I am grateful for the time I smoked pot on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial …

I am grateful for the time I smoked pot on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with a guy I had a crush on in college…even though he turned out to be straight.

I am grateful for my beautiful home, which often leaves me breathless when I think about the miracle of how the entire thing happened.

I am grateful for my gigantic mouth, which, like so many species, I use to keep myself safe.

I am grateful for electricity, heat and water. Without Project NOW Community Action Agency of Rock Island, I would not have any of those things right now.

I am grateful to God. Without Him I have nothing.

I am grateful for the handful of weird gigs I have had since last June that did not work out long-term. At least they paid for my medical cannabis for a while.

I am grateful for the St. Pius Food Pantry.

I am grateful for the sun, the stars and the moon.

I am grateful for the air I breathe, and that it is fresh enough to breathe.

I am grateful for sugar.

I am grateful for marijuana.

I am grateful for broccoli.

I am grateful for cheese.

I am grateful for strawberries.

I am grateful for coffee.

I am grateful for my parents. I feel their presence right now very strongly even though they both are dead.

I am grateful for my neighbors.

I am grateful for the mothers and fathers of old childhood friends, who know I am telling the absolute truth even though they are hurting too and have no idea what to do.

I am grateful for my education.

I am grateful for my writing abilities.

I am grateful to ALL VETERANS.

I am grateful for HONEST cops.

I am grateful for Peter Boykin, founder of Gays for Trump. Peter’s views mirror mine and if it were not for him I would feel like a complete and total pariah. Peter is running for state office in North Carolina. You can support him by clicking here.

I am grateful to the Log Cabin Republicans for exactly the same reason I am grateful for Peter Boykin. However, the Log Cabin Republicans is a tad bit too “establishment” for my taste. I’m sure many straight Republicans feel exactly the same about Paul Ryan, however.

And I am grateful to Abraham Lincoln. I always have been a fan of Lincoln, even as a child. And honestly, that moment on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during college is just about all I can think about right now.

And I live in the land of Lincoln, and I am grateful for that, too. Because in the end, the state has been NOTHING BUT GOOD TO ME throughout this entire ordeal of the past five years.

However, that nobody is in prison for what happened to me is outrageous. I suspect the FBI is working on it.

What are you grateful for? Are you angry today? List out 10 things you’re glad you have. Maybe you’re staying at a homeless shelter right now, but you are glad you are out of that terrible man’s house.

In times of trauma, reflecting on gratitudes such as these truly can life you WAYYYYY up. Once you’re lifted and your outlook changes, the world around you will begin to change, too.

The state of Illinois REPEATEDLY has saved the day for me. I’m beginning to understand a thing or two about Illinois state politics.

Maybe Illinois isn’t so bad. Maybe not even SOME of the Democrats who are among the most despised of the despised.

Until next time.

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Opioid, booze, violent deaths by county: America’s hot spots aren’t created equal

A study released Tuesday shows drug use disorder deaths increased six-fold in the United States nationwide from 1980 to 2014. Alcohol use disorder deaths dipped slightly.

But by county, the study tells a disturbing story: In some places, deaths by booze abuse skyrocketed, as did deaths by suicide and interpersonal violence.

Regarding deaths from alcohol use disorder, counties in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida and Alaska saw the largest decreases. The largest increases were in the western and northern United States.

And in some counties in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Eastern Oklahoma, deaths by drug abuse ricocheted across the Appalachians, with increases amounting to a staggering 5,000 percent.

New Mexico, Alabama and Tennessee also had more drug abuse deaths than the rest of the U.S. Still, as a nation, death by drugs has multiplied a walloping 600 percent.

“Western counties generally experienced higher levels of mortality than counties in the East, and counties with especially high mortality rates, compared with the rest of the United States, were found in parts of Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Alaska,” according to the original investigation published in JAMA.

It sounds a shrilling alarm about public health inequities in the United States as well as successes and failures by state and local governments.

