Stop! In The Name Of Love!

At the next meeting at the Celebrate Recovery program I’ve been going to we will talk about denial. For those of you in Doylestown, De Nile is not a river in Egypt.

Recently, I mentioned to a smoker that my dearly departed friend and companion Sandi would still be around and would have gotten around better most the time I knew her if it weren’t for a lifetime of smoking those nasty cancer sticks. “You can’t prove that”, was the response from the smoker, who had started to cry a short while back when the smokes ran out and I would not pick any up for this friend who has trouble getting around.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

⦁ Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is nearly one in five deaths.

⦁ Smoking causes more deaths each year than the following causes combined:

⦁ Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

⦁ Illegal drug use

⦁ Alcohol use

⦁ Motor vehicle injuries

⦁ Firearm-related incidents

⦁ More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States.

⦁ Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths. More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.

⦁ Smoking causes about 80% (or 8 out of 10) of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

⦁ Cigarette smoking increases risk for death from all causes in men and women.

⦁ The risk of dying from cigarette smoking has increased over the last 50 years in the U.S.

I recently met someone at a community meal I’m very fond of who smokes, by her own admission, to cope with problems. She said she quit for a while, but then something came up that she had trouble dealing with it. She told me she realized she had to learn to cope with problems another way. I told her that Sandi quit for about a year towards the end, mainly because she couldn’t get around and that I would not get smokes for her. You did that because you cared about her,” my newfound friend touchingly said. Yes, and because I care for her and others I try to convince people not to smoke. Not abruptly, by saying “you vill stop” (with a German accent) and mainly on these blogs, which some people are afraid of. If you are the emperor, I’ll blog that you need a new set of clothes.

People have a free will and, as per one of the rules in the Celebrate Recovery 12 Steps program, you don’t try to fix people. That’s God’s job.

I channel Diana Ross and The Supremes and sing “Stop! In the name of love. Before you break my heart.” My heart is broken over Sandi being one of Johnny Smoke’s victims. Johnny Smoke is an evangelist for a rogue mission church: Sister Nicotine and The Holy Smokes.

Helping people to cope with their problems without alcohol, drugs, including cigarettes or through other bad ways is why Celebrate Recovery, a national program with local chapters, was created. I’ve been having trouble with anxiety, depression, anger/frustration, resentment, so I go to a meeting once a week in Northeast Philadelphia. I am not in denial, and I know De Nile is not a river in Egypt.

A program such as Celebrate Recovery is an alternative to the official nuthouses where by default the homeless are sent, with their legal dope and psychobabble.

As former first lady Nancy Reagan said “Just say no” (to drugs). When someone wants help getting cancer sticks, just saying no is the best thing you can do for them. It’s the Christian thing to do!

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”  Ephesians 5:11

Too Soon Old Too Late Smart

” Vee grow too soon oldt, und too late shmart.” (we grow too soon old and too late smart)   -old German saying

Like beat poet Allen Ginsberg, I see the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness. People’s lives are being destroyed by drugs, alcohol, and other destructive behavior. In Bucks County, PA, Steps to Recovery in Levittown, PA will host a ceremony in remembrance of those who lost their lives to overdoses. It will be held on August 30th, International Overdose Awareness Day.

Seeing all this destructive, deadly behavior, I have to quote Astro, the dog on the old Jetson’s cartoon: “Rumtins rong rear Reorge!” (Something’s wrong here, George). I also quote Bob Dylan: “Something is happening here, and you don’t know what it is. Do you? Mr. Jones.”

Back in the 50’s, as depicted in Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl, there was the beat generation, people who ruined their lives with drugs and other destructive behavior but they were on the fringe of society. Today, this behavior has become more mainstream. In fact, drug use and other erratic behavior is an epidemic!

People I know personally in Bucks County have and are still engaging in destructive behavior. Some have a chronic problem with booze and some with drugs. One guy, who almost died four times after abusing alcohol, landed back in the hospital again. Soon after got to a nursing home, he escaped! Somehow, he ended up in another hospital. He just wants to keep abusing alcohol and smoking. As a friend said, they are his god.  “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” -Proverbs 26:11

Chronic drug and alcohol abuse are examples of besetting sin, a sin that has a strong hold on you and you just can’t seem to shake. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” -Ephesians 5:18

One friend licked his substance abuse problems. He went through a 12 Step Program and went to and stuck with God. He now has a good job and acts responsibly and gets along well with others.

