What Ignorance Can Do To Individuals, Communities, and Society in Two Small Examples

Well, I had an eventful morning. I went out to get coffee and cigarettes (first let me say, uh, yum) immediately upon rolling out of bed.

I was at the 7-11 talking to an old friend I grew up with for a while about a few different subjects on family and life. As I went to leave there was some commotion outside.

I learned two things today and they both lead to the same conclusion; what the motto of F33DyourHEAD is and my own personal motto since I can remember.

Educate yourself!!!!!!

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1. Educate yourself on what your kids are being taught; whether in school, church, girl scouts, boy scouts, etc.

My friend talked recently with my sister who told her their church told her kids that there is no such thing as Santa. One of my sister’s children is old enough to know this anyways but, the other…..if they only knew that the littlest one’s father died on Christmas Eve, tragically, which will probably scar him for the rest of his life, they might have known better than to strip the one thing away from him on Christmas that still allowed it to be somewhat magical.  On a day when sadness is stronger than the joy of ripping open presents and meeting with family he will remember that as the day he learned his father died and now the day when Santa died and nothing in this world is as we hope or believe.  Possibly, down the road, he will be ok, but there is also a possibility it could lead to a more negative outcome. My sister tried to correct what they said but it was already too late.

2. Educate yourself when a situation is happening before you go taking pictures, posting them on Facebook and going off on rants which have absolutely nothing to do with what is happening.

We were outside smoking a cig, finishing up our conversation and some people drove up and parked at the 7-11 all in a hissy because if we had bothered to look right around the corner we would have seen a school bus full of small children and what looked like it being pulled over, the children taken off and the police officer going on and for some reason a prison bus pulled over on the next block ahead. It happens to be, I found out from my fellows, that today, a local high school was having a protest about bullying because some kid was beat up on a bus and is in a coma (according to the not so sure sources).  Here is a link to the actual incident.  The issue discussed at a recent school board meeting about school violence, I assume, was the reason for the protest.  Again, this is an assumption. They were on their way to the protest.  One man feverishly showed us pictures he took of the police pulling the kids from the bus and was figuring out how to post them to Facebook.  A woman commented on the sad state of the public school system in our town and city.  Another women commented on racism which, even if knowing nothing about the situation, is a large leap in logical thinking and reasoning.  The comment started with, Look I’m not racist or anything, but….” and I stopped listening to the rest.  The other woman who worked at the store (not my friend) came out to see and commented walking away, “That’s why I don’t want my kids going to public school” and walked back in the store to surely have gone on to tell the unknown versions of the tale to many others walking in that day, thus spreading an uneducated guess on what was happening.  There was speculation of a fight on the bus, a possibility that it had to do with the protest, etc.

Me, being who I am, said goodbye to my friend got in my car, drove around the block and asked the man filming from the local news, “What happened?”.  I was told by the cameraman the bus hit a prison transport vehicle.  Again, still not the exact truth.

Here is the simple truth of it, according to Steve Thomas (you can find his information here), head bus driver for the Elmira City School District.  The prison bus backed up to make room for another school bus and the Department of Corrections vehicle’s rear window moved the mirror on the school bus in question, no damage reported.  That’s it.  The children were taken off of the bus after the police arrived, which is their call.  The procedures state, again according to Steve Thomas, that names and birth dates and positions on the bus need to be recorded.  The students were then put on another bus and sent to school.  I went online in search of procedures in the event of a collision of a school bus and another vehicle.  I have included links to these documents in the article.  I tried to do a search for NYS Department of Corrections Accident Procedures but came up with nothing worthy of sharing a link to.  I am sure for security reasons these are kept confidential.

I tried to find the procedures for Chemung County or the Elmira City School District online and came up with nothing specific, so I did the next available thing and found a procedure for another county in New York State not too far from our own.

When looking at the school bus procedures for Putnam County (another county in New York State), it states under Procedure For Bus Driver:

“All passengers should remain in the vehicle unless fire or other hazardous conditions exist that warrant evacuation. In any event, it is extremely important that injured persons are not moved unless a hazard exists that presents an imminent danger of further injury.”

