Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Quitting Codeine for a Drug Test: A How-To Guide

This is a follow-up to my "Drug Tested at my ADHD Appointment" article.  It's going to be a recurring thing every three months when I go to get my meds refilled, which as I've already noted is going to SUCK donkey dick.  I guess the purpose of this post is twofold:  to chronicle my experience for future reference and to inform anyone who might face this situation themselves & landed here by frantically Googling "how to pass a drug test".  There must be some codeine fiends in my audience, right?  Even if you aren't, apply the knowledge here to whatever drug you do take.

Everything I've read online, which is a lot, says codeine is detectable in urine for 48 hours to 1 week in urine.  If you're a heavy long-term user who has to endure withdrawals like me, that's a pretty big fucking difference.  Quitting for 2 days is doable; quitting for a week is going to mean a week of cold sweats, diarrhea & insomnia among other symptoms.  Normally I would substitute kratom for the codeine and not stress it, but I can't afford to have ANY non-prescribed substances in my urine including mitragynine which will likely show up in the lab test they do after the office test.  I can't afford to fail another drug test or I lose my Adderall prescription which is the only thing standing between me and total ruin.  Without it I'll never be able to live independently or function like an adult.  So raw-dogging withdrawal it is, at least for the first appointment.  

As stated, I failed my first piss test for benzodiazepines, opiates & THC at my prior appointment--pretty much the only thing NOT in my system was my Adderall which was supposed to be there.  (I ran out early due to doubling the dose).  I'm only allowed to consume substances I'm prescribed as well as OTC meds and supplements now, which leaves me quite a few options... none of them helpful for opiate withdrawal unfortunately.  I currently take codeine in doses of 420 mg per day (roughly) which is a considerable dose.  That means I'll be needing more than the standard 48 hours to detox just to be on the safe side.  More on that below.

The Science of Urine Testing

Average elimination times of codeine

Drug tests come in many different types, including blood, urine, hair, sweat, saliva & less common methods like fingernail tests and breathalyzers (for alcohol).  The urinalysis is by far the most common due to its simplicity and specificity.  While hair tests can tell if a person has used drugs in the past 90 days (up to 3 years if you have long hair), urine gives a more accurate recent picture & is better at detecting sporadic usage than hair tests.  Urine tests are not foolproof and are prone to false positives but can be sent off to the lab for confirmation if a result is contested.  

Factors that can influence the rate of a drug's excretion for a urinalysis include:  metabolism, age, weight, dose/duration of use, efficiency of your kidneys & liver, activity level & hydration.  To get specific:  older, fatter people with health conditions impairing the excretory organs as well as those who don't exercise or drink enough water are going to excrete drugs like codeine slower--and thus retain them in their urine, blood & other bodily fluids longer--than fit, young, active folks in good health who hydrate.  Some diseases that might impair your excretory organs include cirrhosis, chronic kidney disease, chronic or acute hepatitis, NAFLD & alcoholic liver disease among other diseases affecting the liver & kidneys.  

There are no quick fixes, supplements or silver bullets to rid your body of drugs the night before your drug test.  You can buy fake urine or "borrow" a non-drug user's pee, but it's incredibly difficult to keep it the right temperature, pH & prevent it from spoiling in the interim.  It's best to use your own and to do it the honest way.  Sucks, but that's the way it is.  It's also important not to go overboard with the water intake in an attempt to "cleanse" the drugs out of your system.  This doesn't work and can be dangerous, causing electrolyte imbalances that can kill you.  Just drink a normal amount of water and avoid caffeine or alcohol which are dehydrating.  You can also sit in a sauna or do other things that gently promote sweating, but again, do not go overboard with this.  You've been warned.  

My Withdrawal Protocol

I quit the codeine 5 nights & 4 full days before the drug test is scheduled.  Considering how much water I drink, I figure this should be sufficient to clear it from my system in time.  I'm also not overweight, elderly & don't suffer any (known) kidney or liver diseases that would affect my metabolism or excretion of the drug. I bought a 12-panel urine test kit on eBay to be on the safe side.  I guess if I pee dirty for codeine the night before the appointment I can call and reschedule, though this will surely look sus to my doctors.  

