Myanmar’s Heroin War Is Lost–Can America Be Next?

December 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Politics and Government

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heroinMyanmar (also known as Burma) has long been one of the world’s leading producers of heroin, and production of this opiate drug derived from poppies does not appear to be slowing. While the heroin export/import ration may have gone down after the 90s, that does not mean that production, import and export of the drug has stopped altogether.

Due to the fact that Burma is the second largest producer of poppy seeds, most countries can link heroin exports to Myanmar. The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime has tried cracking down on the country but it appears that we are far from seeing the end of heroin exports from Myanmar.

Controlling Where There’s No Control

Many of the citizens, police and civilians in Myanmar engage in heroin usage. The most common using grounds are cemeteries. The cemetery acts as a safe haven for junkies and social users alike. Many of the citizens of Myanmar contribute the lack of control of this drug to the fact that most of the officials use it as well.

Due to undercover investigations, many officials who set out to control the use have instead become addicted to the drug themselves. When police go undercover, it is their job to ensure that their persona is completely believable. There is no way to convince a dealer that you are a user unless you actually use the drug in front of him. The undercover investigators may have had good intentions to start, but they have fallen short of fixing the problem.

Heroin User Junction

The cemeteries in which the heroin users hang out are littered with addicts–many who end up as fatalities. Every day, there are more than five drug users discovered dead. The cause of death is almost always attributed to heroin overdose. The irony that users are dying in a cemetery that is filled with bodies of drug overdose victims is far from humorous. It is a travesty that needs to be stopped.

Opiates in the United States

Myanmar’s drug exports have touched many countries, including the United States. Many people fear that, if something drastic is not done soon, the United States will succumb to the same fate as Myanmar, if not worse. Heroin usage is a worldwide problem, and it is one that can essentially be the downfall of life as we know it.

According to recent studies, more than 50 percent of major crimes committed in the United States are linked to opiate drug usage. Statistics also state that over $480 billion has been lost due to opiate use, addiction and recovery. Those numbers include loss of wages, cost of hospital bills and even criminal justice system costs.

While the United States has significantly lowered heroin usage among its population, it is still an issue that needs to be tackled. The threat that the problems in Myanmar may be echoed in the United States is a threat that needs to be taken seriously. The war on drugs is an ongoing effort that is still in need of fine tuning.

Cryste Harvey has battled with addiction since the day she was born. From family issues to personal issues, she has seen many things, but she has taken the leap to be sober and to help inform others of the hardships, trials and tribulations associated with addiction. She is now a mother and wife, and she has vowed to help others on their road to recovery. With little to no help from her parents and siblings, she was the first person in her family to graduate high school and then continue on to college. She is currently working towards an English degree, and she hopes to become a published author.

How Mexican Drug Cartels Impact Our War on Drugs

November 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization

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Risk businessAs Mexican drug cartels expand their operations beyond drug, weapon and people trafficking, the United States’ War on Drugs will have to change. For example, Time magazine recently reported that the Caballeros Templarios, or Knights Templar, cartel located in western Mexico has gone into the business of mining and selling iron ore. This sideline is actually more lucrative than drug trafficking, though it finances the criminal enterprise.

Chaos and Murder Spawn an Active Response

In the period between 2007 and 2012, at least 60,000 murders were tied to the Mexican drug cartels. Although the Mexican government took a passive stance towards the cartels, escalating violence and tension with the United States has prompted a more proactive approach.

Since the election of Mexican President Felipe Calderon in 2006, government forces have been pursuing head cartel bosses and actively working to put an end to all cartel activities. Combined efforts between them and American border agents and drug task forces has brought about the arrest of many of the cartels’ highest members. The war on drugs has been long-standing, brutal and traumatizing not only to Mexico but also to the United States, who’ve also had to face their share of travesties.

Cartels Reach into the United States

Many cities along the United States and Mexican border report escalating violence from cartels. Some of the reports include home invasions, abductions, beatings, rape and murder. However, this violence does not only occur along the borders. In 2009, the Justice Department reported cartel presence in 230 major cities, including as far north as Anchorage, Alaska. In many small rural agricultural communities, the cartels force Mexican field workers to carry out their violent activities and use the migrant communities as a locale from which to operate.

According to recent Department of Justice figures, the cartels now have nearly a monopoly on drug sales and distribution in the United States. Thus, whether it is methamphetamine or heroin, marijuana or crack cocaine, the cartels are operating from the level of street sales up to the importation of large quantities into the U.S. American street gangs, always on the lookout for money-making opportunities, are also increasing as the cartels’ representatives on the street. These representatives go as far as use intimidation to get law-abiding citizens to launder money, provide safe houses and extort money to fuel cartel activities.

