Junk Virus

Heroin needles and trash on soil

Public Health Problem Number One

The stories are endless: violence, burglaries, robberies, overdoses and deaths. Heroin has penetrated almost every street corner in the US; the new neighbor on the block is not here to play. It chews you up and spits you out; you’re lucky if you come back out fresh enough to survive.

The junk virus made its grand appearance after its synthetic army was unleashed by the medical community: the opioids. These include demerol, methadone, oxycodone, fentanyl, percocet, percodan, vicodin and many more. Once the army was sprinkled onto society and its pricey tag maintained, heroin was slowly whispered into the addicts’ ears.

There was no malicious agenda by the medical community to unleash opioids onto the masses. There was simply a poor regulatory system and overwatch by the federal government. Physicians prescribed the medications based on professional opinion, but they were not quick enough to realize the enormous addictive potential they had.

Once physicians realized that patients were returning for multiple prescriptions, they began to turn them down. So patients began to window-shop for new physicians, juggling multiple at a time for that extra Rx. This lasted for some time until patients came to the realization of the expense of their new addiction.

And that’s when hurricane heroin hit the U.S. by storm: stronger, better, easier to obtain and cheaper! Call it the drug dealers’ economic boom but the recession of the people. Addicts were happy but also suffering: the high was great but the withdrawal and expense hellish.

And junk virus officially became an epidemic with no promising cure and no treatments successful enough to make a dent. Addicts were simply transitioned from an opiate to an opioid: heroin to methadone. Some addicts were switched successfully, others continued to use both and some just returned back to heroin.

Today, junk virus is still active and strong abut a new parasite has entered the market: meet furious fentanyl. 100x more potent than morphine, fentanyl is taking over cities like the great plague: heroin is vanishing from cities like Philadelphia and Baltimore and being replaced with fentanyl.

Addicts no longer know what they are getting. But they are quick to suspect their batch to be fentanyl if they are getting much higher than expected. Even if they want to stop, they can’t for two main reasons: they’re hooked and their drug dealers no longer have heroin. So the epidemic persists.

Public health problem number one is also public enemy number one: synthetic army + hurricane heroin + furious fentanyl. When you have such a deadly epidemic killing our people, it is fair to say that we are in the midst of fighting a domestic terror war. Are you ready to reclaim your mind?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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How Marijuana Is Addicting

Chocolate chip marijuana cookies and big green bud

Forget Sixty-Nine When On Cloud Nine

For many adolescents, when marijuana is first tried, they do not feel anything. Often times, it takes 3-5 attempts until a new user feels the high. But when that first high kicks in, it becomes memorable for life. There is nothing like experiencing the first high; of any drug that is.

For many users, the first high from marijuana is extremely pleasant: the perception of time is slowed, appetite is increased, the surroundings become more intriguing to the senses, music is enhanced, touching and feeling are heightened, humor is increased and sexual pleasure is amazing.

Video games and music go together like peanut butter and jelly: you become focused; you feel as if you’re in the game; nothing can distract you and you feel tuned in and in the zone. You enter another world that you don’t want to leave; especially when playing with your close friends and passing joints all night!

Spending time with the opposite sex feels amazing: you become more intimate; more observant of their words and behavior; touching and feeling are enhanced and sexual pleasure is intensified. You sometimes feel like you are one with them and never want to emotionally and physically let go. Forget sixty-nine; you are truly on cloud nine.

Movies under the influence of marijuana make you feel like you are connected with the story: you analyze details that you never would have noticed when sober; you pay attention to the actors’ words and body language in different ways and you sometimes feel like you are part of the movie.

Listening to music can truly be magical while high on marijuana: sounds are enhanced and your connection with the artist is turned up by a notch or two. You don’t want to put your headphones down; the tunes are massaging your ears. Your brain feels so relaxed that you start to feel paralyzed on your couch. Sometimes you may even replay one song 3-5 times in a row. You are in wonderland.

Eating is like a mouth orgasm: your taste buds are on overdrive; every bit of detail from the food entering your mouth is tremendously appreciated; the taste is greatly enhanced and your guilt floats away on a comfy cloud far far away. You become one with the kitchen; it’s your new friend in the house.