I haven't quit opiates completely (with no kratom as a safety net) since 2011 so this will be gnarly.  And when I did, I was using other drugs like stimulant research chemicals and benzos so I wasn't 100% clean of drugs by any means.  For this recurring shitshow I plan to substitute Adderall or Benzedrex as my stimulant.  (Definitely Adderall on the day of the appointment so they don't quiz me when it gets sent off to the lab).  It's the downer part that will be difficult.  I've got the following options to choose from:  

- Vistaril (hydroxyzine)
- Fioricet (butalbital + caffeine)
- Unisom (doxylamine succinate)
- Benadryl 

For the gastrointestinal side effects like diarrhea & cramping I'll be taking Imodium.  Just a regular dose, not enough to get high and cause cardiac arrhythmia.  But I expect to get a total colon cleanse during this debacle anyway.  Oh, and there's Bentyl (dicyclomine) for intestinal cramps too.  It has a strange trippy effect that makes music sound good so maybe it'll do something for my mental state.  I don't expect nausea but there's plenty of Zofran on hand if the worst happens.  

I write myself a giant Post-It note reminding myself NOT to pop any untoward pills or gummies for the next few days & get on with it.  

Withdrawal & Test Results

I gradually lower my dose of codeine by 2 tablets every weekend for about a month leading up to the appointment, which is -60mg per week.  So by the week before the appointment I'll be down to 5 pills per day, from which I'll drop to 0.  Going from 14 pills to 0 would be much worse than a gradual taper.  Even cutting just 2 pills at a time, I can tell a difference with my sleep patterns & cognitive functioning, so I know it's gonna be bad when I quit entirely.  To make things interesting, I come down with a viral infection mid-taper at the same time as my sister.  We're both laid low by sore throat, lung pain, congestion, bone/muscle aches & other flu-like symptoms.  This, on TOP of whatever opioid withdrawal symptoms are already present.  Lucky me. Thankfully quitting opioids has never been that unpleasant for me, thank god.  

I ordered a 12-panel drug test on eBay several months ahead of my appointment so I don't forget to take it the night before.  As usual I have no cravings for pills and am not "sick" during withdrawal (minus the respiratory symptoms)--I just feel a bit "off".  I was gonna take Milk Thistle to help with the detox but my acid reflux is too severe & it'll just irritate my stomach so fuck it.  Just chugging water like usual.  

At-home drug test results, Pt. I

After going from 5 codeine pills to 0, I feel basically fine.  A little 'blah' and bored (and I'm pooping a LOT) but aside from that, I'm shocked how not-bad this is.  I'm staying at my parents' house so mom can drive me to the appointment--I definitely shouldn't be driving in this condition.  (I left my car running in idle for 2 hours the other day in early withdrawal and... yeah).  I take 8 mg Imodium per day to keep the worst symptoms at bay along with the Adderall & caffeine.  Nothing else mind-altering.  The night before the appointment I use my home drug test kit to be sure nothing illicit shows up in my pee--the results are mixed (read on).  The next morning I eat breakfast, take some Imodium and 1 Adderall & head out the door after chugging a couple bottles of water.  

At-home drug test results, Pt. II

I pass my urinalysis with flying colors & get my ADHD meds refilled for another 3 months.  Yay.  Was a bit nervous going in because my drug test I got online showed "invalid" for oxycodone & positive for buprenorphine--a drug I've never taken.  It also gave a false negative for barbiturates which I had taken 5 hours earlier that day!  My faith in these tests is not high.  At worst, if I fail & contest the results they will send it to the lab for confirmation but that means a delay in refilling my already hard-to-fill meds.  The doctor's test is a 12-panel just like the one I took at home and they're even the same brand, so I was seriously worried I wouldn't pass despite not taking anything I shouldn't.

Final Verdict

If you read this far, you're a mensch.  I know there's a lot of rambling but the takeaway message is this:  quitting codeine 5 days before my appointment & abstaining from other drugs like benzos & weed in the preceding week was sufficient to pass a 12-panel urine test.  And tapering the codeine made withdrawal far more bearable than it would've been if I'd quit cold turkey.  Do with that what you will.  

If you're a doctor & have the option to give or not give these bunk-ass drug tests, please choose not to unless absolutely necessary.  They're just another hurdle for already-struggling ADHD patients & chronic pain patients, and they're not always accurate.  Try talking to your patient about your concerns instead to foster an open dialogue about substance abuse.  All these tests do is create distrust between patient & provider, plus they often cost a lot and can affect the patient's insurance coverage/premiums if they fail a test.  

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Sunday, May 15, 2022

Opioids Are Safer Than Alcohol

That's right.  As the late comic-prophet Bill Hicks would say:  "You can stop your internal dialogue now."  

