Drug Wars: How laws of pain science can help Governments

Solve Society's Drug Problems

The tentacles of the drug trade, and its associated gang activities, reach into all the world's main regions and has become a commonplace problem in modern societies. The underground activity becomes visible every now and again via erupting gang wars - with their string of murders and paybacks. Some events along these lines have included the US military invasion of Panama to facilitate regime change and to curb the drug trade - with 205 Panamanian military and several thousand civilians killed; Colombian violence involving paramilitary groups and drug cartels - with 2800 trade unionists killed; an Australian underground war (of "Underbelly" fame) - with 36 gang members dead; and the current war amongst Mexican drug cartels - with 28000+ people killed. It is interesting to compare Mexico's drug war death count to those of some real wars: Korean War - 36,000+ US soldiers killed; Vietnam War - 58000+ US soldiers killed; and Gulf War II - approximately 26000 Iraqi soldiers killed. As one can see from the significant death counts, and in some cases the need for military intervention, these are bona fide wars - except that they are mostly internalised ones. To date, governments have been unable to solve the illegal drug trade and its gang wars - they mostly suppress them with prohibition laws and a greater display of force respectively. So what causes drug addictions and drug wars, and how can their social impact be reduced?

The Nature of Drug Addictions, Drug Gangs, and Drug-related Crime

Many theories have been proposed to try to explain the nature of addiction. They include genetic predisposition (early adverse environmental conditions can alter protein production and/or the genotype that may lead to drug experimentation); self-medication hypotheses (self-drug-treatment of stress, mental unease, depression, bad feelings, etc.); and psychological and social factors (delayed or missed life milestones or social role adaptations). These theories are all valid in their own ways, but they have not hit upon the exact, underlying cause of the addiction phenomenon. Alternatively, a major clue to the nature of addiction comes from a telling observation made by medical science of an addiction-like behaviour when patients are suffering from undertreated pain:

Pseudo addiction is a term which has been used to describe patient behaviors that may occur when pain is undertreated. Patients with unrelieved pain may become focused on obtaining medications, may "clock watch," and may otherwise seem inappropriately "drug seeking." Even such behaviors as illicit drug use and deception can occur in the patient's efforts to obtain relief. Pseudoaddiction can be distinguished from true addiction in that the behaviors resolve when pain is effectively treated. [1]

The above description of pseudoaddiction behaviour being related to pain is interesting, in light of the discovery - at the heart of laws of pain science - that unresolved pain is the major cause of suffering in the human species.

Our species displays a spectrum of behaviours between two extremes: very feeling (like samaritanism) and very unfeeling (like warfare). Overall, the world tries to be feeling oriented (via public health schemes, charities, regulatory bodies, political correctness, etc.), but this is because it constantly has to fight off a tendency towards unfeeling behaviours (like business monopolies and price-fixing cartels, worker exploitation, racism, hooliganism, etc.). In this world children grow up within homes that, again, involve a spectrum of parenting skills between two extremes: good parenting, with love, warmth, acceptance, and recognition; and poor parenting, with neglect, coldness, abuse, and violence. Children destined to become adult sufferers tend to grow up in the more troubled environments. This could involve pain experienced at birth, inadequate parenting, losing parent/s at an early age, poor foster or institutional care, and an unfavourable neighbourhood and schooling environment (that could involve boredom, abuse, fighting, bullying, etc.). This builds up in such people a string of unresolved accumulated painful experiences. Each painful experience alters by a certain amount brain wiring and chemistry. In the former case, altered wiring produces misperceptions, unrealistic beliefs, irrational fears, raging thoughts, fantasies, and the like. In the latter case, the brain's endorphins (natural chemicals involved in the experience of pleasure and pain) - and other chemicals - are altered from the norm: some are employed in "holding on to" unresolved pain while some are overproduced to quell nervous anxiety and tension. As emerging adults, people become attracted to various activities and groups that can provide some degree of outlet - and temporary relief - for their relative tensions and anxieties. Such groups can involve sport, cars, motor bikes, technology, gambling, religion, drinking - or drug-taking. Such groups have their share of good members, average members, and some fanatics. At the more fanatical end, for example, sport has game fixers, car enthusiasts have hoons, motor cycle enthusiasts have bikie gangs, technology enthusiasts have hackers, religion has cultists, etcetera. But, overall, most interest groups are reasonably harmless and so there are no laws preventing people's involvement in them. But a drug-using and dealing group does have laws preventing people's involvement, primarily because heavy use of drugs can cause organ and tissue damage, or death.

