Friday, February 17, 2012

Fame and other drugs

Girl meets Boy. They fall in love. They get married.
All is hunky dory at the beginning.
Then Boy’s career nose dives
As Girl’s career soars
Girl is generous with her love and fame
Boy is generous with his smack and crack
She used to say ‘no’
But familiarity breeds temptation
And her demons – career, sexuality, media, marriage demanded a sacrifice
She succumbs.
Begins to enjoy the false calm
One day she wakes up to realize she can’t live without it –

Hello Drug addiction.

Defined as, compulsive drug seeking and abuse despite the known harmful effects upon functioning in the context of family, health, school, work, and recreational activities.  
 I’d been meaning to write a post about addiction and there’s no better time than now as we mourn the loss of my all time favorite female singer Whitney Houston. I can just picture those lips quaver as they open wide to belt out a tune.
Michael and Whitney are the only singers I have even gone on my knees to pray for. They were the icons of my childhood. When I listen to X factor hopefuls that is the only criterion I judge them with…can I recognize that voice from a thousand others? Are you a Whitney/Mariah/Michael? Sigh. 
I kept hoping she’d rise from the ashes of addiction. I kept waiting for that comeback hit. I truly believed she could do it.

My opinion resonates with many about the cause of death – A bad Brown decision made in 1997. But then there are those who insist that we should stop blaming Bobby. That she always had a choice, after all they’ve been divorced since 2007.
Well, they are equally right – I don’t blame Bobby Brown really. He is who he is. It was the choice she made to love him and loose herself that breaks my heart.

Doug Sellman of the National Addiction Center (US) says that the most important thing to know about addiction may be that addiction is "fundamentally about compulsive behavior". Secondly, such habits originate outside of consciousness. The compulsive sequence of behaviors are so practiced that they can be extremely difficult to avoid initiating, and even harder to interrupt.

I think that makes a lot of sense. It explains why relapses occur. You see, going cold-turkey might rid the body system of the drugs and eliminate physical dependence but the compulsive behavior, basic instincts are harder to kill. 

We don’t really talk much about substance abuse in Nigeria yet it is so pervasive (as usual we pretend it doesn’t happen; just like we think 14yr olds are not sexually active). A public health issue that’s silently destroying youth and homes. Marijuana is the drug of choice and though it is illegal to possess it in Nigeria, I can wager that 60% of our law enforcement officers (police) ON DUTY will not pass a urine test ..just saying.

“Marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory. Research has shown that, in chronic users, marijuana's adverse impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off.2 As a result, someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a suboptimal intellectual level all of the time.

Think of the irrational shootings carried out by police - Are those actions of a ‘normal’ functioning person?
Area boys? - most of the petty thieving and  violence going on is just to fund their drug use.

The rich ones are not left out. Bright futures that have been buried in the ashes of Igbo/marijuana/dope.  I know friends who are battling sibling-drug addiction in their families. A friend said jewelry and electronics are not safe in her house anymore..cause if her brother is broke and in need of a fix, better be sure he is going to steal and sell whatever he can lay his hands on.

Back in the , of Ibro, a friend at University who came from a wealthy home. He used to be this sharp dresser, fine dude. By his final year, he was a shadow of himself. Ibro walked around campus with uncombed hair, flip flops and wrinkled shirts. From this gentle smooth talker he became loud and confrontational. I don’t know what happened to him case our paths diverged at this point. He frightened me. I’m not sure he graduated.

Drug addiction also hits uncomfortably close to home. I have close kin battling with addiction. This made me a bit too familiar with marijuana. I could easily identify the sweet/sour smell of marijuana from a mix of smells by the time I was 14. It used to shock male friends, they prolly thought I was doping. Lol. Nah, I could never be tempted. I have seen firsthand the havoc it causes.
 I remember finding out that an ex bf smoked cannabis. I came across a drawer filled with the dry leaves in his apartment!!! Not funny.
However, he argued that “he’s been smoking marijuana for relaxation since he was 14 and was not dependent on it. If it was that bad, he wouldn’t have graduated first class nor hold an executive position in a top notch firm’.
Me: Ha..and you have a drawer-full of leaves to ensure you don’t ever run out at midnight. Dependence pls!!

By the time we broke up I could even tell when he was under influence from the way he professed love to me. smh
He quit his job over 7 years ago and has been sorta-loafing about since then as self employed. I’m not knocking his independence I am just convinced that his ‘failure to launch’ is tied to drugs. Cos yeah, he smokes full time now.

Interestingly cannabis isn’t as addictive as heroin and cocaine. Only 9% of users become addicted but this number increases to 17% for those who start young and up to 50% among daily users.

Adverse effects: A number of studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.

