By Corinita Reyes
In the war on drugs, the real targets have not been drugs themselves but on those who live a life in which drugs are ever present. Drugs prove to be a persistent issue in low income neighborhoods, specifically those who have an ethnically diverse makeup. The fact that those affected most by the war on drugs are thought of as “minorities” is no coincidence, it would seem rehab is a privilege reserved only for white affluent people, the rest are sent to prison to serve time for something that is seen as a treatable issue in the medical world. It is hardly a crime to develop diabetes or depression, so why do we treat a mental illness as a crime? It is imperative that we as a country explore how the war on drugs affects low income people of color (POC), its relationship on how mental illness affects low income people of color and why the war on drugs is simply not working. We need to replace the current war with a more sustainable system that supports our citizens, rather than punishes.
The war on Drugs has proven to be unhelpful because it is a continuing cycle which targets drug addicts. In the article “Drug Addicts As a Victim: A Link to Explore” by Laura M. Nunes and Ana Sani, they write “It is not uncommon in the illegal drug market to find that the individual selling the product, being in possession of large sums of money, is also intoxicated.” (3) This shows that the drug dealer and the drug addict are one in the same. Those who are not drug dealers are still in possession and can end up in prison system. Once in the prison system, they may incur trauma from violence, sexual violence or from isolation that only makes any sort of mental illness they had prior more intense. Upon being released, they now face new barriers from acquiring legal employment to being unable to qualify for public assistance and housing thanks to background checks. Now as they are back to illegal activities such as drug dealing in order to make money, these activities make a neighborhood less safe, “Also, by dint of their lifestyle the drug addict will tend to have much less protection, especially in the form of formal protection from the social control system, for fear that their deviant activity is discovered by the authorities.” (Nunes et al, 4) It is safer for these individuals to deal with violence themselves than reach out to authorities in fear of being arrested. Outside of the US, some of the most dangerous people in the world are the ones who are supplying the drugs to the streets of America. In the article “Winding Down the War on Drugs: Reevaluating Global Drug Policy” by Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno, they say “Governments around the world have poured billions of dollars into combating drugs…to pursue, conduct surveillance on, kill, prosecute, extradite, and imprison kingpins and low-level dealers, in source and destination countries alike.” (1) This shows how The US is not alone in these failing tactics against drugs, yet the problem persists not only on our streets, but globally. All of this is evidence that the war on drugs in conjunction with the prison system is a cycle that perpetuates violence and drug use. Continue reading “The War on Drugs: a Symptom of a Larger Issue”
Be a Buddha! This request isn’t odd!
In Mahayana Buddhism one can become a Buddha, saint, angel, or Demi-god,
By practicing good deeds & eradicating evil deeds,
Moving the will of heaven then on to heaven succeed,
Inspired by the divine I give you a piece of my mind,
Good thoughts, speech, and actions is good karma, it’s good to be kind,
Results in good luck, good fortune, & destiny,
No fool to blood guilt let no devil get the best of me,
By slander and defraud,
The enemies of god are flawed,
I pay homage to Buddha Amitabha Namo Amituofo,
The blessing of Buddha contains more than 7,000 good deeds,
Now this is something you know too,
The bible says a profit is one who is heavy in deed
& faith without works is dead,
Actions and speech follows the thoughts in your head,
Don’t be a sinner forever its bad karma to eat animals that are dead,
Though its what comes out our mouth that defiles us bread,-dren,
Not what we put in, don’t be a gangster and wind up in a cell,
Bad thoughts, speech, and actions leads to bad luck, misfortune, and fate burning in hell,
My wishes are women, weed, and video games and for you to be well,
What are you willing to go to heaven for have integrity truth tell,
Karma is changeable yet permanent don’t soul sell,
Fulfill your destiny and become perfect for life is fleeting,
Be beloved by god and heaven become a celestial being,
Judo: the will of heaven be moved with your heart,
So you can be blessed and lucky as I express myself with this art,
I used to pick up thousands of cigarette butts at and water the park,
Fertilize from dawn till dark,
Plus I believe in Jesus. I’m a melting pot of religion
Like America. It’s good karma to defend your country,
Bad things aren’t suppose to happen
I chant Amituofo to keep demon & devil from among-st me,
So join the light side,
The right side,
& live not with pride,
When your good you don’t have to look over your shoulder or hide,
The bible says that by the law you should abide,
Honesty is a virtue with the deceitful don’t ally,
Bear no false witness they call it snitching & it glides,
Or set sail, you’ll regret your sin’s when your burning in hell,
Live straight and narrow like a train on a rail,
Don’t be lazy, you’ll never succeed if you don’t fail,
You could be black, white female or male,
I wrote this to motivate you to make your story an extraordinary tale,
By becoming an extraordinary person on your destiny don’t bail,
try not to turn down your blessings your suppose to be lucky for being good,
Discern the origin of cause effect and you’ll find enlightenment like you should,
Becoming a Buddha was the best decision I ever made and I really wish you would, too,
Retire on top after your heavy in deed grew,
Seek justice I could talk about it till I’m blue,
That’s why I love the curse of Allah its just it only effects the wicked,
No harm to the innocent no one gets afflicted,
When it comes to celestial beings I’m rather addicted,
The miracles, the virtues, the parables from the gifted,
Worship god and all those in heaven,
Become a V.I.P of the afterlife, and change life’s like a reverend,
If you curse someone with magic and their innocent it returns seven-fold,
Constantly working to become a better person even when I’m old,
Anger leads to pain, pain leads to the hell realms were its not cold,
Have love don’t hate be slow to anger like god so I’m told,
Jesus is lord & to be Christian is to be Christ-like so onto profits I hold,
Anyone can change their destiny are you in or will you fold
Anyone can become a Buddha they come in all forms.