However, it also says under Procedure for General Operation:

“Emergency services agencies (police, fire, EMS), if called, will take charge of the accident scene upon their arrival. A school district representative (the superintendent, or person designated by the superintendent to have decision-making authority) will be dispatched to the accident scene (distance and time permitting), will report to the command post and will participate in unified command.”

The police had a right to decide in this case to remove the children from the bus.

As for the prison transport van it is unclear whether any prisoners were even aboard.  Logic follows that precautions would be taken to ensure that all locks were still functioning and that there were no escapes before almost anything else was done, including removing the children from the bus.

If you would like to read further about any of the procedures, please follow the links included in this article.

My main point in this second lesson is that without knowing what is happening we can cause a mass hysteria in a city before any facts are even released.  People at the protest for bullying today will surely spread the rumors of the school bus seen being “pulled over by police” and their children unjustly dragged from the school bus, assumingly afraid and scarred by the incident and put in potential danger by the proximity of a prison transport van.  This can add irrational fuel to an already boiling over issue.

When we don’t use the tools available to us to educate ourselves about issues and situations in our lives, things are children and ourselves are being taught, damage can happen, and exponentially so in the second case.  Personal responsibility for the knowledge we have or need to obtain is paramount to a saner world.

Related Links:

We Know What You Are Doing

I Know What You Did 5 Minutes Ago is a comedy routine by a man named Tom Scott based on the privacy settings people have (or lack thereof to be more exact) on their social networking sites.  You would be amazed at the information people make public: phone numbers, check-ins at their own home, whether they are currently home or not, mother’s maiden name, how much they hate their boss, etc.

This video was the inspiration for 18 year old Callum Haywood to start a website called We Know What You Are Doing, that queries Facebook’s Graph API and outputs the results.  The raw JSON output can be found here.

Image

The lesson to be learned is simply know your own privacy settings.  Make sure everything is set to what you want.  Don’t make everything public.

Malicious, Spammy, Scamming, Likejacking or Just Downright Annoying Apps on Facebook

So…I’m sick of warning everyone individually about all the shitty, spammy, and annoying apps that are out there in Facebook World.  So I am going to start this guide.

If there is a Web of Trust warning there will be a photo of the Web of Trust Scorecard and a link to read the comments people left about why they gave it such a bad warning.

What is Web of Trust you ask??

Web of Trust is the leading website reputation rating tool and one of Mozilla’s most popular add-ons. Our safe surfing tool uses an intuitive traffic-light style rating system to help you see which websites are trusted when you search, surf and shop online.

WOT ratings are powered by a global community of millions of trustworthy users who have rated millions of websites based on their experiences. The WOT add-on provides reputation ratings to search results when you use Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, Bing, Wikipedia and other popular sites, helping you protect your computer and personal information. Your online email account – Google Mail, Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail is also protected.

Here is the link to add it on to your Mozilla Firefox Browser:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/wot-safe-browsing-tool/

If it has not been rated yet, or they have been tricky and are hiding under the general “facebook apps” links, I will just put a picture and a description as to the issue.

fb5.apps.friendsy.us

Friend Buzz is the general name that this app lies under.  What it looks like on your wall is this:

Here is another app from Friend Buzz with bad ratings:

The ratings for this are the worst in every category.  Here is the link to WOT:

http://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/fb5.apps.friendsy.us

So in general, just don’t add anything having to do with Friend Buzz.

Fun in Your Name – (Created Via-> Http://apps.facebook.com/fun)

 

About the Developer:  Senang Solutions specialized in Internet Social Networking Applications.

Developer Name:  http://www.senang-solutions.com

It is difficult to find a rating on Web of Trust.  Here is some info I found at this website:

http://www.spotnblog.com/facebook-scam-fun-in-your-name/

“Do not install the following Facebook App: Fun in Your Name! by – Senang Solutions specialized in Internet Social Networking Applications.

This App is what you call Likejacking, a form of clickjacking, is a malicious technique of tricking users of a website into posting a Facebook status update for a site they did not intentionally mean to “like”.

Stay away from these kind of “like” comments or Apps, because the people behind it earns loads of money on you being stupid. In worst case you will end of with a Malware infected PC.”

