Recently I heard on the news an update that the Mexican Drug War death toll is now over 47,000. That made me curious to search drug related deaths in this country. I found at drugwarfacts.org that the number of drug related deaths in the USA during 2009 were over 37,000. Those numbers sickened me when I consider that it is all so senseless. The Mexican side deaths bother me as I lived in the Border Town of Brownsville, Texas for the past 10 years. I remember speaking with university students who came across the border for classes and they spoke of the fear of the kidnappings and random shooting violence from the cartels. Those deaths relate to the insatiable appetite for drug use in this country and the growing addiction problem that accompanies it. In my opinion those who use illegal drugs and support the use have the blood of these people on their hands.
Who are these supporters of drug use? A 2008 study(1), by a Professor at University of California , Berkeley showed a 6 fold increase in the glamorizing of drug use in Rap music from the 1970’s to the 1990’s. The Drug Testing Network discusses research that show teens are bombarded in TV shows , movies , and in the lives of their favorite celebrities that drugs are harmless and fun. Then there is always the common phrase “Drugs, Sex, and Rock n Roll” coined in a song by Ian Drury, an early founder of the punk rock music scene in Great Britain that reminds us that drugs have long been a big part of that music genre. Sad to say many of these promoters of drug use have been in and out of drug rehab or have died from drug usage.
Many supporters of drug use point to the failure of the “Just Say No” campaign years ago. They say it never made that big of an impact on drug use and as we have seen with the news on the drug war in Mexico; drug use does continue to climb. The problem I believe was with emphasizing just saying “No”. That usually never works. Just ask a parent with a little child. Say “don’t touch that” and what happens is that the child touches it. I believe we could stop the Mexican Drug war and the senseless drug deaths here in the U.S. if we would encourage people to say “Yes”. Not yes to drugs but to alternatives.
Dr. William Glasser in his book Positive Addiction turns the thought of addiction upside down. He points out that the word addict is thought of in the negative context of a life destroyed by drugs or alcohol. A person is weakly dependent on the substance to cope or escape from life’s difficulties in search of happiness. In helping someone give up alcohol or drugs the drug should be replaced with something to fill the void, otherwise relapse quickly occurs. Dr. Glasser promotes, that to fully strengthen people they need to build a positive addiction in their life. Find something that they enjoy doing to bring happiness into their lives. Some of the positive addictions he points out in the book are meditation, sports, music and other art forms.
He points out from his research that “…positive addiction increases your mental strength and is the opposite of a negative addiction which seems to sap the strength from every part of your life except the area of the addiction.”(pg39). If you think about it he is so right. Drug addicts are consumed by their addiction. There is often a negative effect in their work, health, and relationships. You don’t hear of someone with a positive addiction of gardening going on a 72 hour binge of tending to their rose garden and not being able to function in their work because they enjoy planting flowers. Positive addictions help to round out our lives so as to help us function better is other areas of our lives.
Dr. Glasser’s thoughts on Positive Addiction coincides well with an organization called Natural High . If every American would go to www.naturalhigh.org and consider building a Positive Addiction into their personal life there would be no more drug war here in the U.S. The Drug Cartels in Mexico would be out of business. People would then understand they don’t have to ingest chemicals by smoking, snorting, or shooting up with needles to find happiness and relaxation in life. The personal destruction could end if we all could see that through positive personal interests such as relationships, sports, arts, nature, spirituality we can satisfy the human experiential needs for happiness and relaxation with natural highs that come from positive addictions.
Natural High was founded by Jon Sundt, who experienced the death of two of his brothers due to drug use. This life experience impacted him to make a difference to try to stop the destructive force of drugs in the lives of people. Personally, I relate to his experience, as I never tried drugs although they were readily available in the 1970’s in my high school. That is because I saw my oldest brother, Paul, struggle first with alcohol addiction and then drug addiction so thankfully it never appealed to me. Mr. Sundt started his organization that primarily targets school age children through high school. They provide testimonials of sport and music celebrities, who can be considered real role models. They share how through their personal “natural highs” they enjoy life. They also point out how their success is due to not using drugs. These testimonials show drugs are not needed to enjoy life like the lies of rappers and Hollywood media stars who try to delude teens that drugs are exciting and the best way to really experience life. To me the Natural high website can be viewed by people of all ages to gain insight into the importance of finding a positive addiction to make their life more fulfilling. For myself, my positive addictions are my Christian faith, my family, reading, playing guitar, listening to music, and enjoying nature.
Reflection: List your positive addictions that help you have a natural high in life. Take time to journal why these are important to you and how did you get started with doing these things in your life.