One man killed 32 people before becoming a Buddha– against sin I warn,
Made a vow never to litter so to the earth I’ve sworn,
And hopefully through this verse another saint be born,
Read Liao Fan’s four lessons to changing destiny.
Written by Jamal Muhammad, the Buddha!
Don Karp, helps young adults recovering from schizophrenia with practical, science based self-care. Check out his free video, 7-Step Self-Hypnosis Process, by signing up here. His book, available on Amazon, is The Bumpy Road: A Memoir of Culture Clash, Including Woodstock, Mental Hospitals and Living In Mexico. He is a regular contributor to Quora.com and LifeHack.org. His twitter handle is @donsbumpyroad.
“Stand up straight!” Don’t pick your nose!” “Speak like a man!” These
are some of the commands from my mom that I endured as an
adolescent. Dad once said, “I heard you got an A on a report. How
come you didn’t get an A+?”
No wonder I felt stupid, ugly and clumsy growing up. I was in pain but
didn’t know where or how to express it. I was shy, and isolated myself
from my peers.
Fortunately, Mom sent me to camp every summer year after year. I
learned to appreciate nature and developed curiosity about much that
I’d observed. I found some answers to nature’s riddles in science
classes and was more comfortable with test tubes than people.
Mental Patient and Dropout
Entering college, I had a dream of becoming a Ph D biochemist, doing
teaching and research. Eight years later, from inside a mental
hospital, I made my decision to drop out. The dream ended. I was too
sensitive to continue in the academic lifestyle, with its competitive
publish or perish, backbiting, old boy’s club and other harsh realities
as part of the game.
In those days there was no Freedom Of Information Act. I did not have
access to my personal file. After many unsuccessful job applications
(note that employment was not so scarce in the ’70’s), I got suspicious
and had the file sent to a friend. He disclosed my professors
“recommendations”: Don is a campus goodie-goodie.” “Don is brilliant
but remote.” In my opinion those professors acted immorally out of a
conceived stigma, and should have instead told me flat out that they
could not recommend me.
The Counter-Culture Conflicts With My Lifestyle
During the late ’60’s, while still in grad school, I became involved in
the emerging counter-culture revolution: radical politics, communes,
alternative schools, rock music and psychedelics. For me the wonder
of attending the Woodstock Festival was not so much about the music
as it was about genuine brotherly love—sharing and caring for one
another. During the storm our neighbor’s tent was destroyed. We had
no problem taking him in.
This era gave hope for a better world and was quite a contrast to my
academic lifestyle. I’d invested so much, I couldn’t just drop out. The
conflict of lifestyles was exacerbated when I gained awareness from
my inner experiences–experiments with psychedelics. Eventually I
began having flashbacks to those experiences without the drugs. I
thought that someone was putting drugs in my food, that I was being
watched and followed, and I started hearing voices.
Some people ask me if taking psychedelics made me crazy.
I think that they opened the doors to the reality of who I was and to my
past. This was too much for me to comprehend, and created the
One day I took a drive out into the suburbs to get away from it all. I
thought I heard a helicopter following me and, to escape, drove my
car off the road, hitting a tree. I was not hurt and the car undamaged.