In the present-day world - where there is significant unfeeling nature - several misperceptions about drugs have arisen:

Misperception 1: "Drugs are Addictive"

There is a belief that just by their very nature "drugs are addictive". This suggests that if a person takes a drug they could immediately fall victim to its addiction. But findings in laws of pain science show that this is not true. The only people who get a high from a psychoactive drug - and therefore are susceptible to its addiction - are those whose brain chemical supplies have become distorted from the norm - via a history of unresolved pain. With their brain endorphins tied up with pain, or in overproduction, the introduced drug is able to produce an artificial "high" - that provides temporary relief from tension and anxiety. Separately from this, some people can get addicted to almost any chemical - like those found in glue and petrol (via inhalation), which are more poisons than drugs. But people who have little unresolved psychoemotional pain - from good upbringings, or from resolved histories of pain via pain-resolving therapy - have naturally balanced brain chemical supplies. So when they take a psychoactive drug they do not feel a high - they just feel nauseous. This is because with normalised chemical supplies, the drug has little psychoactive effect and is therefore experienced for what it is - as a foreign and extraneous substance.

Misperception 2: "Drugs are Dangerous"

Drugs alter mood so as to produce alertness ("uppers" in drug parlance) or relaxation ("downers"). They can be dangerous if taken in excess, or when taken with other drugs or with alcohol. Via the media we tend to mainly see people under drug influence acting wildly, doing violent or crazy things, and requiring a handful of police officers to restrain. The inference is that when any person takes a drug they could automatically become dangerous. This imparts a misplaced sense of "danger" onto drugs. It is not necessarily the drug alone that is dangerous but oftentimes the person taking the drug. In particular, people who are psychologically or emotionally unstable, or those who have a lot of repressed energy inside of them are susceptible to wildness. This unbalanced view makes the drug-taking culture appear scarier than it really is, and the public unnecessarily fearful of it. Drug users and dealers take advantage of this social fear by projecting "tough" and "dangerous" personas - that also infuse the culture with an anti-establishment "street cred".

Misperception 3: Medical Science will Discover a Cure for Addiction


Another misperception - or expectation - is that medical science will eventually find a cure for addiction. This is unlikely to occur because medical science has been following a genetics-based path of research. This path has not yet developed anything that can resolve the latest crop of health and behavioural problems, such as addiction, depression, hyperactivity, ADHD, PTSD, alcoholism, and others. Mostly, medical science develops pharmaceutical drugs to treat sufferers' problems. These drugs are not natural cures but are just temporary treatments to help alleviate symptoms. Separately, there are psychological, psychiatric, and alternative therapy services provided by government and/or private enterprise that offer help for drug addicts. Unfortunately, though, their services mainly entail patch-up techniques to help people cope in life. They do not facilitate resolution of suffering deep within the brain.

The Social Dynamics that create Drug Gangs

Even though illegal drugs may be used by a smattering of people from all walks of life, the media, law courts, police, teachers, and upstanding people all share the same view: drugs are considered "bad" and offenders must be prosecuted. But essentially what the government is saying in this situation is, "We cannot heal the suffering that leads to drug addiction, so we are casting aside the people who take drugs - to fend for themselves - and prosecuting them if they are caught in the act of using or dealing". So a social gap is created between people who do not take drugs - who are accepted as good people - and those who do - who are shunned as bad people. What then fills this gap are the drug gangs, who supply needy people with the drugs that they crave via a black market. These drug gangs are essentially playing the role of "defacto health care services" - or, even more accurately, as a defacto section of the pharmaceutical industry, because it involves plantations, laboratories, couriers, distributors, and sellers - everything that a normal industry has. Essentially, since the government cannot facilitate the healing of drug addiction - and so cannot condone psychoactive drug production or consumption - the gangs provide the health care / pharmaceutical service for sufferers (i.e., temporary alleviation of intense tension and anxiety) that the government will not allow - albeit in a rough and violent form.