Suicide deaths balloon with alcohol deaths in west

While suicide deaths dipped nationwide from 1980 to 2014, in the West – where alcohol abuse deaths ballooned – so did deaths by self-harm.

Gun deaths, too, rose in places unexpected – those were NOT in the West, and not necessarily urban areas either. Those were all over the map.

“To our knowledge, this study is the first to consider alcohol and drug use disorders, apart from other types of unintentional poisonings and distinct from intentional overdoses, at the county level in the United States,” the academics reported. “These findings highlight the need for a multipronged public health response focusing on prevention, harm reduction (drug treatment that encourages less use when abstinence is not likely), treatment and recovery support.”

Interpersonal violence spiked in Midwestern and Atlantic states while dipping in Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Texas, California and New York.

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Angry like me: Clinicians struggle to rehab human trafficking survivors

For the most part, the healthcare establishment has no idea how to help survivors of human trafficking recover.

That’s the conclusion of a research letter and accompanying editorial appearing today in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Frustrated mental health therapists are presented with a multitude of behaviors from these victims of living hell: Acute anger; not just PTSD, but chronic PTSD (my diagnosis); flashbacks, night terrors, hostility, aggression, shame, guilt and fear.

Physically, the survivors have additional problems: Sexually transmitted diseases, up to and including HIV and/or Hepatitis C; skin problems, chronic pain syndromes, malnutrition, and, above all…

Substance abuse disorders.

“Substance use … is prevalent in trafficking and may persist afterward as a means of coping with physical and psychological symptoms,” the authors of the research letter explained. “Although substance use may predate trafficking as a factor making a person vulnerable to exploitation (me), the forced use of drugs and alcohol to foster dependence among victims is common.”

And that’s exactly the story of what happened to me after I moved back to the Quad-Cities from Los Angeles.

Sex you don’t want to have under the influence – to the point of being disabled – is abuse.

‘Come with me to Chicago…I’ll make it worth your while’

Shortly after my dad began to experience severe dementia, but had not ended up in a nursing home yet, I was told by someone he’d make it ‘worth my while’ if I went with him to Chicago. I said no.

I now have figured out what that was all about based on what I’m piecing together about the person I believe he took instead of me. It’s chilling.

I’ve seen human trafficking, and I’ve lived it. I have been “kept” to some degree or another in various ways throughout my life by an older man a time or two, particularly abusively in Los Angeles but also in the Quad-Cities.

But never have I allowed myself to become completely dependent on anyone other than my dad. We were codependent and, as it turns out, we both would have died prematurely had we not been.

Period. End of story. Because nobody else cared about either one of us, that has been proven a thousand times over since my dad’s death!

My abusive childhood may have saved me from being wholly trafficked out of the Quad-Cities – I trust no one. I also have a college education and skills to remain gainfully employed. It’s tough now, though, since powerful, dishonest politicians have blackballed me and cause me to obsess every living hour on whether I’m safe from their evil grasp. I have not worked gainfully in almost a year.

It’s only after blowing the whistle on human trafficking, drugs and political corruption that I find myself largely unemployed for almost a year now.

So, I think it’s safe to say I am a human trafficking victim, right here right now, as I sit here. At least to some degree.

Because that’s why I’m unemployed. Let’s face it.

I was the Rainbow Reporter live on the scene

During my tenure as chief bar stool warmer at the gay bar across the river from Rock Island, Ill. in Davenport, Iowa, I saw almost everything. Having been an executive news editor at the historic LGBT magazine The Advocate in Los Angeles, I am both book-smart and street-smart about human trafficking.

Read more: Research explains how my writing, not lots and lots of meetings, keeps me sober

I saw young men, usually who wandered over to the bar from King’s Harvest Ministries, go from homeless to living high on the hog with older gay men. It would happen in a blink.

In the next blink, these young men were kicked to the curb and back on the street. Once, maybe twice, I knew of older men buying a homeless young adult an airplane or a bus ticket to go home. I observed this both in the Quad-Cities and Los Angeles. Those men likely thought they did the right thing.

