Friday, June 27, 2014

Is addiction a choice or a disease?

Is addiction a choice or a disease? This is a tough one, but I am going to do my best to explain my view and reasoning. I respect and consider all angles on this topic, but I have lived the live of addiction and am now living a happy life free from addiction. So I know first hand from real life experience. I know that addiction is a choice. If you want to call it a disease, that's OK. But let me tell you that this is a curable disease with the proper treatment. The problem I have with calling addiction a disease is this, I feel this gives people an excuse to live the rest of their life with the state of mind that they have a disease and there is no cure, or no way out. I know that when addicted to heroin your choices are controlled by the addiction and make breaking free seam near impossible. But again with the proper treatment with Iboga by a trained shamanic Iboga provider, this "disease" can be cured, I am living proof of that.

I am doing this post for a few reasons, this is a topic that interests me greatly. I also received this message last night and wanted to share. A month or so ago I did a speech at a local school where I am from back in Mass. My talk was about my 17 year battle with addiction and how I broke free by using Iboga to find the core issues and reasons why I resorted to self medicate with drugs and alcohol. At the end of my speech I answered questions from the crowd. A woman from the back of the auditorium really got my attention when she told me her son had recently died from a heroin overdose. After it was all over, I went to find this unknown woman so I could speak with her more, I couldn't find her and no one knew who she was. I was very glad that she reached out to me last night, because I wanted to finish talking with her but didn't know how to contact her. Here is the message she wrote me...

Hi Jeff. I met you at the Pepperell speaking event. I want to say that its wonderful what you are doing but an average heroin addict has a snowball's chance in hell getting your kind of treatment. I hope that somehow you can figure that out. Also. I wanted you to rethink your position of choice vrs disease. Because my son died of the addiction that was a disease.

Thank you. Toireasa

Here is what she wrote following the message above:

A Season Of Darkness

Monday, June 9, 2014
Injustice of The Addict

Ive been considering writing for some time now. It has taken me about six months to get into a space for writing. Today is month 7.

I am the Proud Mother of a 29 year old son who overdosed on Heroin. I am proud because I am neither ashamed of my son nor of his disease he battled so fiercly for so many years. Proud because he was so brave in facing the demons he had to face  every single day. Proud because he fought this war within himself for over a decade and up until the day the Lord took him home on that horrendous night of November 24th, 2013.

I recently attended a speech given in my community about a person who had fought through addiction and is now helping others. My first thoughts were --Wow. It takes courage to speak about your addiction and how absolutely wonderful the awarenes he will inturn bring to this crisis. I still feel that way. I have alot of respect for what he is doing- however, I was greatly disappointed when he said addiction was not a disease but a choice. Apparently it's a matter of opinion.

As I understand it, if someone abuses drugs before their early twenties when the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex responsible for decision making and reasoning hasn't fully developed, they are challenged  with making a decision or choice.If you developed your addiction after your brain has developed fully, after 23-25? It's my understanding that your decision making and reasoning skills are also fully developed and in working order.

Now, add to that....a dual diagnosis. Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia,  anxiety, depression, personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc....are you really going to tell me it's a choice?

I am not a doctor or anyone with authority on this, except for being a Mom, that fought tooth and nail along side her son to kick addiction and the disease to the curb. We lost. Addiction won.

The choice....the choice is education for the parents, to know what your child's psychological behaviors are and que into off behaviors. And sometimes that isn't even enough.

I thought something was off when my son entered into the teenage years. We didn't have the perfect life and it was hard struggling as a single Mom with a dead-beat-dad that took off never to be heard from again. But I loved my son with every fiber of my body. I took him to psychiatrists, counselors, doctors, and when he became hostile and explosive I had brought him to Brattleboro VT retreat. diagnosis: opositional defiance disorder.....he's a kid, they told me. He will grow out of it.

We tried all kinds of anti-depression medications. Natural herbs and prescribed. Soon he would be introduced to self-medicating drugs. He developed mononucleosis in his sophmore year. The school refused to provide a tutor. He returned part-time days but redeveloped the disease for a second time. Again the school refused a tutor and we were months behind at this point. After fighting the school board, they allowed him to pass the junior year with some make-up classes.