Expanding Enterprise

This monopoly means that the cartels control an increasing number of illegal and semi-legal international operations. One result of the Mexican drug war and increased surveillance and control by U.S. immigration and drug task force personnel has been to push the cartels into other money-making enterprises. Thus, the Caballeros Templarios entrance into iron mining and ore sales. Time magazine warns that this expansion indicates that the cartels are increasingly embedded in the Mexican economy and thus they will become more difficult to eradicate.

This expansion demands a rethinking of the cartels as simply drug traffickers and requires policies to shift. To police the cartels’ activities, the governments needs to focus on broader criminal enterprise violations. The cartels’ reach into the United States is eerily reminiscent of the rise of the American mafia through illegal alcohol production, running and sales in the 1920s. American history proves that defeating such criminal enterprises are not only expensive and time consuming, but they are costly in terms of lives and social disruption.

With the expansion of the Mexican drug cartels into legitimate and semi-legitimate business activities, they become more difficult to root out. As part of the economy in both Mexico and the United States, cartel operatives represent a clear and present danger to both nations’ social structure. With a divided political structure, American government appears stymied in their approach to thee cartels, focusing instead on policing undocumented immigrants rather than proactively attacking dangerous illicit activities and escalating economic entrenchment of cartel gangs.

Cryste Harvey is a writer, college English major and interested in drug issues in the United States. She is currently pursuing a degree in journalism and hopes that she will be able to have an impact on the War on Drugs. Having witnessed several loved ones suffer from the escalating drug issues that the United States is facing, her goal is to educate others on what is happening throughout the country.

Devil’s Breath: What Is It and Should We Be Afraid?

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Devil's Breath Can Be Confused with Cocaine

Devil’s Breath Can Be Confused with Cocaine

Scopolamine, nicknamed Devil’s Breath, is a Colombian drug known for leaving users or victims in a zombie-like trance and taking away all free-will, temporarily blocking memory receptors in the brain. The drug can take effect while being airborne, ingested by mouth, or absorbed through pores in the skin–all of which make Devil’s Breath a drug to fear.

How Scopolamine Is Administered

Scopolamine is feared and revered in Colombia because of how easy it is to administer to a victim. The most common scheme is to walk down the street, blow the dust in a pedestrian’s face, follow the victim (for approximately five minutes), and then the criminal will take control of the person for his/her own wants and needs. Most people in Colombia go so far as to steer clear of this plant because they are afraid that they will be drugged by walking beside or underneath the flowers.

What Happens on Devil’s Breath?

Victims have been made to empty their bank accounts, perform sexual acts, give up organs, and other abhorrent acts that would normally go against their morals and beliefs. When the drug takes effect, people are easily coerced to do things that they normally would not do. In some instances, people have gone so far as to have victims rape and murder other victims.

Devil’s Breath can be easily camouflaged in another common drug–cocaine. After being ground up, Devil’s Breath (scopolamine) takes on the same color and texture as cocaine, and the two can easily be confused. The white powdery substance is typically stored in small bags or envelopes so that the dealer does not have to physically touch it.

How Devil’s Breath Affects the United States

Devil’s Breath may be a new topic of discussion in the media, but the drug has been around for years. It has even been said that it is more feared than Anthrax. While there are many people who believe that Colombians will keep the drug local, there have been certain instances where people have smuggled some Devil’s Breath across the border in an attempt to test it themselves. Since the United States’ main importer of cocaine is Colombia, Devil’s Breath is definitely a drug to be on the watch for.

 

Cryste Harvey has battled with addiction since the day she was born. From family issues to personal issues, she has seen many things, but she has taken the leap to be sober and to help inform others of the hardships, trials and tribulations associated with addiction. She is now a mother and wife, and she has vowed to help others on their road to recovery. With little to no help from her parents and siblings, she was the first person in her family to graduate high school and then continue on to college. She is currently working towards an English degree, and she hopes to become a published author.

 

 

 

How the Legalization of Marijuana Affects Colorado Locals

August 20, 2014 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization, People and Culture

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TGDGmarijuanaMarijuana (pot) sales in Colorado far exceeded what was expected in 2013. With sales reaching over $300 million in retail, the state really shocked the nation. There were reports on Fox News explaining that people were moving to Colorado just so that they could have legal access to marijuana. How will this affect the locals and the marijuana market in Colorado?

