(From “Lifting the Veil: Plant Medicine & The Unseen Fight for Souls” by T-G-A)
Modern society must awaken to the truth about drugs and addiction, something humans have been prone to since the beginning of time. The horrific truth is, every day, hundreds die from substances—the legal and prescribed substances being some of the most dangerous. It’s not only addictive nature that enslaves. Not always the addict who is to blame, as though it were a conscious choice to go into deep darkness. It’s also the twisted truth we’ve been taught to trust in. The darkness itself that gets a tight grip by means of addiction.
I spoke with a Phoenix Fire Department Captain Paramedic, working for over eighteen years in first response. He shared that he believes it’s not a conscious choice to become addicted, it’s not just a social thing or a few bad decisions. The dependency on substances stems from injuries people have had or physical ailments they were born with. They had no idea their search for comfort would lead them into an abyss.
The problem began when people started seeing all different kinds of doctors who did what they know how to do best, which is writing prescriptions. Before the opioid epidemic hit, it was prescriptions that led people to the black market. Cocaine and heroin were early favorites that delivered the effect they came to desire, along with some synthetic drugs that were being heavily marketed.
Today, extremely high call volumes overwork the 911/ hospital system and we are lacking resources to help people long-term. Patients get what they need at that acute time, and that’s the doctor’s job, but what about after initial care? Emergency Room doctors are under pressure to address the problem and move on. Often, the process consists of writing a prescription, then rushing into the next bay where another patient gets a quick review and remedy. The system wasn’t set up this way intentionally, but quick turnover rates and writing prescriptions became the norm. Soon, those addicted realized they could take advantage of our medical system, calling the paramedics daily, and many hospitals shopped. They were not educated on what they were taking and once they experienced the highly addictive drugs prescribed, they were hooked. I also consulted a board-certified Forensic Anthropologist, who has worked with the coroner’s office for over thirty years. She explained that the opioid epidemic started with Oxycontin because it came in the form of pills. They were easy to get and could be sold individually for a ton of money. Then Fentanyl hit the market. Plus, just a few decades ago when the opioid epidemic was being birthed, a marketing campaign backed by prescribing without restriction, led many to think “pain” was something we should never feel. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, the doctors were increasingly prescribing it. You have pain? Here you go, you need this medication. Like “pain” was a bad word. They didn’t want anyone to feel pain.
Alcohol: 261+ AMERICANS DIE, EVERY DAY. *As of 2017
Opioids: 190+ AMERICANS DIE, EVERY DAY. 2/3 by synthetic opioid. *As of 2017
Cannabis: 0 DEATHS, EVER. *We’ll look at possible consequences as we go on.
Another possible consequence of using drugs? Going to prison. Being locked away for choosing to use a substance is not serving anyone, not helping addicts, massively funding private prison business, and keeping the public in the dark. Besides all the lives lost and the number of addicts increasing, mass incarceration and subsequent racial disparities in America equates to 1.5 million+ (in 2016). More than 80% for POSSESSION ONLY.
A highly respected prosecuting attorney, operating in Arizona and at the federal level, gave me her perspective. She has seen a lot over her eighteen-year career. She was responsible for participating in, overseeing drug investigations and charging cases primarily involving drug trafficking. Her job was to prosecute the seller or manufacturer of illegal substances, including marijuana, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, or any other illegal drug.
She thinks it would be shocking for a lot of people outside the justice system to hear that you can be charged and convicted of personal possession amounts of various types of drugs and end up going to prison.
Oftentimes, law enforcement finds people in trouble for other things, purely because of their addictions. So now, they’re spending thousands and thousands of dollars on that person, housing them without ever spending any money to help them resolve what is clearly an addiction issue. What kind of society does that create? It is not an easy solution, but refocusing attention on education and earlier intervention would make a huge difference.
The prosecuting attorney has developed a very strong opinion over the years on the amount of money that the justice system spends on what they refer to as ‘crime and punishment’. A lot of money is committed to investigating, charging and punishing people who are involved in crime. She thinks that money would be a far greater investment if it were made in families where there is crime due to drug addiction.
Without providing success tools for addicts who engage in criminal activity to feed their addiction, we create a vicious cycle of housing people in prison. And, crimes are committed every day to feed addiction, which create victims of crime as well. It’s very hard for people who have been victimized in any way, to step back and see it was addiction that caused someone to break into their home. This critical recognition needs to happen so our governments can recommit money that’s currently within the criminal justice system in its traditional form and put it more toward preventing crime. This is a necessary transition, and it will be very difficult to make.
