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January 2014

American Addict

"America represents 5% of the world’s population but consumes 50% of the world’s prescription pills and over 80% of the world’s prescription narcotics; this is NOT a coincidence."  This is a quote from the film American Addict.  A narcotic is any drug that affects mood or behavior.  Examples of legal narcotics include Prozac, Ridalin, Valium, or any pain-killer.  Americans turn to these drugs for every problem they have and every discomfort they feel.  In fact, a recent study shows that up to 70% of Americans take prescription drugs.  This has a lot to do with how completely fucked Americans are, both as individuals and as a society.

How can it be that anyone actually believes drugs can solve their problems?  Do we turn to illegal drugs like Heroin or Cocaine with a legitimate expectation that doing so will help us work through problems or "balance our brain chemistry"?  Why do we lie to ourselves that legal narcotics are any different?  The simple answer is that we are foolish enough to trust a health care system that lies to us for profit.  Or maybe it just seems easier to go for the quick fix than to do what it would actually require to solve problems.   

Despite what psychiatrists, physicians, and direct-to-consumer drug advertisements tell us, drugs are not the way to solve problems.  Once upon a time, when a teenager or young college student was dealing with angst, he might try to work through these feelings by reading philosophy or literature.  Maybe he would put on some loud music or go to a party.  If that didn't work, he might actually decide to make some changes!  Maybe he would quit a job, maybe travel, maybe change majors or go into a new profession.  

But people on narcotics end up muting their personalities, confusing their thinking, and lessening the potential of their lives in a desperate attempt to cope.  People on narcotics not only become sick and often die from the habit, they end up living lives that fall short of their full potential.

Everything I am and everything I have become is directly related to my feelings of angst, pain, anxiety, longing, and depression.   When I entered the corporate world after University, I fell into a deep depression.  Rather than taking Prozac, I turned to art and beauty for comfort.  I ended up becoming a huge music fan.  As a result of becoming a music fan, I eventually became a songwriter.  Today, when I pick up a guitar and play something...when I write a song...when I get on a stage...the only antidepressant I need is music.  I know that antidepressants would have kept me from feeling anything strong enough to lead me down this path...this path of becoming

Those years in the gray, corporate cubicle in Seattle were the most depressing of my life.  People close to me suggested that I consider antidepressants (which, of course, any professional would have prescribed).  I sought comfort in truth instead.  This led me down a fascinating path of discovery about how our political and economic system really works.  While these truths initially led me into an even deeper depression, I still somehow found comfort in truth.  I began to realize that I wasn't crazy and I wasn't fucked up.  It is the world that is no longer meant for healthy human beings.  It is the system that is fucked.  In a real and profound way, I started to free myself from so many of the tentacles of this cancerous system in which we live.  This journey would have never happened if I had chosen to numb myself with antidepressants.

The depression I felt during those years was extraordinarily painful, but it was emotion that guided me toward the path I was meant to take.  I chose not to medicate myself in order to cope with the unacceptable; rather, to change the unacceptable by continuing to seek that which was desirable.  In the years that followed, I moved to Europe, wrote books, recorded albums, performed, met amazing people, and spent a lot of time in places I never thought I would see.  I have prospered and, more importantly, I have not been depressed.  Actually, my life of experience has left me extraordinarily happy and satisfied.  No, I'm not happy every day...of course not.  I get sad, depressed, agitated, sick, and exhausted just like everybody else does.  But I know that these are the feelings that will nudge me toward some kind of progress.  When I feel that everything is fucked up, I change everything and make progress.  That's how it is supposed to work!  That's why nature has given us these feelings!  Only a fool or coward would attempt to kill these feelings with drugs.

The only way to solve our problems is to change ourselves and change our lives.  To use drugs in order to cope is to remain stuck in a situation that is not acceptable.  Only when our pain and suffering becomes severe enough do we find the courage and strength to follow our intuition and start down the path of becoming. 

Pharmaceutical companies are powerful players in a cancerous system that wants us stuck as servants to the ugly machine of capitalist destruction.  When we take what they are offering, we do not get better.  Instead, we suffer enormous side-effects just to cope for a few hours (until we take the next pill).  Those pills make us physically sick as they kill our emotions, deaden our instincts, change our natural appetites and drives, and make us do something as crazy as learning to accept the unacceptable.  Not to mention, hundreds of thousands of people die from prescription drug overdoses every year (think Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, and Marylyn Monroe).  

When it comes to our emotional pain, the truth is that we must reject all medicine and psychiatry completely.  The solutions to our problems are to be found in the brilliance, beauty, and possibility of the world around us.  The solutions are to be found in love, art, intellectualism, and experience!  Happiness is to be found in that which excites us!  So let's flush the pills down the toilette so that we may continue down nature's path of becoming.  

Posted by Mark Manney.