit: a few thousand carcinogens that impair the cilia lining the bronchioles of your lungs and the immune system, resulting in the accelerated formation of potential cancer cells. When cancer cells make your lungs their new home, the pleasure from years of smoking suddenly gives you the biggest guilt trip of your life.

Will the tobacco buying age of 21 prevent the consumption of tobacco-related products? Absolutely not. Will it make a dent? Possibly. What is the point? Intervention. You see, not everything is about liberalism, even though it’s widely promoted and accepted in this day and age. On the other hand, being too conservative and implementing prohibition has clearly proven to not work.

So rather than viewing this new age limit as an attempt by the government to interfere with our rights and liberties, look at it from the point of view of Big Brother stepping in to provide guidance and protection. This guidance is an honest attempt to prevent our physical and mental health from deteriorating from one of the most deadliest drugs known to man.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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)