The Least Secretive Life

The following is an excerpt from The Forgiveness Tour: How To Find the Perfect Apology by Susan Shapiro.

After our volatile six-month estrangement, Dr. Winters emailed to see if he could apologize in person. I refused to meet at his office. An addiction specialist, he saw evening patients on his visits to New York. So I suggested a drink at a café between my home and his work, on Tuesday at 10 p.m.

When the seminar I ran at my apartment ended at nine, I was edgy. I took a shower, as if to cleanse away a hundred and eighty days of sadness. I feared I’d be pathetically early, waiting an hour; he was always late. He was the father figure who’d helped me with my sobriety, marriage and work. It was the longest I hadn’t seen him in fifteen years.

“With all that Pluto, just thank God you were betrayed by your shrink and not your husband,” my Jungian astrologer said. I didn’t feel thankful, reliving the shock I’d felt six months before, catching my student Haley leaving his office. I repainted my face and put on a black sweater, black boots, and black pants, funeral attire. The upside to my severed link with Winters was that I hadn’t regained the thirteen pounds I’d lost. But what I used to call “the breakup diet” seemed less cute at this age, accompanied by a breakdown.

Walking to the restaurant, I rehearsed telling him how his lies about treating Haley – after he’d promised not to – had infiltrated my nightmares. I kept checking my watch, paranoia lurking. Vatsal, the psychiatrist I’d tried, felt there was something I couldn’t see that would unlock the mystery of what happened. I hated mysteries. But Vatsal warned me not to expect a reconciliatory “Rolls-Royce of endings.” What would be the most defective lemon on the lot? Arriving to find Dr. Winters sitting at a table with Haley, running her fingers through her fiery red hair.

Turning the corner on West 9th Street, I caught his silhouette. He was waiting outside, typing on his BlackBerry. For the first time ever, he was early. By himself. His brown bomber jacket reminded me of a favorite picture of my real father as a teenager on the Lower East Side, in his dusty leather jacket, looking like an old-time gangster. Winters seemed thinner, almost gaunt, his hair shorter. He saw me and clicked off his device, nodding.

We headed wordlessly inside the Italian bistro I frequented. Martino, the charming owner, double kissed me. I didn’t introduce them. Who would I say Winters was? He wasn’t my friend. “Former therapist” would sting, like saying “ex-husband” fresh from signing divorce papers. I asked for a table in the back room, which was empty. I was guarded, Ingrid Bergman in an old spy movie. This public meeting with him felt illicit, like something terrible could happen any second. I flashed to all the mobsters who’d shot each other in restaurants.

We sat down, took off our jackets as the waiter brought menus and little glasses of water. I sipped slowly, simmering. In therapy, I’d spill everything the second I sat down. Now I stayed silent.

“I’m sorry I hurt you.” He fidgeted with his napkin. His tone was genuine, regretful.

Gripping my glass, I took another sip. “Traumatized me,” I corrected, crunching ice.

“I didn’t mean to.” He drank his water.

If there were four parts to a good apology, he’d hit a double: #1 acknowledging the offense and #3 expressing remorse. I longed for #2, the explanation. I looked up to scan his eyes. What couldn’t I see?

“I’ve lived through more emotional cycles with you than anyone in my life,” I confessed, stealing Vatsal’s theory. “I needed you, loved you, idolized you, hated you, killed you off, mourned you, and now you’re resurrecting.”

“How Catholic of us,” he said.

Especially for a Jew and a WASP, I thought, suppressing the urge to scrawl that down, the way I recorded intriguing lines he’d say during our sessions.

“So what’s going on with you?” I crossed my legs to appear casual, pretending my sanity hadn’t been at stake.

“I’m seeing my mother next month. At a nursing home in Texas. She had a stroke.”

That totally threw me. He’d once mentioned that he hadn’t seen his ninety-year-old alcoholic mom in decades. He looked vulnerable, a battered little boy. A ploy for sympathy? It was working. At least he wasn’t small-talking me.

“You must have mixed feelings about that reunion.” I sounded like him.

“That’s the understatement of the century.” He smiled.

Sinatra’s I’ve Got You Under My Skin played. Winters ordered a Diet Coke. I craved a vodka tonic, joint, and a cigarette. I chose Chamomile tea with honey. 

“Can you turn the music down?” I asked the waiter. 

“You’re such a New Yorker,” Winters commented.

What did that mean? In Arizona where he’d moved they tolerated loud music getting in the way? The waiter brought our drinks. I spooned honey into my mug.

He watched me, then commented, “You’re using too much.”

How rude. Then I realized we’d never been in a restaurant together. In fifteen years, we’d discussed substance abuse in his office, analyzing my smoking, eating, toking and drinking habits ad nauseum. Yet he’d never actually seen me smoke, toke, eat, or drink.

“How’s Aaron?” he asked.

Enraged at you, I didn’t say. He had to save me from you. “Good. How’s your wife?”

I’d never met Claudia, a therapist for cancer patients. She ran a charity in Arizona, where they’d relocated after their Battery Park brownstone was ruined on 9/11. She’d sounded like a fearless crusader. A year ago he’d mentioned, in passing, that she’d needed minor surgery to remove a benign tumor. When I’d asked over the summer, he said she was expected to make a full recovery.

“She’s not well,” he said now, his voice cracking.

I leaned forward. “What happened?”

“It was malignant. She needed neurosurgery. There was nerve damage.”