But did they really go home? Who knows.

“Persons exiting trafficking often lack physical, psychological, and physiologic safety and stability,” according to the researchers, who hail from Massachusetts General Hospital. “Food, housing, clothing, financial support, safety and protection, transportation and acute substance withdrawal treatment are immediate needs that often are unmet.

“In one program for sex trafficked minors, creative and persistent efforts to meet these needs frequently take precedence over addressing the exploitation itself, because sex trafficking too often represents “the least-bad solution to meeting fundamental needs.”

Check out this report I wrote two years ago: Hooking up to stay alive: The sexual exploitation of young men and boys.

In an accompanying editorial in Annals, authors from Boston University School of Public Health note that human trafficking survivors have been compared to war victims and torture survivors. Because their needs are so profound, “Little information exists on how to adapt (trauma-informed clinical PTSD interventions) to persons who have PTSD related to human trafficking.

“Are specific skills required to effectively care for this population?”

I say yes, and I suspect my therapist of more than two years (until I lost my private insurance) would agree with that conclusion.

The problem with chronic PTSD (my diagnosis)

There are two kinds of PTSD – chronic and not chronic.

With chronic PTSD, symptoms are most always present. It’s extremely difficult to treat people with chronic PTSD, like myself, because we no longer trust anybody. We’re always waiting to be shat on.

“Because CPTSD includes difficulty trusting others, fear of rejection, impaired affect regulation and impulse control, lower relationship satisfaction, and decreased self-protection from polyvictimization, it undermines the psychological capacity for interpersonal functioning,” the researchers explain in their report.

Read more: When you take him to Trinity, tell them he’s a sex worker

“These relational consequences strongly affect how survivors interact with health professionals. In addition, given the nature of human trafficking, any ongoing or perceived threats of violence after exiting may work synergistically with CPTSD relational impairments to undermine health care participation.”

Read more: Terror in the ER

Add being the victim of political corruption after blowing the whistle on human trafficking, and you almost would have to have a screw loose to seek treatment in the Quad-Cities on the Medicaid dime.

Read more: Why I’m one of the lucky few legal to smoke pot in Illinois

Read more: Put him through the tunnel and onto a C17

It’s why I canceled my appointment last week. I am just fine with work, an income, and a fair shot, just like most hardworking Americans.

But given the nature of the criminal case I have provided information about, I do not feel safe using my federal Medicaid insurance or going anywhere that accepts it.

And why should I? Look what happened to me last time.

Human trafficking victims often in legal trouble – for being victims

“Legal entanglement may also impede engagement in care,” the authors wrote. “As part of their exploitation, victims may be compelled or force to engage in illegal activities. Thus, in addition to victimization, some human trafficking survivors also may be adjudicated offenders, sometimes under the very antitrafficking laws designed to protect them.

“Such legal entanglements present obstacles to community reintegration, including registering as a sex offender or felon, diminished employment opportunities, and a reinforced sense of self as stigmatized. Court mandated mental health treatment is common but may be antithetical to basic tenets of trauma-informed care.

Where human trafficking survivor rehab is being done right

The Freedom Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital is wholly dedicated to treating victims of human trafficking. The authors of the accompanying Annals editorial said we must learn as much as we can from The Freedom Clinic and then find ways to replicate what works.

Cost no doubt will be a problem for such intensive services, they warn.

“Understanding the barriers the authors have encountered and how they generate and allocate funding for the services the clinic provides is essential to those who wish to replicate their approach. Their conceptualization of a “continuum of wraparound services” that are iterative rather than linear and span different sectors (housing, legal and medical) through case management raises the tension between what is best for the patient and what can actually be carried out.

“Is this a model that can be adapted to other clinical settings, or is it best suited to a large, urban, teaching hospital?”

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Why can’t we admit that addiction is a byproduct of childhood trauma?

People often ask:

Why is your name David John, and your brother John Dennis?

They want to know what’s with the “John” theme.