More info about clickjacking:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clickjacking

Warning about Likejacking:

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/likejacking_takes_off_on_facebook.php

How to avoid Likejacking:

http://techie-buzz.com/social-networking/avoid-likejacking-clickjacking.html

socialappsmail.com

Friend Rank or 20 Top Friends

Also developed Top Loves and probably some others

Here are some photos of what they look like on your wall and requesting permission.  NOTE HOW MUCH INFO THEY WANT FOR SUCH AN INSIGNIFICANT APP!!!

Here is the Web of Trust Ranking for this developer in general:

Link to the rating:

http://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/socialappsmail.com

Here is a link to this developer’s fucked up Privacy Policy:

http://www.socialappsmail.com/privacy-policy

Info on Stalker Apps –

These are the apps in which you are promised to be shown who looks at your profile the most. First of all, if you have clicked on these you are so gullible your mama should have just shoved you back in rather than expose the world to your stupidity. Here is a link for info about these:

http://arstechnica.com/web/news/2011/01/those-facebook-stalker-apps-they-dont-work-so-avoid-them.ars

Beware the following messages and/or wall postings from Facebook friends:

Example #1:

I’ve just seen who checks me out the most here on Facebook! You can see who stalks you too!

http://todayurl.com/stalker

Example #2:

I just saw who STALKS me here on Facebook. You can see who creeps around your profile too!

http://todayurl.com/stalker

Example #3:

I just saw who CREEPS around my pics the most here on Facebook. You can see who stalks you too!

http://todayurl.com/stalker

These are all variants of the same scam. If you click on the link, you’re taken to a page that requests your permission to access private information. If you allow it to do so, the message immediately reposts itself on all your friends’ walls and you’re prompted to fill out a phony questionnaire.

What it won’t do is show you your Facebook “stalkers” or reveal the names of people who’ve visited your Facebook page or viewed your photos. The whole thing is a ruse to trick more people to installing the useless app and clicking through to survey pages.

Then there is the “Slap Myself in the Face for Being So Fucking Stupid” Link that people just have to see:

Girl Killed Herself After Father Posted On Her Wall

I will add more as I find them!! Feel free to pass this note around and tag your idiotic friends who need to see this cause they swear up and down the app is fine. Also, private message me any that YOU find that I have missed.

Update: Although this one is not new I just saw it on a friend’s page.

The Dislike Button

Here is a link with some information about this one:

http://mashable.com/2011/05/17/facebook-dislike-button-scam/

Get Control of your Private Information!

Hear Us Now : a project of Consumers Union:.

Send a message to your representative through the above link.

Bills have been introduced that will put you in control of your personal information while online or on your smartphone!

Now we need to get these online privacy bills passed, and we need consumers like you to weigh in. Opposition is expected to be strong, since online tracking of your private information is big business!

This latest bill would require companies to honor your decision if you do not want to be tracked online. And it would hold tracking companies accountable if they go against your wishes. The rules also would apply to smartphones, too.

Facebook Security and Information

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

The idea for this blog entry started this morning after 3 or 4 cups of coffee and 5 episodes of Futurama on Netflix.

I began by creating an event to let all of my friends know about a recent change on Facebook.  I started searching for other things about facebook that I might be unaware of.  I was partly motivated also by the staggering amount of spam and malicious apps and links being posted to my page by friends who are sometimes completely unaware of the posts or unaware that the posts have malicious links.

Here are some things I found:

1.  I Can’t See All My Friends’ Posts

Have you noticed that you are only seeing certain people’s statuses over and over again? I looked this up myself guys so it is not a spam or malicious.

1. At the top of your Homepage (not your profile, your Home Page) it says “Top News” and “Most Recent”.

2. Click on the small arrow (triangle facing down) next to “Most Recent”.

3. Go down to “Edit Options” at the bottom and click on it.

4. A box will pop-up saying “Edit News Feed Settings”

5. The first thing says “Show Posts From:”

6. You can choose either “Friends and Pages You Interact With Most” (if you have commented on, left a message for, wrote on someone’s wall they will show up in your feed, but everyone else will be excluded) or you can choose “All of Your Friends and Pages”.