Here's why:  Opioids up to and including fentanyl do not cause organ damage even when taken daily for the duration of a person's life.  They have legit, proven medical uses unlike alcohol which is a toxin in any dose or form.  Ethanol is a Group I carcinogen according to the IARC.  This means it's in the same class as asbestos, benzene, formaldehyde, Hepatitis B & HPV in terms of cancer risk.  It causes cancer of the esophagus, stomach, liver, colon, rectum & breast among others.  In 2020, an estimated 741,300 new cases of cancer worldwide were caused solely by alcohol consumption.  It also causes chronic liver damage in the form of cirrhosis when consumed long-term; if continued beyond this point, liver failure will ensue.  There's no equivalent type of chronic organ damage with opioids.*

Both opioids and alcohol have addictive potential, but the true potential for addiction lies within the individual.  For instance, if a person dislikes the effects of alcohol & prefers the way opioids make them feel, they're more likely to become addicted to opioids.  And vice versa.  It all comes down to genetics, metabolism, brain chemistry & other unique traits.  Both substances are capable of causing overdose--opioids by respiratory depression and alcohol via ethanol poisoning.  

Where alcohol is worse is in the withdrawal department.  While opioid withdrawal is indisputably miserable, it's not fatal as long as the person avoids dehydration.  Alcohol withdrawal can kill by causing seizures, convulsions, psychosis, coma & other severe complications resulting in death.  There's also the kindling effect in which every successive withdrawal is more severe with alcohol.  Alcoholism can also cause TWO types of dementia--Wernicke encephalopathy & Korsakoff's Syndrome which often occur together.  The horrifying video below illustrates just how life-destroying these conditions are & how much they resemble other types of dementia.  

A Case of Confusion (Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome)

There's no other drug as detrimental to a developing fetus as alcohol, which has its own "syndrome".  The CDC and every other health agency agree there's NO safe amount of alcohol during any point of pregnancy, though women often take issue with this due to myths about wine being healthy (or their own selfish unwillingness to quit drinking for 8 months).  Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a spectrum disorder that wreaks havoc on sufferers, causing lifelong developmental, mental, emotional & physical problems.  Oh, and drinking while pregnant also puts the fetus at risk for stillbirth, premature delivery, low birthweight & spontaneous abortion.  Opioids can be prescribed for short periods during pregnancy & are routinely used in delivery rooms in the form of epidurals that contain fentanyl, sufentanil or other powerful drugs.

The two main risks of opioids are overdose and addiction.  Side effects include constipation, itching & reduced sex drive for some users.  Babies can be born addicted which is a tragedy, but they won't be born deformed.  Organ damage, sepsis & other secondary complications are a result of injecting with dirty needles which is totally avoidable if our government would legalize/regulate the drug supply & educate the drug-using public on safer drug use practices.  Overdose is mainly a result of two phenomena:  adulteration of the drug supply and drug combinations like opioids + depressants that cause respiratory depression when taken together.  That's a statistical fact.  

Again, these are entirely preventable with basic harm reduction measures and aren't the fault of opioids themselves in a majority of cases.  While it's possible to overdose on a high dose of opioids alone, addicts who know their tolerance level & are sure of the purity of their drug are unlikely to OD when they have access to the information to prevent overdose.  

Putting It All Together

Now read this article again and substitute amphetamines, ketamine, LSD, mescaline, khat, methylone, MDMA or nearly any drug in Schedule I, II or III for "alcohol" (or "tobacco" for that matter) and this article reads the same way.  

So where are all the media scare stories about these deadly legal drugs and all the cancer, dementia, addiction, seizures & cirrhosis deaths they're causing everyday all over the world?  Comedian Bill Hicks, whom I mentioned in the first sentence of this piece, died of pancreatic cancer at the shockingly young age of 32 likely due to his excessive smoking habit (which was probably helped along by a history of heavy drinking).  Pancreatic cancer at this age is rare so it's widely accepted that his lifestyle contributed to his development of the disease.

There's no question the opioid crisis is real & devastating.  But if you're going to report on opioid deaths, at least do it accurately.  People are dying from an adulterated drug supply, abstinence-only drug education & the resulting ignorance, not opioids themselves.  If a heroin user buys a bag of dope expecting heroin and gets fentanyl, that's a drug prohibition death and it was preventableFentanyl itself is not evil--it too has medical uses.  It's illicit fentanyl taken unwittingly that's the problem, and that's a result of the drug war.  The End.  The reason we don't see outbreaks of death & blindness from poisoned moonshine today is because alcohol in all its many forms is legal, regulated for purity & sold only to adults with ID.  That wasn't the case during alcohol prohibition.  