The Teen Perception of Pot

For many people, the ‘90s were a time when the number of people smoking cigarettes increased. In the new millenium, there was an increased effort to educate teens on the effects that cigarettes had on the body. Over the years, the number of teen smokers has dropped from more than 30 percent to roughly 11 percent, and the numbers are still declining. The result of this education about nicotine was that it changed teen perception of nicotine and its negative effects.

Now we need to tackle teen perception of marijuana and its effects. One big difference between marijuana and nicotine, however, is that cigarettes have never been illegal. Most teens know that marijuana was illegal, and still is illegal in many places, but that has never stopped them from getting their hands on it. Now, not only is pot legal in Colorado, but it can be found on nearly every street in the state. How does this fact affect teen perception of pot, and will there be an increase in marijuana addiction?

Not only has the legalization of marijuana in Colorado granted people permission to freely use a mind-altering substance, but the new law has, in a sense, sent teens the message that the drug is no longer as harmful as they had once thought.

Teens no longer have to worry about a drug charge if they are caught with marijuana in Colorado. In Colorado Springs, the new charge for possession of marijuana will be “minor in possession,” which is roughly equivalent to a curfew violation. Both citations are handled with fines up to $5,000 and up to six months in jail (as long as the amount in possession is less than one ounce) for the first offense.

Marijuana: Changing Business and Profits

According to an interview with a local marijuana seller who agreed to speak anonymously, he makes less profit now from his legal sales of marijuana than he did by selling it illegally in 1990. The tax rate for purchasing marijuana is 29 percent in Denver, and that does not include the amount that the store pays to the state.

It appears that many locals are beginning to rethink their voting decisions. Colorado police have continued cracking down on marijuana usage, even after the laws came into effect. Denver even went so far as to try to ban recreational marijuana usage at private residences if pedestrians passing by could smell it.

Another anonymous source stated, “Was I the only one deluded into supporting pot legalization because I thought legal pot would be less expensive and would put the cartels out of business in our state? Or were others led to believe that, too? Removing the ‘risk premium’ was supposed to be the appeal.” According to this source, the drug cartels will also be more inclined to sell their product in Colorado because the price for an ounce goes for about $400 (before taxes), and in other states it only sells for about $300. The cartels will be able to make a bigger profit, and all they have to do is stay under that $400 limit.

Cartels will also become more inclined to sell in Colorado because police have stated that it will be near impossible to police the borders now that “pot” has been legalized. There is simply not enough manpower to do border patrol.

 

Cryste Harvey has battled with addiction since the day she was born. From family issues to personal issues, she has seen many things, but she has taken the leap to be sober and to help inform others of the hardships, trials and tribulations associated with addiction. She is now a mother and wife, and she has vowed to help others on their road to recovery. With little to no help from her parents and siblings, she was the first person in her family to graduate high school and then continue on to college. She is currently working towards an English degree, and she hopes to become a published author.

 

I Need a Drink, My Child Needs a Mother

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Recovery Can Bring Back the Sunny Days

Recovery Can Bring Back the Sunny Days

Back when I was drinking all of the time, I saw things a bit differently than I do now. My son had food, a place to live, family, friends, and much more. He wanted for little and had everything that he needed…or so I thought.

I Was an Alcoholic: Our Life Then

I worked almost every day in order to provide for my son. We were on government welfare, and we were in an assisted living apartment complex. I made pretty good money, so there was no reason that I should have needed help paying my bills, but I just could not manage them on my own. Looking back, I now know why.

You see, I went out every night that I was not working. I would take my son to a trusted family member or friend, and then I would go out and get drunk. If I was not working at my bar job that night, I was still going there to drink. I went to the birthday parties at the bar, the friends’ nights out, and a lot of times, just to go there to hang out. I was an alcoholic, but it was worse than that. I was an alcoholic who felt the need to be around other people to drink and, because of my alcohol addiction, I was often using my bill money to pay for my drinks.

Looking Back on My Drinking Years

What I thought was good parenting, was a lie. I was lying to myself, to my friends, to my family, and even to my son. I provided everything that he needed physically, but I was not there for my son in the way that really matters. I was not tucking him in at night–something he loved. I was not taking him to the park, and he enjoyed that so much. I was not even really speaking to him, and I feel terrible about that.

Looking back, I would change it all. I realize now that I was neglecting him. His needs were not being met, and I was not being a mom who he could be proud of. Through it all, he loved me. I do not know why or how I ended up with such an amazing child, but I did, and I was missing it. I was missing all of the little things. I was missing the late night snuggles, the morning laughter, and everything else that comes along with having a child.