“What does that mean?” I was alarmed. “Is she in the hospital?”

“No, she’s recovering at home. But she’s half-deaf, can’t drive, work, fly, or walk without a cane. They don’t know if she’ll improve.”

“Oh no. I had no idea.”

This was what I couldn’t see! Hearing the sadness in his voice erased my anger, his eyes no longer menacing, just agonized.

“They sent me a $50,000 hospital bill the insurance didn’t cover,” he added.

“Why didn’t you just tell me your wife was sick?” If he’d said he was treating Haley and any patient who called him to pay medical bills, I would have understood. And recommended him to others. It was his deception that unnerved me.

“It was hard for me tell anyone for a while.” I’d never seen him look so stressed. “She’s very private. Maybe I was in denial that I couldn’t keep working.”

What I hadn’t known was that behind his healing façade, his life was falling apart. Here was #2, the explanation for his behavior. If my husband was seriously ill, I doubted I could keep working. Still, a spouse’s illness didn’t immediately exonerate everything. He should have trusted me with the truth.

“Why not email me that you had medical issues? Or personal problems?” I asked. After fifteen years, didn’t he owe me that?

“They said she was dying and there was nothing we could do. I regressed back to the nightmare of my childhood, shattering the illusion that the world was safe,” he said. “I lost my home, sanctuary, city. I was scared I’d lose my wife. I couldn’t fix her or protect my family.”

The Jewish guilt toward my Protestant shrink ricocheted. How unfair he’d had to leave his native city in the aftermath of the World Trade Center catastrophe, to have his Arizona life upended too. I irrationally worried he’d given me all of his wisdom and magical powers but didn’t keep enough for himself.

I drank my tea, resisting the urge for more honey. “The cancer didn’t spread?”

“No. The surgeon who operated said it was a miracle they were able to get the whole tumor. But she may not recover any further.”

“How’s your daughter handling it?” I recalled his only girl was thirteen.

“Kathy was diagnosed with chronic lung disease. She needs treatment too.”

His entire family was sick. How horrible. He was like Job. “I’m so sorry,” I told him. 

The way he’d acted had nothing to do with me. He morphed from mean monster into a healer too overcome with grief to focus on work. I wanted to apologize for not knowing, to reach for his hand to comfort him. But physical contact was the one boundary we never broke.

Exchanging the words “I’m sorry” with him made me feel lighter. The unbearable burden of believing he’d intentionally hurt me lifted.

“Hating you screwed up my senses,” I said. “It felt like my blood was clogging my veins.”

“I’m glad you had Aaron to talk to,” he told me. 

“It was hard for him to leave you that phone message telling you to stop contacting me,” I conceded, recalling the heated exchange six months earlier.

“What message? I never got it.”

Of course he had. He’d responded by emailing, “So your husband speaks for you now?” I’d been so astonished, I’d printed it out for proof. But I saw he’d really forgotten. It was a different kind of heartache, like catching the initial sign of a parent’s dementia. For the first time, I felt older, stronger, clearer than him.

“You’ve been through hell.” I mirrored his feelings, his therapist.

“I feel like I lost the whole year,” he said.

In the months without him, I’d confided much more to my husband. Yet there were secrets I’d rather share with a therapist, like the details of my insatiable addictions. And how upset I remained that he’d chosen Haley’s feelings over mine. If this was our last meeting, I didn’t want to fake it or leave anything unsaid.

“It still bothers me you’re treating my student after I told you she was stalking me,” I admitted.

“I’m not.”

“Not at all?” I hated that this still mattered so much. I could hear him saying, “Susan, everything is too important to you.” 

“I haven’t seen her in five months.”

I was confused. I’d pictured them Skyping daily, in harmony and constant touch, the way he and I had been.

“It was a mistake,” Winters conceded.

This update seemed game-changing. Because I won the contest I hadn’t wanted to play?

“You’ll have no contact with Haley?”

That was #4, the reparation: He was here with me, admitting I was right, cutting her out of the picture she never belonged in.

“I will not see or speak to Haley again,” he said.

I was elated that Haley was out. But wait! I wasn’t back in. This was the conclusion Vatsal said was too dangerous to hope for. Only now I didn’t want a Rolls-Royce ending; I wanted Daniel’s pain to end and his family to heal. He looked worn down. He needed this debacle to go away as much as I did. But why?

“Are you doing this to shut me up?” I asked.

“Yes! Shut the hell up already!” he said.

We laughed. But then I feared it was true. “You really just want to quiet me down?” 

“Things co-exist,” he said. “I don’t want you upset anymore. I want this bad blood finished.”

It was. It occurred to me that talking about our rift to my husband and others we knew in common—”leading the least secret life,” as he’d instructed, pushed him towards this apology. His advice saved me from him.

“Anything else?” the waiter asked. We shook our heads.

I wasn’t ready to bid Daniel goodbye forever. He was the mentor who’d seen me clearest. For years we’d ended each talk by confirming our following session. Now everything was altered. Cutting him off while angry kept us entwined; hatred was easier. Letting go of my wrath, I’d have to deal with how much I missed the good Dr. Winters and move on, without him. I felt grateful that he’d given me a complete apology. He’d offered valid acknowledgment of the offense. Explanation for why it occurred. Sincere expression of remorse. Reparation ensuring it wouldn’t happen again.