In conclusion, our drug scheduling system is totally political and not science-based.  It's ass-backwards & helps no one except those who profit financially from keeping SOME drugs illegal.  Hopefully you can figure out who that is.  Bottom line:  it ain't us.    

* While tobacco & alcohol cause chronic organ damage with long-term use, opioids don't damage any particular organ even with lifelong use as long as the person avoids overdose & unsanitary practices like intravenous injection with dirty needles.  

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Friday, May 6, 2022

Celebrating Female Comedians From the Golden Era

The present has become too depressing of late.  With inflation, the baby formula shortage, U.S. COVID deaths surpassing 1 million, abortion rights facing the most serious threat since the passing of Roe v. Wade and other 3rd world problems, it's just easier to go back to a time when this country was actually thriving.  A time when art, music, movies, sketch comedy, television & other forms of media were edgy & exciting, groundbreaking and unafraid of offending.  A time of unbridled laughter.

Back then I was just certain my favorite comediennes would go on to do great things after leaving shows like MADtv & Saturday Night Live.  How could they not?  They were so talented & carried every skit, leaving my friends and I doubled over with tears streaming down our faces.  But that's not what happened.  The men from these casts--Will Ferrell, Aries Spears, Tracey Morgan, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Key & Peele and Artie Lange went on to have careers ranging from lukewarm to piping hot, but their female counterparts fizzled out for the most part, some languishing in total obscurity.  And that's a crime.  You can't ignore the role sexism played in their lack of success because there's really no other explanation for it.  

But this is a HAPPY post, dammit, so here are some of my absolute favorite characters & skits from those shows below.  I hope they bring you as much laughter as they've brought me over the years.  

Debra WilsonBunifah Latifah Halifah Sharifa Jackson.  During its heyday in the late '90s, MADtv was hailed as "definitely funnier than SNL" and one of its standouts was Debra Wilson.  Nobody could do a Whitney Houston or Oprah imitation like her, and her original characters were to die for.  Here's one of my faves:  the spicy Bunifah Latifah Halifah Sharifa (no 'H') Jackson.  Do yourself a favor & check out her Cloret character too.  She's like Bunifah on horse tranquilizers.

Alex BorsteinMs. Swan.  While Alex Borstein did go on to attain a decent amount of success after MADtv--she voiced Lois Griffin on Family Guy & won 3 Emmy Awards including 2 for her work on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel--she still hasn't reached the heights of some of her (in my opinion) less talented male peers.  Here she is as her most beloved MADtv character Ms. Swan.

Mo CollinsLorraine Swanson.  Oh, Mo.  Nobody could play a screechy, frumpy Midwestern mom or grandma character like her.  Most know her as Stuart's Mom from the hilariously disturbing skits with Michael McDonald, but her Lorraine Swanson was a favorite in my household because it reminded us of my late grandma.  Here she is at a salad bar in Vegas dirtying up the sneeze guard.

Cheri OteriNadeen.  I had a hard time choosing a skit from this funny lady's catalogue because all are equally brilliant.  She should've had a career equal to or bigger than Will Ferrell's and I'm sure he'd agree.  She stole the show at the 2020 New Year's Eve bash with Anderson Cooper & Andy Cohen with her Barbara Walters impression, reminding everyone why she's the best thing to ever happen to SNL.  Yeah, I said it.  Here she is as Nadeen, aka the "Simmadownow" lady.  But also check out her pill head Collette Reardon, Althea on the Plane & Morning Latte characters.  

Ana Gasteyer & Molly ShannonThe Delicious Dish.  These two killer talents walked so the likes of Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig & Kate McKinnon could run.  Ana was a reliably professional straight woman in skits where everyone else broke character & could do a mean Martha Stewart while Molly's best known for her Mary Katherine Gallagher character that got its own movie.  Here they are with guest John Goodman on their side-splitting NPR send-up The Delicious Dish.

Nicole SullivanBritney Spears.  Nicole Sullivan was my first love of sketch comedy.  Her best-known character was The Vancome Lady but she killed it for years in countless other roles including the eerily foreboding one shown here.  This was made in 1999--years before Britney's breakdown. 