We Have Come So Far

We have come a long way since those times. I have realized the mistakes that I made during the years I was drinking. I now take him to the park, I take him for mommy-and-me days, and I listen to him as much as possible. I have other children now, and we are a happy family. I was lucky to find a husband who is there for me, who loves me unconditionally, and who supports me through all of my trials and errors.

My family was once broken, but we are mending. It is a struggle every single day, and I will not lie about that. Recovery is tough and I have relapsed on occasion, but my family is there to help pull me through it. To be honest, I hate that my life is still focused on alcohol. I hate that there are some days that I just want to sit down and drink a six pack. I believe that I will always have the urge to drink, but I now know that I have the power to overcome that urge. And for that, I am proud.

 

Cryste Harvey has battled addiction since the day she was born. From family issues to personal issues, she has seen many things, but she has taken the leap to be sober and to help inform others of the hardships, trials and tribulations associated with addiction. She is now a mother and wife, and she has vowed to help others on their road to recovery. With little to no help from her parents and siblings, she was the first person in her family to graduate high school and then continue on to college. She is currently working towards an English degree, and she hopes to become a published author.

A Mother’s Battle Is a Child’s War

May 12, 2014 by  
Filed under General Topics, People and Culture

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aloneSince I was very little, my mom had been on crack. It started with her doing drugs in her room, then she would go out and partake with friends, and then it finally got to the point that she would leave me and my three other siblings home for days on end while she went on binges.

The hardest thing to swallow at that point was that my mom did drugs, it did not matter the drug of choice because all we knew is that her choice was the drug over us, and that was a painful realization.

Child Abuse Comes in Many Forms

Many people are naive and believe that child abuse means physically harming a child, but that is not the case. Child abuse comes in the form of neglect, abandonment, physical abuse, mental abuse and emotional abuse. A child who is being abused does not always show up to school with bruises on his body, and that is an important fact to remember.

Sometimes, bringing a known offender around your children can be considered neglect. There were many things that went on inside of our home that should never go on in any place. The “friends” hurt us in many ways. Most of the time, my sister and I would hide away in a locked room in order to keep our sanity. This was no way for anyone to live. Constant fear of being hurt is a pain all of its own.

My Siblings and I

When I was 10 years old, I had three other siblings with me. My older brother was 11, my little sister was five, and my little brother was three. When my mom would leave the house for extended periods, we had to fend for ourselves. It is hard being a child and providing for another child, especially when you have to keep it all a secret from the rest of the world.

Me and my brother used to argue over who had to stay home with our little brother. We had school, and he did not. We had to get my sister up and dressed for school. We used to sell our lunches at school so that we could buy hot dogs and bread for dinner. There was a point that we were stealing food from the local grocery store. We even had to smell our clothes to figure out which ones were the least dirty, and it got really hard to pick at times.

We Kept It a Secret

There was no option. If we told anyone what was going on, we would be taken away and split apart. We already didn’t have parents, so we could not stand the thought of being separated from each other as well. What we did was keep it all a secret. We pretended like everything was fine. We forged mom’s signature on school papers, and we kept on providing every way that we knew how.

I guess someone else noticed what was going on because all of that changed. My mom was actually home when it happened, but she was not sober. Child Protective Services (CPS) came into our house, and they took us away. They let us stay with family, but not any of our parents. We were only gone for a couple of days before they let us right back into the home that was littered with crack pipes only two or three days before. The worse part was that we had no say in where we wanted to go, and we had no say in what was going to happen. We were just children, and our voices were not heard.

I am a Mother Now

Looking back, I cannot fathom doing to my children what was done to us. My mother taught me not only how to make the wrong decisions, but through her mistakes, I was taught how to be a mom. I was taught that under no circumstances should I let my dirty habits get in the way of my family life, and with that lesson, I thrive as a mother. I have made my mistakes, but I was able to quickly see who I was becoming, and I changed my path of my own free will.

My Mom Now

My mom has quit doing drugs, and I am so very proud of her. Addiction runs rampant in our family, and she did not let it keep her. There were many times that we worried about her, about whether she would live or die, about when we would see her again and even about where we would be the next time she came home, but not anymore. Nowadays, she is a mom and a grandmother. She makes it a point to let us know that we are loved. I could not ask for anything more from my mom than what she is giving now.

Cryste Harvey* has battled with addiction since the day she was born. From family issues to personal issues, she has seen many things, but she has taken the leap to be sober and to help inform others of the hardships, trials and tribulations associated with addiction. She is now a mother and wife, and she has vowed to help others on their road to recovery. With little to no help from her parents and siblings, she was the first person in her family to graduate high school and continue on to college. Harvey is currently working toward an English degree, and she hopes to become a published author.