Yet mending our broken bond was still complicated. The real problem with forgiving: what comes next? 

“How are you feeling now?” He wrestled the shrink reins back.

“My mind is racing. I keep coming up with different subtexts for what happened,” I said.

“Like what?”

“You scheduled Haley right before me, then ran late so I’d catch you lying. You felt guilty. So having me see her leave your office was a way to get out of the deception,” I tried. “You alienated me, expecting me to cut you off, like your mother did. Then you apologized and wanted a reunion, knowing I’d forgive you.”

“How would I know that?”

“Because you know me. And unlike your mom, I’m not a raging alcoholic. You fixed my addictions, the way you couldn’t fix hers,” I said, wishing we could go on talking, start over. Anything but end. “I read over the pages of the addiction book we worked on. It’s not bad. Maybe we should finish it.”

“We should.” His eyes lit up, like it was the best idea anyone ever had.

It was like a married couple, seconds away from divorce, deciding to give it another shot.

The waiter brought the check. I looked at my watch. Our fifty minutes was up. I let him pay this time.

 

In her entrancing, heartfelt new memoir The Forgiveness Tour: How to Find the Perfect Apology, Shapiro wrestles with  how to exonerate someone who can’t cough up a measly “my bad” or mumble “mea culpa.” Seeking wisdom, she explores the billion-dollar Forgiveness Industry touting the personal benefits of absolution, where the only choice on every channel is: radical forgiveness. She fears it’s all bullshit.  Available at Amazon.

By: Susan Shapiro
Title: The Least Secretive Life
Sourced From: www.thefix.com/least-secretive-life
Published Date: Tue, 19 Jan 2021 07:06:30 +0000

At New Horizon Drug Rehab, we understand addiction. If you or a family member are afflicted with addiction or substance abuse we can help. We work with the top centers throughout the US to provide the best detox and addiction treatments available.

Call Now: (877) 747-9974

The Top 10 Drug Policy Stories of 2020

A pandemic, civil unrest, national elections—2020 has been a year of tumult that couldn’t be done with soon enough. But when it comes to drug policy, it wasn’t all bad; in fact, it was a pretty good year, with several drug reform initiatives getting approved. Here’s a roundup of the biggest drug policy stories of 2020.

1. How the Pandemic Is Affecting Drug Use and Drug Policy

Just as it has infiltrated every aspect of American life, the effect of the coronavirus pandemic has been felt in the world of drugs and drug policy. Social distancing requirements early in the pandemic—when many drug reform initiative campaigns were in the midst of signature-gathering drives—proved particularly lethal to marijuana legalization efforts in the heartland as initiative campaigns in Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Oklahoma all succumbed. It also helped end a Washington state drug decriminalization campaign, with organizers there opting instead to go the legislative route.

Amidst the layoffs, shutdowns, and social distancing imposed due to the pandemic, drug use jumped. In July, the specialty laboratory Millennium Health reported that its analysis of more than half a million urine drug test results found large increases in the use of four illicit drugs during the coronavirus pandemic. Since March, when the pandemic was declared “a national emergency,” the lab found a 32 percent increase for non-prescribed fentanyl, a 20 percent increase for methamphetamine, a 10 percent increase for cocaine, and a 12.5 percent increase for heroin. In September, another study by Millennium Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “found that drug test positivity rates for cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine have increased nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The study was based “on urine drug test results from 150,000 patients between Nov. 14 and July 10,” said a Times of San Diego article. The pandemic almost certainly also has had an impact on fatal drug overdoses (see below).

One of the most striking impacts of the pandemic has been on policing. Early on, big cities began to forgo drug arrests and prosecutions as a discretionary luxury they could no longer afford as they struggled with the coronavirus. In Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Chicago, police or prosecutors announced they would not arrest or would not prosecute small-time drug possession cases. In March, prosecutors from more than 30 cities, including Baltimore, New York, San Francisco, and St. Louis, signed on to an open letter urging local governments to make a change in the face of COVID-19. They called for police to “[a]dopt cite and release policies for offenses which pose no immediate physical threat to the community, including simple possession of controlled substances.” They also called for the release of people being held solely because they can’t come up with cash bail and for reducing jail and prison populations “to promote the health and safety of staff, those incarcerated, and visitors.” These were not intended as permanent moves, but perhaps politicians, police and prosecutors will take the opportunity to break their addiction to punishing drug users and sellers by going cold turkey amidst the pandemic.

Advocates for marijuana legalization folded the pandemic into their arguments for ending federal marijuana prohibition. More than 30 state attorneys general cited the pandemic in calling for Congress to pass the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would allow state-legal marijuana businesses to gain access to banking and financial services. The House Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act coronavirus relief bill, passed in May, included a handful of criminal justice and drug policy reforms, mostly aimed at reducing the prison population during the pandemic, but also included language in support of allowing marijuana businesses to have access to the banking system.

COVID-19 was also cited as making it even more imperative to pass the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 3884). Over the summer, as the pandemic simmered, a coalition of justice and drug reform groups, collectively known as Marijuana Justice Coalition, called on Congress to pass the bill, arguing that legalization was especially urgent in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests over police brutality. Given the current situation, “marijuana reform as a modest first step at chipping away at the war on drugs is more relevant and more pressing than ever before,” the coalition wrote in a letter to Congress, according to Marijuana Moment. That was followed by an even broader assemblage of 125 religious, human rights, and drug reform groups calling for passage of the bill. “[T]he circumstances of 2020 have made the failed War on Drugs even more untenable and amplified the voices of those demanding transformation in our criminal legal system. In the face of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and a growing national dialogue on unjust law enforcement practices, marijuana reform as a modest first step at chipping away at the War on Drugs is more relevant and more pressing than ever before. The MORE Act remains the most effective and equitable way forward,” the groups said. The MORE Act passed in December.