By making psychoactive drug use illegal, the government criminalises a section of society. As we all know, human beings want to feel that they belong - they want to feel apart of society, to feel useful, and to contribute something to it. But since drug users and providers are treated as outcasts (and outlaws), this sets this section of society on a path of violent, underworld growth. Drug barons build empires that can eventually become so large that they employ a significant workforce, a security operation fueled by gun running, and can attain social influence - such as through bribes and kickbacks to politicians and police. It is like a shunned section of society has grown up and is trying to plug back into mainstream society as a legitimate operation - albeit in a forceful manner. This criminalisation, therefore, adds another layer of repression on top of that already endured during a troubled upbringing. This means that such suffering people not only have to fight against their own internal demons to live life, but must also fight against society to achieve a sense of freedom. So unfeeling human behaviour can be caused by either or both a troubled upbringing and/or an adverse social environment. When both of these constraints are set in place, it can generate a double-dose of repression that produces the most unconscionable unfeeling behaviour imaginable - that we see acted out in gang wars - including abductions, ransoms, bashings, torture, decapitation, dismemberment, body dumping, mass graves - and even the killing of babies (who are unfortunate enough to be the innocent offspring of gang members).

Criminalising psychoactive drug use also spawns an additional social problem of drug-related crime. Psychoactive drugs can sometimes be hard to come by on the black market, or the price can be artificially inflated by suppliers, and as a result can become overly expensive. This leads desperate people to commit crimes - like robbing homes, businesses, and banks - to obtain money to pay for their drug habit. And this sometimes leads to the murder of innocent people who inadvertently get in their way. Every now and again the drug trade is interrupted by a "drug bust", and the police and government make a show of these successes - by, for example, displaying the hoard of drugs and/or cash gains on television. This is an attempt to reassure the public that they have the drug problem "under control". But such busts are just temporary setbacks for established drug gangs. By being unable to legalise psychoactive drugs - the government is actually allowing drug gangs to prosper, wars over control of the trade to erupt, and innocent people caught in the crossfire to needlessly die. The government is inadvertently helping to produce what it wants to stop!

The current "drugs are bad" system (as a part of a more unfeeling than feeling world) has the following disadvantages:

Drug Addiction, Crime, and even Health, are all about lack of Feeling Capacity

Laws of pain science incorporates the discovery - made by several practitioners independently over the last century - of the brain's own natural healing mechanism. This mechanism (known here as exfeeling) - involves psychoemotionally sinking back into past painful experiences and reengaging the pain - or bringing it to consciousness - with expression of associated feelings. This permanently clears trapped, aggravating tension and anxiety from the brain and nervous system, and, progressively, both rewires and rechemicalises the brain back to normal. This healing process has uncovered a direct relationship between pain and addiction: addictive cravings drop in accordance to how much stored pain has been resolved. So, for instance, when a person resolves a quarter of their past pain, their drug addiction drops by a quarter; when half of their pain is resolved, addiction drops by half; when three-quarters is resolved, drug cravings drop by three-quarters. When a person resolves the majority of their pain it becomes difficult to get any satisfaction from taking drugs. What this shows is that drug addiction is all about feeling capacity. A low feeling capacity, means a miswired brain and altered brain chemistry - and a consequent need for drugs to constantly "right" the system. A normal feeling capacity means a correctly wired brain and a full supply of the brain's natural chemicals - and so no desire to take extraneous drugs to augment the system. It also means that drugs are not addictive in and of themselves; rather, that some people's brains are primed for addiction to foreign chemicals due to their pain-ridden histories.

In fact, a more unfeeling than feeling world often unknowingly deals with people's feeling capacity. For example, people sometimes use the phrase "no sense no feeling" in describing someone's nature. This means that a person who exhibits a lack of feeling sense - like wearing light clothing on a freezing day, or experiencing some sort of hurt without reacting to it - tends to also display a lack of common sense. Another example of this applies to the law courts. To help them determine appropriate sentences judges have a wealth of judicial history to rely upon. But this is not all they use. In the final analysis, judges always want to gauge an offender's level of remorse for their crime. Sincere remorse indicates that the offender has empathy and feeling, and thus has the potential to learn from their mistakes, and so deserves a lenient sentence. Little remorse indicates that the person has little empathy and feeling, that they are less likely to be rehabilitated, and so they require a harsher sentence (to protect the public).