As you can see, marijuana is very enjoyable in many domains and it can become very easy for many adolescents and adults to become psychologically addicted. Who wouldn’t appreciate the experiences described above? But they come with a price tag. And that price tag can cost you your mental health.

Many people who experience the above activities while under the influence of marijuana have a hard time coming back down to reality; everything feels less intense and more dull. So they toke up again in order to re-experience the enhanced activities which ultimately brighten their life in the moment.

There is no question about it that marijuana can take you on an orgasmic rollercoaster ride. But are you willing to take the chance and potentially lose your mental health in the process?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Adult Peer Pressure To Use Drugs

Group of junkies and drug users standing and feeling good

How To Avoid Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is not a thing of the past; it does not only target children and adolescents. It finds its way in the adult population just as easily; especially the peer pressure to use drugs. The effect of drugs on the human psyche is so powerful that it motivates the users to have those around them experience the same pleasure.

Not all drug-taking is a selfish act; group members often attempt to influence outsiders to join their group and take a hit. This occurs for various reasons:

  • To bond
  • To gain money
  • To influence others
  • To gain respect
  • To share the drug experience and pleasure

A group is often run by a leader who takes charge and calls the shots. But in this case, the leader is often the drug. Drugs are influencing the behavior of a group; they are making the group perform the act of peer pressure in order to attract new users. Drugs have a very deadly way of spreading.

Avoiding peer pressure is not always easy. Many people complain of feeling very anxious when in a situation involving peer pressure; especially related to drug consumption. They are afraid that by saying no, the group will become upset with them or may even try to fight them.

The worst thing that you can do is to cave and try the drug. When you give in to peer pressure, you are essentially saying to the group, “you have defeated me, I am now yours.” What will most likely happen is that you will like the feeling from the drug and will rationalize in your mind that “this is not so bad.”

That is when you undergo metamorphosis into a new persona; the drugs are rewiring your brain and your perception of yourself and the environment. You are becoming the drug. And guess what? It all feels good. You feel transformed, empowered, unleashed and vibrant; you are a new person.

Until the drug takes over and you become hooked. And life is never the same ever again. So how do you avoid peer pressure in the first place? It takes a strong inner core where you feel comfortable with who you are as a person and your place in society. You have to be in a state of mind where you have learned how to minimize your weaknesses and maximize your strengths.

Rejecting peer pressure should not affect you; meaning, it should not make you feel bad that you rejected others’ offers. You know what your path is, therefore, you have no problem avoiding peer pressure. You are also a good anticipator: you can visualize the consequences of falling for peer pressure and starting drugs.

In the end, it’s not the peer pressure that captures your heart and mind; it’s the leader of the group, which in every case is the drug.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Alcohol State Of Mind

Rock glass filled with green alcohol in front of bar

Giving Up Alcohol For A Month

Ethanol has a very sneaky way of slithering into your life; sometimes it’s present for an appropriate and lovely evening, while at other times, it’s joining you on a midday binge. The legality of the substance is a deception. Alcohol is one of the most addicting and deadliest substance known to mankind.

It’s excellent at disinhibiting you and allowing you to flow in and out of conversations; even with strangers. For some shy folks, alcohol is their miracle drug; they have finally found a solution to shedding away their personality and replacing it with a new and improved one.

Of course, any “new and improved” personality brought upon by alcohol is part of the deception of the slithering potion. Paradoxically, your perception of a new and improved personality is often painful and disgusting for others to bear and tolerate. Family and close friends suffer when they see a loved one robbed of their true self.

And that’s what alcohol does best: it makes you grandiose, boosts your confidence, disinhibits you and makes your surroundings more enjoyable but at the expense of your true colors. When a person crosses the invisible line from social drinking into pathological drinking, they have left their true self behind.