Although I don’t know anything about Steps to Recovery in Levittown, I was glad when I looked on their website and saw that they include the 12 Step Program in their treatment program.

Even with good rehab programs, people with big problems have to do their part. Resolving these problems is not just a matter of following steps. If you make a paper maché volcano and shake baking soda into the center then pour vinegar and red food coloring, then it will become effervescent and simulate a real volcano. Human behavior is not so predictable; doesn’t work that way. Sometimes you just have to walk away from people you are trying to help and let God take care of them.

Sometimes people just have to learn the hard way. I did. Although I can have a glass of wine and walk away and don’t do dope, I’ve engaged in destructive behavior in other ways. After I lost my job, my house, my wife, was alienated from relatives and suffered other problems, I finally started coming around.

Likewise, a guy I knew from the community meals for the homeless and those in need in Bucks County finally came around. His cousin told me his Aunt (the guy’s mom) asked him to help his cousin straighten out. It was to no avail. At one of the meals, a host ministered to the guy. Sometime after that, when I was visiting a friend with an alcohol problem in a local short-term inpatient treatment center, I ran into him. He realized the seriousness of his problem and said he was determined to get with the program. He transferred to another place and the last I heard his recovery was going well and that he had a little job.

Back in the 50’s, if you were a drunk or a doper you were an oddball. In the 50s people went to church and took their faith seriously. They read Christian authors such as CS Lewis as well as the Bible. Families prayed together and stayed together. Hearts and minds are the root of one’s character. You are what you think and where your heart is!

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” -2nd Corinthians 10:5

I Saw The Best Minds…

The shrinks and the mental health hustlers are whining that they don’t have enough money to treat what they call “substance abuse disorder”, which is psychobabble for choosing destructive, stupid behavior. Why do you think they call it dope?

When you are hooked on something, nothing matters except self-satisfaction, whether getting high on drugs, drunk on booze, or even smoking cigarettes. On an episode of Twin Peaks, a guy managed to walk away from the edge of a nuclear blast. He wondered through the New Mexico desert with an unlit cigarette. He asked the first people he came across “got a light? Got a light?” Over and over again.

Without more money, Jennifer Smith, Pennsylvania’s acting secretary for the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, said druggies will be desperate to support their habit and will end up with a criminal record! I thought that using and possessing drugs was criminal! The drug trade has nothing to do with customers doing dope does it? Maybe this substance disorder is contagious, picked up from exposure from passing drug dealers in public areas.

What’s more, Secretary Smith added, is that this “disorder” creates homelessness. So, according to those on the front lines of the opioid war, if we fork over more money to the official state drug rehab industry, we can prevent homelessness!

Unless you’ve been living on Mars and don’t have satellite transmission, you’ll know that people from all walks of life are doing dope. As Bob Dylan sang “everybody must get stoned!”

How prophetic was beat poet Allen Ginsberg with the opening to his poem Howl: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of the night.

Back in 1955, when the beat poet wrote Howl, freaky people like Ginsberg were on the fringe of society. The Beat Generation sought meaning from life in an industrialize society but concluded that “society sucked.” Today, this view that because life has no meaning, anything goes and it’s cool to escape this though sex, drugs and rock and roll was celebrated at Woodstock and is becoming the new normal –more mainstream.

Dumping money on a problem doesn’t automatically fix it. More and more money to fight the drug war but the problem appears to be getting worse.  Albert Einstein is said to define insanity as doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.

Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to homelessness, but that’s not the only cause. The economy, driven by progressive social engineering, particularly during FDR’s New Raw Deal, wrought massive homelessness. Decent, working men were heavily taxed and businesses were heavily taxed and regulated. Consequently, men became hobos who hopped trains to look for food and work. Government overreach, for example paying the large farm conglomerates to burn crops to increase prices, favored the fat cats at the expense of the average person, the middle class.

The Great Depression was not just an economic depression; it was a moral depression. Leading up to the depression was a world of gangsters and corrupt politicians.

The opioid epidemic is not just about people doing dope; it’s a moral issue, a result of people looking for meaning in life by trying to escape reality, rather than to deal with it.

Rather than making druggies victims and saying they have a disease, besides just saying “no” to drugs, they should get involved in a 12-step program, which addresses the spiritual/moral part of the problem. Medical doctors and nurses can deal with the medical end of the problem.

