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Things That Make Me Think*

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I spoke to an honest Republican the other day. He knows I'm a Democrat. He drives a gravel truck. He leaned in and told me in a sort of conspiratorial, just-between-you-and-me manner that he would have been out of work the last two years without stimulus-funded road projects in this county and the three surrounding counties.

Go figure. You just look at these people in absolute wonder. What can they be thinking?

Now, in regards to whether my industry actually benefited from the stimulus, not a chance. There were times during the Clinton prosperity where my field went through serious droughts of low census, followed by periods of over-abundance; where we had waiting lists. Of course, during those years, Arne Carlson was Governor - and he hated the whole concept of addiction and treatment. While there was a state surplus, he was putting a freeze on state funding of people going through treatment. Yes, Arne was a Republican.

Anyway.......

The above, from Balloon Juice, actually got me thinking about the type of people I see during different times of economic stability. I have no fact or figures to support my anecdotal evidence, but I have noticed that during economic downturns I see much more people who are diagnosed as substance abusers, while during economic prosperity, there seems to be more people who are diagnosed as substance dependent. I get the possibility of people abusing drugs and alcohol during economic stress. It just seems intuitively correct. However, I am not so sure why the prevalence of addiction during economic stability.

In any case, I just throw that out there for others to ponder.


*Which really, really hurts.


(NYT) What would happen in the many communities now allowing medical marijuana had been a subject of much hand-wringing. But few predicted this: that it would be a boon for local newspapers looking for ways to cope with the effects of the recession and the flight of advertising -- especially classified listings -- to Web sites like Craigslist

But in states like Colorado, California and Montana where use of the drug for health purposes is legal, newspapers -- particularly alternative weeklies -- have rushed to woo marijuana providers. Many of these enterprises are flush with cash and eager to get the word out about their fledgling businesses.

"Medical marijuana has been a revenue blessing over and above what we anticipated," said John Weiss, the founder and publisher of The Independent, a free weekly. "This wasn't in our marketing plan a year ago, and now it is about 10 percent of our paper's revenue."

Marijuana will become legal. Once people start making money in a conventional manner - and advertising is as conventional as it gets - others will want in on the profits.

I have surprised a few people over the years with the statement that marijuana should be legal. They are shocked to hear a substance abuse counselor make that claim. But we spend way too much money fighting a losing battle, just like we did when prohibition was in place.

Nor will legalizing marijuana increase my business. I do not believe the rates of marijuana addiction will go up. One, I do not recall any increase in the rates of alcoholism after prohibition was repealed, so I suspect the same of marijuana. Second; marijuana is pretty well established as a cultural norm - along the lines of under age drinking - in this country.

In any case, and on a personal note, illegal or legal, I will not be using marijuana. I had my fun with it years ago, and paid a hefty price. I have no desire to repeat that process.

Hat Tip: Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice
I am posting this at the Snelling Ave Dunn Bros. Coffee shop. Unfortunately, there were no available tables with outlets close by. Actually, every table was taken. So, I am sitting out back, which is great today, considering it is 60 degrees right now, but also lacks outlets. Anyway, work was quick, with only one consult. But it did require an assessment, and a DHS one at that.

DHS is Department of Human Services. In Minnesota, for publicly funded patients, we have to fill out a particular form, which is 18 pages long. Most of the Minnesota care HMOs (there are four of them that manage health care for Minnesota) require it to be completed, even if they are not going to get state funding for treatment.

See, many, many years ago, something called Rule 25 was created to help under-insured people get funding for treatment. These people could be employed, have health insurance, but not have substance abuse benefits, But, as in all things deemed welfare, the financial requirements became so strict, the original target population was restricted from receiving aid, and only the poor got the funding. Get a job, and you lose your funding.

Anyway, the funding was a combination of Federal grants with a certain level of matching state funds. From what I understand, Minnesota was better than most states at getting the money out there for treatment. Wisconsin, at least when I first sobered up in the mid 80s, was not so good at it.

As seems to be the case these days, in an effort to prove government inefficient, a re-write by the state (controlled by republicans, I deem, though can not prove) was done on Rule 25 recently, and they created a bloated assessment tool that goes above and beyond any reasonable effort at assessing for abuse or dependence. In my opinion, it was created with the mind-set that we had to discover a lifetime of issues in 40 to 60 minutes.