The truth is a sad story. My dad wanted a little brother, and one day God gave him one.

But his brother, little John Dennis, still a baby, became sick.

“Dad was too cheap to take him to the doctor, and he died,” dad would tell me, repeating it like a broken record when I first returned home from Los Angeles in 2002.

Dad’s other brothers both are in heaven with him; his three sisters still are living. They denied my brother ever experienced any trauma, saying he was “spoiled.”

And yet that’s what my brother has had the gall to say about me in the past.

To cut to the chase, I grew up in a violent home. Once, mom pinned dad to the ground in the living room and held steak knife to his carotid artery. I screamed downstairs for help; my brother just laughed.

But his friend Rick Hoff (maybe it was Hoffman?) ran up the stairs and rescued my dad.

Rick didn’t think it was funny.

Rick and John didn’t stay friends long.

Were your boozer friends in high school suffering trauma, too?

They say we all deal with childhood trauma and the stress that comes with it, even into adulthood, differently. That’s true to some degree, I suppose.

But evidence increasingly shows that people who experience childhood trauma are far more likely to find themselves in the throes of addiction and alcoholism.

Read more: Who are the opioid addicts in the Quad-Cities, or where you live?

I recently ran across one of the most affirming and logical articles surrounding addiction that I have read in a few years. While I did not agree with everything in it – particularly its emphasis on predatory 12-step programs – I did like its explanation of an assessment tool called ACEs.

ACEs references the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study.

From the article that appears on the ACEsTooHigh website:

In the 1980s, PTSD was defined as a result of trauma that was outside the realm of normal experience.

“That was just wrong,” says Sumrok. “Divorce, living with depressed or addicted family members are very common events for kids. My efforts are around helping people to see the connections, and that their experiences are predictable and normal. And the longer the experiences last, the bigger the effect.”

He also says, “Drop the ‘D’, because PTSD is not a disorder.” It’s what he learned from van der Kolk, who wrote The Body Keeps the Score. “Bessel says we’ve named this thing wrong. Post-traumatic stress is a brain adaptation. It’s not an imagined fear. If one of your feet was bitten off by a lion, you’re going to be on guard for lions,” explains Sumrok. “Hypervigilance is not an imagined fear, if you’ve had one foot bitten off by a lion. It’s a real fear, and you’re going to be on the lookout for that lion. I tell my patients that they’ve had real trauma that’s not imagined. They’re not crazy.”

While it’s fair to say that what happened to me in the Rock Island County Jail probably is outside the realm of normal experience, people get assaulted and left for dead in their basements somewhere every day, no doubt. And the childhood trauma I grew up? With the beatings? The hateful words? From both my parents?

I get it.

Want to get your ACEs score? Take the survey embedded in this NPR piece (I scored a 6)

Childhood trauma = addiction = disease = early grave

What’s worse? Those with high ACEs scores and who develop addiction also are at extreme risk for other chronic health conditions: All of them actually.

More from the piece:

Whether you’re talking about obesity, addiction to cigarettes, alcohol or opioids, the cause is the same, he says: “It’s the trauma of childhood that causes neurobiological changes.” And the symptoms he saw 40 years ago in soldiers returning from Vietnam are the same in the people he sees today who are addicted to opioids or other substances or behaviors that help them cope with the anxiety, depression, hopelessness, fear, anger, and/or frustration that continues to be generated from the trauma they experienced as children.

So, what’s my dysfunctional coping tool? I remain sober, after all, despite all I have been through.

Is my dysfunction now medical cannabis, as some bastions of pomposity who strut around town would suggest?

Read more: Treating addiction with cannabis works, and Illinois lawmakers have taken notice

No, my dysfunction is extreme high alert. Trust no one. Develop defense plan at first sign of attack. Have not only a plan B, but a C, D, E, F and a G.

It’s crappy way to live. Does it go back to my childhood?

Yes, it sure does. Absolutely.

Dad was sick, mom was sick, brother was absent

I grew up with a father who was sick all the time, mentally and physically. It was exhausting.