Giving up alcohol for a month is a good start! But prior to arriving at thirty days of sobriety, it is important to take baby steps:

  • Step 1: decrease your quantity of alcohol during weekdays
  • Step 2: decrease your quantity of alcohol during weekends
  • Step 3: drink a lower quantity of alcohol on fewer weekdays
  • Step 4: drink a lower quantity of alcohol on fewer weekdays + weekends
  • Step 5: avoid drinking alcohol during weekdays
  • Step 6: avoid drinking alcohol during weekends
  • Step 7: avoid drinking alcohol for an entire month
  • Step 8: avoid drinking alcohol for an entire six months
  • Step 9: avoid drinking alcohol for an entire year
  • Step 10: avoid falling back down to step 1

When alcohol senses that you are trying to break up, it will attempt to hit you harder by introducing insecurity, uncertainty, depression, anxiety and withdrawal symptoms into your life. This is alcohol’s way of keeping you hooked; any indication that you are trying to break free and the hook digs deeper into your soul.

To avoid battling alcohol addiction, you must avoid ever experiencing an alcohol state of mind. For some people, they will never get addicted. But for most who expose themselves to large quantities, the addiction was born prior to their first sip; their mind knew that one day their nucleus accumbens and ethanol would toast together.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

DMT The Spirit Molecule

DMT vision of two women dancing in a set of mixed colors

DMT Versus 5-MeO-DMT

DMT and 5-MeO-DMT have been used for thousands of years in South American shamanic practices. Both substances provide a very psychedelic experience: the loss of one’s ego, the sensation of being transported into another world or dimension and obtaining information about life that you otherwise did not know before inhaling.

DMT stands for N, N-Dimethyltryptamine. The chemical has been found in many animals and plants. It is believed that the pineal gland of the human brain releases DMT during birth, traumatic and stressful situations and death. That being said, DMT is a natural molecule that is part of life.

DMT has long been used in ayahuasca brews by South American shamanic tribes. Some research is showing that ayahuasca may have benefits in treating depression, PTSD and drug addiction. Ayahuasca also helps many people break down their defense mechanisms, helping them establish new relationships and meaningful connections.

5-MeO-DMT stands for 5-Methoxy-N,N-Dimethyltryptamine. The chemical is derived from the parotid glands of the Colorado River toad (“Sonoran Desert toad”). Many claim that the DMT experience is highly visual and humbling while 5-MeO-DMT is like a near-death experience.

Michael Pollan describes his experience with 5-MeO-DMT in his book “How To Change Your Mind.” He states that he does not remember ever exhaling the smoke; the 5-MeO-DMT immediately transported him out of this world. 5-MeO-DMT is considered more powerful than psilocybin, LSD and DMT.

Like all other hallucinogens, the potential for psychological addiction is slim. Even if a person loves “tripping” on hallucinogens, their mind naturally prevents them from tripping too often. Simply put, a user will not feel determined to trip too often. Some users say that they trip once a month, every six months or even once a year.

Hallucinogens do not induce any physical dependence, and thus, no withdrawal is experienced. They also don’t cloud your mind as marijuana and other drugs do. You remain clearheaded while your perception of your surroundings and reality become altered. The experience is transcending to many people.

Lastly, it is important to note that DMT, like all other hallucinogens, have the potential to induce paranoia and anxiety. Set and setting are the key words to any hallucinogenic experience. If you enter the psychedelic world with something bothersome on your mind or are in an uncomfortable setting, you are risking a very bad experience with potential adverse consequences.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Addicted To A Lifestyle Of Drugs

A male driver making a drug payment through window

How To Help Someone With Drug Addiction

What is surprising to hear and learn is that the love for a substance is only half the battle; the other half is the lifestyle surrounding the drug. At first, a new substance makes you very excited; its discovery and introduction into your life brings you joy and floods your mind with anticipatory “high” sessions full of fun and excitement.

Until you become hooked. You have been chasing that first high which felt so great but never attainable again. You believed that with repetitive use, that first great high would be experienced again. You soon come to an acceptance that achieving that first great high will never happen again, but now you are confronted with a new problem: withdrawal.

Many users report that the lifestyle surrounding a drug is what they enjoy: getting the natural rush when heading towards “the spot” to obtain the drug, the paraphernalia of the drug, meeting with other users to share the drug, enjoying certain activities while high on the drug, etc.