A psychiatrist that works for one of the county mental health services complained the assessment was a complete waste of time; that it attempted to be a tool for developing an actual treatment plan - instead of it's original function - which was simply to determine the necessary level of care for a person.

One of the biggest problems with my field is that it is very politicized, especially in the last decade, as Christian organizations attempt to insert their ideology into treatment services. I came across a little flier that was clearly written to coop the original intent of AA, and in direct opposition to one of the traditions, which clearly states attraction rather than promotion. This flier was describing the means to evangelize the 12 step concept.

In all things both conservative and Christian, it is a return to shaming the drunks and drug addicts. Considering Bill W. spent the first 8 months of his sobriety attempting that path, and failing, I suspect we will not really hear of any statistical success from this move. Prior to AA's creation, there really was not documented success at dealing with addiction.

In the end, I have to say I grow tired of my field. It seems more mired in bureaucracy then at any time in my 19 year career. All I want to do is help people find their way out of the hell that is addiction. Instead, it has turned into another battle ground for which ideology is the best.  

Clarification

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No, I am not making a direct accusation of Joe Klein being a drunk or drug addict. However, one could easily make the claim that Joe Klein is addicted to power, Hence his bet hedging with both sides of the political spectrum.

This Is A New Fact?

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I am coming up on 25 years of recovery. I've been working in the substance abuse field for close to 20 years. Yet, after all this time, I am still amazed at what simple, obviously know facts suddenly make the news like it's something new.

Honest to God. Our nation has declined in so many ways.

The only positive I could possibly take from this is job security; our nation's decline in knowledge and education will most definitely produce future clients for my industry. Hell of a positive.

Pearl Clutchers Anonymous

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You know, there's been quite the pile on concerning Michael Phelps and his bong hit. As a chemical dependency counselor, I have been reluctant to even read the articles. Mostly because of the double standard that is now on full display.

Let's be honest. Had Mr. Phelps gone out and gotten drunk in celebration of his amazing accomplishment, not one article would have been published. Unless, of course, he got into some kind of trouble. No doubt, young Mr. Phelps did have a few. And in the process, managed to stay out of trouble. He did not end up behind a wheel. He did not make a spectacle of himself in public.

So, here we have him celebrating his amazing accomplishment, not with alcohol, but with marijuana. And the problem he caused? He ended up in a picture. <snark tone="sarcasm">Oh my. It's the end of civilization as we know it. Look! Up in the sky. It's a meteorite plunging into our atmosphere. Oh, we're doomed. DOOMED I tell you!</snark>

Sigh. This is nothing more than rank hypocrisy. Enough. Marijuana is not the social evil as claimed by these pearl clutchers. Alcohol causes more death, more destruction, more pain to our society. Yet, it is alcohol that is socially acceptable. Yet despite this very obvious fact, we learned that prohibition did not work. It is not working now for marijuana.

Like any chemical, marijuana can become an addiction to some. I know, I am one such person. But I am not so high and mighty that I am going to claim it's an evil, vile drug that should be scoured from the planet. History has shown prohibition just does not work.

So, to all you pearl clutchers; first, you just don't look good in pearls. Seriously, way gaudy. Buy a fashion magazine, will you. Second, you're being shrill. How about you notch the voice down an octave or three? Maybe you guys ought to think about forming a self-help group to deal with this problem. You know, call it Pearl Clutchers Anonymous.
CNN

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Troubled singer Amy Winehouse has been admitted to a London hospital after suffering a bad reaction to medication, her representative said Tuesday.
Sigh.

No doubt the real cause is a hysterical reaction to her husband's losing an appeal against the 27 months of prison.

On a more meta note, I suspect we will be hearing about her death within 5 years. Maybe even quicker. There are all sorts of scenarios that can play out with her. If hubby actually gets sober, while Amy continues to remain emotionally sick and dysfunctional, expect a split, which will drive her over the edge. At that point, expect either a suicide or an accidental drug overdose.