Historically, the 12-step program has been very successful. I know of one homeless person in Bucks County, PA who went through a 12-step program as has really gotten his act together.

He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains.”
-Psalm 107:14

Taking Responsibility

“Government is not a solution to our problem government is the problem.”  -Ronald Reagan

People without homes in Bucks County, PA have gotten them in a timely, honest manner not through government, but by taking responsibility, initiative and moving forward. No matter what the reason for being homeless, those in that situation have moved on up by not getting down by addictions or their attitude, but by pressing on, looking for jobs or just finding constructive ways of improving themselves, educating themselves, even volunteering.

Having a pity party or joining in malicious gossip, perpetuating lies to lift yourself up at the expense of others is not the way out. Nor is the answer found in the bottle or drugs.

The government in Bucks County operates under a sort of caste system, a mentality imported from eastern religion which has become the silent mantra of the liberal establishment.

Contrary to the headline in the March 29 Courier Times Funding Woes Hurt The Homeless, the defunding of HOST and PATH, predatory programs that target the homeless to get them into a failed taxpayer funded mental health scheme in order to keep the homeless in their proper place in the caste system, actually benefits them. It’s one less lure to avoid responsibility. If taken in by this scheme, the homeless become like Gregor in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, a parable about a young man who has trouble getting out of bed in the morning so he doesn’t have to face the day after he wakes up as a cockroach.

I was approached by a “recovery coach” from HOST a couple years back after I lost my house.  He offered to help me get housing if I submitted to being labeled as being so messed up mentally that I could no longer work and go on disability. I didn’t take the bait. Others who can work have gone on disability and on the public dole, taken care of by the government. A ward of the state, living off of other people’s labor.

The recovery coach told me that he doesn’t believe in housing first and explained that people have to get straightened out before they can be on their own in a dwelling. Evidently, he thinks he is clairvoyant, and knows the inmost thoughts of homeless people. Only God knows that.

Progressives have replaced God with government. Unlike God, the government is imperfect, run by humans, all of us who are flawed in one way or the other and to various degrees. The root of liberalism, the problem that has plagued our society, is explained in this blog:

People who have found homes in lower Bucks County are those who have overcome obstacles – unemployment, illness, substance abuse. Their attitude. The didn’t get bogged down in malicious gossip, looked for and found work, didn’t squander their money, and those with substance abuse problems worked through their problems, with God’s help and principles, taking advantage of the historically successful 12 Steps program (some churches in Bucks County host 12 Steps programs). Instead of dropping out of society and becoming a bum, they become viable, productive members of society.  Industry,  rather than sloth, has helped them become whole.

Administrators in Bucks County have asked The Minister of Silly Walks for more funding so they can make our walk much sillier. To their chagrin, President Trump has already defunded the minister’s department.

According to R.I. Diculous, Bucks County plans to fund an initiative modeled after the well established Build-A-Bear. Instead of putting parts together to build a bear, Bucks’ program, Build-A-Bum, will make bums out of the parts of homeless people.

“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.” -Ephesians 4:28

Not My Fault!

“Mr. Speaker, Carlos’ life – and his death – cast a bright light on the fact that addiction is nothing short of a chronic disease,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick on the floor of the house of representatives in the context of an executive order to fight drug abuse and the opioid crisis.

Carlos was one of 185 deaths by overdoses in Bucks County, PA in 2016.

As long as drug abuse is treated as a disease, we will not win the war on drug and opioid abuse.

Treating drug abuse as a disease absolves the user from responsibility. In the 12 Steps program, which historically has been successful in having people overcoming their chronic, debilitating problems, starts: “1. We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18″

“Calling drunkenness a ‘disease’ or a ‘sickness’ rather than a ‘sin'”, wrote pastor and counselor Jay E Adams, “may seem to them a gracious act, but it is just the opposite. You cannot be more gracious than God. To call drunkenness a ‘sickness’ is to take away hope; there is no pill that will cure such a ‘disease’. But if, as the Bible says, drunkenness is a sin, then there is real hope, because Christ Jesus came not only to free us from the penalty but also from the power of sin.” (Solving Marriage Problems, p14)

In his blog in Psychology Today, Lance Dodes MD argues that drug abuse is not a disease and addresses the implications of this stance:

On Dr. Adams’ website, the notion of drug abuse, and by extension, mental problems being a disease is addressed:

“Mental Illness

Posted on August 22, 2016 by Donn R Arms

Folks let’s get this straight. The mind is not a physical organ. It cannot have a disease, illness, or injury in anything other than a metaphorical sense such as a sick economy or a sick joke.

