by Alex PietrowskiStaff Writer Waking Times

Alcohol is a most destructive drug. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that some 88,000 people a year die from excessive alcohol use, while over 10,000 people die each year as a result of drunk driving, a third of all traffic fatalities. Never-the-less, the alcohol industry continues to grow with nearly $500 billion a year in sales of beer, wine, and spirits. Big business, with big consequences.

American alcohol consumption is on the rise, and it is now estimated that 1 in 8 Americans are alcoholics. This is a growing epidemic, as demonstrated by two surveys showing unprecedented increases in alcoholism.

“Two large surveys carried out in 2001-02 and 2012-13 have found that harmful levels of drinking are increasing among almost all demographics in the US. The number of teetotallers is falling, while high-risk drinking and alcoholism rose sharply during the 11-year period, according to an analysis published in JAMA Psychiatry.” [Source]

The rise is statistically significant, and the greatest increases were seen among those in the ‘severe’ use category, a sign that this trend is likely to produce an increase in alcohol related disease and accidents.

“The number of people who had consumed alcohol in the past 12 months went up 11.2% in the time between surveys. High-risk drinking went up by almost 30%. This means that at present about 29.6 million Americans are putting their health at risk due to their drinking habits.


The largest change was in the most severe alcohol use category. The number of people who had received a diagnosis of alcoholism over the period of the two studies shot up by 49%, affecting 12.7% of the total population. This means 1 in 8 Americans received a diagnosis of alcoholism in the year before the latest survey.” [Source]

Some experts blame the affordability of alcohol for the increase in abuse of alcohol.

“The price of alcohol has fallen sharply over recent decades, and that is the most compelling explanation for why the population is drinking more. Even the heaviest drinkers respond to changes in the cost of alcohol.” ~Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford University

This may indeed be relevant, however, it’s not just alcoholism that is rising to startling levels, but also the overuse of opioids and other drugs. As addiction expert Gabor Maté recently explained in an interview with Brian Rose of London Real how alcohol is used as an escape mechanism to dull the pain of unresolved trauma and past experiences which have had a lasting effect on one’s psyche.


“It is a known by many that ingesting alcohol depresses the nervous system, kills brain cells, is toxic to the liver, weakens the immune system, and has many other harmful effects. We are taught that long-term alcohol use can lead to unwanted weight gain, diseases of the liver, lowering of intelligence, and negative effects on hormones. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can lead to birth defects, mental retardation, and deformities in the developing fetus. Yet still, it is mass promoted and supported by our mainstream culture. Have you ever considered that alcohol is a slick tool of the supporters of the Matrix (global mind control and oppression program) to keep people on a path of disempowerment and sickness?” [Source]

There are also spiritual consequences of drinking alcohol to excess, as noted by Zahra Sita:

“How many times have you or someone you know, after becoming quite intoxicated with alcohol, behaved in a manner uncommon to them? Perhaps you experienced the changing of voice, violence, sexual promiscuity, ingesting of harmful substances, destruction to property, conflictual behavior, and other negative expressions. Consider these experiences and ask yourself – is this the manifestation of light, love, and positivity? Do these occurrences represent a path of consciousness and health?” [Source]

Quitting alcohol has many positive benefits, and many people see common things change in their lives.

“Not drinking alcohol can give you a serious edge in a society where most everyone else is boozing it up on a regular basis. The zeitgeist of alcohol is that it makes life more fun, but the reality is that it is a massive industry pushed onto the public which has created a culture of self-destructive behavior.” ~Sofia Adamson

About the Author
Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com. Alex is an avid student of Yoga and life.
This article (A New Epidemic – Alcoholism on the Rise in America) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Alex Pietrowski and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.



Model hallucinations

Resultado de imagem para La Calera, Cundinamarca, Colombia in 2014. Photo by Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty

Participants in a traditional Ayahuasca ritual of spiritual and physical healing in La Calera, Cundinamarca, Colombia in 2014. Photo by Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty

Psychedelics have a remarkable capacity to violate our ideas about ourselves. Is that why they make people better?

by Philip Gerrans is a professor of philosophy at the University of Adelaide in Australia and an associate of the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences in Geneva, Switzerland. His latest book is The Measure of Madness: Philosophy of Mind, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Delusional Thought(2014).

by Chris Letheby is a philosophy adjunct at the the University of Adelaide in Australia who writes about psychedelic drugs.

