“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

Drop Dead Denial

My daughter has just been transported from the county jail, where she has been for nearly a year, to Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama, to begin her 20-year sentence imposed for her drug-related crimes.

The Norwegian right-wing Christian extremist who killed nearly 70 young people at a Youth Camp near Oslo is looking at a 21-year sentence.

Tutwiler is a hell hole by anyone’s standards. Julia Tutwiler, an Alabama heroine, would be horrified and repulsed by what Alabamians have allowed to happen and by what Americans have allowed to happen in today’s prisons, while believing they aren’t paying for it.

How do I feel about my daughter’s imprisonment, regardless of how warped the sentencing is?


Why? How could I be relieved? Amy Winehouse. I know what dead is.

I also know that drug addiction is a fatal disease. Americans – huge numbers of them – continue their denial of this fact, despite a huge body of evidence to the contrary. Medical and biological evidence is clear: addition is a disease.

This fact is NOT the same thing as saying, “Calling addition a disease gives addicts a free ride. They don’t have to take responsibility for what they do.”

Addicts don’t have a free ride. Look at Amy Winehouse, the most recent celebrity to die from addiction.

Weird Denial
Denial is a hard, hard concept, one that is difficult to get your mind around. How can you be in denial if you know you’re in denial? Denial is believing you are NOT in denial, that what you think or feel or choose to believe is real, true, correct, accurate. Whatever evidence to the contrary is presented, denial will insist on denying the evidence. How totally weird.

To get out of denial is tantamount to confronting difficult truths, admitting you are wrong. Humans don’t want to do this confronting thing. It is embarrassing; it hurts too bad; it’s a life changer. And it reveals the denier as the worst, most hurtful kind of liar – one who lies to oneself, usually for self-protection, to avoid hurt. Who can fault them?

I can.

Denial works on an individual level and on a societal level. The worst part about denial is that it doesn’t work – not for the short term and not for the long term. There is way too much collateral damage.

Americans are in denial about America’s and its citizens' roles in the current Drug War and how we are enabling the Mexican cartels to do their unspeakable crimes. America supplies the guns. Americans are the highest users of drugs.

Not to believe this, despite all the evidence, is to be in denial.

Dr. Drew Pinsky, who has been a medical director for rehab clinics and who has become a television face, now has a program on Headline News at 9 p.m. (eastern time); he recently reacted to an English policeman’s cautioning people not to speculate on the causes of Amy Winehouse’s death. He took issue with that stance.

He calls the addiction the real cause of death, whether she died of an overdose, alcohol withdrawal, a heart attack or whatever might be reported as the “primary cause.” “Twenty-seven-year-olds don’t just die,” he says.

Too few people know that withdrawing from most drugs won’t kill you, although addicts often wish they were dead during withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal is different. It can kill. Alcoholics in treatment are withdrawn (detoxed) slowly. Long-term alcoholics who quit drinking abruptly and are not under a doctor’s care can die from the physical effects of the withdrawal when it turns into delirium, tremors, and seizures. The body’s vital functions can simply quit.

So if Amy Winehouse died from abrupt withdrawal from alcohol, as her family appears to think happened, then the addiction to alcohol was the bottom-line cause.

Biology 101
In his 2003 book Cracked: Putting Broken Lives Together Again, Dr. Drew (as he is known) explains the biology to a group of addicts in treatment:
“Why are you addicted? The simple answer is that some people are configured biologically in such a way to respond very positively to substances. . . . What makes you an addict is primarily a change in a tiny region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens.
“This region of your brain has started to mistake the chemical message of survival with the message delivered by drugs. The drive to use becomes confused with the drive to survive. . . . These drives demand gratification with the same life-or-death intensity as taking a breath.”
Neurobiology and brain research more than supports these statements. Not to accept Dr. Drew’s information is to be in denial.

If I want my daughter to live, then I want her in prison. If she were to get back out on the streets, she would die. There’s no denial of death.

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