Feeling capacity also plays a vital role in our level of health. As an example, obesity is currently a major health problem in the Western World - it can lead to diabetes and heart attacks. And one of the reasons some obese people cite as a problem for them is recognising when their stomach is full - so they keep gorging past a point where others would stop. They have lost feeling capacity within the brain-digestive system circuit.

So we basically (but unscientifically) recognise that the level of feeling capacity is directly linked to one's level of common sense, empathy, and health. But the trouble is that the world we live in does not yet employ a science to restore feeling capacity. Whatever feeling capacity people have either stays the same or gets worse throughout their lives. It is never restored to normal (i.e., to a high level of feeling/sensitivity). More generally, in fact, most of the problems and struggles that we humans suffer from - behavioural, health, addictions, and violence - are due to loss of feeling capacity - and not due to genetic faults, or lack of
morals, faith, or discipline. What society needs is a science of pain/feeling to restore that natural feeling capacity and so gradually dissolve human struggles and problems, like drug addiction.

New Perspectives and Social Directions offered by laws of pain Science

In contrast to the existing system, in a world that is more feeling oriented than unfeeling, there would be an effective cure for human suffering available - in the form of the laws of pain and its exfeeling process. And the advantages of such a new science is that it can open up new perspectives on certain problems, and allow society to do things that it previously could not do. Its widespread application would allow a refreshing turnaround of government policy. In such a world there would be numerous centres effectively healing individuals of past pain to deep brain levels, thus restoring the brain's wiring and chemical balance to normal. There would also be social programs highlighting people being healed, and insights and growth being discussed. It would be a healing culture, rather than an ignoring-past-pain and turning-one's-back-on-drugs culture. In such a world it would be no problem to legalise psychoactive drugs, since a cure for addiction would be ever-present.

So, let us return to the aforementioned definition of pseudoaddiction as seen in patients suffering from undertreated pain. What if a person is suffering from physical or psychological pain and they do not get adequate treatment and relief? They must repress that pain by switching off from it and trying to get on with their lives. But that repressed pain continues to enervate the system below the level of present-day consciousness, and their craving for drug relief does not stop - it repeatedly comes-and-goes. When people develop the ability to repress from an early age, they tend to immediately repress any later painful experiences - big or small - so that pain is piled upon pain within the brain and nervous system - throughout one's upbringing and adult life. The cause of true drug addiction, therefore, is simply a progression on from pseudoaddiction, and, so, the above quote for pseudoaddiction can be modified as follows:

True addiction is a term used to describe people's behaviors when they are suffering from a history of unresolved physical and/or psychological pain. People with unresolved pain may become focused on obtaining chemical substances, and may seem inappropriately "drug seeking". Even such behaviors as theft and deception can occur in the people's efforts to obtain relief, and a sense of kinship with similarly suffering people can lead to the formation of drug gangs. True addiction can be distinguished from pseudoaddiction in that the behaviors are not resolved until past pain is effectively reexperienced, or brought to consciousness.

There is plenty of scientific research that supports the phenomenon of repressed painful experiences. For example, many animal and human studies have shown that adverse experiences in foetal life, infancy, and early development can still affect the organism later on in its adult life. (Scientists attribute this effect to believed resultant genetic changes. This may be so, but the causative mechanism involved is repression. To restore the system all you need to do is reverse repression via exfeeling; whereas scientists have found it hard to reverse genetic changes one-by-one.) To quote a recent example, the wellbeing of Jewish Holocaust survivors of WWII was compared to the wellbeing of European Jews who did not witness the Holocaust. The survivors still showed signs of being psychologically scarred by that mass genocide threat - by, for example, displaying more post traumatic stress and psychopathological symptoms - even though most were children at the time, and even though they had since built productive lives for themselves. The researchers also recognised that late life circumstances for survivors, such as retirement, failing health, and death of a spouse may reactivate those early stresses. So tension and anxiety related to painful experiences tends to stick with people throughout their lives - they does not disappear (unless properly treated).

