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.

 

 

 

Ted’s face has a serious optics problem

via Why Ted Cruz’s Facial Expression Makes Me Uneasy | Psychology Today

Even though Trump trundles though the Uncanny Valley like a bloviating circus peanut, Ted Cruz takes the prize for overall queasiness. It wasn’t until this election that I realized how attractive most presidents actually are. I’m not saying they’re Tigerbeat material, but they are tall, rather masculine, and photograph well. Even Lincoln’s notably fugly face was ameliorated by his extreme height and a distracting Mobius beard.

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But there’s no accountin’ fer Jimmy. Bless his great big heart!

The fella in the article linked at the top takes an anthropological approach to the problem of Ted’s oozing expression. He posits that we, as a species, have long been dependent on facial cues for evaluating the safety and sincerity of strangers we meet. (A side effect of this tendency is xenophobia.) After doing it for ages and losing our facial hair and having 54 choreographed facial muscles, we’ve become supernaturally good at reading expressions. It helps us form possibly life-saving gut reactions to people who threaten us when they let a bit of the evil pop through.

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In retrospect, this is way creepier.

Ted Cruz is a special kind of ugly. There’s no “beauty and the beast” dichotomy here; every facet of this man is equally odious. Firstly, his particular brand of pseudo-faith requires that the leader of America be ordained by God and basically goes on to describe a theocracy. With Ted Cruz being the *eerk* ruler of God’s earthly realm. The fact that He thinks He’s the person God would choose to lead anything other than a pedophile ring disguised as a traveling tent revival is insulting and clearly preposterous. But somehow he and his supporters genuinely feel Ted is part of America’s destiny. I wonder how they’ll rationalize the loss.

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In Ted’s case, the above should read, “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted when people just really don’t want to look at my shiny gourd-face for four years.” Earlier this year, just before my state’s primary, I began to get Ted Cruz campaign commercials in between my Hulu programs. I was shocked at how, and this is a word I don’t use lightly, violated I felt. It was an unavoidable knee-jerk reaction. I was angry that he could get to me without my permission.


TRIGGER WARNING

Ted Cruz Closeups Below !!!


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Between pitcher ears filled with nonsense, Ted’s eyes and mouth always turn down at the corners giving him that exaggerated expression of beseechment that Southerners are so familiar with in shady itinerant preachers. He looks like he prayed for pals too hard as a child and his face stuck that way. Even his “smile” only ever gets to horizontal.

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Again, I am so sorry.

Then there’s that nose straight from a 19th century political cartoon. It’s a melted tallow dong in the middle of his face, juuuuust about to fall in his booger-besmerched upside-down kidney bean lie amplifier.

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Like a mewling eagle hatchling.

And what’s with the slime? Ted must be a champion sweat hog. Indeed, he is the embodiment of the word moist. So everything from his actual features to his various secretions is off-putting. Samantha Bee has pointed out that he even sounds annoying, like a “squealy French mime.”

Ted Cruz is a  puny parcel of shuddering grossness. His face is one thing, but his patriarchal ambitions disguised as divine mandate give my very soul the willies. You know things are bad when someone who makes you want to dry heave is the best alternative to American Neo-fascism (if you’re still a Republican).

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Mrs. Cruz agrees

 

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!

FL Gov. Rick Scott blocks care for poor women

via Rick Scott Signs Abortion Restrictions Law

This guy. I suppose there isn’t much to add here. Just. No words can express how it feels to live in a long-time women’s care desert like Chattanooga and to watch that wasteland of brash control and callous neglect spread like the diseases that will no longer be preventable or treatable for America’s most put-upon and ignored women. Our bodies, my body, your body, have become tokens in a high-stakes game of ideological control and I’m so, so sorry to see women’s and children’s lives forever decreased in opportunity for this.

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Way to go, Rick.

Woman of the Day: Olivia Benson

Mariska_SVU

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 Evades More Questions

via Florida Governor Rick Scott Embarrasses Himself, And America, On National TV.

What do you know? Moloch impersonator Rick Scott really laid an egg on MSNBC’s Morning Joe yesterday. In a moment of actual journalism the members of Morning Joe put the screws to him about his stance on Muslim refugees coming into Florida. He first answered with the stock excuse of waiting for vetting of refugees to somehow be more draconian.

This is an underhanded way to suggest to those who would support his ilk that the process is not good as it stands. As Oliver points out, the series of checks and the sheer amount of paperwork that America requires eliminates the possibility that a terrorist would take this circuitous route to getting in the country. Really. Check out the link under the title to see a man drowning on dry land.

For the record, I don’t think he’s truly frightened of terrorists coming to Florida. He knows his electoral base, bigots and really old bigots, would not reelect him if he publicly took a compassionate stance. This is yet another example of a politician doing an awkward two-step to encourage the delusions and prejudices of his base.

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