Now, all of this is conjecture. For all I know, she already has overcome her addiction and is getting healthy.

Oh, and look, there's an add selling a bridge. Gamn, my lucky day!

Good Morning Blogstonia!

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Yeah! I got up early enough to write a quick blog post. I've checked the news. It damn near put me back to sleep. What news that is out there is being pressed into service as the next worst thing to ever happen in our nation. It's a shtick that right wing radio has had down pat for decades, but now it seems as if the Legacy Media and the various blogs are flagging that old approach well past it's death.

Yeesh. It's just a slow news day. Seriously. After 7 plus years of BushCo™, I suspect we are going to find ourselves bored with the lack of sensationalism. No one, and I mean no one, is going to displace BushCo™ as the most controversial United States administration in modern times.

We are all going to be like drunks looking for that elusive intoxication. Try as we might, we will never feel that exhilaration we first felt as we published a post about the latest outrage from the impertinent son of a misplaced New Englander.

Our drug of choice has actually been gone for quite some time. He's gone into hiding now that his popularity has sunk lower then Nixon's.

So, like any good addict, we've switched; thus lies the explanation of our fascination with Sarah Palin. In my using days, if I couldn't get pot, I got drunk. In today's blogging milieu, if we can't have our BushCo™ story, by God, we've got Sarah to take it's place. It's the same cheap, tawdry content, only with a feminine label.

Soon, though, she'll be empty. Then what? Write outrage over Obama? Does anyone really think that Barack will be as incompetent, as amoral, as ignorant as George W. Bush? If anyone out there thinks that; put down the pipe, back away, and check yourself into treatment. Or the psych ward. Because, DAMN, your either high or psychotic. Or both.
CNN

NEW YORK (AP) -- As Marcia Brady on "The Brady Bunch," Maureen McCormick projected an image of the wholesome girl next door. But off camera, she spiraled downward into drug addiction and depression.
I use some pretty disparate sources for educating my clients. I've used a post from Jeff Bridges, and discussed John Wayne movies. Now, I might actually have to go out and buy her book. I could use more content to help educate my clients.

Okay, CEU's In The Bag

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Yup, I finished what reading I had left, took the tests, and got myself the rest of my licensing CEUs. Never mind that I have to pay three times the amount a Doctor or a Nurse pays for their license. Never mind that I have to acquire three times the amount of CEUs as a Nurse or Social Worker. Never mind that I am in the lowest paying career in contrast to the other three previously mentioned careers.

It seriously sucks to be a Substance Dependence Counselor in the State of Minnesota. $400.00 to renew my license. That is ridiculous. 40 hours of CEUs. That is ridiculous. And to make matters worse, with the slow, steady strangulation of my field, the employers are no longer supplying free in services. Roughly speaking, it is about $13.00 per CEU. I spend over $900.00 to remain in my field.

And people wonder why I am fucking mad all the time.
Shakopee Valley News

Zyprexa, as well as the other atypical antipsychotics, are being prescribed for children, even though this is an unapproved, off-label use. Eli Lilly has been charged in allegedly pushing the drug for children in more than one state.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG!

This is nothing more than lazy parents and teachers looking for the easier, softer way to deal with children.

Children are naturally hyper. Children are naturally loud. Children have a tendency to be mean and cruel to each other. Name calling, anger, temper; it is all par for the course with children. They become overwhelmed with their own growing energy. They have short attention spans. They do not need medication.

An ADHD diagnosis should not be made by a primary physician at the local clinic. Nor a child put on any type of antipsychotics, or any mood-altering chemicals, unless they have been thoroughly evaluated by competent, trained and experienced psychiatrists.

All any child really needs is patience, tolerance, and love; with firm, consistent, and continuous boundaries (which requires constant effort by parents to think about more than themselves) that will teach them proper social behavior. And finally, parental realization that they will not see instantaneous results.

I swear, some days it seems our society is one big addict; always wanting what it wants when it wants it and wanting it Right-God-Damn-Now!
In my industry, denial is a common behavior we expect from our clients. Any means to avoid the truth about their drinking and drug usage. Imagine my surprise to discover the Beer, Wine, and Spirits industry is having the same difficulties with the truth.

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