My parents fought constantly, and then my mom became sick, too. And died.

More from the ACEsTooHigh article:

Dr. Altha Stewart, associate professor of psychiatry in the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, learned about ACEs in 2009 when a group in Shelby County began educating people about ACEs science. They brought Dr. Vincent Felitti, co-founder of the ACE Study, and Robin Karr Morse, who wrote Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence, which was published in 2007, to give a presentation. (Karr-Morse later wrote Scared Sick: The Role of Childhood Trauma in Adult Disease with Meredith S. Wiley; it was published in 2012.)

“It’s become a core part of what I do now in my professional work,” says Stewart, who was recently named president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association. She’s working with the Shelby County community and the local criminal justice system to integrate trauma-informed and resilience-building practices to find ways to help youth who enter the justice system — all of whom have likely experienced ACEs — instead of shaming, blaming or punishing them.

The things that have happened to kids — as well as to many people who come into the health care system — are out of their control, says Stewart. “When you’re a child, you don’t control the people who abuse and assault you, who create hostile environments, who don’t provide you with clean clothes….” 

“If a child can’t control their environment, because of these things they grow up thinking they’re bad, different, horrible people. This new approach (integrating trauma-informed and resilient-building practices based on ACEs science) helps them feel like they’re not drowning anymore. When they can pop their head out of the water and get a breath, and see outstretched hands, a life preserver, a life boat, that changes their entire perspective.”

Read more: Here’s even more proof the plant is the way out of addiction

While this incredibly affirming article preaches meeting patients where they’re at, the piece does not mention medical cannabis as a viable part of an addiction treatment plan. This despite pushing addictive Pharma medications in the piece as part of “maintenance therapy.”

It also does not address that the only real treatment for chronic PTSD are benzodiazepines, which affect the brain the same way as alcohol. The piece affirms that people with PTSD are at high risk of alcoholism. The piece preaches opioid maintenance therapy for people with PTSD needing to get off heroin, but it does not address what a person with severe PTSD who is a recovering alcoholic is supposed to do, if not medical cannabis.

It’s a hypocritical disconnect. Medical cannabis is the only thing that helps people like myself. On top of it I pray, exercise, and usually eat right.

I have been gouging on sugar lately.

Until next time.

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White House Opioid Summit big on compassion, short on innovation

I had no idea U.S. Surgeon General John Maynard Woodworth had a brother in prison as a result of drug dealing.

And did you know that former Fox News commentator Eric Bolling lost his son to a deadly cocaine/fentanyl mix on Sept. 8?

I didn’t. I always liked Eric Bolling, mostly because he always maintained a sincere smile and showed respect to his guests.

Eric Junior’s chair is among thousands that will be empty when Americans sit down for Easter dinner. An estimated 174 people per day perish due to opioid overdose.

I have been without Fox News quite a while, my DirecTV disconnected months ago. I have been largely unemployed almost a year now, after all, despite relentlessly looking for work every day.

So, when I began to see Bolling on Twitter – and saw “former” Fox News commentator on his handle – I wondered what was going on.

He also seemed rather angry in his Tweets (not like I’m one to talk). So, I Just kind of wondered what was going on with him, as he always struck me on TV as a generally happy person.

In the interest of full disclosure, Bolling is yet another member of the news media fired for allegedly sexually harassing female coworkers. That’s why he’s no longer with Fox News.

But when I reviewed a recording of the White House Opioid Summit on Saturday, I learned what really has been bothering Eric Bolling.

His beautiful son is now dead.

So many dead children, moms, dads

There’s nothing fake about Eric Bolling. It’s why I like him. His tears were real during a statement before the White House Opioid Summit.

His respect for President Trump for hosting the summit also was real.

The commander in chief did something really huge with that summit: He encouraged top Republicans, not exactly a set known for being public about their troubles, to stand up and talk about addiction.

