September 15, 2014

The “addiction” boogeyman

After listening to the Oregon Senate this morning during a presentation about vaping (by Wells Fargo no less!), it is abundantly clear that the word addiction being bandied about is need of a reality check.

As a person who has experienced experimentation, use, and abuse of licit and illicit products, there is indeed a significant difference. I drink coffee every morning. It’s a habit since my teens. Living in SF, it’s hard not to be drawn to that fresh ground smell of beans and that delicious first cup. Back then, I would drink a half dozen in a sitting w/out batting an eye.

Nowadays in my dotage, I still have that one cup. A habit to be sure, but is it an addiction? Does it frikken matter? The perpetual association of nicotine use with combusted or smokeless tobacco products is not likely to be differentiated until the over 55’s die off.

It is VERY troubling that those who are in the position to create policy cannot be objective, and learn from the last 30 odd years of addiction study and treatment. This willful ignorance will continue to reinforce the environment of abuse and criminality instead of realistic goals. This is costing lives and treasure and the perpetual decisiveness within our communities.

I apologize for stating the obvious, however in order to overcome the FUD, I will be repeating this while listening, especially for signs of open minds as I continue my advocacy.



“Well, I do not have the luxury of the Harvard crew coach. Everyone in this room already has an opinion of what an addict is. Usually we use the word addict in a special way—cocaine addict, heroin addict, but rarely do we hear the words alcohol addict or nicotine addict. No one would refer to Vice President Cheney as an addict, despite the fact that we know that nicotine contributes to heart disease. And Mickey Mantle remains a hero despite needing a liver transplant because of liver cancer, complicated by cirrhosis from his years of drinking. I am hopeful that each of you can put aside any bias, any preconceived notions that you bring here today. For thirty minutes I ask that you be like that athlete who has never rowed before and put aside your current opinion of addiction. Give me your cleansed minds for just a brief time. At the end of my presentation you may accept, reject, or modify anything I say, but please start now with a clean slate. Before I begin, I want everyone to join me and tightly close your eyes. For just sixty seconds let us each listen to our own breathing and contemplate nothing.”


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