Bonus:  Maya Rudolph sings the National Anthem

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Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Holding Democrats Accountable for the Abortion Nightmare

Well, here we are.  The leaked SCOTUS document confirmed that Roe v. Wade is about to be overturned. Even if it doesn't happen right away, the fact that we're still stressing about this bullshit in 2022 is beyond unacceptable.  Democrats have dangled "the abortion issue" (i.e. a woman's right to not be forced to carry an unwanted child, risking her health & life in the process) for the last 50+ years.  They use it as a political bargaining chip in every election cycle & mid-term, bludgeoning voters with it & promising us they're gonna "codify Roe into law" when it should've been codified with the stroke of a pen decades ago.  The Democrat congress could do it right now, no questions asked.  Biden himself made this promise during his 2020 campaign & since that time has refused to speak the word abortion in public.  No huge surprise to those who have followed his other broken promises (student debt forgiveness, getting COVID under control, banning new fracking on federal lands, offering a public option like Medicare, fuck it just see for yourself).  

Another of Biden's lies, courtesy of Holding Biden Accountable Twitter page

We all saw the writing on the wall when Saint RBG croaked in the SCOTUS while Trump was in office--another totally predictable scenario as she was on her 3rd bout of cancer (she had colon, lung and pancreatic--one of the most deadly types) & umpteenth recurrence of cancer as well as having had a heart stent placed, a gallbladder condition & fractured ribs.  All of that notwithstanding, she was in her late 80s.  The average life expectancy for American women is 78.79 years, so she'd already passed her expiration date by about 9 years at the time of her death.  With everything that was at stake should she die, how could she let this happen?  

Gee, what a mystery.   /s

I'll tell you how.  Like every other big-name politician, CEO or warlord, Ginsburg was an unrepentant power-hungry narcissist who did it because she could.  They rule over us plebs with a thirst for power unmatched.  Even the "sweet old grannies" like RBG would rather go to their graves with that gavel in their hands than do the right thing & relinquish their power in time to prevent millions of women from losing abortion access (or whatever the issue may be).  In no sane society should one person wield this much power, nor should politicians be allowed to hold office longer than most of us have been alive & well past the point when they're capable of thinking clearly due to the degradation & tangling of neurons that happens to EVERY elderly person.  Yet so many of our politicians are in their 70s or 80s.  And exactly zero of them are required to undergo drug testing or psychological fitness testing which is another issue entirely.  

The Wolf & The Fox

Before you rage at Republicans about this issue, stop and think about who you're really mad at.  Republicans told you their position from Day 1.  They are anti-choice zealots and they're loud about it.  Democrats are the ones who have claimed to be pro-choice champions willing to do whatever it takes to protect Roe v. Wade & the right of women to determine their own reproductive future.  Instead, they chose to do nothing or worse, welcome "pro-life democrats" into the party (because money).  It brings to mind the wonderfully accurate quote by Malcolm X about the wolf & the fox, the wolf representing conservatives & the fox liberals.  I've included it below.  

Abortion is a wedge issue that's incredibly useful in debates during election season.  Like gay marriage, the 2nd Amendment & anything concerning race, this incredibly important & consequential social issue is important to politicians for a very different and selfish reason--winning elections.  It's just that when they win, they don't do a goddamn thing they said they'd do about it.  Democrats, anyway.  Because if they did, they wouldn't be able to recycle the issue again next election season.  

And like clockwork, people still vote for them every 4 years anyway.

In the end that's all that matters.  Your votes & donations speak louder than any angry social media post or gripe at home around the television set.  They're hoping you'll go on Twitter or Facebook to scream into the void, get your frustrations out, get scared of "the other party" during election season & vote for them again.  They've got you by the balls in this 2-party system.  Except they don't.  You have other options.  Voting 3rd party in the presidential election speaks volumes.  If you want to support Democrats at the local level where your vote actually counts, that's fine.  But ffs, do not throw away another vote in a national election for these crooked bastards who won't even do the bare minimum to protect 50% of the population's reproductive rights.  

And really, this doesn't just affect women.  Not by a long shot.  Unwanted children are a burden on men as well:  child support payments start at 25% of a man's income & will be garnished from his wages in the event he refuses to pay willingly.  For 18 years.  Having a child ties you to the other parent in ways you couldn't imagine & often won't like very much.  So buckle up, guys.  If you're not willing to wear that condom or get that vasectomy, don't cry when the worst happens because we're now living in a dystopia of our own making.  We get the government we deserve.  We currently have a moderate right wing party (Democrats) and an extreme right wing/fascist party (Republicans).  If you're okay with that, keep voting Republican or Democrat.  If you're not, vote for an actually Leftist candidate.  It's not rocket science.  