Psychedelic drugs are making a psychiatric comeback. After a lull of half a century, researchers are once again investigating the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin (‘magic mushrooms’) and LSD. It turns out that the hippies were on to something. There’s mounting evidence that psychedelic experiences can be genuinely transformative, especially for people suffering from intractable anxiety, depression and addiction. ‘It is simply unprecedented in psychiatry that a single dose of a medicine produces these kinds of dramatic and enduring results,’ Stephen Ross, the clinical director of the NYU Langone Center of Excellence on Addiction, told Scientific American in 2016.

Just what do these drugs do? Psychedelics reliably induce an altered state of consciousness known as ‘ego dissolution’. The term was invented, well before the tools of contemporary neuroscience became available, to describe sensations of self-transcendence: a feeling in which the mind is put in touch more directly and intensely with the world, producing a profound sense of connection and boundlessness.

How does all this help those with long-term psychiatric disorders? The truth is that no one quite knows how psychedelic therapy works. Some point to a lack of knowledge about the brain, but this is a half-truth. We actually know quite a lot about the neurochemistry of psychedelics. These drugs bind to a specific type of serotonin receptor in the brain (the 5-HT2A receptor), which precipitates a complex cascade of electrochemical signalling. What we don’t really understand, though, is the more complex relationship between the brain, the self and its world. Where does the subjective experience of being a person come from, and how is it related to the brute matter that we’re made of?

It’s here that we encounter a last frontier, metaphysically and medically. Some think the self is a real entity or phenomenon, implemented in neural processes, whose nature is gradually being revealed to us. Others say that cognitive science confirms the arguments of philosophers East and West that the self does not exist. The good news is that the mysteries of psychedelic therapy might be a hidden opportunity to finally start unravelling the controversy.

The nature of the self has been disputed for as long as people have reflected on their existence. Recent neuroscientific theories of selfhood are recognisably descended from venerable philosophical positions. For example, René Descartes argued that the self was an immaterial soul whose vicissitudes we encounter as thoughts and sensations. He thought the existence of this enduring self was the only certainty delivered by our (otherwise untrustworthy) experience.

Few neuroscientists still believe in an immaterial soul. Yet many follow Descartes in claiming that conscious experience involves awareness of a ‘thinking thing’: the self. There is an emerging consensus that such self-awareness is actually a form of bodily awareness, produced (at least in part) by interoception, our ability to monitor and detect autonomic and visceral processes. For example, the feeling of an elevated heart rate can provide information to the embodied organism that it is in a dangerous or difficult situation.

David Hume disagreed with Descartes. When he attended closely to his own subjectivity, he claimed to find not a self, but a mere stream of experiences. We incorrectly infer the existence of an underlying entity from this flow of experiential moments, Hume said. The modern version of this view is that we have perceptual, cognitive, sensory and, yes, bodily experiences – but that is all. There’s an almost irresistible temptation to attribute all this to an underlying self. But this substantialist interpretation is a Cartesian mistake, according to Hume…





Why Didn’t My Parents Just Tell Me They Smoke Weed?

by Tierney Finster

As a kid, I made a habit of rounding up all the spare tire-pressure gauges my father left around the house and demanding my mom tell me what they were. I was sure my parents had a secret and that those weird little devices were part of it. Now I realize my mechanic father was just messy, and that I thought those little tools were marijuana pipes.

My parents hardly ever drank, but they were habitual stoners. They both routinely locked themselves in their bedroom, the bathroom and the family room, where the same, weird odor would always emerge. It was one of the few things they kept secret from me. For comparison: They never covered my ears when they cursed or gossiped. And my dad’s Marlboro Light 100s sat out in plain view. But their weed smoking was different. I might have smelled it, but it was never to be seen.

In fairness, it was the 1990s. Medicinal marijuana was legal, but the widespread normalization of cannabis use, even in a state like California (where we lived), was yet to come. Now, though, things are obviously much different — recreational weed is legal in Washington and Colorado, and it’s about to be in California, too. So the question of when and how to disclose the fact that you smoke (and/or ingest) weed to your kids is more pressing than ever.

Should you smoke a joint in front of your kids as casually as you’d sip a beer? And if so, should you bother teaching them anything about said substance beyond just seeing it? Not to mention, when should you tell them?

While experts are sure to disagree on the best answers to these questions, I decided to find out what my two favorite marijuana experts — my parents — had to say about the big, green elephant in the room.

