The vital missing parts of drug treatment

via Obama Administration Offers Desperately Needed Help For People Addicted To Opioids

When I grew up in the 80s, drugs were no less than a demon scourge come to take your soul away if you so much as got a contact high. Nancy Reagan went a long way to make a lot of people really miserable. But the guiding philosophy on drug abuse was that it’s  up to you to kick it’s ass – anything less than total sobriety is a moral failure on your part. You didn’t try hard enough. The AA Big Book famously states

“Our description of the alcoholic . . . makes clear three pertinent ideas. . . (b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.”

-AA Big Book, pg. 60 (right after the 12 steps)

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It also has one chapter called “Women Suffer Too”

It goes on to say that the only way to recover from alcohol addiction is through a spiritual awakening. Presumably, you come to realize you are a terrible sinner and it magically cures toxic shame, trauma, and mental illness. But heroin is the end boss of addictions. It directly rewires the reward centers of the brain and can condition a sufferer’s mind to obsess over everything about the habit (including the gross parts). It turns lovely, brilliant people into cringing thieves, serial liars, and corpses. I’ve seen it first hand and I’ve had terrible run-ins with opiate addicts. Never, ever take one in out of pity if you value your valuables.

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You can buy them back cheap though.

I’ve also been to court ordered rehab myself. I was there for booze issues, and I know I didn’t envy all the women who came in addicted to needles and pills. They were quickly put on suboxone and just as quickly weaned off of it. They seemed fine, but most relapsed when returned to the compromising living situations they wanted to escape.

Obama is trying to get money to states for MAT, or medically assisted treatment, for opiate addicts. Almost all treatment facilities use faith-based methods and 12-step principles (which are also faith-based). However, there is zero evidence that these programs are any more effective than trying to quit on your own. Medication is changing the way heroin addicts are treated though. Suboxone is a maintenance opiate that prevents dope-sickness and can be controlled to wean the brain off of the changes in dopamine production that make getting clean so vexing and, frequently, otherwise impossible.

And there were a lot of sufferers, especially among the women I encountered. In fact there was a triad of opiates, alcohol, and eating disorders I kept noticing. All of us had problems with at least two. I’m sure it bears better investigation. Anyway, I’ve been sober for three years and dealing with the criminal justice system and state rehab was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Staying sober has been a breeze, by comparison.

A female addict’s real problems are seldom addressed.

One class we had in rehab was a revelation to me. It was oddly called “gender,” just “gender” class and it means the men and the women (insultingly labeled by staff as males and females like we are on in a Mutual of Omaha special and not adult humans) were split up to discuss our unique issues. I figured out it was especially important for the ladies to go into a safe place to discuss aspects of our addictions, and what they’d done to us and made us do, that we would hardly bring up in court-ordered mixed company. Once the floodgates open in a counseling environment where problems related to relationships with men, LBTQ struggles, and our difficulties in society can be explored, it is apparent that any one of us would naturally turn to chemical solutions to deal with what we had survived. Experiences such as domestic violence, sexual abuse in childhood and adulthood, work discrimination, heart-breaking childcare challenges, the effects of rape and rape culture, neglect, financial morasses, and our submerged status start to tumble out.

By the end of the short class (which usually went on long after the men were done) I knew that more of this type of consciousness raising was absolutely a seldom-used tool for getting to the underlying trauma and powerlessness that leads women (and many men) to relapse. A female addict’s real problems are seldom addressed. 12-step programs focus overly on how relapse and the initial drug experimentation that led to addiction are our fault. It is clear that most of these women were not receiving the kind of educational awakening and support services that would profoundly improve their chances of staying clean and avoiding more contact with the criminal justice system.

The focus typical of modern treatment programs is on “triggers” and how to deal with them. But quickly one realizes in the program that life is a trigger and the majority of women there will not be able to escape the “people, places, and things” that remind them of using. What they really couldn’t escape were the life circumstances that led to addiction in the first place. They would be returning their small towns with no employment opportunities or community centers, their abusive domestic situations, their untreated (unacknowledged) traumas, their grief over the custodial loss of their children, and their very poor financial prospects.