But at this point we'll need more than electoral politics to salvage even a sliver of this once-great nation.  No great advances in history were made through voting.  Women's suffrage, gay rights, the labor union movement, the Civil Rights movement's monumental gains--all that was won the hard way:  by locking arms in the streets & gumming up the machinery of this giant combine.  Looks like we're gonna have to go back to grassroots civil disobedience if we plan to get anything done.  The other alternative is too dark.

Democrats are the "foxes" Malcolm spoke of.

In the meantime, check out my other relevant articles on this issue:

Reducing Abortions with Harm Reduction

Responsible Reproduction = Eco-Fascism?  

The Ethics of Having Kids in the 6th Mass Extinction

Sunday, May 1, 2022

The Short & Inspirational Life of Wesley Willis

Most people have never heard of Wesley Willis.  That's understandable:  he wasn't exactly "mainstream".  Those who have heard of him know him from the uproarious headscratcher "Rock & Roll McDonald's".  He's more of a wink-wink, nudge nudge phenomenon in the punk rock scene than a serious fixture, and for good reason.  His songs consist of off-key and hilarious rants about beating up superheroes, bestiality with wildlife & true tales of public schizophrenia freakouts accompanied by programmed 'demo' keyboard music.  He ends all his songs with a corporate slogan such as "Mitsubishi.  The Word is Getting Around." The tunes are more funny than "good".  You can find his music on Spotify and Youtube.  I suggest giving it a listen as it's guaranteed to brighten your mood.

People often scoffed at Willis, putting him in the category of special needs person to be laughed at or pitied.  However, Wesley took his music very seriously and made a career of it.  He took the bus to Kinko's and typed (slowly, with one finger) his lyrics around strangers which often triggered his paranoia & ended in acute psychotic episodes, or what Wesley called "hellrides".  He weighed upwards of 300 lbs and walked everywhere, making friends and disturbing people with his foul-mouthed outbursts along the way.  It would've been perfectly acceptable for him to go on disability and draw welfare but he refused, insisting on supporting himself with his art.

With the help of some amazing friends, Wesley was able to do just that.  In addition to his music, Wesley was famous in the Chicago art community for his intricate drawings of the city--all of which were done from memory.  He commissioned these for people until his death in 2003.  That's more than many self-described "artists" are able to do in this day and age.  And he did it all with paranoid schizophrenia and what would today certainly be diagnosed as autism and PTSD from a horrific childhood.  That this giant, disheveled Black man with visible disabilities was embraced by the art & music communities and given a place to live when his own family was MIA speaks volumes for both Wesley's character and that of his friends.  One of said friends--a single white woman with only a few dogs for roommates--took Wesley in to live with her and ended up housing him for FIVE years.  They got along swimmingly.

"The Lakefront" (1993) -  Wesley Willis

But what bothers me about the Wesley Willis commentary online is that he's pigeonholed as "a schizophrenic" when that's only one facet of his personality, and a small one at that.  The man was clearly an autistic savant as evidenced by his ability to tell you how many days he'd been alive & draw intricate cityscapes from memory, down to the license plate numbers on vehicles.  Everything about him, from his monotone pattern of speech to his obsession with corporate slogans screams autism, yet for some reason I've seen not one mention of it anywhere in any documentary or comment section.  And some of his abilities fall squarely into the genius/savant category a la Rain Man.  Is it because he's Black?  Meanwhile the schizophrenia can be traced back to the severe, superhuman stress he was exposed to as a child when his stepfather held a gun to his head and robbed him after years of forcing him to watch his mother perform sex acts on him.  Wesley was frequently beaten and molested as a boy and had 10 siblings, most of whom were shipped off by CPS to live with other relatives.  

The ugly truth is that those traumatic events would drive anyone to the breaking point.  People act like he was born crazy but Wesley himself traces the onset of the voices to the incident when the gunpoint robbery occurred.  He was actually quite lucid even with schizophrenia, if severely socially awkward.  (The fact that he's even able to stand up & carry on a conversation with all those heavy psych meds in his system is a miracle in itself).  Mental illness is a combination of genetic and environmental factors, but anyone can be pushed to the breaking point if exposed to enough stressors early in life.  People are not born schizophrenic.  I think this is something most of us would rather not think about because it's too frightening but Wesley is quite clear on the matter:  his schizophrenia had a clear beginning point & a known trigger.