Typhoid fever — disease
Spring fever — not a disease
Scarlet fever — disease
Bieber fever — not a disease”

Problems can’t be solved unless you get to the root of the problem. At the community meals for the homeless and those in need, in Bucks County, a few people despoil the meals by taking an inordinate amount of items. One character, Birdman, has gone from table to table, while people are still eating and loots what was set out for others as well as tries to fill pitchers he brings from beverage containers that are for everyone.

On one occasion, when I shooed him away when he tried to loot food at my table, I told him he was annoying. “What’s the problem?,” he asked, clueless. “Nobody else has a problem” with what he was doing, he added. Immediately, someone chirped “I do!”  On another occasion Birdman asked me how he annoys me. I told him that I’ll treat that as a rhetorical question. For those of you in Doylestown, a rhetorical question if a question for which you don’t want an answer.

At another meal, a guy who was homeless but was then in county assisted housing said that Birdman’s behavior is a normal consequence of being homeless or in need. I disagree. Your status or situation should not determine your behavior. I don’t buy the Curly of The Three Stooges’ thesis “I’m a victim of soy cum stances!”

Whether your talking drug abuse or any other problems, to overcome them you must stop making excuses. One bad, sinful problem I’m working on is unforgiveness, harboring resentment against people who grossly wronged me. I wish I could just take a pill, wave a magic wand, or drink a Coke and I and the rest of the world will sing in perfect harmony. Life doesn’t work that way. It’s not a disease but a moral failing which I’ve been working on and have made progress, slowly but surely.

Blaming others is counterproductive.

Here’s a folk song about blaming others:

“I went to my psychiatrist to be psychoanalyzed

To find out why I killed the cat and blacked my husband’s eyes.

He laid me on a downy couch to see what he could find,

And here is what he dredged up from my subconscious mind:

When I was one, my mommie hid my dolly in a trunk,

And so it follows naturally that I am always drunk.

When I was two, I saw my father kiss the maid one day,

And that is why I suffer now from kleptomania.

At three, I had the feeling of ambivalence toward my brothers,

And so it follows naturally I poison all my lovers.

But I am happy; now I’ve learned the lesson this has taught;

That everything I do that’s wrong is someone else’s fault.”

More about being responsible:

A Change is Gonna Come

Although a private charity organized and got funds for the project, most of the funds to convert the Santa Rosa Motel to homeless housing came from federal and state housing money and from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is a noble project, but taxpayer funds eventually run dry.

In my research about the causes of homelessness, I found that some sources say it is the lack of public funding. This is not the root of the problem.

People are homeless for various reasons, such as substance abuse and other issues that take them out of the job market. Another problem is the economy.

The economy seemed to be the biggest contributor to homelessness when it became rampant in the late 20’s, when Herbert Hoover was president, and during President FDR’s New Raw Deal. Because of progressive policies, where we were about as close to socialism (which we were progressing to) as our country ever was, a lot of people were out of work. Those who did work, had trouble making ends meet with the government confiscating much of their paychecks and because the government interfered with the marketplace, making things more expensive.

A free market solution to energy is the sine qua non to a robust economy. Plentiful, low cost energy reduces energy costs and takes less money out of people’s pockets. The Marcellus gas pipeline, for example, will accomplish this.

There are a lot of homeless in Bucks County, PA.  Although the Bimbo of Bucks County, aka PA State Representative Tina Davis touted how much she has helped the homeless, and said she’ll continue to do so, she praised PA Governor Big Bad Wolf for signing an executive order to ban drilling on state lands. The bimbo admitted that, as former governor Tom Corbett argued, this drilling would help the economy and would raise $75 million to balance the budget. Yet, she cavalierly said that “protecting the environment” trumps this.

This kind of wonton behavior by out of touch elites fosters homelessness. By kowtowing to the pseudo environmentalist special interests, these progressives show callous disregard for the citizenry. When they campaign, Wolf and Davis may as well go door to door and hand out pink slips and eviction notices, as the Big Bad Wolf is in the business of blowing houses down.