2. The Uprising Against Police Violence and Racism Leads Efforts to End Unjust No-Knock Warrants

It all started with the release of a video of George Floyd dying under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer over an alleged minuscule offense in May, but as people took to the streets all over the country, the name Breonna Taylor also loomed large. The 26-year-old Black EMT was gunned down by Louisville police in a misbegotten “no-knock” drug raid (it might be more accurate to call them “home invasion raids”) in March, and her killing not only powered months of street demonstrations in her hometown, but it also engendered howls of outrage and promises of reform from politicians around the land. And it brought heightened scrutiny to business as usual in the war on drugs.

As the streets overflowed with protesters in May, nearly four dozen members of Congress called for an independent investigation of the raid, calling Taylor’s death “an unspeakable tragedy that requires immediate answers and accountability,” according to a letter sent by the members of Congress. That was followed by a bevy of bills in Congress, including the Justice in Policing Act, which would ban no-knock warrants in federal drug cases. House Democrats pushed the bill through in three weeks in June. Republicans in the Senate responded with Senator Tim Scott’s Justice Act, which wouldn’t ban no-knock raids, but would increase federal reporting requirements for no-knock raids and use of force. But the GOP bill never moved in Senator Mitch McConnell’s Senate. As with so many measures passed by the House, McConnell’s domain was where a congressional response to the crisis went to die.

But some states and localities actually enacted laws or ordinances aimed at reining in no-knocks. The Louisville metro council banned no-knock search warrants by unanimously passing “Breonna’s Law” in June. Other cities, including IndianapolisMemphisMinneapolisSan Antonio, and Santa Fe, moved to either restrict or ban no-knocks. And while several states saw efforts to join Oregon and Florida as the only two states that banned no-knock warrants before Taylor’s death, the only state where recent efforts have come to fruition so far is in Virginia, where Governor Ralph Northam (D) signed into law House Bill 5099, which bars police from breaking into a home or business to conduct a raid without first announcing their presence.

3. In a Historic Move, the House Votes to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

Breaking almost entirely along party lines, the House voted to approve the MORE Act on December 4. The MORE Act would effectively end federal pot prohibition by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act’s list of scheduled substances and eliminating federal criminal penalties for its possession, cultivation and sale. The bill would not affect state laws that criminalize marijuana, but it would end the conflict between states that have already legalized marijuana and federal law.

The bill also includes strong social equity provisions, including the creation of a fund to support programs and services for communities devastated by the war on drugs, a provision for expungement of past federal marijuana offenses, and a provision that bars the federal government from discriminating against people for marijuana use. The latter would protect immigrants from being deported for past marijuana convictions and would ensure that earned benefits are not denied to marijuana users. The historic vote marks the first time either chamber of Congress has voted for legalization. But there was virtually no chance that the Republican-led Senate would have taken up—let alone approved—the measure in the remaining days of the last session, meaning this is a battle that will continue in the next Congress.

4. Psychedelic Drug Law Reform Wins

Denver made history in May 2019 by becoming the first city in the United states to effectively decriminalize a psychedelic drug—psilocybin-bearing magic mushrooms—and as a psychedelic reform movement spread across the land, 2020 saw other important advances. As the year went on, three more cities—Ann Arbor, Oakland, and Santa Cruz—passed similar ordinances, and on Election Day, voters in Oregon approved the groundbreaking Measure 109, the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, with 56 percent of the vote. It will create a program to allow the administration of psilocybin products, such as magic mushrooms, to adults 21 and over, for therapeutic purposes. People will be allowed to buy, possess, and consume psilocybin at a psilocybin services center, but only after undergoing a preparation session and under the supervision of a psilocybin service facilitator.

And on the East Coast, Washington, D.C., voters approved Initiative 81, the Entheogenic Plant and Fungi Policy Act of 2020, with 76 percent of the vote. The measure will have police treat natural plant medicines (entheogens) as their lowest law enforcement priority. The measure also asks the city’s top prosecutor and its U.S. attorney not to prosecute such cases. This string of psychedelic reform victories has generated momentum that is likely to result in more pushes in more places in 2021 and beyond. Since Election Day, activists in San Francisco and Washington state have announced plans for decriminalization, New Jersey state Senator Teresa Ruiz (D) has filed a bill to downgrade the offense of magic mushroom possession, and California state Senator Scott Wiener (D) has announced he plans to file a bill that would decriminalize the possession of psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelics.

5. Oregon Decriminalizes Drugs

With the passage by voters of Measure 110, the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act, Oregon broke new ground by becoming the first state to decriminalize the possession of personal use amounts of all drugs, including cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. The quantities decriminalized are up to 1 gram of heroin, up to 1 gram or five pills of MDMA, up to 2 grams of methamphetamine, up to 40 units of LSD, up to 12 grams of psilocybin, up to 40 units of methadone, up to 40 pills of oxycodone, and up to 2 grams of cocaine. That’s thousands of drug arrests that now will not occur in Oregon—and Oregon can set an example for other states to follow.

