The conceptual framework for a man's search for meaning

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Cocaine, Religion and the Search for Meaning

December 5th, 2013 by dimpledbrain

comparecht(source: http://tinyurl.com/mmf88jm). Refer to footnote for definitions.

Substance abuse seems like a paradox. Alcohol and nicotine (cigarette) seem like the heroes of the group although marijuana slowly makes her way to the group. Caffeine is hailed as God substance. I’ve not heard or seen anyone championing usage of heroin or cocaine in the open. And even more paradoxically some big corporations, hailed as blue chips, are there to capitalize nicotine, alcohol and caffeine. But cocaine is outlawed and doomed to be grown in poorer nations like Jamaica, Columbia and Mexico. Tom Feiling, in his book, The Candy Machine made a persuasive case to legalize cocaine, a book I highly recommend.

If you have watched 2 Guns (2013) starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, the movie offers an alternative reasoning as to why some drugs are outlawed. Some but not all. Besides the movie is highly watchable, so go for it.

Yes on the balance heroin is bad (no one wants to shit his pants uncontrollably) but if this is the central argument to ban drugs, then alcohol and nicotine should go down the drain as well. (Refer to table above). Banning one but not the other just doesn’t quite make the cut.

Which brings us to the second point – religion. In The Candy Machine, Tom Feiling interviewed drug users (categorically compulsive users and recreational users) as to why they take drugs. The short answer is to basically fill a certain emptiness in the heart. However, only some recreational drug users could achieve that objective while other unsuccessful users stare blankly at the walls throughout the night. (As a result of unlimited energy boosted by the drugs). To paraphrase Tom Feiling, taking drug is like masturbating. It feels jolly good but you still want to make good use of the rest of your day.

This is where I think religions (or philosophies) could play a bigger role. Instead of being a legalistic pain in the ass (i.e. no to this, no to that), religions should dwell more on the search for meaning of life.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28).

To my observation, religion is usually either of the two: (a) the simplistic camp (God’s grace is sufficient for you) or (b) the legalistic camp (No you can’t do this. No you can’t do that. That’s a sin. Repent). I call for the third camp – the will to meaning camp (and i remember fondly how my former reverend used to teach me that). Consider the wealth of knowledge that can be explored by understanding the following deeper.

(a) At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split. (Matthew 27:51). What does this mean?

(b) Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:2). What does the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters mean?

(c) If God is all knowing, why did he plant the tree of the knowledge in the Garden of Eden? But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die. (Genesis 2:17)

(Go bombard someone from camp A or camp B).



Withdrawal: Presence and severity of characteristic withdrawal symptoms.

Reinforcement: A measure of the substance’s ability, in human and animal tests, to get users to take it again and again, and in preference to other substances.

Tolerance: How much of the substance is needed to satisfy increasing cravings for it, and the level of stable need that is eventually reached.

Dependence: How difficult it is for the user to quit, the relapse rate, the percentage of people who eventually become  dependent, the rating users give their own need for the substance and the degree to which the substance will be used in the face of evidence that it causes harm.

Intoxication: Though not usually counted as a measure of addiction in itself, the level of intoxication is associated with addiction and increases the personal and social damage a substance may do.

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