7. You can also view and change whose (People and Pages and Apps) posts you have previously chose to ignore.

8. By clicking on the arrow you can also choose to only see Game posts, Photos, Statuses, etc.

2.  Check Facebook Privacy with Online Tools

This information comes from: Melvins Inquisitive Mind

Privacy Check – http://www.rabidgremlin.com/fbprivacy/ 

Privacy Check is a nifty app that evaluates your privacy settings and gives you a score out of 21. The details of the score reveal which objects of your Facebook account are publicly accessible.

Privacy Defender – http://apps.facebook.com/privacydefender/

PrivacyDefender is a Facebook application that evaluates your Facebook privacy settings. You need to drag its bookmarklet to your bookmarks toolbar. When you access your Facebook account, click this bookmarklet to evaluate your settings and view which information is viewable by whom.

ReclaimPrivacy – http://www.reclaimprivacy.org/

ReclaimPrivacy is another tool that works similar to PrivacyDefender. You get a bookmarklet which you need to click once you are on your Facebook’s privacy settings page. You privacy settings are evaluated and shown to you.

Zesty Facebook Privacy Checker – http://zesty.ca/facebook/

Zesty Facebook Privacy Checker is a useful tool which takes in your Facebook username. It then displays a comprehensive list of all your Facebook content that is set to public.

Save Face – http://www3.untangle.com/saveface

SaveFace is a simple bookmarklet that evaluates your privacy settings. Unlike the tools mentioned above, it can even restore your settings to friends only. Here is how you use SaveFace:

  1. Drag the SaveFace bookmarklet to your bookmarks toolbar.
  2. You need to enter your privacy settings, and click on the SaveFace bookmarklet. Your settings will then be reset to “friends only.” This means that only your Facebook friends will be able to view your Facebook contact information, search settings, friends, tags and connections, personal information and posts. SaveFace’s script will take a little time to run, so you will have to be patient.
  3. Once the process is through, you can use anyone of the above mentioned tools to verify that your data is set to “friends only.”

3.  One Time Passwords

Facebook is launching one-time passwords to make it safer to use public computers in places like hotels, cafes or airports. If you have any concerns about security of the computer you’re using while accessing Facebook, Facebook can text you a one-time password to use instead of your regular password.

Simply text “otp” to 32665 on your mobile phone, and you’ll immediately receive a password that can be used only once and expires in 20 minutes. In order to access this feature, you’ll need a mobile phone number in your account. We’re rolling this out gradually, and it should be available to everyone in the coming weeks.

4.  Remote Sign Out and Account Settings

The ability to sign out of Facebook remotely is now available to everyone just like what GMail had introduced a while ago. These session controls can be useful if you log into Facebook from a friend’s phone or computer and then forget to sign out. From your Account Settings, you can check if you’re still logged in on other devices and remotely log out.

Under the Account Security section of your Account Settings page you’ll see all of your active sessions, along with information about each session. In the unlikely event that someone accesses your account without your permission, you can also shut down the unauthorized login before resetting your password and taking other steps to secure your account and computer.

When people log in to Facebook, the system will regularly prompt them to keep their security information updated. If you ever lose access to your account, having this information helps Facebook verify who you are and get you back into your account quickly.

I highly recommend the last two steps to be able to keep your account safe at all times.

Looks like Facebook is reacting that we want more control over what we share on Facebook—to manage exactly who sees it and to understand exactly where it goes. But is it going to be enough, all over the internet people are talking about the demise of Facebook but Facebook seems to be appearing in more websites, blogs and journals as the login method or the like button. We need to see how things are going to work out in the next year for Facebook.

We Do Recover: Part 2

Part 1

Part 2:

Hope On the Horizon

Alcoholics Anonymous history is relevant to the history of Narcotics Anonymous but we will not re-hash it at length here.  Without AA, there would be no NA.

The Grapevine

The Big Book

In 1939 AA published its Big Book and years later Bill W. (co-founder Bill Wilson) published a series of articles in a periodical called The Grapevine (which still exists today).  These writings brought about the Twelve Traditions:

  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
  2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
  3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
  4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
  5. Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
  6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
  7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
  8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
  9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
  10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
  11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

The formation of AA and the development of the steps and traditions were necessary for the miracle of the formation of NA.