Jeff (aka My Dad)

I was 22 or 23 when I moved in with my brother. He had two kids, 5 and 7, at the time. I remember the first time he asked me if I wanted to smoke. I stood up, assuming we were going to head into the garage. But he went ahead and rolled up a doobie right there in the living room, in front of the kids. They acted like it was no big deal. That was something I’d never seen before — a whole different approach.

My brother was like, “If they’re going to smoke, they’re going to smoke.” He thought if he hid the weed from his kids, it would only become more attractive to them. I found his attitude refreshing. He didn’t want to lie to his kids. And as it turns out, neither one of them grew up to smoke weed.

I never thought I’d have kids, so I never gave much thought to what I’d do once I was in his shoes. I do know that I don’t think we hid weed from you, but we didn’t throw it in your face either. I just figured if you smoked, you smoked, and if you didn’t, you didn’t. When you were about 7, mom came in and was like, “I think Tierney knows we’re smoking weed.” “I’m pretty sure she’s known since she was 2 and a half,” I responded. You picked up on shit quick. You’d stomp around unimpressed, shouting, “What’s that smell?!”

It probably seemed like we were hiding the weed more than we were because we also lived with your grandparents, who we were hiding it from.

The whole situation comes down to a question of whether or not you want your kids to be exposed to something. But I don’t regret not smoking openly in front of you while you were growing up, even though you’ve since told me you thought we were straight-up drug addicts until you figured out what weed was for yourself.

You see, unlike Mom, I’d notice when our weed bag was light. So when you got to be 16 or 17, I’d ask Mom if she’d given some weed to someone or put it in a different container. But I knew you had your hands in it. I never said anything because I didn’t think it was a big deal; you’ve always had your shit together. I was just happy you never took the whole bag.

In terms of how legalization is progressing today, it’s bullshit that so many people, including so many parents, are still locked up on weed-related crimes when other people are getting praised for their cannabis businesses. That’s something that needs to be looked at now that weed is decriminalized; state by state, past offenders brought in on weed charges need to be let go. Aside from that, I don’t think there’s any major difference in raising your kids around weed now than there was 20 years ago. It simply all depends on how you handle it.

Shannon (aka My Mom)

Once you saw me with a bong, I knew you knew. You were 7 or 8. I was on my way to a friend’s funeral when you caught me rushing into my room to stash it away. Suddenly, you were silent and staring at me, so I told you it was one of dad’s car parts. You probably knew I was lying…




Inside one of America’s most feared street gangs: Guns, drugs and violence are part of everyday life for the Bloodline gangsters

'Murder' holds a gun that he bought for 250 USD in the street. He bought it after guys from another gang stabbed one of his friends in the neck

  • Picture series details life inside the notorious Bloodline gang, which is part of the Latin Kings organisations
  • Members are seen brandishing drugs and guns in the chilling photos
  • The group was founded in the 1950s and evolved into a huge criminal enterprise
  • The series also reveals the unity and respect that members show each other 

A photographer has documented the lives of one of the biggest and most feared gangs in the US, giving chilling insight into their violent world.

The images show gang members holding guns and drugs, as well as mourning friends killed in the cycle of crime they have become engulfed in.

The Bloodline gang, which has an estimated 35,000 active members, dates back to the 1950s and was originally set up as an organisation aimed at tackling racial discrimination against Hispanic people.

But it has evolved into a huge criminal enterprise New York, and is a faction of the notorious Latin Kings gang.

The anonymous photographer was given unique access to the group, following the daily routines of members who go by aliases including ‘Murder’, ‘Flash’ and ‘Smokey’.

s well as highlighting the gritty realities of life for gang members, it also draws attention to the happiness, unity and respect they show each other.

The series explores the intimacy and naivety of teenagers who have been pushed by their economic status, racial or social issues to survive in a hostile environment in one of the most developed cities in the world.

The Trump administration recently vowed to crack down on violent gang members and criminals from American Communities.

Recent nationwide gang apprehension programs such as Project Dawn, focusing on dismantling transnational gangs have seen hundreds arrested in New York alone.

Gang members 'King Looney', 'King 'Chucho', 'King Smokey' and 'King Buckets' rest in their apartments after a long day at a meeting with other gang members, smoking marijuana and drinking beer

 Gang members ‘King Looney’, ‘King ‘Chucho’, ‘King Smokey’ and ‘King Buckets’ rest in their apartments after a long day at a meeting with other gang members, smoking marijuana and drinking beer

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4739038/Shocking-pictures-life-like-New-York-gang.html#ixzz4oJeVYdyu 
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by Dylan CharlesEditor Waking Times

The overwhelming majority of the universe is: who knows? ~Richard Panek

An accounting of the matter that makes up the universe reveals that some 73% of it is made up of dark energy, and another 23% is made up of dark matter, neither of which can we see nor understand. When we look into the heavens, 96% of it is invisible to us.