Being able to heal suffering in a more feeling oriented world, and, hence, being able to legalise drugs, would have the following advantages over the current system.
Any profits made from legalised drug sales could be channeled back into supporting laws of pain treatment centres to help more addicts to heal. If you really want to control the drug problem, you have got to grab hold of all aspects of it: farming, manufacture, distribution, and usage; while at the same time supporting the latest effective psychotherapeutic science to heal its addicts. This is a real, effective solution - not just the current system's letting desperate people do whatever they want with drugs behind society's back - then, after the fact, chasing after them to try to catch them in the act of wheeling-and-dealing.

Drugs History

Humans have sought the use of psychoactive and poisonous substances to alter consciousness for thousands of years, spanning primitive, ancient, and modern cultures. However, it is the modern Western World - derived from European culture, and to a secondary extent from Middle Eastern culture - that has been driving popular consumption and varieties of drugs. Drugs from various regions of the world were introduced into Eurasia during the Age of Exploration and resultant Colombian Trade - between Old and New Worlds - in plants, animals, and foods from the 1400s-1600s (the Early Modern period).

Essentially, the introduction of drugs into society has followed a similar path: initially a drug is introduced for providing believed general health benefits - as in a "pick me up" or "tonic" - with the drug being attributed as a gift from the god/s (e.g., beer, caffeine, nicotine). Or it is introduced for use by physicians for medicinal purposes - either to treat specific health problems, or as a painkiller (e.g., opium, alcoholic spirits). (This is the general level of drug usage that primitive cultures reached.) Over time the drug's moderate use becomes established amongst a major proportion of the public. (This is the general level of drug usage that ancient cultures reached.) Then it reaches a flashpoint where it is habitually used in excess by an increasingly dependent section of society - and leads to various social problems (like unsocial behaviour, disheveled appearance, uncoordination, or a rash of health problems). (This is the general level of drug usage that modern society has reached.) Historical examples of drug addictions and accompanying health/social problems have included an English gin epidemic of the early 1700s, and the Opium Wars between England and China of the 1800s.

In the Early Modern to Modern World there have been several rounds of drug addiction problems. The first occurred with caffeine and nicotine, the second with alcoholic spirits, and the third with hard drugs. Coffee (containing caffeine) was variously believed to be addictive, or associated with rebellion, or associated with expense and so was banned and unbanned a number of times in Arabia, the Middle East, and Europe. Interestingly, its cultivation in Central America - under harsh, exploitative conditions - led to social uprisings, coups, and suppressions that foreshadowed the more recent harder-drug and paramilitary related violence.

Alcohol was the next drug to create social problems and attract prohibition laws - in a number of European nations as well as in North America. These laws were mainly brought about by concerns from the Protestant religion. Most significant was Prohibition in the USA in the 1920s. It led to a popular underground bootlegging market in rum. Since the governing regime was not allowing this self-medication to take place, organised crime gangs took over alcohol distribution and grew to become powerful (e.g., the Chicago gangs). The alcohol production and supply came from the surrounding areas of Canada, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Eventually, the gangs were suppressed and alcohol prohibition laws lifted. After WWII harder drugs like cannabis, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine have become the new social problem and the target of prohibition laws. And, yet, the situation surrounding their usage is almost identical to the alcohol trade of the early 1900s, where outside regions of Panama, then Colombia, and, more lately, Mexico have been the hard drug producers and the USA the main drug consumer (while under prohibition laws). And, again, with gangs controlling the trade. In other words, as the general level of unresolved pain within our species has grown, the people's need for drugs or drug potencies has also grown in lock-step. As a result, the same social problems related to drugs have emerged - at first from caffeine and nicotine, then alcohol, and finally hard drugs - and the same attempts to criminalise consumption have been implemented - and have ultimately failed. History repeats itself in drug wars because the undercurrent human suffering is not being resolved. What history has shown is that the best way to handle a drug problem is to legalise the drug, and then place regulatory controls on it - involving licensing, price regulation, taxes, duties, packaging information, hours of sale, locations and times of acceptable usage, and social mores of non-toxification when driving, operating machinery, or working.