“In a 1954 article in The Saturday Evening Post there is mention of a recovering alcoholic named Houston S who received a job transfer to Kentucky in 1947.  Houston had sobered up in Montgomery, Alabama, AA in 1944.  One of the drunks he tried to help, a man called Harry,was using morphine as well as alcohol.  Although Harry had stopped drinking, he was unable to stop using morphine.  He was eventually arrested and committed to Lexington for mandatory treatment.

When Houston was transferred to a town near Lexington, he was reminded of his friend Harry and his drug problem, and felt that the principles which worked so well for alcoholics in AA could help the addicts.  Houston met with the medical director, Dr. Victor Vogel, and suggested that the AA model may work for addicts as well, offering to help start a group.  On February 16, 1947, the Narco Group, a group of inmates and patients, met for the first time at the Federal Narcotics Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.  One of the addicts who attended these first meetings was an addict named Danny Carlsen” (p. 18).

Obituary for Daniel L. Carlsen

At the same time in 1946 in New York, Dorothy Berry, a brigadier in The  Salvation Army, started working with addicts.  Danny Carlsen, who had been attending meetings of the Narco Group in Lexington was discharged and returned to New York.

In 1948 Danny Carlsen, Dorothy Berry, and Rae Lopez started a group in the NYC Prison System called Narcotics Anonymous.  Danny Carlsen eventually wrote a book called The Addict.

The first meeting outside of a prison took place in 1950 at a YMCA in New York City.  The group developed 13 Steps of their own and never adopted the Traditions:

1. Admit the use of narcotics made my life seem more tolerable but the drug had become an undesirable power over my life.

2. Came to realize that to face life without drugs I must develop an inner strength.

3. Made a decision to face the suffering of withdrawal.

4. Learn to accept my fears without drugs.

5. Find someone who had progressed thus far and who is able to assist me.

6. Admit to the nature and depth of my addiction.

7. Realized the seriousness of my shortcomings as I know them and accept the responsibility of facing them.

8. Admit before a group of NA members these same shortcomings and explain why I am trying to overcome them.

9. List for my own understanding all the persons I have hurt.

10. Take a daily inventory of my actions and admit to myself those that are contrary to good conscience.

11. Realize that to maintain freedom from drugs, I must share with others the experience in which I have benefited.

12. Determine a purpose in life and try with all the spiritual and physical power within me to move toward its fulfillment.

13. God help me.

The book The Junkie Priest was based on Father Daniel Egan, a NYC priest, who served as chaplain for these NA meetings

The group’s structure was similar to that of the Salvation Army.  There was a captain, director, and a chaplain (p. 19).  Besides detoxifying addicts they also worked to find addicts jbs and housing.  This version of NA survived until 1960 in locales where it could be sponsored by the Salvation Army.

The Early Years

Most people in the 1950s were enjoying the postwar boom years, listening to Elvis, watching the tv (a new invention), and living the American Dream.

The “Beat Generation” was a growing group of underground radicals who were anti-authoritarian and were characterized by their use of marijuana and methamphetamines.  They set the stage for the revolution of the youth in the 60s.

“Writers like Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg, reacting against the growing surge of consumer capitalism in the U.S., would set the tone for a later generation’s call to “turn on, tune in, and drop out” (p.21).

In 1951 the Boggs Act and in 1956 the Narcotics Control Act imposed harsher penalties on addicts.

A mass migration of African-Americans from the Southern U.S. and Hispanics from Puerto Rico, the Carribbean Islands, and Central and S. America to northern and western cities occured after WW2. As European immigrants were moving out of the cities, Hispanics and African-Americans were moving in.  They moved into areas with preexisting problems with narcotics addiction and trafficking.  I emphasize preexisting so that no one will misunderstand the true nature of how African-Americans and Hispanics began to get such a bad rap and how wrong it is to assume that they are the problem.  They began replacing the European addict statistically (p. 21).  “Thus, the continuing stigmatization of addicts and their drugs of abuse now even further reflected class and ethnic biases within the community” (p. 21).

Fear of marijuana began in the 30s with movies like Reefer Madness.  People were told that

1936 film Reefer Madness, originally called Tell Your Children

marijuana use would certainly lead to heroin use.  Few measures were taken to treat the increasing use of heroin in post-WW2 America.  For example, Riverside Hospital for adolescent addicts was opened in New York.  It quickly closed after a study showing that less than 3% were abstinent.  This 3% were never even addicted in the first place.  They had been arrested on narcotics charges and chose hospitalization (p. 23).