When helping someone suffering from a drug addiction, you have to understand that their lifestyle has been hijacked from them:

  • They may no longer have money
  • They may no longer have family support or friends
  • They may be suffering from a physical or mental illness
  • They may have lost all hope and drive to better themselves
  • They may be on the verge of becoming homeless
  • They may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms, preventing them from obtaining a job (their job becomes preventing future withdrawals)

We have a tendency to become irritable and distasteful towards drug addicts. But we must remember one crucial point: we are all humans battling a different type of struggle. We must not look at each other as being better or worse; rather, we need to try to understand each other’s struggles and difficulties.

Listen to a drug addict’s stories, concerns, struggles and pain! Make suggestions and give advice at appropriate times, but in a calm and supportive manner. Expect relapses! They are part of the recovery process. Most importantly, use your heart and imagine being in their shoes! Do not put on your bias lenses which prevent you from understanding where they are coming from.

And lastly, never give up hope on someone suffering from a drug addiction! If they see you giving up on them, what bit of energy is left for them to not give up on themselves? Sometimes, you may be their last hope and if they lose that as well, what else is there to live for? That is when suicide becomes a viable option in the mind of a drug addict with poor judgement and a distorted reality.

Help prevent suicide, mental illness and suffering by being kind, listening and offering help to people suffering from a drug addiction!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Daily Dose Of Internet

Addicted young boy surfing the web on his laptop

Strung Out On The Web

AM. PM. Lunchtime or dinner. The laptop flips open. The cellphone shines on. The useless iPad makes a use for itself. It’s back. It never went away; probably never will. You depend on it too much. It has become a part of your identity that you often wish to disconnect from. The internet.

The internet has revolutionized how we search for information; we might as well add libraries into living museums. From morning to night, we are glued to the internet in some way or form. Unless stuck on a deserted island, we cannot go a day without accessing the internet.

We use the internet more than we eat, drink and socialize. It’s our number one addiction without even realizing it. The addiction is so strong that it swiftly passes unregistered through our conscious mind straight into the vault of our unconscious mind; think of an illegal border crossing with no apprehension.

Are there withdrawal symptoms from not using the internet? Who would know, since we never stop using it in the first place! Whether for work or pleasure, we are truly tangled in a sticky web of information; some of it polluted, some of it mind-blowing. We attempt to disentangle, only to find ourselves in a stickier situation when new webpages sprinkle us with new bits of information.

Some people fall down the rabbit hole beyond the rabbit hole: porn addiction, online gambling, the dark web, hacking and crime. Do they ever resurface and see reality again? Without professional help, their judgment is too impaired. Their addiction has hijacked their reward center and capacity for logical reasoning.

Is there a solution or do we continue our daily dose of the internet as caged animals in a zoo? Can the zoo be freed and its members allowed back into the wild to experience freedom as was intended from day one of creation? The answer is certainly yes!

Curbing the internet involves willpower and a desire to make a change in your life! Discipline is your friend; without it, your fingers will remain attached to the keyboard. Diversify your life in a way that involves relying on the internet less and less: start reading books, exercising and playing sports, going out in nature, meditating and spending time with others!

Your receptors have become desensitized to the internet; you are feeding a loop that will never stop on its own. Break away and be free again.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

When Eating Takes Over Your Life

Addiction to burgers, fries and soda

How To Beat Food Addiction

Not everybody who is overweight has a food addiction. Some are genetically predisposed, do not exercise and/or eat carelessly. Food addiction is when you cannot stop thinking about the act of eating and must compulsively eat larger quantities more frequently to satisfy your desire.

Some people become addicted to food because they have a low self-esteem or feel depressed. The act of eating may make them feel better because their reward center in the brain is releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine. As with anything that tastes or feels good, the process is repeated.

Some obese individuals do not feel good about themselves when they indulge in too much eating, but continue the process for unknown reasons; they just cannot stop. Their self-esteem plummets because they know that eating large quantities of food is wrong, but they do it anyway. These individuals can benefit from psychotherapy to attempt to get to the root of the problem, which is often psychological.

Some patients with bulimia nervosa may be overweight even though they are suffering from an eating disorder. The difference is that these patients will either purge or excessively exercise after eating, attempting to compensate for their excessive caloric intake. Bulimic patients can benefit from SSRIs and psychotherapy.

