An April 13, 2015 Boston Globe article is entitled: “Bain Capital sees opportunity in methadone clinics.”
An excerpt from the article notes:
- This foray into one of the most challenging, and financially complex, areas of health care may seem contrary to the kind of dealmaking Bain Capital is best known for — investments in brand-name companies like Dunkin’ Donuts and Bright Horizons child care.
- But as opiates ravage communities from rural Vermont to Hollywood, treating addiction has become big business. The push for national health care, and recent changes to federal health insurance laws could make it even more attractive. Substance abuse treatment is a $7.7 billion industry, according to a recent report by IBISWorld Inc., a New York research firm, and growing at an annual rate of about 2 percent.
[End of excerpt]
The Drug Wars in America, 1940-1973 (2013)
The article is of interest in the context of previous posts regarding gangster literature and research regarding wars on drugs:
Machine in the garden
A related topic concerns the Machine in the Garden metaphor.
These topics are of interest in the context of my local neighbourhood of Long Branch (Toronto not New Jersey):
The bottom line
The story of drugs and related concepts such as drug wars and drug rehabilitation is concerned – at an empirical and metaphorical level – with historical narratives related to power and authority, the accumulation and circulation of financial resources, and the processes that serve to define – typically through blurbs or taglines – the situation at hand, whatever that situation may be, as viewed by a wide range of players.
With regard to the available narratives, Drug Wars in America (2013) provides a coherent and cogent historical overview. It serves as a good starting point for reading about these topics.
Altered states of consciousness
The book introduced me to a concept that I found appealing.
In the book, Charles Tart or some other writer asserts that if one wants to enhance one’s level of consciousness, engaging in a systematic way in practices such as meditation are more likely to produce favourable results than dabbling with psychedelic substances.
The concept had a strong impact on my efforts to make sense of reality. Eventually, I found that mindfulness meditation was my perfect means of enhancing my perception of everyday life. After ten years of daily mindfulness meditation practice, I’ve begun to make progress in experiencing mindfulness in everyday life. It’s a bit of a relaxed wonder, I would say, to be able to experience the moment to moment flow of events – in the sense of being consciously aware of the here and now of the present moment – in one’s external and internal reality for sustained periods. It’s taken me ten years to make progress. I’ve heard some people pick up the skills at once.
As with many skills, once the fundamental skills are in place, a person gains enhanced proficiency in the practice of mindfulness through the daily exercise of it.
I personally don’t see much value in recreational drug use, but I do believe people should be free to indulge in such activities without the risking of a criminal record and incarceration. The latter approaches entail a vast waste of lives, resources, and human potential.
As many narratives related to the drug trade underline, in this context, the distinction between the legitimate and criminal use of force, and between the legal and illicit practice of business, is characterized by a consistent arbitrariness.
I learned mindfulness meditation through a field-tested, evidence-based, systematic means of instruction developed at the Stress Reduction Clinic of the University of Massachusetts Medical School (now The Center for Mindfulness). The website for the classes that I attended in Toronto in 2004 defines mindfulness as follows:
- “Mindfulness” is nonjudgmental, present moment awareness – being here, now. To practice mindfulness, we pay attention to what we’re experiencing, moment to moment, without judgment or expectation. We simply observe whatever we’re aware of, letting the moment be as it is.
[End of excerpt]
Among other things, our everyday state of consciousness entails the emergence of recurring thoughts, throughout the day, about the past and future. These tend to attract our attention, and take us away from the experience of the here and now. With mindfulness, the thoughts occur as always, but we have a choice whether to get let them take us away, or observe them as each occurs, and let them go on their way. Conversely, if we have a task at hand, we can focus on completing it, without distractions getting in the way.
Mindfulness also entails that the sensory details of everyday life are viewed with a degree of acuity and freshness – as if “seeing things for the first time,” as the expression goes – that is otherwise not readily available to us, in my experience, in our everyday life, except perhaps in very early childhood – in our everyday perception of the world around us.
My own experience of mindfulness remains sporadic, but learning about mindfulness is among the best things I’ve learned. My experience of it remains sporadic. After an hour or two, I’m back on autopilot. Fortunately, soon I notice what has happened, and I’m back on track. It reminds me of learning to ride a bike, or mastering any new skill.
The practice of mindfulness does not require the adherence to any particular religion. Whatever a person’s belief system or frame of reference, there is value in this practice.
A May 2014 Walrus article is entitled: “Weeding Out Organized Crime: What legal pot in the US means for BC drug gangs.”
An excerpt reads:
- Holcomb, who led the team that drafted Washington’s cannabis legislation, claims that concerns over the presence of drug gangs, and Canadian gangs in particular, was a key reason voters supported legalization in the state. “They put two and two together and realized that gang members were the ones in control of the market,” she says, “just like when we handed alcohol to criminal organizations during Prohibition.” By regulating cannabis, she and her allies argued, the state could deal the illegal market a crippling blow without anyone firing a shot. “We expect much of the consumer base here to start patronizing stores where shopkeepers have acquired licences,” she explains, while the growers, rather than toting guns, “will be paying taxes to their communities and being good neighbours.”
- Martin Bouchard, a professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC, is more cautious in his projections. “Washington state, after all, is only part of the route,” he says. “You go through it, but you don’t necessarily reach your destination there.” One can find BC Bud competing with such products as Quebec Gold as far away as New York state, which speaks to the brand’s incredible strength.
[End of excerpt]
An April 16, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “Casual pot users may show brain changes that could foreshadow trouble: Marijuana users showed differences in 2 brain areas associated with emotion, motivation vs nonusers.”
An April 14, 2014 New Yorker article is entitled: “It’s my jail: Where gang members and their female guards set the rules.”
A related April 15, 2014 New Yorker article is entitled: “Finding former prisoners – at McDonald’s.”