He would leave the school year as a junior. Working full-time as a landscaper he eventually moved in with a friend and began self medicating with alcohol and drugs. Many times he cleaned himself up. He worked hard to get his GED and entered into an OIL BURNER trade school. Unfortuately, the field was extremely fifficult to get into and that brought him down again. He became involved with a woman and fathered a child in the meantime. He worked in various jobs; foundations, landscaping, construction, and tought himself calculus to land a job as a machinist. My son was so proud (and so was I) for his achievements.

Little did I know he would begin a downward spiral that would ultimately take his life.

He probably entered into more than 100 detoxes. Saddly, the state of MA system is just this. 5 day detox. You are put on either suboxone or methadone. Day 5, detox and insurance kicks you out. Hopefully you have an extension that went through or a bed for rehab. If none are available, you are released on the street with suboxone and methadone still in your body. (Detox from either is just as bad if not worse than heroin) Most of the addicts do not have a job and are on MA health. They have no cash to pay for a suboxone or methadone doctor....who only accept cash. 500 up front and 75/visit...(approximate).

The addict turns to stealing to obtain money to buy suboxone or methadone or heroin....anything to make them feel like they arent dying. Because that's exactly how it feels. Take the worst flu you can ever imagine and multiply that by 10. It becomes a visious circle which now includes illegal activity.

It's to late for my son but maybe we can save someone else's child.

1. Doctors need to be more aggressive with caring for depression in teenagers.

2. Detox/rehab should require a minimum stay of 60 days.

3. Drug courts

4. Halfway houses for addicts released from jail and/or rehab


So here is my response to this message....first off I want to express my deepest condolences to Toireasa. I can not imagine losing a child and the indescribable feeling that brings. Especially being father now, I can't imagine how hard that must be... So I am so sorry for your loss and pain Toireasa. I am sorry its to late for your son and anyone else who lost the battle with addiction, that did not get the opportunity that I did.

Everyone's life's experiences, situations, and choices are different, that is a fact of life. What I have found in my life experiences with addiction, and now working with Iboga helping people break free, is how I have come to this conclusion. Some may not agree with me, that is fine and your choice. I still keep an open mind on this topic and am open to all views.

So I will explain my statement that addiction is a choice and not a disease in more detail now. I am OK with people calling addiction a disease, as long as its very clear that there is a cure for this disease. I feel like there is a condition in between choice and addiction. I wish I had a word for that, not sure one even exists. I apologize for my lack of vocabulary, this is something I am working on, and something that has become more important to me at this point of my life. (I am a high school drop out, and my approach on learning has always been through life experience, not a book) Anyways, when someone is addicted their choices my not be true, influenced by the demon of addiction. But for someone to break free, they must truly want it, no matter what method they use. Without that from within, and being educated that there is a way out, hopelessness is a strong reality for an addict. My life mission now is to educate and help heal as many possible with the problems I had. Its unfortunate that so many have lost this battle without a real chance at beating this addiction or disease (however you'd like to call it). I can not change that, but what I can do is spread the word that there is a cure and there is a way to take control of your life and live happy. I am proof of that. The western medicine approach is not working. People need to be educated on all options out there. They need to realize that not all doctors in the US are giving true uninfluenced advice. Many opinions are influenced my money and greed. The approach in the states and in most rehabs is to just switch someone over to suboxone or methadone. This is not a cure or answer, its a band aid over a gunshot wound...The core reasons for people resulting to drugs needs to be dealt with. This can be achieved and must be handled in order to move on in life. What is a choice, is to realize this, deal with it and put it in your past. Its a choice to decide your done and to move on. Not to make this sound easy but its that simple. Iboga, a plant medicine from Africa and give you the tools to do so. Iboga will allow you to go inside yourself and face your deepest demons. Iboga will show you the truth. The truth you need to learn about your path and how it lead you to addiction. When faced and dealt with, amazing things happen. When you realize why and how you ended up where you did, its much easier to make peace and move on. Thats what needs to happen to beat this addiction/disease.

I hope this helped shed some light on my view and experience with addiction. There is always another angle and more than one way to look at things. I choose to look at the positive in all angles of life, even in the deepest most negative forms of life, there is a positive side, and good can come from all bad...if you choose to look at it that way.

-Pura Vida