I hope that we can come to see addiction and relapse also as failings of society. I hope we can change treatment to include medications for addiction maintenance and mental health problems. I hope we can tell women that life isn’t always hard because they are failures. It’s because life is hard for a lot of women and not enough, not nearly enough, is being done to improve their circumstances.

Moon Unit: Missouri House Passes a New Abortion Bill

via Missouri’s racist rape trolls: State GOP introduces horrendous anti-choice bill — complete with an unforgivable affront to rape victims – Salon.com

It seems like every time I check out the news (admittedly less lately), there’s a new bill having to do with legislating people’s private lives and parts. All while doing less than nothing about sexual and racial violence, in favor of proposed and often passed state legislation which encourages violence and oppression.

Missouri doesn’t sound like “misery” for nothing. Aside from being the place that sparked the Civil War, the state has recently been torn apart by systemic racial violence on the part of the police, anti-choice policies and attitudes, as well as the proposed “bathroom bills” sweeping certain states. As if we just discovered that trans people exist and excrete waste just like every other organism. [Note: They’ve already been using your bathrooms all this time and you probably didn’t notice!]

 

The man at the center of Missouri’s proposed bill is Mike Moon. A Flanders if ever there was one. His efforts to define a fetus, indeed even un-implanted zygotes, as people having “a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry” is redundant.

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This expert on female problems.

Missouri already passed similar legislation in the past only with the caveat that the existence of that pesky Roe v. Wade decision can override it. The new bill attempts to overturn the federal court decision on the state level by excluding it from the bill’s language. Like a similar bill passed in Oklahoma a few years ago, it will likely be struck down in the next stage as unconstitutional. At least I hope so.

However, Missouri is left with a single clinic which can perform abortions, and this legislation, if passed, would do away with that one and also restrict Plan B and certain contraceptives that prevent a zygote from implanting. Because zygotes have the right to enjoy the profits of their “industry.” The only work a zygote does is replicate DNA and float around. It is not sentient and cannot feel pain like a full term post-pubescent woman does. Medically, an egg may be fertilized, but can fail to implant and be passed out in the woman or child’s next cycle.

Speaking of pregnant children, a law did just pass to require minors to get written permission from both parents before the mandatory 72-hour waiting period begins. In reality, where these people do not live, a girl’s home situation can be volatile and there are far too many cases where perhaps a parent or relative is the father. There is no provision for rape or incest. Or the risks of childbirth to girls. Or the dire mental health problems that she would suffer. This should be called “forced pregnancy.” If “pro-lifer’s” can conflate a medical procedure with murder, why don’t take back the language and call these bills “reproduction control.”

To pile insults on the most people possible, Moon named his bill the “All Lives Matter” bill. Yikes. Yeah, all lives do matter. But can we agree that the life of a woman or child already among us is more important than a microscopic cell cluster? Is a possible life more important than a well-established sovereign, fully-developed person? Apparently so.

For more outrage, read what a typical anti-choice site has to say about it. In that article, Moon is quoted saying, “The silence of those who want to protect the unborn is similar to the silence of Germans who stood by and allowed Jewish people to be slaughtered by the Nazis.” Way to inflame the rhetoric, douche-nozzel.

Jesus, hear my prayer and protect us from your followers. Amen.

 

 

 

Women of the Day: Cristina Garcia & Ling Ling Chang

via ‘I’m Tired Of Being Taxed For Being A Woman’

Actually, I should say California Assemblywomen Cristina Garcia and Ling Ling Chang. They are the united (and delightfully multi-ethnic) front in bringing attention to basic female needs which have certain outdated barriers to accessing them. Uh . . .that pretty much sums up a whole lot of things that have to do with women’s bodies. But access to pads, tampons, and the newer (and awesome) cups is not a given for a startlingly large number of women you may never think about. These wonderful ladies did think about them.

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Families and women in poverty have to make some rough choices. The women in the household have to use hygiene products as long as possible to conserve them. This leads to leaks, odors, and infections. That is even if they can afford them in the first place. Homeless women resort to newspaper and random absorbent materials which are not effective or clean. I have been in several drug stores and seen opened boxes of feminine products. Maybe someone had an emergency and no money, but probably the implication is sadder. (I’ve also seen opened and empty pregnancy tests. Did I mention my town has no low-cost women’s services?)