If you’ve ever seen drug abuse up close and personal, watched movies like Sugarhouse, Trainspotting, Blow, or celebrities – Elvis, Marilyn, Dorothy Dandridge, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan then you’d applaud countries like China, Singapore and Malaysia’s for their death penalty rule for drug traffickers.

The difference between the murderer with a gun and the one who lures the innocent into drug taking is aesthetics. A Gunshot is instant and leaves a bloody mess while Drugs have a long term collateral damage.

Addiction isn’t incurable, but the addict can’t do it by himself. God, unwavering family support, empathy but not tolerance, resilient good health, change of environment and the addict’s resolve are integral to the long long journey to recovery.

Adieu Whitney and thank you for the greatest love songs!

Do you think drug use can actually be managed like ?

37 comments:

  1. Nice one Ginger. I always used to believe that Whitney would have a comeback too and thought it was just a matter of time. I blamed Bobby at first too but then, I guess Whitney also had her choices to make. Though because she's our darling, its easier to blame Bobby. :( Oh well.
    I have also seen the effects of cannabis. Someone I know had a mental breakdown and had to be hospitalized for a while as he was acting deranged. He had to leave school and for a long time we just werent sure of what happened to him. but thank God for facebook. He's very ok now. Addicts can't do it alone. I really can't say I understand why or how they allow themselves get addicted and it baffles me why people still take those first 'tastes' even with all the stories that abound. Here it's considered a sickness (i.e. addiction) so they try as much as possible to help but the person affected also has to be willing to get help> That said, a very strong support system is needed for the people involved just like you said...

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    1. Thank you :)

      You are right about Bobby being an easier target to blame. Sadly with all the gist now coming out, it seems he was a victim too in the marriage.

      The first tastes - hmm, some happen for fun, some happen cause the souls are troubled. Sadly the drug effects can be overwhelming for some hence addiction.

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  2. Any addiction is a bad thing. I wouldn't criticise any addict because I know the process was gradual & systematic. To some, the temptation comes when you are at a low and the dependent relationship began.

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    1. True talk there, Adebsrk. Poor mental health is usually the first risk factor

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  3. Cannabis or Marijuana, Addictive or not, drug na drug. It was God that delivered you o, Ginger. Small time, you would have joined him.

    Sad to see Whitney die like that... it is well. Wonder where she'd spending eternity.

    Long time, no see o.. lol

    - LDP

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    1. With my history? not possible but then again..here's church girl Whitney with all the support she had, yet she fell...

      Long time no see..I know :)

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  4. Very educative, yet touching. I pray God delivers those seeking deliverance from addiction

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  5. Thanks for the info about drugs and addiction miss ginger.
    whitney's story is really sad.may her soul RIP.

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  6. You are brilliant!! I wish someone more people will write informative pieces like this one. The Nigerian society is a pretentious one, when something isn't good, we pretend it doesn't exist. "We don’t really talk much about substance abuse in Nigeria yet it is so pervasive " ..........

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    1. Blushing. Thanks 9jaFoodie. The silent culture tires me atimes

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  7. Ginger, this is a masterpiece, well done. Drug addiction and substance abuse are very endemic in Nigerian society as it is in the west even though like you said we would rather not talk about it. What we need is plenty of eduction that are targeted more especially to teenagers in schools. Some people will inevitably fall victim of drug taking for a variety of reasons and society has a responsibility to support them not blame. Even though they have to take some responsibility themselves.

    When was the last time you saw a programme highlighting the dangers of drugs on Nigerian tv? However, you'll see a lots of reality tv shows, music and Nollywood, most of which I have reservations about.

    I think you have so much knowledge, passion and closeup experience of drug abuse judging by this post. I was wondering if it's something you may consider campaigning about, maybe set up a charity or something on those lines. Just a thought.

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    1. Thanks Naija4life. To be honest I havent given much thought to drugs. Women, maternal health, Sickle cell are top burners for me right now, but who knows...
      One thing i do know, something must happen this year...
      Thanks again

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  8. This is really an excellent and clearly heart-felt piece, Ginger. I would totally support a swift execution for drug dealers in the U.S.

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    1. Aye to that..but Human rights activists wont agree. The guy in 'Blow' (the forerunner of drug trafficking in the US)got 60yrs. I think that's okay too.

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  9. Nice piece... We can blame Bobby all we want, but she sure had a choice...do we also blame both if them for their daughter's drug use...maybe.

    I grew up around 'igbo', I saw it everyday...the men of the Nigerian police force are one of the highest users of that stuff after the area boys. It is a crazy world we live. Just like every other addiction, it is definitely not easy to get rid of.

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    1. Crazy wold no be small.

      Imo, to an extent the parents may be blamed if their daughter is now addicted. They provided access. Their use made it seem okay. by the time she was old enough to make a choice, drug use may have started.