6. Red state or Blue state, Voters Choose Legal Marijuana When Given the Chance

The November election saw marijuana legalization on the ballot in four states and medical marijuana on the ballot in two states. They all won. Evenly-divided Arizona saw Proposition 207: The Smart and Safe Arizona Act cruising to victory with 60 percent of the vote, while in blue New Jersey, Public Question 1 garnered a resounding 67 percent of the vote. But the really surprising results were in two red states: In Montana, Constitutional Initiative 118 and its companion Initiative 190 won with 58 percent and 57 percent of the vote, respectively, while in South Dakota, Constitutional Amendment A won with 54 percent of the vote. Both those states are red states, with Trump taking 57 percent of the vote in Montana and 62 percent in South Dakota. It was the same story with medical marijuana, as Mississippi approved Initiative 65 with 74 percent of the vote, while South Dakota’s Measure 26 won with 70 percent of the vote. Marijuana for adult use is now legal in 15 states and medical marijuana is now legal in 35 (plus D.C.).

7. Progressive Prosecutors Win

The November 3 elections didn’t just end the reign of Donald Trump and bring drug reform victories at the state level; they also ushered in a new crop of progressive prosecutors who will have the ability to affect the conduct of the war on drugs at the local level. Led by George Gascón, who was elected prosecutor of the nation’s most populous county, Los Angeles county, and running on progressive platforms that included confronting police misconduct, ramping down the war on drugs, and shrinking prison populations, progressives won prosecutor races in Detroit (Oakland county)Orlando (Orange and Osceola counties), and two large Colorado districts long held by Republicans. Progressives didn’t win everywhere they ran, but the shift from “law and order” district attorneys toward progressives that began with Kim Foxx in Chicago and Larry Krasner in Philadelphia really gathered momentum in 2020.

8. A Tough Year for Safe Injection Sites

Safe injection sites (also called supervised injection facilities or supervised consumption services) are a proven harm reduction intervention with 120 in operation in 10 countries around the world, but no legal ones are operating in the United states. It looked like that would change in 2020, but it didn’t. A proposed site in Philadelphia got the final go-ahead from a federal judge in February, but the local U.S. attorney then tried to block the facility’s opening, with a hearing on the earlier stay held in October and the decision from the bench still pending. Things were also looking good in San Francisco after the board of supervisors okayed a pilot program in June, but the state-level bill that would have allowed the city to proceed, Assembly Bill 362, died in the Senate after passing the Assembly. A similar fate befell a Massachusetts safe injection site bill, House Bill 4723, which managed to win a committee vote but then stalled. Maybe there will be gains for this harm reduction method in 2021.

9. Asset Forfeiture Reforms

Asset forfeiture, especially civil asset forfeiture (without a criminal conviction), is increasingly unpopular, with 35 states and the District of Columbia approving reforms between 2014 and 2019. A September poll by YouGov found that only 26 percent support allowing police to seize cash or property from someone without a criminal conviction. According to a Forbes article, “59 percent of Americans oppose ‘allowing law enforcement agencies to use forfeited property or its proceeds for their own use.’ … Opposition to equitable sharing [a federal program that allows state and local police to evade state laws against civil asset forfeiture] was even higher, with 70 percent against the program.”

Here are some reasons why: In March, in Georgia, the department of revenue got caught spending millions of dollars in seized cash on “engraved firearms, pricey gym equipment, clothing, personal items, even $130 sunglasses.” That same month, in Michigan, Macomb county prosecutor Eric Smith was hit with a slew of criminal charges for allegedly taking funds seized from drug and other suspects for his own personal use, including “a personal security system for his house, country club parties, campaign expenses and to buy flowers and make-up for his secretaries.” In July, in Chicago, the city agreed to a $5 million payout to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by two people whose vehicle was seized after a passenger was arrested for marijuana possession. The settlement will apply to hundreds of other cases where drivers had their vehicles impounded as part of drug cases. Also in Michigan, the Wayne county Sheriff’s office faces a similar lawsuit for seizing thousands of cars and other property belonging to residents without criminal convictions.

Such abuses helped New Jersey become the 16th asset forfeiture reform state when Governor Phil Murphy (D) signed into law a bill mandating comprehensive disclosure and transparency requirements for the system of civil asset forfeiture in January. Unfortunately, the few remaining non-reform states are tough nuts to crack, as we saw with reform bills killed in ArizonaGeorgiaKentucky, and Tennessee. But, at least Tyson Timbs, the Indiana man whose seized Land Rover resulted in a 2019 Supreme Court decision scaling back civil asset forfeiture, finally got his Land Rover back—six years after it was seized over a drug bust.

10. America Keeps ODing

Amidst all the death in the pandemic, the ongoing epidemic of drug overdose deaths got short shrift in 2020, but Americans are continuing to die by the tens of thousands. In July, the CDC reported preliminary data showing that after declining for the first time in decades in 2018, fatal ODs rose by 4.6 percent in 2019. There’s a lag in data for 2020, but initial reports suggested bad news ahead. As mentioned earlier, specialty laboratory Millennium Health reported in its July analysis of more than half a million urine drug tests that they found large increases in the use of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine during the pandemic. Also in July, the Washington Post reported that fatal ODs have jumped and keep jumping during the pandemic. The Post’s data showed overdose deaths up “18 percent in March, 29 percent in April and 42 percent in May.” The Post pointed to “continued isolationeconomic devastation and disruptions to the drug trade” as contributing factors. And in December, fears of rising overdose deaths got some confirmation, with the CDC reporting that in the 12-month period ending in May 2020, overdose deaths hit an all-time high of 81,000.