AA was flourishing on the sidelines and alcoholics were finding sobriety and new lives and recovery in the rooms.  “It was through the hope that was at last being found by the suffering alcoholic that similar hope for addicts would begin to appear” (p. 23).

We Do Recover: Part 1

The following is inspired by the book Miracles Happen: The Birth of Narcotics Anonymous in Words and Pictures released by Narcotics Anonymous World Services.  Some of the content has been researched and added by the author.

Jimmy K

Incorporated in Chatsworth, California.  The photos in the book will be hard to reproduce but I will try my best to convey the overall feel of the literature as best I can.

The book is dedicated to the memory of Jimmy K.  “His tireless efforts in the early years of our formulation and growth laid the foundation for our movement (p. 7).”

Old pill bottles

Introduction

There seems to be this alternative: either go on as best we can to the bitter ends – jails, institutions or death – or find a new way to live.  In years gone by, very few addicts ever had this last choice.Little White Book

In 2007, there were over 25,065 groups holding over 43,900 weekly meetings in 127 countries.  The improbability of such a movement makes the existence of this God-given program an absolute miracle in the lives of suffering addicts.  There was a time in history when there were none to very few options for addicts who wanted to get clean.  Addiction itself, was a crime.  There was a time when it was illegal for addicts to meet together.  The “truth” about an addict was this: “Once an addict always an addict”.

Drug Use Before and In the Twentieth Century

Drug use has been around probably as long as humans have been around.  It has been used for medicinal purposes, for religious rites and practices, and for recreational purposes.

Wine was used at least from the time of the early Egyptians; narcotics from 4000 B.C.; and medicinal use of marijuana has been dated to 2737 B.C. in China. But not until the 19th cent. A.D. were the active substances in drugs extracted (FactMonster.com).

Ancient paraphernalia (Drug Kit)

Andean mummy hair has provided the first direct archaeological evidence of the consumption of hallucinogens in pre-Hispanic Andean populations, according to recent gas chromatography and mass spectrometry analysis.  Indirect evidence for psychoactive drug use in South America’s ancient populations abound, ranging from the discovery of drug equipment to the identification of hallucinogenic herb residuals in snuffing kits.

In Europe, Swiss Alchemist Paracelsus invented laudanum (opium dissolved into liquid form) in 1541.  It became a widespread curative potion.

Hmmmmmm.......

The use of opium became epidemic in 19th century Europe and in America.  It was commonly used in children’s medicine with cute labels such as “Godfrey’s Cordial”, “Munn’s Elixir”, and get this….”Mother Bailey’s Quieting Syrup” (p. 10).

In 1803, a German pharmacist by the name of F. W. Serturner successfully isolated the active ingredient in opium: Morphine.  Morpheus is the Greek God of sleep and dreams.  This is Morphine’s namesake.  The hypodermic was not invented for about another 40 years (p. 10).  The drug was effective and thought to be harmless.  It’s peak use was during the Civil War in which it is estimated that 400,000 morphine addicts were created in the army alone.

Old ad for morphine: apparently accepted for use as a teething aid

We now had patent medicines such as “Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup”, “Darby’s Carminative”, and “Ayer’s Cheery Pectorial” (p. 10).  They were particularly popular with older white women from middle and upper classes.  In 1900 there were an estimated 300,000 opiate-dependent people in the U.S.  At this point the affliction was looked upon with sympathy.  When immigrant’s began to have the same addiction issues these views rapidly changed.  Urban tenements and slums developed, poverty increased and so the poor more often turned to alcohol and narcotics.  Lower-class addicts brought the views on addiction to a new light and addiction was driven into criminality, dereliction, and hopeless despair (p. 10-11).

Criminalization of Addiction

Perhaps the earliest recorded example is the prohibition of the use of alcohol under Islamic law (Sharia), which is usually attributed to passages in the Qur’an dating from the 7th century.