As Ray Charles sang, “a change is gonna come.” Changes to this country are in the works. The former Witch of the West Wing won’t continue her war on coal and other viable energy sources in favor of the so-called alternate, unworkable energy initiatives. The Witch, the Bimbo and the Wolf are all sh**birds of a feather. Like FDR’s New Raw Deal, they harm the average person.

Substance abuse and other personal problems also contribute to the homeless problem. For these problems there is also a free market solution.

Between 1920 and 1933, the government established prohibition, banning booze for everyone. Then, instead of forcing abstinence on everyone because ten percent of the population had a drinking problem, a voluntary, free market, Christian solution to help drunks overcome their problem was used. The Oxford Group, modeled after 1st century Christianity, was established in 1921. Later, Alcoholics Anonymous.

Today there are programs on the market to help people overcome substance abuse and other human failings, such as Celebrate Recovery, which applies Biblical principles to the 12 Steps Program.

The economy, the environment, and our morals all work together. A healthy economy, driven by good stewardship of the environment, and a country’s good morals work together for good. Dysfunctional people, such as substance abusers, can’t be responsible on a job or run a business responsibly.  AA co-founder Bill Wilson ruined a promising career on Wall Street because of his chronic drunkenness. In the 50’s, when my grand uncle ran a wholesale toy company, there were ethics, honor. When you made a business deal, a man’s handshake was his bond. No need for lawyers and long, expensive litigation or even negotiations.

Finding shelter for Bucks County’s homeless is stifled by hobophobia, the irrational fear of the homeless. Because of some problem people, which you’ll find today in any population, even private efforts to create shelter for the homeless is stonewalled by the judgmental establishment. Like the progressives in the early part of the 20th century, Bucks County won’t facilitate shelter for the homeless. Even the so-called emergency shelter in Levittown has a waiting list, thanks to the revolving door of druggies from nearby recovery houses and drunks and druggies who are return customers to the flop house.

Now that we’re throwing the bums out of public office, which is a positive reflection of our culture, we can start winning the war on poverty, substance abuse and other dysfunctions, and find a solution for homelessness.

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

-2nd Chronicles 7:14

The Center of Excellence?

The battle against the drug abuse epidemic in Pennsylvania may be over now that “Big Bad” PA Governor Wolf  has brought out his Center of Excellence, his Knights of the Round Table, known as the Family Service Association of Bucks County. Parents can now relax, knowing that Big Brother Bucks will have the bucks so the Wolf will blow the drug lords’ houses down. Big Daddy (drug) War Bucks is on the job!

I ridicule the way problems such as drug abuse are handled, but, like the authorities, I realize the seriousness of the problem.

The Bucks County Emergency Homeless Shelter, in Levittown, is not exactly an “emergency” shelter. It’s more!  Thanks to the inordinate number of recovery houses in lower Bucks County, people needing shelter have more than a month to wait to get in. The shelter gets many return customers. In fact, it has become a revolving door for drunks and druggies. It’s run by the Family Service Association, so they have experience in the drug rehab business.

Dumping money on a problem, a favorite of liberals such as Big Bad Wolf, does not necessarily solve the problem. Take education. Teachers unions whine for more and more money for public schools. Tons of money has been dumped, but overall, public schools are not offering kids the best opportunities. School choice gives parents the choice to give their kids the best bang for their bucks.

Likewise, broken people who have drug or other problems should have a choice to find what works best. In an earlier blog, I related that I ran away from an opportunity to become a drug abuse counselor at a methadone clinic where I worked part time. By the way, a counselor at a clinic where I visited a friend said that methadone detox doesn’t work well to solve a drug problem. “You are treating opiates with opiates,” she said.

Not all treatment centers agree on treatment. But in places such as Bucks County, PA, we have monopolies, state sponsored institutions that prey upon the disenfranchised, particularly the homeless. August institutions, endorsed by Big Bad Wolf, such as the Family Service Association of Bucks County become the Talisman to solve problems. Are they doing such a good job that we should invest more taxpayer money in them?

The counseling job was not for me. One reason was that the material the counselor went over with me not only didn’t subscribe to a cardinal principle in the 12 Steps Program, it mocked it – the idea of human failing:  “Step One- We admitted we were powerless over the effects of our separation from GOD-that our lives had become unmanageable.