This article was produced by Drug Reporter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

By: Phillip Smith
Title: The Top 10 Drug Policy Stories of 2020
Sourced From: www.thefix.com/top-10-drug-policy-stories-2020
Published Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2021 10:01:26 +0000

At New Horizon Drug Rehab, we understand addiction. If you or a family member are afflicted with addiction or substance abuse we can help. We work with the top centers throughout the US to provide the best detox and addiction treatments available.

Call Now: (877) 747-9974

How Death Acceptance Can Help Relieve Your Anxiety

To date, more than half a million Americans have died from the novel coronavirus. That’s a shocking number, especially considering that most of the deaths have been in the past six months. It’s enough to send anyone into a spiral of fear and anxiety.

That’s why Geoff Thompson, PhD, program director for Sunshine Coast Health Centre in British Columbia, says accepting death can make it easier to deal with the grim news about the pandemic.

“Those who accept death have much better mental health than those who are afraid of it,” Thompson says.

Death as a Part of Life

Death is the one certainty in life. We’re all going to die at some point, and there is little we can do to control when or how. Coming to peace with that fact can alleviate a lot of stress during your life, and free you to focus on living life to the fullest while you can.

Thompson says that happiest and mentally healthiest people are often those who have a controlled sense of fear of death, which they come to through acceptance.

“This lack of fear doesn’t mean that they want to die or that they don’t care whether they live or die. Accepting death simply recognizes that death is a natural and expected part of existence,” he explains.

Death During the Pandemic

Under normal circumstances, it’s easy for many people to choose not to think about death. Absent a chronic or terminal illness in ourselves or a loved one, most of us would rather not think about our eventual demise.

However, the pandemic has upended this sense of comfort. With death and illness in the headlines every day, we’re constantly facing reminders about our own mortality.

“Fear of death is driving many anxieties during the pandemic,” Thompson says. “We feel dread when we worry about losing ourselves or families to infection, and this fear is so powerful that it drives our perceptions, choices, and actions.”

Fear of death is impacting the way that many of us act. In some cases, that’s warranted, but it’s also easy to go overboard. It’s important to check in with yourself and determine whether your decisions about school, work, and socializing are rooted in science, or have become based in fear.

Combating Fear of Death

The best way to reduce your fear of death is to live a meaningful life, Thompson says. It may sound cheesy or cliché to advise people to live their lives to the fullest, but the truth is that people who have meaning and quality in life are less likely to fear death, perhaps because they feel that they have done their best with the time they were afforded.

“Psychologists who study meaning and purpose tell us that those who are most afraid of death have not really felt alive during their lifetime,” Thompson says. “On the other hand, those who live full and productive lives typically do not let fear of death drive their choices.”

The pandemic is causing many people to reevaluate how fulfilled they are with their lives. Perhaps you’re one of the people who has discovered that you’re working too much, or are caught in the pursuit of ambitions that don’t actually bring you happiness. If you were to die during the pandemic, you might worry that you didn’t live your life how you really wanted to.

In that way, the pandemic, and the fear of death that accompanies it, brings a welcome opportunity for change. Although the death rates for COVID-19 are shocking, most of us will survive the pandemic in good health. However, your brush with death, even from afar, can have a big impact on how you live your life going forward.

Sunshine Coast Health Centre is a non 12-step drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in British Columbia. Learn more here.

By: The Fix staff
Title: How Death Acceptance Can Help Relieve Your Anxiety
Sourced From: www.thefix.com/how-death-acceptance-can-help-relieve-your-anxiety
Published Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2021 09:11:38 +0000

At New Horizon Drug Rehab, we understand addiction. If you or a family member are afflicted with addiction or substance abuse we can help. We work with the top centers throughout the US to provide the best detox and addiction treatments available.

Call Now: (877) 747-9974

In Memoriam: Bob Kaplan

I’m going to miss you.

My sponsor Bob Kaplan passed away last week, on January 1st. He was my sponsor of 22 years, and I loved him terribly.

Today would have been Bob’s 37th sober birthday. He lived 77 years, the same as my father. Bob was like a father to me, I was certainly closer to him than to my old man.

***

It took me three years of daily 12-step meetings to get 30 sober days in a row. I got 29 days three different times, but I just couldn’t get over the hump, and my eskimo Steve D. had all but had it with me. He and my sponsor at the time literally kicked me out of their 12-step group… And this was no ordinary group, there were legends there like Jack F. and Bob H., true old-time heroes to many in the 12-step community.

I know what you’re thinking, how can you be kicked out of a 12-step group?

But it was the most loving thing they could’ve done. They told me I needed to go to the Pacific Group because that’s where the sickest go to get help, but first I should go to AA Central Office and speak to the manager, a man named Harvey P. Harvey reminded me of an army general with a deep raspy voice. He was going to be my new sponsor.

God bless Harvey’s soul, he took one look at me and marched me into a back office.

“You’re not for me,” he said. “You’re for Bob.”

A man who looked old enough to be my father was sitting behind a desk, leaning back in his chair with his feet up and talking on the phone. He held up his finger as if to say, I’ll just be another moment, take a seat.