Schoolgirls have a wicked embarrassing time getting to the bathroom when they need to. If their teachers let them leave class with no explanation (and what pubescent girl is going to announce to the class that she needs to change a leaky pad?), the machines in the bathrooms require money. (In my time as a student teacher in an inner-city middle and high school, we were cautious about letting kids go to the bathroom too much for some understandable reasons. Yet most of the requests, to my memory, came from the fidgety boys who were sick to death of class.) Or girls have to go to the school nurse which is stressful and mortifying to many of them.

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I’ll let this bear demonstrate how that feels when you’re twelve.

The part about an actual tax on tampons, whereas items of medical necessity are not taxed, was news to me. I never even knew that was how things were set up! So menstrual products are taxed as luxury items in 40 states. How much do you wanna bet that a man set up that distinction? As women know, your period (and it’s subsequent absence) is a lifelong responsibility, and in our stilted culture it is viewed as a horrifying and abnormal condition. We already have terribly mixed emotions about our bodies since men and media put so much emphasis on us as objects. I won’t even go into the fact that men discredit women all the time because “she was on her period.”

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How dare her body do something that turns me off!

This bill is a beginning to legitimizing our personal needs and allowing women to have more dignity. It would be foolish to assume that every state is going to adopt and pass this kind of legislation. Other states (especially the red ones) are, as I type, in the midst of a backlash against all the renewed pushes for women’s health rights. Few legislators are women, and frequently they are not the helpful kind.

Ways You Can Help!

  1. Write letters ladies!!! To your state lawmakers! School teachers – tell about classroom incidents. Women’s health providers – provide evidence of the infections underserved women and girls get. Be heard and make them accountable for female dignity!
  2. Contact the nurse’s office at your child’s school and ask if they provide free products where girls don’t have to ask for them. If they don’t, complain about it in PTA meetings!
  3. Most importantly, donate good pads and tampons to local shelters, jails, and schools!

Woman of the Day: Olivia Benson

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The unthinkable happens and a bad man harms you. Never fear, Olivia’s here. If you live in New York, that is. Before you know it, a tall woman with the doe eyes of a movie star will tell you, unequivocally, that none of this was your fault and we are going after him like Leo goes after the Oscar. {Congrats Leo; you should’ve won for Gilbert Grape.} Your case will receive the utmost priority and Olivia will be at your beck and call with soothing sympathy and big-sister hugs. God, I love her. I wish Special Victims Units were a real thing that actually existed. I wish the process was as fast as a 42 minute show. I wish all dangerous people were prosecuted and put away the first time they are charged with a terrible crime.

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I think my monkey’s paw is defective.

But Olivia Benson is actually Mariska Hargitay. She’s an actress on a TV show. An awesome actress, but not a person you will ever see at the worst time of your life. Some grizzled cop with a drinking problem will take down your story and then ask a bunch of questions about drugs and alcohol. What were you doing out late, partying? Do you have a boyfriend? Why didn’t you fight him? Are you sure those marks weren’t self-inflicted? Huh? Why did you say goodbye after it was over if it wasn’t consensual? Why did you decide to go to work before you went to the police? Why aren’t you standing in the rain screaming at the cruel heavens?

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Simmer down, Leo!

And, for the most part, those guys will get away, go about their business, and never even see the inside of a jail or courtroom. Mostly because women (and men) know the cops won’t be sympathetic, or won’t believe you, or will actively protect the interests of the accused instead of the traumatized. Mostly because it’s hard to face the justice system and risk being torn apart again. Olivia Benson and the attractive, yet flawed warriors of SVU are a collective wish fulfilled. Much like Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing, SVU is a palliative that has reached many, many people, to assure us that sanity rules in these areas of life when the reality is far messier, discouraging.

In fact, Mariska tells of the shock she got when she began receiving direct letters from people who have seen the show. “I remember my breath going out of me when the first letter came, and I’ve gotten thousands like it since then. That these individuals would reveal something so intensely personal—often for the very first time—to someone they knew only as a character on television demonstrated to me how desperate they were to be heard, believed, supported, and healed,” says she on her site for the Joyful Heart Foundation.

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Providing spa retreats for rape counselors since 2004.