Families in denial about substance abuse can expect only one outcome in the midst of this opioid epidemic. People like Eric Bolling don’t want other families to live his grief.

Medication-assisted therapy is way overrated

If I had to focus on just one comment I most disagreed with, based on my interviews with dozens of opioid addicts, it was one made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions said that only a third of rehab centers in America are using medication-assisted therapy, and that it’s “unacceptable” because it’s scientifically proven effective.

Sessions also is allowing states to sue Pharma for creating the opioid epidemic.

This is a big disconnect. For as much as we all want to say medication-assisted therapy is the way out of addiction, I believe it to be a big lie for many people.

Do we treat alcoholism by tapering down drunks with less booze? I hope not. I never would have gotten sober had I not admitted I had a huge drinking problem and quit cold turkey.

Tapering down drinking is a great harm reduction model for alcoholism that should be tried; everything should be tried. But I’d flip if the government started giving people booze in a pill as part of “alcohol maintenance therapy.”

Read more: Illinois lawmakers say treating addiction with cannabis works

In a sense though, they already do. More on that in a minute.

I was paid handsomely by a Fortune 500 company to write about medication-assisted therapy for two years. I have been unemployed since last June, when the gig ended.

I no longer believe much of what I wrote about opioid maintenance therapy, but I am very proud of the work I did overall for Universal Health Services’ psychiatric hospitals and Foundation Recovery Network’s rehab centers.

Yes, there’s research saying medication-assisted therapy works. Research written by doctors in bed with Pharma.

And the behavioral health industry, in particular, knows this to be fact.

I have interviewed dozens of opioid addicts who say Suboxone is the devil. They’re not hard to find. There are newer, supposedly better opioid maintenance therapies out there, too, but they are not widely available. Perhaps those are what Sessions was referring to.

Help coming to rural areas

I have no doubts that medication-assisted therapy helps some severely addicted people detox. AA also was developed for severe alcoholics; not the masses.

But the fact is this: Suboxone allows the dependent to remain dependent and makes getting off Suboxone – also an opioid – nearly impossible, many say.

Why? Well, maybe your doctor doesn’t know what he or she is doing. This is not a slam on doctors – this epidemic has required primary care providers to suddenly become addiction specialists.

Read more: My report from the American College of Physicians Conference (I was there!) on what’s being done to educate doctors about the opioid epidemic.

The truth is, there are no guidelines for tapering people off Suboxone. And the dosing is at the doctor’s discretion, for better or for worse.

One recent study conducted in Finland declared “Polydrug abuse among opioid maintenance treatment patients is related to inadequate doses of maintenance treatment medicine.”

The study claims, “Both methadone and buprenorphine in fixed doses are effective in suppressing illicit opioid use. Fixed-dose studies do not require individualized dose levels because of retention in treatment, and treatment outcomes.

“However, fixed doses are rarely used in clinical practice as the flexible dosing of the medicine is more relevant to patient care. Contrary to fixed-dose studies, flexible-dose studies suggest that the optimal dose of the (opioid maintenance therapy) medicine should be tailor-made and differ between patients, to account for differences in severity of addiction, chronicity, main substance of dependence, method of administration, potency of main opioid used, tolerance acquired, and idiosyncratic issues.” (1)

So, they’re saying opioid addicts seek out other illicit drugs when their opioid desires aren’t being met, so we should up their opioids (a la Pharma sponsored, medical establishment approved, opioid maintenance therapy).

That is one wacky addiction treatment model if you ask me. That’s not even harm reduction as far as I’m concerned.

Opioid replacement therapy alone a recipe for disaster

In an opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer (Philly.com), an addiction expert who has a realistic grasp on opioid maintenance therapy explains it must be done in concert with other treatments.

But too often, this is not the case. Community mental health centers are more overwhelmed than ever, especially in small towns and rural areas. And quite frankly, that’s where a huge chunk of our nation’s opioid epidemic lies.

Simply prescribing buprenorphine with no additional, meaningful support is par for the course in many of these towns. The Trump administration has announced it has made millions available, however, to bring suitable treatment to rural areas.