Then, out of nowhere, he started screaming at the person on the phone, and then hung up on him.

Now you have to understand what the last three years had been like for me. I had a sponsor who told me I had to change everything about myself if I wanted to stay sober. And now here was this guy sitting across from me undressing someone the exact same way I would have if I was angry. I was in shock.

After he hung up the phone, his face all red and a garden hose pumping generously through his forehead, he looked up at me. I spoke quickly before he could say anything.

“Will you be my sponsor?”

As excited as I’ve ever seen anyone, he stood up and screamed at the top of his lungs, “Oh yeah!”

I don’t remember anything else from that day, but I left there with a sense of hope. I could still be me and be sober. I didn’t have to be some goody-good.

A week later I got really sick and I called Bob in the morning to tell him I was going to the doctor.

He was afraid I was going to “med seek,” so he told me to skip the doctor and go to the pet store instead and to call him when I got there.

This is like 22 years ago so I hope I’m remembering this right, but when I called him, he told me to get something called amoxicillin. I grabbed a salesperson to help me and called Bob back when I had the medication.

He told me to take two pills every four hours until they were gone.

“You know, Bob, this is fish penicillin. For fish?” I said.

“Yeah, I know what it is,” he said.

“Bob, it’s got a skull and crossbones on the packaging and says ‘not for human consumption.’ I’m no genius, but doesn’t skull and crossbones mean poison?”

“Son, I’ve got 12 and a half years sober,” Bob said. “Take it, don’t take it, I don’t give a shit. But if you want to stay sober, do what I told you to do.”

Truth be told, I don’t know if I wanted to be sober for good back then, but I loved this guy already. He was nuts, but in the best possible way. I took the fish penicillin, and I got better right away, just like he said I would.

One day shortly after that, I was so newly sober and so crazy, I drove around and around in a parking garage for 15 minutes, looking for the exit. I was lost and I just started crying. So I called Bob. He got me out of that garage in 60 seconds.

We would speak every morning and meet up at meetings and then grab something to eat. Sometimes it was just the two of us, but most of the time my 12-step brothers and sisters joined us. Bob sponsored a ton of people, and his sponsees, old friends, and his magnificent wife Signe became our extended family.

He taught me everything, everything that’s important.

He taught me that when someone reaches out for help, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing or how you’re feeling… You just go!

I got that from him!

He would say, “there’s nothing to get, only to give.”

I got that from him!

One day I called Bob while he was at work and asked him to come see a house I wanted to buy. He left work to meet me and check out the house.

Walking through the house, he says: “You got a lotta fireplaces in this place, kid, how many you got?”

“Seven.”

“This house is huge, how many square feet you got here?”

I answered all his questions, giving him the details of this great house I’d found, speaking with pride and joy, the pride and joy you feel when somebody really gets you. Then he dropped the hammer.

“Single guy, nine months sober. Do I have this right?” He asked. I nodded.

“Get in the car, asshole, I’ll show you where you’re living. I can see you can’t be left unattended.”

I got in his car and left my car behind. I did what I was told, his will was stronger than mine. It always was.

We drove back to his condo in West Hollywood and he got on the phone with his real estate agent. I can still hear him saying, “Vita, come to my house and show my kid everything in the building… He needs a new place to live and can’t be left unattended.”

I picked a unit on the same floor as his.

Every night before bed, he came over in his pajamas, slippers, and bathrobe and hung out for an hour or so screaming at the game on television if we had sports on, and eating those super spicy vegetables in a jar that he loved.

The four years I lived in Bob’s building I don’t think a day went by where we didn’t see each other. I loved him, and I miss him very much.

In 2003 I had this crazy idea that I wanted to move to Malibu. The traffic and noise from the city were just too much for me.

When I told Bob I was going to buy a house in Malibu, he told me to rent for three months before I bought anything to see if I liked it.

“Bob, how is anybody going to not like living on the beach?” I remember saying to him.

“You’re an animal, rent for three months and if you like it you can get it.”

Again, he was right! I hated living on the beach. The wind and the noise, and whether your windows are open or closed, you always wake up in the morning with sand in your bed. (I still can’t figure out how that happens?)

Instead, I bought a house about a half mile from the ocean with the most gorgeous white-water views. It was everything I loved about Malibu without the hassle of being on the beach.

Bob was also right about being in a big house as a single guy. I was used to being in a small space and this new place was giant in comparison. I wasn’t comfortable there. It was too much for me, so I turned it into what would become a world-renowned treatment center and bought a two-bedroom cottage down the street that felt much better to me.

I was not a clinician, I didn’t have any healthcare experience, and I didn’t have an MBA. I had never even been to rehab.

But what I did have was very good training. Bob lived a life of service and he taught me how to do that — in a joyful way!

There are very few people who have actually been on a true 12-step call with their sponsor, where they visit someone they’ve never met before in hopes of helping them get sober. I was so lucky to have gotten to do this with Bob.

Bob and I were sitting at Central Office together when a call came in. He picked up the phone.

Now, the people who answer the phone at Central Office are supposed to find out where the caller is, then look in the directory and give them directions to the closest meeting.

That’s not what Bob did.

He looked at me and said, “Let’s go, Rich!” We got in his car and drove to the caller’s house.

After we parked, Bob turned off the car and grabbed my arm.