No mention is made in these documentaries of what happened to the man who terrorized Wesley & caused the onset of his illness, yet Wesley is repeatedly saddled with the label of "a schizophrenic" in a way that's incredibly unfair & stigmatizing.  Also, no one addresses that the reason he writes vulgar songs is to fight his "demons" which is incredibly brave & innovative.  In therapy we'd call that a coping tool but Wesley didn't have the benefit of therapists.  He was drugged to the gills with potent first generation anti-psychotics like Prolixin and then taken off them and given placebos without his knowledge according to the documentary below.  This is incredibly dangerous & unethical, and the fact that it happened as late as the 1990s makes my stomach turn.  

Wesley Willis:  The Daddy of Rock 'n' Roll (2003)

Despite everything he endured, Wesley Willis managed to keep his positive attitude & strong work ethic to the very end.  He made friends (and money) wherever he went, pumping out hundreds of songs in the studio every year.  He made sure each one was under 3:00 because that was "the perfect length for radio" & refused to collaborate with Hip-Hop artists to keep his work pure.  Why?  "Because I'm not a fool. My life is a rock-n-roll joyride".  The dark spot in the middle of his forehead was from his habit of greeting people by gently bumping foreheads with them.  It kind of resembled a third eye.  In late 2002 he was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, which he fought valiantly.  His prognosis was good as of 2003 according to this article: "Wesley Willis is Whooping Leukemia's Ass With a Belt". There was even a live concert tour planned.  But alas, it didn't turn out that way.  He died on August 21, 2003.  

Today someone like Wesley would be forced to live on the streets & not likely embraced by the snobbish hipster art communities in most cities.  The cost of living is so high and gentrification so bad that there's just no place for people like Wesley & his friends anymore.  While his work was labeled "Outsider" during his life, it wouldn't surprise me if I saw his drawings turn up on a billboard for Chevrolet or Dawn dish soap in the near future.  Everything beautiful gets appropriated by vultures eventually.  The strange thing is, I'm not sure Wesley would mind all that much due to his fascination with corporate slogans.

Rock over Earth, Wesley Willis.  🤘🌏

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Escapism: America's Favorite Pastime

It's official:  the pandemic is over.  2022 is the year of celebrity gossip.  America is tired of the wages of death wrought by COVID & its infinite mutations; of the outrageous & offensive inflation driving up the cost of living in every area from housing to gasoline to groceries & wood.  We want nothing to do with the fact that our primary methods of communication & media are being snatched up by a handful of billionaires & our pool of political candidates is reduced to a few powerful families that include the Clintons, Trumps, Bushes & Kennedys.  And don't even get us started on the ever-rising climate.  Summer's coming and who wants to think about all the heatwave deaths, hurricanes, tornadoes & other climate change-related suffering that's to come?

It's not just Musk.

We have no will to talk about these pressing issues.  We've moved on to bigger things like The Slap & the public trial of Johnny Depp & Amber Heard.  What's more, the public has already written their own narrative for these two totally unrelated stories.  They go like this:  both of these incredibly wealthy, famous celebrity men are victims of abuse by the women in their lives.  And we (society) need to talk about it.  Like some kind of fucking Afterschool Special.  

Toxic femininity is to blame, they tell us.  Justice For Johnny protesters are out in force outside the courtroom & fill the Youtube chats with vitriol toward Amber Heard & women like her daily.  Meanwhile, Will Smith's public assault of Chris Rock is blamed on the closest adjacent woman in his life--his wife.  All the articles since that time have focused on their dysfunctional relationship, her so-called "infidelity" (never mind that he also has a history of sleeping around that predates her August Alsina entanglement) & Jada's attitude.  For some fucking reason I can't comprehend.  [Church Lady voice]:  Could it be...MISOGYNY?

The Totally-Not-Biased Public

Depp was already denied a chance to sue for libel against The Sun newspaper in Britain which labeled him a "wife beater," as the courts there found the claim to be "substantially true" based on all the available evidence.  In other words, the British courts found Depp guilty of being a wife beater.  Not the court of public opinion, the actual courts.  And the world saw with their own eyes that Smith smacked the shit out of Rock on live TV.  He walked onstage, assaulted another celebrity, went back to his seat, screamed obscenities & proceeded to dance all night to his own music after receiving an Academy Award.  But it's somehow the women's fault.  These men, not only adults but over-the-hill 50-something OLD men, are not held accountable for a single thing they do.  They're apparently zombies going through life on autopilot, being lured into relationships by these all-powerful witches and then held there by force and hypnotized into doing things like assaulting people at the Oscars.  