So what is the situation today regarding the USA's drug policy? Here are some statistics:
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. A very large portion of people who are incarcerated are imprisoned for drug-related crimes. In 1994, it was reported that the "War on Drugs" results in the incarceration of one million Americans each year.  Of the related drug arrests, about 225,000 are for possession of cannabis, the fourth most common cause of arrest in the United States.
Marijuana constitutes almost half of all drug arrests, and between 1990–2002, out of the overall drug arrests, 82% of the increase was for marijuana...
A poll on October 2, 2008, found that three in four Americans believed that the War On Drugs was failing.
Critics cite a large number of unnecessary deaths and imprisonments, increased levels of violent crime and gang activity, wasted government funds, violation of civil liberties, lack of public support, illegality of current drug policies, environmental destruction from drug eradication programs, [and] lack of effectiveness...
A 2008 study by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron has estimated that legalizing drugs would inject $76.8 billion a year into the U.S. economy — $44.1 billion from law enforcement savings, and at least $32.7 billion in tax revenue ($6.7 billion from marijuana, $22.5 billion from cocaine and heroin, remainder from other drugs)...
The Rand Drug Policy Research Center study
[of the 1990s] concluded that $3 billion should be switched from federal and local law enforcement to treatment. The report said that treatment is the cheapest way to cut drug use, stating that drug treatment is twenty-three more times effective than the supply-side "war on drugs".[2]

So if there is a growing consensus for legalising drugs in the USA, what is the hold up? Although some treatments have had success at steering people away from drugs, there has never been a thoroughly effective treatment that could heal drug addictions by restoring natural feeling capacity. This leaves a potential legalisation program without an effective treatment partner to bring about resounding change. Currently, both the UK and USA economies are trying to recover from the damage caused by the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. The UK has a debt of $247 billion, and an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent; while the USA's debt is $1.3 trillion, and unemployment rate 9.5 percent. They have both spent billions of dollars on economic kickstart packages that have only minerly worked. So they are in need of more funds, and more job opportunities. Where to get them from? With the right treatment partner as an ally, legalising some or all drugs could be an innovative way to generate funds to decrease debt, while also creating new job opportunities in the farming and pharmaceutical industries - as well as in the health care industry to heal addictions. All it takes is a little open-mindedness and a willingness to accept change and progress in society. 

Laws of pain science services

Laws of pain science can provide the following services for governments and other organisations:

Summary

It is incredible that people within a section of modern society are willing to fight with, and even kill each other, over a supply of what are essentially just mood modifiers and painkillers. Those people must have a lot of pain inside of them in order to undertake such desperate measures for relief. Governments need to ask themselves where does all this pain come from? How can this pain be resolved? And why are we banning drugs instead of healing the pain directly?

The growing drug problem boils down to one question: do we want to allow people to have their drugs and get a high a few times a week, or do we want to criminalise the drug-taking culture and cause them to grow via a path of violence and declining feeling capacity? Recently, due to pressure from the Green Party, the Australian Labor Government has declared itself open to discussion on euthanasia. This involves the use of powerful drugs to help people in severe pain and suffering to end their lives with dignity (with government support for ethical euthanasia centres). A subsequent poll has found that three in four Australians now support euthanasia. So the obvious question is this: is the Australian Government - or any government for that matter - also prepared to be open to discussion on legalising some or all psychoactive drugs - in connection with supporting the latest psychotherapeutic science - with the aim of taking effective control over the drug problem, to facilitate the healing of addiction in its users, and to prevent unnecessary deaths in society?


References
                        
[1]  Substance dependence, Wikipedia, (online), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., (accessed Sep 2010), 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substance_dependence

[2] War on Drugs, Wikipedia, (online), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., (accessed Sep 2010),

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_Drugs

Psychological Pain of Holocaust Still Haunts Survivors, ScienceDaily, (online), ScienceDaily LLC, (Sep. 24, 2010), (accessed Sept 2010), 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100920123912.htm

Various drug information: Wikipedia, (online), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., (accessed Sep 2010),

http://www.wikipedia.org


Article copyright R Lane. Published October 2010

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