Defeating food addiction requires you to be honest with yourself! You need to discover why you are indulging in a destructive behavior; any addiction requires this kind of analytical thinking. If you have trouble with this process, then you may benefit from psychotherapy with a trained professional.

Secondly, you need to eliminate your favorite types of food from your home and replace it with healthy food. This is not so hard: either finish your favorite food or discard it and do not purchase it again. Once you accomplish this, it then comes down to training yourself to enjoy healthy food eaten in smaller portions throughout the day.

You will find that with determination and consistency, eating healthy food in smaller portions throughout the day will become your new norm; you will not even think about it anymore. It takes time and motivation, but with the right state of mind and being honest with yourself, it is definitely accomplishable! This process will help you defeat your food addiction!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Opioid Use Disorder

Drawing of prescription opioid bottle

Walking Without Pain

As with any addiction, opioid use disorder is no different: the activity is tried for the first time, repeated episodes progress, tolerance develops, other activities begin to take less priority, life begins to revolve around the addiction, withdrawal symptoms appear and the cycle repeats itself.

Opioids are very addicting because they take away all of the pain in your body; imagine feeling comfortably numb for hours on end! Opioids are medications that are prescribed to patients suffering from bodily pain. When someone who does not have pain takes an opioid, their mind and body experience maximum euphoria and relaxation; this is the rewarding effect of opioids.

A user usually realizes that they have become addicted to opioids when they begin to experience withdrawal symptoms: yawning, piloerection, diarrhea, vomiting, dilated pupils, abdominal pain, insomnia, etc. Because opioid withdrawals are extremely uncomfortable, most users quickly obtain more opioids to relieve them from the physical symptoms.

Once the first withdrawal has been relieved by more opioids, a user realizes that they can never experience a withdrawal again due to the extreme discomfort associated with it. So their only option is to keep using opioids, hoping that their addiction remains easily controllable.

The problem is that their addiction takes off to new highs because of a concept called tolerance: the need for higher doses to achieve similar effects as previously achieved at lower doses. Higher doses require more opioids which require more money! If money is an issue, users turn to criminal activities such as burglaries, robberies and drug dealing to support their habit.

Not to mention that needles are shared amongst users due to convenience; it is easer to share than to seek out clean needles. This behavior promotes the spread of diseases such as HIV, hepatitis C and bacterial infections resulting in skin abscesses. Health begins to deteriorate; addicts are not very preoccupied with their well-being and also begin to eat less. This results in the loss of weight and energy; their health further plummets.

As you can see, opioid use disorder does not simply revolve around the high only. It is a multifactorial disease that is affected by euphoria, tolerance, withdrawal, criminal activity, cost and health.

What starts out as a simple curiosity for pleasure turns into a spiraling addiction that never stops spinning downwards.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Porn Addiction Side Effects

Porn playing on black Android smartphone on gray bed sheet

Pornographic Dopamine

Porn addiction is a behavioral problem characterized by an uncontrollable compulsion to view pornographic content or material. With the internet providing easy access to thousands of sources, it is not difficult to lose your grip and become hooked!

Porn addicts are unable to stop engaging in porn despite multiple attempts at doing so. Their cravings fuel their addiction, turning into a frustrating process; they become angry when loved ones ask them to stop.

Porn addicts will deny their addiction much like substance abusers; their impulses remain secret-like. Porn addiction is known for promoting secrecy in relationships, further impacting the addict’s psychological well-being. Because addicts do not reveal their addiction, they often feel as if they’re leading a double life by hiding their porn viewing; this promotes guilt and shame.

Porn addicts may continue to view porn despite broken relationships or job loss. Relationships suffer because an addict loses intimacy and sexual satisfaction with their partner; they become emotionally distant because their partner no longer provides the desired satisfaction. And some addicts must watch porn during work, affecting their job performance and promoting failed careers.

Porn addicts may be so addicted that they spend most of their waking hours watching porn! This can result in tolerance, requiring more hours spent on more intense pornographic material to achieve the desired pleasure and satisfaction.

As with any addiction, porn releases large amounts of the neurotransmitter dopamine from the nucleus accumbens (reward center) in the brain; when porn is not available, the addict feels low and quickly returns back to watching porn, leading to a new dopamine surge! And this is how the cycle of addiction continues.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)