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Matt Edwards grew up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, where the winters are long, they call the mosquito the state bird, and his hometown was so small that it didn’t have a single store. His first high came from pills prescribed by a doctor for a botched toe surgery.
For ten years he sweat out shift after shift in restaurant kitchens, working twice as many hours as anyone else so he could pay rent and feed his addiction.
Matt was driven by a desperate need to get a fix – more often to avoid withdrawal than to get “high” in a recreational sense. To get what he needed he spun a web of fiction. He was a magnificent liar – smart, creative, persuasive – his lies fed his addiction as much as the actual drugs.
But Matt told the truth to himself in two spiral bound journals. He chronicled his daily drug use – sort of like the Bridget Jones of addiction but in cc’s, milligrams and dollars instead of pounds, drinks and cigarettes. His journals also tell the story of his countless attempts to quit.
Everyday there is another front page tragedy detailing another spectacular fall from grace. What is missing is real understanding of the complicated personal experience within addiction. How does a smart, loving, promising kid move from acting in the high school play to putting a needle in his arm? WRITTEN OFF reveals that journey, in Matt’s own words. Behind the addiction, there is a person – all at once lovable and despicable, funny and pathetic, young and old, destructive and aware of his failings.
Molly Hermann is a producer, director and writer whose documentary work spans genres, continents and centuries. Over the past 20 years, Molly has produced award-winning work for PBS, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian Network, Animal Planet, Discovery Science and BBC America. Her work has taken her from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to a Casablanca mosque, from red rock Utah canyons to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, and searching for birds of paradise in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Molly received the CINE Awards Special Jury Prize for the Smithsonian Channel program “9/11: Stories in Fragments” and an Emmy nomination for “Jefferson’s Secret Bible,” both produced in collaboration with the National Museum of American History. Molly is a founding partner of the Falls Church, Virginia-based company, The Biscuit Factory, which has been producing factual programming for the past 9 years.
America continues to try and address the massive overdose epidemic occurring nationally by waging war against her own citizens, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) attempts to provide helpful guidelines through labeling and education, and it’s a thrilling time to be a drug treatment provider with maintenance therapies, replacement therapies, and conventional abstinence therapies all being available. Seth Fitzgerald from The Drug Classroom and drug treatment provider Glen Marshall explore the real cause of prescription drug overdose and how prohibition and adulteration continue to be fatal. I’m looking at you Fentanyl. Finally, we conclude with this gem from the Nixon administration and his favorite drug marijuana.
“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities, We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” — Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman
Cannabis Substitution: Marijuana Maintenance as Addiction Treatment
The Drug Classroom
Alcohol (ethanol) as a drug of intentional use has existed in cultures across the world dating back to as early as 10,000 BC where Stone Age jugs were used to intentionally ferment fruit for the purpose of human consumption. Its psychoactive properties were taken advantage of in medicine as shown in the Hebrew Bible which recommends giving alcoholic drinks to those who are infirmed to decrease the sense of misery and despair. Modern uses of alcohol continues to include its presentation as a sacrament within the Catholic Church who considered it “a gift of God” to be used in moderation for pleasure and enjoyment while at the same time viewing drunkenness as “sinful” behavior. Modern drug treatment and our concepts of addiction stem largely from Alcoholics Anonymous which was the original twelve-step model for addressing what was considered to be an allergy to alcohol.
Alcohol continues to be closely related to violence and harm in society due to its inhibitory mechanisms on the central nervous system, rational choice making, and diminished consideration of future consequences. Alcohol is a factor in 40% of all violent crimes and 50% of all sexual assaults involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both. Despite this, alcohol continues to be one of the most widely used recreational drugs in the world with 89% of adults having tried alcohol and over 50% consuming it monthly.
Alcohol has an effective to lethal dose ratio (ED/LD) of 1 to 20. It is destructive to tissue at high and consistent doses and results in serious physiological and psychological harm when used excessively over time. These effects have not been demonstrated with low to moderate use. The potential benefit to the cardiovascular system and blood pressure reduction has recently been demonstrated to be offset by the increased potential of gastrointestinal cancers that result from using alcohol. About one in eight people will experience a substance related disorder with alcohol in their lifetime.
Please take great care with this drug. Its popularity and promotion in modern society greatly skew the actual harms and violence associated with it. Alcohol is inherently more destructive to the body and society than other drugs of recreation like cannabis (in places where prohibition is not a factor) particularly when consumed in excessive quantities which often go unchecked and unchallenged due to the normalization of alcohol in Western culture. At any given time, an average of 40% of hospital beds (when discounting for maternity and intensive care) are being used for alcohol related disorders.
Seth Fitzgerald from The Drug Classroom and addiction therapist Glen Marshall explore synthetic cannabinoids which were made popular in the media by their commercial name Spice, K2, along with many others. This class of substance appears to have a moderate potential for abuse as well as a high potential for undesirable and dangerous effects due to the widely varying mixture used to create the final products. Synthetic cannabinoids have resulted in a number of deaths and hospitalizations as a result of the extremely potent and unpredictable compounds used to make them as well as the varying and unregulated degree of each concentration. These drugs are inexpensive, targeted and vulnerable populations, and are difficult to detect making them another unintended consequence of prohibition based policies where more moderate compounds like cannabis are replaced with more potent and dangerous ones in the name of profit.
Synthetic cannabinoids appear to have a terrible safety profile and while an objective position is warranted in evaluating all drugs, there seems to be very little to warrant choosing these potentially deadly compounds over more benign substances like natural cannabis where casual or recreational use is concerned. The term “synthetic marijuana” and even its association with natural marijuana is a complete misnomer and should not be used as it promotes the belief that the two substances have similar effects and safety profiles which for more naive users may have deadly consequences. Glen also talks about the first step in quitting drugs and addiction as well as Students for Sensible Drug Policy and his recent moves in advocacy towards improving drug education in secondary schools.
I sit down with mental health advocate Adam Lowery who inspired me to start The Addictive Podcast through his courage to confront the treatment establishment publicly, and ongoing efforts to make change in the lives of those who need it most. Adam has been featured on The Joe Rogan Experience and is a thought leader on science based approaches to addiction care and health. Listen in to our discussion on the drug war, treatment, and alternative models of therapy in this free flowing wild ride of a podcast.
All of these popular drug myths have been pitched and pressed by the media, drug policymakers, users, or reformers alike. The fog of the drug war is thick and all sides push their agendas with a variety of propaganda. Drug education advocate Seth Fitzgerald along with addiction therapist and host Glen Marshall dispel each one and provide the facts behind the headlines so you can make better choices for yourself and your community.
The Addictive Podcast was created to save lives by providing scientifically based information in this pursuit. A special focus and rant is paid to the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) who I believe failed their membership, misrepresented addiction, ignored best practices, and passively stood by while national policy dictated patient care that led to the deaths of 40,000+ Americans in 2014.
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