That’s what happens when you are the only show on TV that spotlights victims of exploitative and sexual crimes. No lie, victims don’t know where to go. In my city we have one state-sponsored rape crisis center that is very hard to find or call.  No Planned Parenthood and the nearest clinic to get any kind of abortion or free birth control is hundreds of miles away in every direction. The police are known to be sexually abusive to women. Not many rapes go to trial here, but they happen here a lot. Scores of exploited women go to jail, but the Johns and pimps don’t have any consequences.

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Not an empowered career choice.

So what do you do? You reach out to who you do see talking about a problem you have. Olivia Benson is a bit pushy sometimes, but she’s always understanding and patient. Cops are just pushy and usually male. Olivia is empowered to sling a rape kit right to a sympathetic ME for fast results. She can bully a perp into confession without so much as a request for a lawyer. She has no pesky paperwork to grind through. She can be on call all the time (before baby Noah came into there life, that is). No lawyers or obtuse officers succeed in stopping SVU from getting to the bottom of the truth.

Thanks for your years of service Olivia Benson.

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FL Gov. Rick Scott picks up uterus regulation where Texas left off

via Florida’s war on women: State passes massive anti-choice bill to shut down access to abortion and contraception – Salon.com.

Well. I sure wish this was a rare, outrageous type of story, but if you’ve been near a TV or computer lately, you should know the debate about women having control over the course of their own lives is being hotly contested in none other than SCOTUS. And Florida just lost a round in this battle like a raped coed who can’t convince the cops she isn’t a conniving She-Demon making false allegations.

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Ruth’s got to be getting really tired of this shit.

The same building codes that Sammy Bee and John Oliver just did segments on have been halted in a short order handed down by the Supreme Court. Right now, as we all know, the bent of the Supreme Court is in the air and hideously polarized after Jon Stewart smothered Scalia in a frustrated funk caused by the irrelevancy of the show he passed on. Maybe he’ll head on to Florida and see to Rick Scott as well.

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Use a stake, Jon. This one could be a Nosferatu.

The Voldemort-headed decider of women’s fates is expected to ram through the same photocopied ream of building codes which would remove access to care for most of Florida’s female residents. Ironically, closing these clinics would negatively impact women’s health as a whole and clog emergency rooms with patients who could have been served better at clinics that have been closed. In fact, for someone who is very concerned about revenue, this bill would incur massive costs not far down the road. Many women seeking abortions (most done with a dose of medication) would end up having babies that would then suffer because of Scott’s other policy stances. Some children born would become wards of the state, some would cause the death of the mother, some would not live long after birth – all because women wouldn’t have adequate prenatal care. Then there’s the specter of home abortions. But the most baffling effect he is wittingly or unwittingly having on women is keeping birth control methods away from them.

It seems he wants women pregnant, but only if they don’t want to be.

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You could prevent this, Rick!

The scale is tipping away from the anti-choice movement. For instance, have you noticed an increase the term “anti-choice”? The next justice confirmed might continue the compassionate work that so many Americans do in clinics, at their own monumental risk, or cement our country as a bigoted theocracy for the foreseeable future. However, the consequences of poor reproductive services will quickly bring the issue back to the fore.

Have hope. Women are finding out that they get to say who does or does not tamper with their destinies, and that toothpaste will never fit back in the tube.

Review: Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

In recognition of the Super Sunday victories of Hillary and Donald Dumpf, I finally read Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit. The title is but one of the essays in this collection of musings about the status of women as we stand today – all around the world as well as in America. But it was this one that got my dander up the most because she addresses the basic nature of the “war of the sexes.” We tend to compartmentalize different women’s issues into separate institutions and causes. Domestic violence, all manner of rape and harassment, as well as reproductive freedom should be addressed as stemming from the root issues we don’t hear about: credibility and agency.

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Not ad agency.

 Credibility is the crazy idea that a woman’s word should be taken as legitimate before it is run through a barrage of doubtful questions. Solnit writes that she once had a dinner with a boyfriend’s father. He told of an incident in his neighborhood (in Oak Ridge, TN apparently) when a neighbor’s wife ran into the street naked one night screaming that her husband was trying to kill her. He was merely bemused. Mrs. Solnit asked how he knew her husband wasn’t trying to kill her and he explained that they were simply respectable people. So, to him, the more credible possibility was that the woman was crazy.