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Rom. 7:18)”

When I attended my 40th high school reunion, I learned that many of my former classmates and neighbors had died from drug overdoses. Many of them went to the clinic where I had worked.

Likewise, in the nearly 2 ½ years I’ve hung around the homeless and needy in lower Bucks County, PA, I’ve found that the vast majority, if not all, of homeless people with problems as well as alleged problems who were treated at Penndel Mental Health Center not only didn’t get better; they got worse! I went there for anxiety, and thanks in large part to all the Paxil I was prescribed, I got worse.

Treating problems with people’s thinking at a treatment center with a psychotropic drug, defined on as “any drug capable of affecting the mind, emotions, and behavior” is no different than doing this on the street. In this instance, I see no difference between the lab coat and the trench coat. Maybe this is why the headline reads that Wolf is in the trenches of the opioid epidemic.

By contrast, the 12 Steps program has worked, historically. Faith based programs have historically worked better than secular psychology. One example is a business executive who underwent treatment for alcohol abuse with Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and went back to the bottle shortly after a year long treatment. Dr. Jung told the drunk he was hopeless and that his only hope “might be a spiritual conversion with a religious group.” He took the doctor’s advice and through this conversion, the Lord helped him overcome his problem.

In 1949, 93 percent of alcohol treatment centers us Alcoholics Anonymous (where the 12 Steps originated) principles and AA received 31 percent of its members from AA referrals.

I would recommend getting treatment for drug abuse or other problems that uses the principles found in the 12 Steps program. Churches have been stepping up to the plate to help people with problems, which is part of their mission. This past Saturday, I again noticed a display on the wall that illustrated the 12 Steps program as I was heading towards the chow line at a community meal at a church in Bristol, PA. These community meals not only offer food for the body but food for the soul for the homeless and needy.

Some programs combine healing for different problems people  have, whether it be drug, alcohol, anxiety, depression, anger, etc. Celebrate Recovery does this:

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalm 40:2

The Beat Goes On

The government continues its war on drugs. The latest: Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick issued a survey to find out what role the government should have in the opioid epidemic. In Bucks County, PA last year, 117 died from overdosing on dope, as reported in

The government’s war on drugs has been as pathetic as the war in Vietnam, with policies as lame as President LBJ’s handling of the Vietnam “war.”

The beat goes on. Drums keep pounding a dysfunctional rhythm to the brain. La Dee La T Dee, La Dee La Dee Dah…

For sure, drug abuse is sad, and people are hurting, but we are going about it fighting the wrong way. They certainly need help.

“This bill acknowledges that drug abuse is a disease, and cannot be solved by arrests alone,” the article reports. I agree the problem cannot be solved by arrests alone, but it is not exactly a disease.

“The disease model of addiction describes an addiction as a disease with biological, neurological, genetic, and environmental sources of origin.[1] The traditional medical model of disease requires only that an abnormal condition be present that causes discomfort, dysfunction, or distress to the individual afflicted. The contemporary medical model attributes addiction, in part, to changes in the brain‘s mesolimbic pathway.[2] The medical model also takes into consideration that such disease may be the result of other biological, psychological or sociological entities despite an incomplete understanding of the mechanisms of these entities.”-Wikipedia

Wikipedia also discusses the problem with calling “addiction” a disease:  “Critics of the disease model, particularly those who subscribe to the life-process model of addiction argue that labeling people as addicts keeps them from developing self-control and stigmatizes them.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. A disease, such as bronchitis can be treated with medication and by stopping smoking. It also can be prevented by not inhaling tobacco smoke, dust, or other pollutants.

When I was in the Navy, a guy was being silly and asked me “why do they call it dope?” I told him it was because guys like him did it. He didn’t, but I just wanted to be a wise guy.

Seriously, doing dope is a dumb thing to do. As former first lady Nancy Reagan said “Just say no.” (to drugs).

Mrs. Reagan’s remedy may sound over simplistic, but that’s the bottom line. Certainly, people with a substance abuse problem need understanding and counseling and need to get to the root of the problem. But when you start with the premise “addiction is a disease”, as that dink in blue scrubs and stethoscope who comes on the TV to hawk a drug abuse treatment center Augustly states, by calling the problem a disease, you are absolving the person with a substance problem of responsibility.

We all do dumb things, myself included. But you have to deal with problems the right way.

