Addiction

You can’t prove to me that marijuana is not addictive.  On the contrary I can prove that it is as addictive as alcohol, tobacco, or sex.  Just spend any time around prisoners and listen to their conversations and you will know the truth. Conversations in prison are practically fixated on alcohol, drugs, and sex.

Prisoners dwell in the past, sharing stories of their narcistic foibles and conquests. They relive, no doubt with embellishment, for themselves and others what they think of as the best times of their lives.  Some go to great lengths and at great expense to acquire these “necessities of life” while in prison.  They indulge in the illicit spud juice trade or pay outrageous prices to purchase tobacco, marijuana, or other drugs smuggled into prison. One of the really disturbing things is how men justify homosexual activity and claim that they are straight because the give rather than receive.  The first thing that many prisoners want to do when they get out is to stop at the party store and then get laid, even though it may have been 2, 5, 10, or 20 years since they had their favorite drink or smoke.

Addictions may be chemical like heroin, but most are psychological. Any activity that stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain to the point that it upsets the brains natural equilibrium will foster a desire to recapture the feelings of euphoria.  The person seeks anything that will help regain that feeling.  The mind plays tricks by minimizing the negative side-effects.  Alcoholics keep getting drunk regardless of the hangovers or getting sick.  Drug users crash after their bodies can no longer stay awake after days of sleeplessness.  Marijuana smokers get the munchies and fall asleep.  They don’t suffer the negative side effects that slowly kill the body, instead it’s about killing motivation. Brain cells in key sections of the brain are damaged placing the user into a sort of suspended animation. Instead of continuing to develop their lives these heavy marijuana smokers stop growing mentally and emotionally.  They enjoy their party life, not realizing how lame they have become.  They don’t see anything wrong therefore there is no reason to change. They like themselves and those they hang out with.  To quote Forest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.”  They reinforce each other’s bad behavior and it only gets worse in prison.

Bad behavior in prison by and large goes unchallenged by any meaningful education, discipline, or constructive alternative.  That’s why programming fails, punishment is ineffective, and the alternatives are unappealing.  Addicts have the highest recidivism rate because prison is not a deterrent.  An addict’s only desire is to recapture the “high” at any cost.

Addicts often have no family support because they have stolen from those they claim to love, betraying trust and have been rejected and cast out.  This only serves to drive the addict deeper into their circle of addicted acquaintances.  They really can’t call them friends because they steal from them too, but they have one thing in common and nowhere else to go or do.

What is called for is an interdiction.  The only way to save an addict from themselves is for someone to break through the barrier of lies that they have surrounded themselves with. You’d think prison would be a place where this happens but unfortunately no.  You have addicts locked up and are failing to provide the type of help that is badly needed. Prisons need more trained therapists to address this issue rather than turnkeys who are apathetic at best and generally hostile towards anything that could result in real change.

Prison should be a place where people who failed to participate as a successful member of a civil society receive the re-education that clearly states what is expected of them without distractions.  The messages need to be compelling and undistracted by competing messages that glorify the lifestyle choices that brought them to prison in the first place.

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