Furthermore, the human eye is only capable of seeing around .0035% of the entire spectrum of electromagnetic (EM) radiation. This is that tiny portion we refer to as visible light, yet EM radiation is literally everywhere, existing as radio waves, gamma rays, x-rays and magnetic fields, permeating all things.

As human beings the perception we have of ourselves and our place in the vastness of the universe is severely distorted. Our reality is built upon a very small fraction of the total information surrounding us. We live and function under the power of a tremendous illusion crafted by the senses and the brain, which do their best to give us a functional version of reality from just a small percentage of the entire information available to us.

Long before the scientific method and the advent of technological instruments of scientific measurement, humans intuitively understood that what we are involved in on earth is an elaborate illusion. Through spiritual cultivation we learned that although we believe things are what they appear to be, they actually are not.

In Hinduism, the manufacturing of this illusion is achieved by the deluding power of the consciousness of God, or Maya. It is the simulated matrix that creates the magic which makes us believe that what we consider to existence is actually real. Maya is the creation of the illusion of the three-dimensional world bound to time and space. It generates the external world, or unreality, while the inner world is replete with deeper meaning, a deeper story, and great mystery.

You do not exist to serve the illusion. The illusion exists to serve you. ~Lauren Zimmerman

Some of us are gifted with the natural ability to see through Maya, but most are not, yet in altered states of consciousness, many more of us can pierce the veil to witness a more holistic version of the universe which incorporates both the natural world and the vastness of the inner world to form a singular, harmonious worldview.

What we see with our eyes is illusion, and what we envision with our mind is reality. This is the difference between sight and vision.

For the record, there is “seeing” and then there is “vision.” The process of “seeing” is often described in clinical terms… Seeing is accomplished by visual receptors tethered to the brain. Vision, however, is accomplished within the mind (which resides in the brain) and is aided by intuitive or “knowing” modalities of consciousness. The Human retains the capacity to have both sight and vision. Vision allows the Human to meet the object, and sight allows the light of the object to meet the Human. This balance in Universe brings equity and harmony to that extraordinary gift of visual perception.~Julian Wash

The great natural shamanic traditions of the world, as well as the psychedelic sciences, are known to induce visions, sending initiates into a virtual reality where the lines between what is real and what is possible are folded together into life-changing moments.

“The psychedelic experience completely negates the idea that the mind is in the brain.” ~Ralph Abraham

Dimethyltriptamine (DMT), is a chemical compound found in trace amounts in many plants, animals, and within the human body. The substance has been dubbed the ‘spirit molecule’ because of the effects it has on human consciousness when taken in concentrated form or when ingested within the visionary Amazonian plant medicine, Ayahuasca.

DMT is believed to be created within the pineal gland, the curious symmetrical organ in the center of the brain which has for centuries been considered to be the ‘seat of the soul,’ by philosophers and spiritual adepts such as René Descartes…


About the AuthorDylan Charles is a student and teacher of Shaolin Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, a practitioner of Yoga and Taoist arts, and an activist and idealist passionately engaged in the struggle for a more sustainable and just world for future generations.

This article (DMT and the Spirit Science of Breaking Through the Illusion of Reality) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Dylan Charles and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.



Why Some People Can’t Smoke Weed

Illustration by Carly Jean Andrews

The agony of the would-be recreational drug user

by Tracy Moore

In his 1984 top 10 pop hit “I Want a New Drug,” Huey Lewis lays out his criteria for the perfect drug: That rare, no side-effects high that won’t make him do a series of things — make him sick, crash his car, feel three-feet thick, hurt his head, make his mouth too dry, or his eyes too red. It won’t make him nervous; it won’t spill; it doesn’t cost too much; it doesn’t come in a pill. It won’t keep him up all night, or make him sleep all day. It does what it should, he imagines. It won’t make him feel too bad — or too good, either.

The song is more of a metaphor for love (“One that makes me feel/ Like I feel when I’m with you,” Lewis croons), but that drug, for many people, is marijuana. It’s widely available, incredibly safe, affordable; it offers few side-effects, is rarely addictive, and for most users, produces a chill, easy high you can wake up from effortlessly the next morning.