*name has been changed

Ending the Cycle and Starting Anew

April 23, 2014 by  
Filed under General Topics, People and Culture

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Meditation and relaxation on an empty roadWhen you form a habit that is so deep in your bones that you no longer feel like you have a choice on whether or not you are going to be doing it, you have developed an addiction. My addiction was alcohol, and boy was it a doozy. Alcoholism is no different than an addiction to a drug, to be honest. The worst part is that it is legal, and it can be found everywhere and even promoted on television.

Growing Up with Addicts

My mom is a great mom now, but throughout my childhood I watched my mom smoke pot. It was no big deal. I even liked the smell of it. I remember when I was little, I would actually sit beside her when she smoked, just so that I could smell it. I watched her drink as well. Most nights were hell. She would scream and argue and most times got violent. Then she started smoking crack. We knew she was different, and it did not take long for use to figure out why.

My dad is a wonderful, hardworking, loving man. He has the biggest heart in the world, but he has no willpower. Alcohol has had him in its control since before I was ever born. We always had a roof over our head, but even when the electricity got shut off because of lack of payment, he had a cooler full of beer.

I got pregnant at a young age. My son’s father would drink vodka every night, and then he would get extremely violent. Every day I would have to hide one bruise or another. Sometimes I couldn’t brush my hair because there were too many tender spots on my head. Toward the end of our relationship, I took the leap to alcoholism myself. When he started drinking, I did. I knew that the vodka would keep me from feeling the pain that was sure to come, and THAT is when my problems got even worse.

After I left my son’s father, I kept on drinking. It was as if I needed to. I craved alcohol, and it didn’t matter what kind. There was beer, vodka, and whiskey offered to me on a daily basis, so I drank it. I went out to get drunk, I went to my dad’s place to get drunk, and I did not realize how bad it was hurting my child.

Life-Altering Wake-up Call

It literally took an act of God to change me and make me see the light. I had a life-altering experience, and it was like a punch in the face. While sober. I was lying on a gurney and being wheeled into surgery when it hit me that I had become what I always swore I wouldn’t. I had become my parents. I was dying, and I had not even tried to make sure that my son had a mom that he could be proud of. What kind of parent was I?

You see, I had a cyst on my ovary that had rupture. I was hemorrhaging internally because of the rupture. No, it was not because of alcohol that I was dying, but it was because of alcohol that I had not fully lived. The doctors were rushing in to give me another shot at life, and there was about an 11 percent chance that I was going to come out of it alive. My father was left praying on his knees, my son was at my aunt’s house unaware of what was going on, my mom was too lost in her addiction to care, and I was leaving them all…Or so I thought.

Through some miracle, I made it out of surgery, and as you can see, I survived. That two-minute trip to the operating room changed my whole perspective on life though. I saw that I was not living a life that I would want my son to live. I was not teaching him to be a man. I was not helping him become something better than what I am. What parent doesn’t want their child to be better than they ever were?

My life changed that day, and it changed for the better. I vowed to myself that if I made it out of surgery, I would play with him, teach him to be a man, teach him that family comes first no matter what, and most of all, show him the love, attention, and praise that he so deserved.

My Reality Now

I will say this…I am still an alcoholic, but not because I drink every day. I am an alcoholic because I still crave it almost every day. I have relapsed over the years, but every day I get stronger. I am able to fight it a little harder when I look at my children. My husband has helped me tremendously, but if I had not made the choice, I would have never quit.

You see, it takes truly wanting to change in order to be able to actually make that change. I truly wanted to change. I wanted to become a better person, an asset to society, a respectable mom, a member of the PTA, and I needed to with all my heart to make my son proud of me. And I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world.

My point is: I ended the cycle. I am giving my children an honest chance to avoid addiction and alcoholism altogether. I will be honest with them. I will let them know that addictive personalities run rampant on both sides of my family. I will warn them of the possibilities that they inherited the disease from me. BUT… I am doing everything in my power to end it, and for that, I am proud.

Cryste Harvey* has battled with addiction since the day she was born. From family issues to personal issues, she has seen many things, but she has taken the leap to be sober and to help inform others of the hardships, trials and tribulations associated with addiction. She is now a mother and wife, and she has vowed to help others on their road to recovery. With little to no help from her parents and siblings, she was the first person in her family to graduate high school and continue on to college. Harvey is currently working toward an English degree, and she hopes to become a published author.

*name has been changed

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