Religious intolerance was a motivation for drug prohibition in Christian Europe. In a move interpreted as support for the efforts of the Spanish Inquisition against the Arabs, in a 1484 fiat Pope Innocent VIII banned the use of cannabis. The persecution of heretics in the form of witch hunts also gathered momentum around this time, and frequently targeted users of medicinal and hallucinogenic herbs. The Inquisition proceeded apace in Meso-America and South America, where peyote (péyotl), ololiúqui, toloáche, teonanácatl and other sacred plants of the Mexican culture were prohibited as works of the devil.

The first law outright prohibiting the use of a specific drug in the United States was a San Francisco ordinance which banned the smoking of opium in opium dens in 1875.  Even though the law prohibited the trafficking of opium, laudanum and other tinctures were allowed to persist in medicinal form.  The distinction between its use by white Americans and Chinese immigrants was thus based on the form in which it was ingested: Chinese immigrants tended to smoke it, while it was often included in various kinds of generally liquid medicines often (but not exclusively) used by people of European descent. The laws targeted opium smoking, but not other methods of ingestion.  This was followed by the Harrison Act, passed in 1914, which required sellers of opiates and cocaine to get a license. While originally intended to require paper trails of drug transactions between doctors, drug stores, and patients, it soon became a prohibitive law.  In 1919, the Supreme Court ruled in Doremus that the Harrison Act was constitutional and in Webb that physicians could not prescribe narcotics solely for maintenance.

Then, of course, we had the Prohibition on alcohol.  Most of us know this story so here is a link if you would like to learn more: Prohibition of Alcohol.

In 1936 the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) noticed an increase of reports of people smoking marijuana, which further increased in 1937. The Bureau drafted a legislative plan for Congress, seeking a new law and the head of the FBN, Harry J. Anslinger, ran a smear campaign against marijuana.  During this particular time frame, the media was swarmed with propaganda regarding the effects of marijuana.

Marijuana Propaganda

Marijuana Propaganda

Marijuana Propaganda

In 1972, United States President Richard Nixon announced the commencement of the so-called “War on Drugs.” Later, President Reagan added the position of drug czar to the President’s Executive Office.

In 1973, New York State introduced mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years to life imprisonment for possession of more than four ounces (113g) of a so-called hard drug, called the Rockefeller drug laws after New York Governor and later Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. Similar laws were introduced across the United States.

California’s broader ‘three strikes and you’re out‘ policy adopted in 1994 was the first mandatory sentencing policy to gain widespread publicity and was subsequently adopted in most United States jurisdictions. This policy mandates life imprisonment for a third criminal conviction of any felony offense.

After the Harrison Act courts refused to define addiction as a disease.  Addicts were driven underground and were subjected to street violence, diseases, arrests, convictions, and incarcerations.  Dispensing clinics were opened.  in 1919 thirteen municipalities had 44 opiate dispensing clinics aimed at detox or opium maintenance.  The government perceived these as a threat and had them all closed by 1924 (p. 12).  There was another increase in crime.  In 1929 Congress adopted The Porter Act.  Treatment facilities were established finally for addicts.  One was in Lexington, Kentucky and the other was in Fort Worth, Texas.  These were operational in the 30’s.

Lexington, Kentucky

Fort Worth

In the early years they primarily served as prison hospitals for convicted addicts.  Those who entered voluntarily were detoxified.  Treatment included “sweating it out” with hard work on the farm in Kentucky.

We now have employee assistance programs, hospital and residential-based treatment, and 12 step fellowships.  In the 30s and 40s doctors were threatened into not only stopping treatment of addicts but also into reporting them to authorities (p. 13).

William Burroughs' Junkie allows a peak into the limited treatment options available to addicts

At one point it was illegal for any two addicts to be seen together.  Addicts went even further underground where drugs were bought on the black market and the street or to complain of the “right symptoms” to doctors in order to satisfy their needs.

After WW2 addicts were put into two general categories: those addicted to pills, sedatives, barbiturates, laudanum, Demerol, etc.; and “dope fiends”.  The second category more often needed to obtain their drugs through illicit means (p. 16).

Searches, harassment, and incarceration were normal parts of everyday life.  Addicts and doctors who attempted to help them were seen as criminals.  These are the truths of an addict from this time.  We may not fully understand the words spoken by Jimmy K, that very few addicts DID have a choice like we have found today in Narcotics Anonymous.