“It’s not that abstinence is not a goal, but the aim of (maintenance therapy) is rather to stop the devastating consequences of this terrible illness (such as HIV and Hepatitis C from injection drug use) and keep the patient alive and engaged in treatment,” wrote Scott Teitelbaum, a psych professor at University of Florida. (2)

“Many have serious co-occurring health problems, such as mental illness and a history of trauma. They may not yet have the ability to deal with the physical and emotional discomfort of being opioid-free.”

While buprenorphine and other maintenance therapies may be keeping people off heroin for a while vis a vis a harm reduction model, if not done properly it’s sure to be disastrous long term.

Prepare for the benzodiazepine blizzard

I was given 4 mg Ativan per day after I was jailed and tortured in Rock Island County on no charges at all for blowing the whistle on political corruption and suspected human trafficking. Eventually, the Ativan began to have a reverse effect and make me explosively angry (Ativan/Xanax/all benzos affect the brain the same way as alcohol).

Then, after almost three years, I had an alcohol relapse that lasted six months. And, it happened as I was getting cognitive behavioral therapy twice a week at my community’s premier psychology practice.

So, giving someone with an addiction a drug that affects them exactly the same as the substance they are addicted to is risky business.

I do think this example (opioids and benzos) is apples to apples, and mark my words: The Benzodiazepine blizzard is lining up to attack this country right behind the opioid epidemic.

At the White House Opioid Summit, a parent stepped up and explained how he thought his child had recovered from opioids. Until, that he is, he bought a Xanax off the street that was laced with fentanyl.

Now, the young college student is dead.

The Fentanyl factor

Just because someone overdoses on opioids once doesn’t mean they’re a severe addict. This is where fentanyl comes in.

Fentanyl is so deadly – indeed, it’s being used in homicidal ways – that all of these national overdoses may be a bit taken out of context.

For example, I nearly was murdered in my basement. I was held down and injected with a substance and fell asleep.

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I woke up the next morning on my couch.

While in the Rock Island County Jail, I heard a former bartender/carnival worker turned jailer say, “(Politician) tried to kill Dave last year, but he woke up on his couch.”

I can’t help but suspect perhaps I was injected with heroin/fentanyl? I pray to God it remains an open investigation with the Rock Island Police Department, and I firmly believe it is.

Why would anyone want to kill me? Because of what I know. They failed in multiple homicide attempts from what I can tell, and now I have relayed all that information.

I have chronic PTSD from all I have been through. This has left me dependent on either benzodiazepines or cannabis.

Yes, I exercise. Yes, I eat right. Yes, I have had dozens of years of therapy. Yes, I have allowed them to dope me up on every Pharma medication under the sun the past 20 years. They all have led to suicidal thoughts, weight gain, and underemployment/unemployment.

When I got sober, a full year after I got off all the poisonous Pharma mental health medications, I began to thrive.

Until I was jailed and tortured a year into that sobriety. Now, I am damaged goods. I cannot find a job.

I have received zero justice and zero compensation from the county of Rock Island. I have not even heard a peep from my former AA sponsor, who sits on the county board and by now most certainly knows the truth about what happened to me. An apology would go a very, very long way.

Let’s set aside personalities and focus on the truth, please.

But this is no surprise, given the nature of the case. It’s chilling, and it’s barefaced corruption.

Read more: I was jailed on no charges at all after telling two classmates turned cops about drugs, suspected human trafficking

What pain advocates say

People who live with chronic pain say they are the real victims of the opioid crisis. They say now they have difficulty getting medication and are suffering.

I can relate to this inasmuch as I freak out when I can’t get my medical cannabis.

But I admit I’m addicted to it. My therapist suggested when I got the card that I oscillate between benzos and the cannabis so as to not get addicted to one or the other.

So, my heart breaks for these people. And here’s why.

There ARE alternatives to opioid pain medications, which is how so many people got hooked. Problem is, they are NOT widely available.