The 12 Steps Program which is used in programs for people with problems, works! The first step is to admit that you have a problem, which is a result of a character flaw, and that you need a higher power to better manage your life. That higher power is God.

The 12 Steps Program grew out of Alcoholics Anonymous. Back in 1949, more than 90 percent of alcohol rehabilitation treatment centers used the principles of the 12 Steps Program. More than 30 percent of AA’s referrals came from these centers.

A business executive back in 1931 was treated by psychiatrist Carl Jung for a year. He stopped abusing alcohol, but soon after he finished treatment with Dr. Jung, he went back on the bottle.  When the executive returned to the doc for treatment, Dr. Jung said he could not help him and that his problem was hopeless, except, he may find hope by experiencing a spiritual conversion with a religious group. This what the 12 Steps Program is.

I’m a great believer in the 12 Steps Program. It’s helped me deal with problems other than substance abuse. It’s not instant, like the faith healing of Reverend Ernest “I’ve got your condition in my vision”  Angley.

It takes time to heal, but, if you submit yourself to the program and God, doing things His way, you will be delivered from the slavery of sin.

“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” – Romans 6:18

We All Have Baggage

“We all have baggage,” a former homeless man used to say. In my last blog, I analyzed people who engage in bizarre, anti-social behavior and explored the role of the mental health industry.

Today I’ll look into the problems of everyday people, focusing on the homeless.

Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung related a story about visiting an insane asylum with an “intelligent layman” who remarked that the people there were like everyday people, except their problems were greatly magnified.

People in today’s society have different degrees of issues. Just being homeless is an issue. Within this group, some individuals have more serious problems, such a drug and alcohol abuse.

Except when a substance abuse or other problem gets too extreme, when people need to be put in a treatment facility, they can go to meetings. Churches in lower Bucks County, PA have increasingly hosted programs, such as AA. There’s a unique program in Bucks County that combines alcohol and drug abuse counselling  with other problems, such as anger management, anxiety and depression, using the 12 steps program. There is even a 12 steps Bible, which matches Bible verses with the steps.

The program is actually a peer-to-peer, brother/sister to brother/sister program, where participants counsel one another.

“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”  – Proverbs 27:17

Even people who seem to have it made have problems, although they may be hidden. Some of them have positions of respectability. It’s usually through their actions that others see their issues, especially when it’s affecting them. For example, The Countess of Carlisle at the Salvation Army  Community Center in Levittown, PA.

The Countess contradicted the Salvation Army’s mission, which was established to reach out to those not so beautiful people – the poor, the down and out, drunks, druggies, prostitutes – and give them hope through Jesus.

On one occasion, the Countess joined a conversation about the homeless I was having with another volunteer. I expressed my problem with how the homeless are treated at the public library in Levittown, PA. She stated that the librarian is trying to keep them out because people who visit the library don’t like them there. When I told her how I challenged this discrimination – that the homeless were singled out as a group only because they are homeless – she Augustly quipped “what good’s that going to do?”  The Countess said that the librarian has total sovereignty over the library, as if it is her own property.

A Salvation Army worker from the regional office had offered me a job opportunity writing for the Salvation Army. The first step was to go to the center’s Captain, who told me I needed to go through the Countess. My assignment was to write a blog about the community meals. The Countess practically wrote it herself, injecting her ideas, mostly not relating to the meal.

I didn’t hear anything about the job for months until I saw the regional public relations person  taking photos at the center while I was working in the food bank. She asked me if I was still interested in writing for the Salvation Army. “Yes”, I said. Again, I went to Captain Casper Milquetoast, who directed me to the Countess.

“I don’t have time for that,” the Countess snapped. Hummm… Did her stonewalling me have anything to do with me expressing my opinion about the homeless? Probably a coincidence. If you believe that, you probably believe in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny.

We humans are not perfect. We are all fallen creatures. Christians are sinners saved by grace. God designed us to live in a certain way. When we don’t, we become dysfunctional. We all mess up from time to time, in different degrees and various ways.

Even when we are, as Curly of The Three Stooges, a victim of circumstances, as I was with the Countess of Carlisle, we can still fall into sinful ways. My sinful self wanted to get even and harbored resentment. This isn’t the first time I felt this way.