Mom brought me to a psychiatrist who listened to my story for ten
minutes and said that I needed to be hospitalized. I didn’t know what
else to do. He was the authority and I had no alternatives.
Ten Years of Hospitalizations
Yearly hospitalizations became a routine for me when I had psychotic
breaks. The stays usually lasted a month, the time it takes to evaluate
My brother had spent some time in Berkeley, California, and
suggested I go there because they had more knowledge of how to
handle dropouts like me. I took his advice and my life became a
steeper roller coaster ride, with even deeper lows and highs.
I joined a group at the Berkeley Rap Center, a free clinic using Eric
Berne’s transactional analysis, and embodying the ideas of The
Radical Therapist, that the main cause of mental illness was
capitalism. To overcome my shyness, the group’s leader gave me an
assignment. I was to go to the campus and meet young women. I
approached one and said, “Hi, my name is Don. My therapy group told
me to meet women on campus.” Her response was: “Hi. I’m Sylvia
and I have the clap.”
One hospital stay was at Napa State. My therapy there was talking to
a medical doctor for ten minutes once a week. He told me that
similarly to a diabetic with insulin, I’d need to take Thorazine the rest
of my life or I’d have psychotic attacks. I was lucky to get out of that
hell hole. I’ll not go into that story here.
As a young adult I was back living with my parents. This became an
increasingly intolerable situation. Finally, after a few months, I acted
out and Dad brought me to the hospital with the same result:
medications and boredom.
How I Beat Recidivism
This was my fifth hospitalization. I was fed up with the revolving door,
and made a firm resolution that when I got out I’d never return again.
As often happens when we firmly take our fate into our own hands,
the Universe cooperates. Three actions helped me to conquer this
First, against the advice of my friends, who said it would be
impossible, I got an apprenticeship at the university with a professor in
the fiber arts department. While in California, I picked up a simple
form of weaving and wanted to get more seriously involved. It was a
very meditative and relaxing activity resulting in a physical product.
This gave me new identity as an artist and kept me busy and off of the
streets and away from the bars.
Second, when I got out of the hospital I did not follow their
recommendations: medications, outreach programs and living in
neighborhoods with other ex-patients.
Third, I entered therapy with a very special psychologist after waiting
two years for her appointment calendar to clear. We had two sessions
with Mom and Dad. She told me that there was a family problem and
that I displayed the symptoms.
She used the Gestalt therapy method, and trained me in dream
analysis. She advised that whenever I heard voices, I should check
out where there might be rejection in my life instead of listening in.
Using this approach, over time, the voices decreased.
During my hospitalizations I was a member of the local chapter of the
Mental Patients Liberation Project whose purpose was to alert the
public of the dangers of psychiatric oppression. We distributed
pamphlets, spoke to classes of nurses in training, held a panel
discussion on suicide and did some advocacy work in hospitals.
Understanding My Purpose
Fast forwarding over many years, I experienced therapies, workshops,
men’s groups and living in intentional communities. In 2003 I retired
from a career as a chemist and moved to a small magical city in
To keep in touch with friends and relatives I sent out a short blog
every few months. Although I’d not seen myself as a writer, I got a lot
of good feedback to that effect.
In ’95, using my journals, I began writing my experiences as a mental
patient, hoping that this might provide some closure on those dark
In 2007, I met a woman who had won national writing awards. She
asked me to send her my manuscript. Her response was: “I got so
involved in reading it that I forgot to go to my yoga class.” She also
sent me several helpful editorial comments.
I began attending a weekly writing group and read several how-to
books on memoir writing. I now wanted to publish, and as I mentioned
earlier, when an intention is strong, the Universe provides for it.
I was in the “zone!” I met my cover artist in a hostel in Oaxaca,
engaged with a web designer I met on the beach who also introduced
me to social media and I got a friend to help me with formatting. I selfpublished
with an online firm that placed me on Amazon with a
paperback and Ebook.
Then came the next hurdle—promotional speaking engagements. In
the audience were friends and relatives. Also there were many
strangers. “Who cares about me and my story,” I thought. I got up my
courage and overcame this fear, finding that everyone has a story and
we all have overlap we can identify with.
As my legacy, I help people who are in trouble as I was . I provide
young adults, recovering from schizophrenia, different forms of online
self-care, as an adjunct to the mental health mill. My goal is not only to
see recovery, but to assist them in actually thriving in life.
I hope my story has given you some encouragement to rise above
your problems and help others. Please add your comments below. I’d
love to see your thoughts.