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  10. My very good friend is an alcoholic. She didn't drink, and then she started up again... drinking more and more and more. To the point where I would not let my kids go there because the atmosphere was way to "party"...she could hardly walk and talk. It hurt so deeply. No matter what I said, it would not help. Her husband had an affair with another woman on the block who is an alcoholic. My friend went to rehab, dumped him and was clean and sober. But now she drinks again... it is a terrible thing.

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    1. So sorry to hear this Katherine. Relapse is such a bummer. I hope she tries to stop for her liver's sake...

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  11. I never really blamed Bobby Brown for Whitney's descent into addiction. I felt she chose him knowing his history and she was much older than him and so could have taken care of herself. But I was a huge fan and kept hoping she would stay strong after each rehab. It pained me each time she relapsed, especially this last one, where I had so much expectation of her new album and world tour. May her soul RIP.

    I saw an old interview aired recently where Whitney said she was her worst enemy/demon, and I think this may be true of some addicts. The drug/addiction is just an outlet and it is the compulsive personality that drives them. I agree with you that they do need support to overcome successfully.

    I do have a theory that drug use can be managed, especially if some of them are legalized and dosed. A lot of high flyers are on one subscription medicine or the other, and if they remain on prescribed limits, are not adversely affected. I'm not sure about this yet, but it plays on my mind.

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    1. I think I understand your theory too. Because it seems the attraction to drugs by youngsters is the added glamour of it being 'illicit'. When it is done openly, then its use can be monitored like smoking is...well, relatively.

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    1. You know the gist about her sexuality being a problem left my mouth ajar. I mean it just made so much sense in the light of who the world expected her to be and what she was. Sad

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  13. And that voice is gone.
    Ginger this piece is awesome. I always hoped Whitney was going to be around forever. I guess nothing truly lasts forever. All forms of addiction truly scare me. I know it's a constant battle because sometimes we tend to just condemn after the deed has been done but that's just medicine after death. Moral support is really important although i guess the addict must really want to be clean for support to work.

    Again, thanks for the information on several drugs and their addictive potential.

    I was watching 9ja Idol contestants doing Whitney's songs and i was just shaking my head. Only a couple of them did ok. One even did "Miracles" and i already knew it was going to be bad. To try to do a Whitney/Mariah #epicfail

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    1. lol. I can just imagine some wanna be singing a Whitney song. memories, that lady was just amazing. All her songs made sense die!

      I should be saying thank you for reading. it was a long one.

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  14. We are our own best friend or worst enemy, no one can make you what you do not want to be. She had a choice, stay put or get out. Nigeria's Kenny Saint Brown married Eddy Remedy knowing fully well the kind of life he led, when it didnt work, she walked!

    Addiction of all sorts abound - to alcohol, sex, porn, TV etc, we see it everyday, the task of living above it lies with the individual!

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    1. PET, hope you know geneticists think there's a gene for addiction which is heritable by offspring??

      Not that the gene makes you take drugs, but it makes you 'weak' enough to choose such self destructive paths to resolve issues. All I can say is God help us.

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  15. hmmmm...such a waste to awesome talent. Thank God u got out when u did Ginger - who knows what might have become of u had u stayed.

    love the "poem" @ the beginning.

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    1. lol..*someone noticed the my efforts at poetry lol.

      Na, I will stick to regular writing.

      As for drug taking - nothing dey happen. I no fit!!

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  16. Dug addiction is a bad thing for us.compulsive drug seeking and abuse despite the known harmful effects upon functioning in the context of family, health, school, work, and recreational activities.so,we should aware about addiction.

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    1. True talk Chukwuemeka. Welcome to my blog.

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  17. Great post! It's sad because people usually believe they can just use a little bit sometimes and they don't need to worry about being addicted but it's not easy at all. It is almost inevitable, It might take some time before the effects start playing out in full effect. I guess that's what your ex failed to realize.

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    1. Very true about the gradual slide into addiction..begins with latecoming to work, lack of concentration in performing tasks, mistakes in documents, mood swings then one day Kolo!!.

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  18. @Doll, the latest bride in blogsville!! Thanks for reading.

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  19. I love the poem at the beginning. Made me wanna read more!!!

    Yes, addiction is devilish and can ruin a not-so-long-ago perfect life!!! Really sad what happened to Whitney houston..I adored her like crazy!

    By the way, it kinda seems like a popular thing amongst artistes..drug addiction!!! With such a great career, that little snort could make it all go away. I can't wrap my mind around the ''why'' aspect of it.

    Great, great post!!! lovee it! First time on here and I'm following ya.

    Check mine out at oddnaijachic.blogspot.com

    Thanks!!!

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