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Don’t google “crazy woman meme”

If you or anyone you know has been sexually assaulted or harassed on the job, most of the battle towards justice is getting authorities to believe you. Even your first brave outcry is met with questions about the nature of your relationship with the offender and whether you have a boyfriend or husband. Apparently cops think women are prone to crying rape after a consensual encounter so their partners won’t get mad if they find out.

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Seems convoluted.

“Credibility is a basic

survival tool.”

-R.  Solnit

 

But on a less extreme level, “Men explain things to me, and other women, whether or not they know what they are talking about. Some men.” Every time I am in a discussion with men about a man subject – such as policy, religion, or science fiction/fact – I have a creeping feeling that most are biding time before they can speak again and they have gone to whatever white noise space in their giant heads they go to when a woman opines. That is, after I have yelled them down enough to listen to me. Frequently they don’t care for my sass.

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This witch doth know her shit. Devilry!

My least favorite man-phrase is “Okay. Hmmm. I’ll buy that.” As if I am possibly selling some sort of snake oil instead of describing a lucid idea – or the truth as I know it. As Solnit succinctly writes, ” . . . I objected to the behavior of a man only to be told that the incidents hadn’t happened at all like I said, that I was subjective, delusional, overwrought, dishonest – in a nutshell, female.” Add strident, shrill, and harping to that list whenever we have a complaint. Any complaint. (Whereas “to hold forth” is a very masculine action verb.)  She calls this an “invitation to silence.”

The best way to maintain the silence of women is by destroying their rights as sovereign beings. Agency is the notion that women own themselves, body and mind, and have the means to be heard and advocate for themselves. We should have enough power in society to be able to change things for ourselves. Right now we do not.

A fabulous documentary with a lot of super kick-ass ladies like Katie Couric, Gloria Steinem, Margaret Cho, Gina Davis, et al. is Miss Representation.  It exposes how mainstream media contribute to the massive under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. We are 51% of the population and 17% of our lawmakers. (And the laid back not-quite-half of SCOTUS).

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I can’t do everything for you!

When you understand what having agency means, a lot of touchy issues become a little more clear. Take abortion and reproductive rights. The touchiest. No matter what choice a woman does or does not make about becoming a mother, an unwanted pregnancy is fucking terrifying. If you will be bearing the brunt of the expense and insanity a new human brings with it into the world, knowing what we all do about the state of employment and benefits for single women, you are staring down a problem that will cause heartbreak no matter what happens.

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Hang in there! I’m making a point!

That’s the reality. We are never going to “solve” abortion. All women need to understand that if you limit another woman’s agency in one arena of society you erode it on every level. Even though anti-choice activists fervently believe they are saving a pregnant woman (or child) from their own bad decisions and future regret,  they are still stealing her ability to control the course of the life that belongs to her. I am a woman of faith (a Christian faith *gasp*) and firmly believe that free will is ordained by God.

Is it not?

The laws they advocate for strip our rights as a whole. No man will ever have an abortion or a baby. Of all the issues that women should control in the legislative body, this is the only that is exclusive to us. But men and the misguided women who work with them are robbing women I know of health care services in all respects.

Alright. Enough of that.

Here I will mention a recent silencing. The women (and men) who were targets of the #Gamergate harassment campaign are being silenced through raw fear for their lives. The threat of violence is frequently as limiting and life destroying as violence itself. That these sorts of coordinated attacks are never as aggressively investigated and prosecuted as other actions which directly harm a person, is either a massively stupid interpretation of what free speech means or we’ve still got a really long way to go, baby.  (#Gamergate is still officially referred to as a “controversy” by the way).

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Here’s an example of the shit scared guys say.

Again, any sensible woman would understand the seriousness of using the vast influence of inconnectivity to destroy a person’s safety, livelihood, and participation in a chosen field. But we are not, for the most part, the gender who decides what laws are needed to keep us safe and healthy.

It seems to make no sense. It does not compute.

“One of the most radical things you can do is to actually believe women when they talk about their experiences.”

-Anita Sarkeesian,

of the Feminist Frequency

 

But I have digressed. Rebecca Solnit’s essay collection is an amazing introduction for anyone (especially an ally) who is wondering why feminism is now necessary and won’t stop growing anytime soon.

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She’s pretending to be an intellectual. How charming!