Although I’ve come a long way after nearly having a mental breakdown about 2 ½ years ago, I still wrestle with problems resulting from character flaws, my sinful nature. To have victory over this character flaw, I remember that I cannot overcome the problem on my own, but need a higher power – God. I pray, read the Bible, go to Bible studies, get informal counsel from Christian brothers and sisters, etc. Consequently, I am starting to overcome my resentment, or at least have it under control.

We all need help, even with little problems. Little problems can become big. Unchecked, we can fall into a downward spiral, as I did. I wish I had nipped it in the bud!

Just being homeless is a problem, whether one is homeless because of one’s own folly, or as a result of economics, which was the main reason for homelessness during The Great Depression. No matter what the case, the homeless need to be shown Christian concern, accepted unconditionally and shown God’s love and mercy. In Bucks County, PA, Christians have been stepping up to the plate to do this. They have been offering them help with material, emotional, and spiritual needs. The homeless need to know that people care.

No matter what your problems or situation, even if you are one who thinks he has it made, you need the Lord.

As the apostle Paul writes in Romans:

” I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”  -Romans 7:15-20

Romans 7:18 accompanies the 1st step in the 12 Steps Journey Program.

Where Have All The Homeless Gone?

The homeless have been cleared out of the woods near the public library in Levittown, PA.  Some of them got to where they needed to go — in one case, because of an overdose. In another the result of a Bucks County Ranger convincing a guy with a drinking problem to go to a place where he can get help.

I visited my homeless friend there and attended the orientation. I think this place will work, unlike Penndel Mental Health Center, whose snake oil salesmen round up the homeless as patients by hook or crook and rely heavily on drugs and psychobabble. At the orientation, the director said that God is an addict’s ultimate hope.

Except for a few instances, the woods were cleared out Roundup style, which kills everything — the weeds and the grass.

There is still the matter of where the guy will go to lead an independent, productive, healthy life after he’s done the program.

The ranger who sent the guy in the right direction was part of a team of people who had tirelessly ministered to him. This is how we need to deal with the homeless problem in Bucks County, PA.  People in the community need to develop relationships with the homeless, working with them for their betterment of the community to lend a hand up to help themselves, rather than using the one-size-fits all Roundup approach, treating all homeless like weeds.

Although some of the homeless, as is the case in any population, are problematic, especially the druggies, they are all human, fallen creatures like the rest of us but made in the image of God.

It’s good that the homeless guy in this case, with a little help from his friends, was able to find a good place, at least for the time being. For all the homeless there needs to be a place they can call home.

Some homeless only need a place to stay.

“If I did drugs, I could find a place. If I was an alcoholic, I could find a place. If you’re just on hard times, there’s nowhere to go.” said a homeless man about to be evicted from an encampment.

The so called “opportunities” section of the eviction notices posted in the woods is a bridge to nowhere.  One homeless guy told me he called all the numbers, and the best opportunity he found was they “could not do anything for him unless he had children. A friend with lung cancer I’m taking care of and I have been on shelter lists for months.  Fortunately, we’ve found an adequate place to stay, at least temporarily.

Not everybody is able to do this.

Bucks County has known about the homeless problem in Bucks since the late 80’s. People have been trying to match vacant property, which is greater than the homeless population, with people needing housing for some time. I emailed a county commissioner with the idea of designating some unused county land for the homeless, but the response was this would jeopardize their opportunities for the so-called opportunities listed on the eviction notice.

This situation reminds me of the Ronald Reagan joke: A shopkeeper asked a woman who was getting married for the third time why she would wear white. The woman explained that right after the first wedding, the groom had a heart attack. After her second wedding she had an argument with the groom and the wedding was annulled. The third time she married a Democrat. He just sat on the edge of the bed for four years and told her how good it would be.

Talk is cheap.

The Bucks County Rangers have a tough job. They are caught in the middle. The Bucks County Commissioners and other politicians, unlike the Rangers who have to go out and face the people who camp on public lands because they have no place else to go, are out of touch with the homeless.  Evidently, to them, the homeless are just weeds that need to be removed, wanting to have a manicured suburban lawn complete with the personal peace and prosperity including a white picket fence.

The ranger who convinced the homeless man to get the help he needs is a step in the right direction.

At the guy’s orientation, the director said he knew the guy who runs the local 12 Step Program, which my friend said he wants to attend.

It’s a step in the right direction. 

Where have all the Homeless gone?

The bigger question is where will they go?