It's typical America.  We had #MeToo & the Brian Laundrie/Gabby Petito tragedy, now we have to undo it by showing that women can be evil too.  (Never mind that 2 of the movement's most visible targets, namely Bill Cosby who was released from prison on a technicality & Louis CK who recently became the 1st comedian to receive a Grammy for an album in which he admits to sexual abuse, suffered no lasting repercussions for their actions).  Even if it means excusing the violent actions of wealthy, privileged grown ass men.  

Let me be clear:  If Amber Heard hit Johnny Depp as she claims on the tape, that's also a crime for which she should be charged.  But Depp has already been found guilty of domestic abuse by a British court & everyone's ignoring that.  They're also downplaying his lifelong polysubstance addiction, his admission that he mutilated his own finger & smeared blood all over the house, wrote graphic violent threats about raping his wife's burnt corpse & minimizing all the vile verbal abuse caught on tape that we can hear with our own ears ("Cuuuuunt!", etc).  He's also a man in his 50's dating a 20-something.  Not illegal but kinda gross.  And everyone expects her to be on the same maturity level as Grandfather Time which is not how that works.  At this point it wouldn't matter WHAT came out about his actions in the relationship--people have made up their minds.

Like attracts like.  Domestic abuse is a dynamic involving 2 people.  If it doesn't end, someone ends up getting killed (usually the woman).  I'm glad Johnny & Amber ended things before it got to that point but the fact that the tawdry details are being broadcast to the public years later is so ridiculous they should both be ashamed.  Instead he's being lauded as some kind of hero.  People who've heard bits and pieces of recordings from a 4-year relationship are suddenly experts on who was the bad guy when in all likelihood they both were the baddies at various points.  The fact that he's airing it out publicly all these years later makes him look slightly worse (more petty) if anything.  The bottom line:  They're both too damn old for this & so are most of us.

I have no problem with substance use, but when a person uses that many different drugs for that long, there's no denying it can have an effect on mood & behavior.  He should've snapped out of it back when River Phoenix died suspiciously in his club The Viper Room in the '90s.  Amber sounds like a Borderline Personality based on her fear of him abandoning her during fights (and her propensity for picking them).  And Borderlines are disasters in relationships.  Lying, cheating, manipulating, raging disasters.  I'm glad that's getting attention if nothing else, but it has NOTHING to do with women in general.  It's a personality disorder that this one woman in particular is suffering from.  Their relationship is very reminiscent of the Phil/Brynn Hartman dynamic in which he'd go to bed or walk away during their arguments and she'd get enraged which eventually lead to their tragic murder/suicide.  As I said, I'm glad they ended it.  But there's no clear good guy/bad guy here & no "teachable moment" other than that leaving unhealthy relationships is important if you want to stay alive.  America just wants a crusade & a distraction.  

That energy would be better spent focusing on our collective problems as a nation.  Escapism feels good for a while but when you wake up, your problems are still there staring you in the face.  Elon Musk owns Twitter now.  The average price of gasoline in the country is $4.123.  Used cars cost more than new cars & are nearly impossible to buy at any dealership.  The average housing price is $374,900--a 16% increase from this time last year.  All of it is being blamed on that offensively tiny "stimulus check" we got last year.  Never mind that U.S. billionaires got 62% richer during the pandemic.  Surely that has NO effect on the economy, right?  😒  This is what we should be concerning ourselves with, talking about around the water cooler & on social media--not trumped-up celebrity drama.  You can have your opinion on it but don't think for a second that the constant flooding of your timeline with these inane issues isn't by design.  Just look who owns our media.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Dear Readers,

My life is in transition right now so I'll probably be publishing with less frequency for a while.  You can still find me on Twitter (@BannedintheUSSA) & Instagram (instagram.com/ann_fetamine) and I'll push out a thought or two on this blog when the inspiration hits, but I just don't have the time or energy right now to write several full-length articles every week, especially when donations are non-existent and Google's fucking with my traffic.  As much as I enjoy writing, it IS work and I can't always afford to do it for free.  Big IRL changes are afoot.  Some good, some super stressful.  But stay tuned because I'm not going anywhere in the long term.  I'd rather go quiet than pump out crap just for the sake of publishing.  Go check out some of my older articles in the meantime.  I think they've aged pretty well.


~Your Friendly Neighborhood Drug Blogger~

Quitting Codeine for a Drug Test: A How-To Guide

This is a follow-up to my "Drug Tested at my ADHD Appointment" article.  It's going to be a recurring thing every three month...