“I want you to find a chair and go to the corner of the room,” he said, serious as he’s ever been. “You’re not to draw any attention to yourself and you’re not to say a word. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” I said.

“I need him focusing on me and what I’m telling him. Not a word, okay?”

“Okay.”

I don’t remember exactly what he said but I was 110% present at the time and I hung on every word.

What I noticed was his command over the room.

I noticed the empathy.

I noticed the honesty.

I learned these things from Bob. Everything that truly matters, I learned from Bob.

***

Today, Bob’s doing just fine. Right now he’s eating breakfast with his wife Signe in heaven. She’s been gone 11 months and he hadn’t been the same since.

And like any good father, he made certain that we would all be okay too. Mark, William, Big Rich, Fat Rich, and all my other 12-step brothers and sisters will be fine because our sponsor showed us how to live the right way.

This man taught me everything, and although we’re all going to be okay, the world lost a genuine hero, a great man.

Thank you, Bob. Make certain you come get me to take me to the other side when it’s time.

I love you!
 

In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Bob’s memory to Three Square. Read Bob’s obituary here.

By: Richard Taite
Title: In Memoriam: Bob Kaplan
Sourced From: www.thefix.com/memoriam-bob-kaplan
Published Date: Fri, 08 Jan 2021 11:07:51 +0000

At New Horizon Drug Rehab, we understand addiction. If you or a family member are afflicted with addiction or substance abuse we can help. We work with the top centers throughout the US to provide the best detox and addiction treatments available.

Call Now: (877) 747-9974

What’s Existential Anxiety?

What’s the meaning of it all?

That’s a question that many of us have been asking ourselves since the pandemic started. Of course, many people grappled with questions about meaning, significance, and happiness long before COVID-19 dominated headlines. But since the pandemic upended life as usual and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, the world is experiencing a global existential crisis.

Here’s what that means, and what do to if it’s affecting your life, according to Geoff Thompson, PhD, program director for Sunshine Coast Health Centre in British Columbia. 

What’s existential angst?

Existential anxiety or angst happens when you spend a lot of time thinking about your existence, and what it all means.

“It’s trying to make sense of suffering,” Thompson says.

It usually involves worry about the meaning of life and death. For many people, existential angst arises during transition periods that leave them aware of their mortality, like the death of a parent or a significant birthday.

“It’s not any birthday, but those when the person feels their age is inevitably pushing them toward nothingness,” Thompson explains.

At its root, existential worry is about wondering what life means, and feeling that something might threaten your life itself, or your very existence, Thompson says. In practice, existential anxiety can present as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fear or worry

The pandemic and existential angst

It’s normal for existential angst to present during times of uncertainty, and right now we’re all experience unprecedented uncertainty. There’s fear over life and death: that we or people we love could catch COVID-19 and die. There’s also interruption of the normal routines that provide many of us with peace of mind.

There’s no simple fix for existential worry, especially during a pandemic. However, there are ways that you can combat your worry and anxiety. Here’s what Thompson recommends:

  • Embrace uncertainty. One of the biggest ways to let go of worry right now is to accept that we’re living in uncertain times. We simply can’t know the answers to the pressing questions, like when we’ll get the vaccine, or how the virus will affect the economy over the next few years.

    Of course, learning to live with uncertainty is easier said than done. However, you can take small steps to make yourself more comfortable. When you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed by the unpredictability, take deep, calming breaths.
     

  • Recognize that this isn’t new. Remind yourself that life is never certain. Sure, that may be more obvious than ever at the moment, but not knowing the future is not a new condition. You’re already a pro at living with uncertainty, so there’s no need to worry about it now more than usual.
     
  • Focus on what you can control. If you find comfort in being in control of things, you should direct your energy to efforts that are truly within your control. This is much more productive than worrying about things like a vaccine or the economy that you have no way of impacting.

    Take a moment to think about your worries and identify the core themes. For example, many people are currently worried about health and finances. Then, identify concrete steps that you can take to improve those areas of your life today. You can’t control the stock market, but you can implement a budget; you can’t entirely safeguard yourself against COVID-19, but you can mitigate your risk through steps like wearing a mask, minimizing trips in public, and following other CDC guidelines.
     

  • Be of service. During a global reckoning, it’s easy to feel like life is meaningless. However, you can push back on that depressing narrative by doing meaningful acts for others. If you are passionate about social justice, you can volunteer to tutor Black, immigrant or LGBTQ+ youth. You can join organizations that provide meals or shopping for people who are unable to leave their homes or need help taking care of themselves. And you can always reach out to a friend in recovery, just to check in and say hello.

    These acts can be comforting. They remind us that even though we’re small in the grand scheme of the universe, we have the power to make a positive difference in another person’s life.

At the end of the day, it’s also helpful to remember that you’re not the only person feeling existential angst right now. Millions of people around the world are questioning the meaning of their lives, careers and relationships. We may be apart, but we’re certainly not alone.

Sunshine Coast Health Centre is a non 12-step drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in British Columbia. Learn more here.

By: The Fix staff
Title: What’s Existential Anxiety?
Sourced From: www.thefix.com/what-s-existential-anxiety
Published Date: Wed, 06 Jan 2021 08:27:59 +0000

At New Horizon Drug Rehab, we understand addiction. If you or a family member are afflicted with addiction or substance abuse we can help. We work with the top centers throughout the US to provide the best detox and addiction treatments available.

Call Now: (877) 747-9974