And that the government wants to make opioid maintenance therapy available to everyone instead seems downright insane to me.

Read more: Check out my interview with NBA Atlanta Hawks owner Grant Hill

Forced rehab not the answer; choices are

I think 12-step groups are snake oil and exploitative. I never have made that a secret.

But I never had a problem with step one: I am powerless over my addiction.

And anyone who does have a problem with that first step, whether they are a 12-stepper or not, never will get sober.

So, forced rehab is a joke. It’s nothing more than a way for providers of rehab to make money providing treatment they know will fail.

And yet that’s what the Trump Administration apparently wants to do. Some talk at the summit centered around changing language to make forced hospitalization of the addicted a reality. Currently, laws do not allow this. This is intended to protect the mentally ill from being falsely institutionalized.

This is a frightening, unconstitutional step to take. And science has proven again and again that forced rehab doesn’t work.

The rehab industry is, quite frankly, extremely dirty.

The relationship between the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Department and UnityPoint Trinity already is highly questionable and reeks of nepotism and corruption as far as I’m concerned. I never will set foot in UnityPoint Trinity or Robert Young Center ever again after what happened to me.

I was totally sober when I was taken there from the jail. And let’s not forget: I was jailed on no charges after narc’ing out suspected human trafficking and drug activity.

Nationally, the rehab centers have horrid reputations, especially in Florida.

It all centers around “volunteers’ who get kickbacks for luring the addicted into laughable treatment.

In an extremely well-done investigation, NBC News shined a light on this practice.

“Crooked treatment centers partner with ‘body brokers’ and operators of so-called ‘sober homes’ to find patients with good health insurance. Brokers and sober home owners offer those trying to get clean free rent and grocery store gift cards, cigarettes and manicures in exchange for going to a specific treatment center, which pays kickbacks for every client. (3)

“Once they’ve reeled patients in, these treatment centers bill their insurance tens of thousands of dollars for often questionable counseling, costly and potentially unnecessary drug screens, and exotic laboratory tests.

“Some treatment centers not only overlook drug use – they encourage it. To Florida’s worst operators, relapse doesn’t mean failure. It means profit.

Nuff said.

A glimmer of innovation in New Jersey

The truth is, there is great need for legitimate sober homes. A stable living environment is essential to recovery.

But in the end, the greatest need is this: We need to find a way to get people in that moment of “I surrender, I want help” before they change their mind. There is a very, very limited window of opportunity and it generally comes when people are jailed or hospitalized due to opioids.

To that end, a man named Kevin Meara founded “City of Angels” in New Jersey. City of Angels dispatches volunteers at just that critical moment when a person in the throes of opioid addiction may say, “Yes, I’m ready to give sobriety a shot.”

It is exactly what addiction experts not beholden to Pharma, the 12 steps, or any one way to get sober advocate for.

“I’m not a professional, I’m just a guy who buried his son,” Meara explained at the summit.

“And it has taken me from the bedroom, where he died, to the East Room of the White House.”

That is tremendous progress, and not surprising.

Meara’s got the right idea.

Until next time.

Bibliography

1. Heikman, P, et al. (2017, July 6). Polydrug abuse among opioid maintenance treatment patients is related to inadequate dose of maintenance treatment medicine. BMC Psychiatry. Retrieved March 4, 2018, from https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-017-1415-y
2. Teitelbaum, S. (2018, Feb. 27). Using drugs to treat opioid addiction: Handle with care. Philly.com. Retrieved March 4, 2018, from http://www.philly.com/philly/health/addiction/using-drugs-to-treat-opioid-addiction-handle-with-care-20180227.html
3. Riordan Seville, L. et al. (2017, June 25). Florida’s Billion-Dollar Drug Treatment Industry is Plagued by Overdoses, Fraud. NBC News. Retrieved June 25, 2017, from https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/megyn-kelly/florida-s-billion-dollar-drug-treatment-industry-plagued-overdoses-fraud-n773376