Where do we get the bigger bang for our buck? We need to want to help people be productive members of society, and lengthy terms in prison does not provide a mechanism to do that. We have never seen it. The prosecuting attorney doesn’t know if we’re prepared as a society to take money from one area and commit it to another. Humans are always looking for an easy way to escape. And as long as this desire is something humanity seeks, someone will be happy to fill that need.
So, the attorney came up with a way to provide (individuals charged with drug offenses) an incentive. She would extend plea offers for them to resolve their cases, that would give them the opportunity to successfully complete a treatment program on their own. If they were able to provide proof that they successfully finished, then she would eliminate the requirement that they go to prison. They would be on probation, but there would still be resources available to them. She wanted them to really be held responsible for making that determination and understand that they need to take this upon themselves to figure out a way to get into treatment.
She was very moved by the appreciation of the people who made the treatment choice—and most of them did of course, because they didn’t want to go to prison. Many thanked her for presenting them the opportunity to help themselves, which was very rewarding for her as someone dedicated to the justice system. She believes these kinds of actions need to be taken with prosecutors. Judges need to be more encouraging of a creative path, instead of just moving people through the system, and treating them like cattle. So often, these processes become for profit, instead of for the benefit of getting people help. We have a lot of private, money-making prisons.
The Captain Paramedic gave his perspective from the first response side. He thinks our society needs systems in place to care for somebody, acutely and long-term. He said he sees firsthand that we have some of the greatest hospitals and surgeons in the world, but if we look at our rehabilitation system, it is bad—it’s a secondary thought. People who have chronic problems don’t get invested in long-term. Our system isn’t set up to help people walk through ongoing suffering, many are kind of left out in the dust.
It’s become easy for the medical profession to say, “Take these pills. Take these pills. This is what I do. I write prescriptions.” They do not understand or explain that if a drug is taken and mixed with alcohol, for example, the effects are multiplied to an unintended purpose. People just don’t know what they’re doing, and the support system isn’t there. It’s a systemic thing, it piggybacks lack of education.
Can cannabis possibly help some addicts to stop using addictive drugs that cause harm and create crime? Maybe. The Captain Paramedic has seen success stories with people getting off pills by using CBD. He’s also seen from experience in the field, combining cannabinoids with opioids, uppers or downers, benzo’s (benzodiazepine), depressants, pain killers or muscle relaxers, could be dangerous. All those drugs have their intended purposes, but they respond in your body by targeting certain things. When you start mixing them, they compound and cause a negative adverse effect that you’re not able to gauge. For example, with CBD and benzo’s, they see people completely hallucinating, complete seizure activity and they don’t know what’s going on. If they’re on Xanax and CBD oil, their system goes into overdrive. We need to be aware of what we are taking since there are different potencies and mixing can lead to more problems.
The Forensic Anthropologist points out that she is not a proponent of the philosophy that cannabis leads to other drugs. She thinks some use it and progress to harder drugs, but many don’t. The latter can use it and be fine. But she thinks once you do go into those other kinds of drugs, you get addicted.
As collective members of creation, it’s up to us to look out for those we love, to try and recognize if we, ourselves, have a problem, and to get help. Let’s encourage each other that healing is possible. Plant medicine may be helpful for some to replace their prescription medication riddled with side-effects or dangerous illegal drugs.
Ultimately, love, kindness, forgiveness and truth will allow us to overcome deep-rooted strongholds. These deeper root issues may shed light on why we are using. Discovering what that is and connecting to others who share in that experience may be a first step to true healing. Please know that you are not alone. Through difficult times, we can choose gratitude for what we have, trust that it will all work out okay, take some deep breaths, look up, and one day at a time, we’ll get through this.
Natalie Karmo is a daughter, sister, prayer warrior, advocate for cannabis and fighter against the opioid epidemic. She loves Yeshua (aka Jesus). She’s a dog mom to Louie and Jax, a Realtor and is currently working on her first manuscript. “Don’t worry” are two small words that mean a lot to Nat, and she hopes to encourage you in this too. Follow Natalie on Instagram, or you can reach Nat directly at HomeWithKarmo@gmail.com.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?…But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6: 25-34