It’s also now totally legal in many states (one in five Americans currently resides in a state where they can toke without a doc), and it’s far less addictive and far less bad for you than either booze or prescription drugs.

What’s not to love? Well, in a cruel twist, it gives some people terrible anxiety and panic attacks — also known as “the weed demons” — not to mention a crushing paranoia that defeats the entire purpose of getting high in the first place.

I first tried pot as a teenager, and soon found that everyone else’s favorite pastime in redneck rural Tennessee (other than drinking wine coolers, Mad Dog 20/20 and Jack Daniel’s) was, for me, a recipe for instant barfing. One hit, and I became violently ill. Mix it with booze, and I was committed to a night of puking until I passed out. I was the only person I knew like this, and it was a real drag in a town where there’s little else to do. As an indoor kid, this was my peer group’s version of team sports, and being able to hold your own — that is, do even a reasonable amount of drugs on a Saturday night and remain standing — was a prerequisite. I would recently learn this reaction to weed — going pale and unsteady, then passing out — was called “pulling a whitey.”

Like any good student of recreational drug use, I vowed to work hard at being good at getting high. Unlike public school in a state that, until recently, ranked near dead last in education, this was something I actually had to work hard at in life. Eventually, I got really good at it. Maybe it’s because all we could get our hands on in college was shake, but for a brief period my friends and I ripped bong hits every day on shitty weed, got blissfully high, watched Melrose Place and 90210, and coasted through life.

Then weed turned on me again. And to this day, so much as one hit creates an unbearable weirdness in me. The second it hits my lungs, my brain turns into a flipbook of anxiety, and suddenly every decision I’ve ever made flashes rapidly before my eyes like a carousel of bad choices, even the indisputably good ones.

Since moving to California and peddling my pity party to stoner friends, they’ve reassured me that there are plenty of strains of weed that address precisely this issue — that I’ve come to the right place for a good buzz. “Indica,” they say, coolly exhaling off a blunt. “That shit’s a body high, man, not a head high. Trust me.”

For my last birthday, a friend in Santa Barbara said I should give weed another chance, assuring me this was the stuff that would allow me to partake in the best legal high around. I took one hit, and felt nothing. I started to inhale a second one, thinking I was home free, when he interjected — “Shoulda told you that’s really strong.”

That’s when I felt it. My body turned to cement and I began sinking into the ground. Within about three minutes, my brain started cranking: My job, my life, and every shade of everything I’d ever thought, felt, or even dared imagine swirled around in mock horror, a funhouse of mirrors. All I could mutter was that I had to lie down immediately. He thought I was kidding. I lay in the spare bedroom willing myself to jump out of my body for hours, trying to blot out the thoughts, mentally slaying one surprise terrible image after the next. Four hours later, I got to sleep.

Science doesn’t know exactly why a drug used to treat anxiety can also create it. Weed sites pitch strains for anxiety and depression as if it’s as simple as just landing on the right mix. They write guides for how to dodge the weed demons, usually with tips like smoking less, trying different strains, getting high in a calm, chill environment, or trying edibles. (I’ve yet to do this, because committing to eating something that has to entirely pass through my body is terrifying.)…




Buddhist Teacher Michael Stone’s Family Says He Likely Died from Opioid Overdose

Buddhist Teacher Michael Stone’s Family Says He Likely Died from Opioid Overdose
The psychotherapist and yogi was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
By Wendy Joan Biddlecombe

An initial toxicology report found that Buddhist teacher Michael Stone had opioids, including fentanyl, in his system when he died last week, according to a statement released by his family late Thursday.

Stone’s family also said the meditation teacher, psychotherapist, and yogi had bipolar disorder, “feared the stigma of his diagnosis,” and was on the cusp of revealing publicly how shaped he was by the disease.

Earlier coverage: Buddhist Teacher Michael Stone Removed from Life Support 

On July 13, Stone traveled to Victoria, British Columbia, from his family home in Gulf Island. After running errands, exercising, and getting a haircut, he “acquired a street drug,” according to his family.

Stone was found unresponsive and without brain function after his wife, Carina, issued a missing person’s search with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He was declared brain dead the following day and kept on life support until July 16 so that he could donate his organs.

Last year, fentanyl overdoses increased by 80 percent in British Columbia, with 922 deaths in the Canadian province alone. Fentanyl is said to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Most overdoses in the United States are from illegally manufactured fentanyl “sold through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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