WHAT CAUSES ADDICTION?
Michael Rice, LISAC
For those who do not work in the field of addictions (and for some who do), there have been numerous articles attributed to the “Cause of Addiction.” The authors of these articles start out with the best of intentions believing that they have discovered the cause of addiction. It seems as quickly as they begin with their findings, a switch seems to go off sending them onto a totally different track resulting in information that has always been known: Alcohol and drugs are addictive and people who drink and use do so “to escape.” Then the writers begin to describe all the reasons WHY people drink or use drugs without ever disclosing what causes the addiction.
Not everyone who drinks or uses drugs become addicted to them. While it is true that you cannot become addicted to them unless you drink or use, the cause of the addiction is the consistent and constant use of the drug. Anyone who drinks/uses long enough and hard enough will become addicted. So yes, what leads to addiction is the result of why people drink/ue in the first place but those reasons are not the cause of addiction.
The cause of alcohol and drug addiction is bio-cellular. It is not a medical disease and it is not a mental illness. It is a non-infectious condition and no gene has yet to be confirmed to identify it as a genetic condition (although many have claimed or believe it to be without solid proof).
Once a person crosses the lines of sociological and psychological abuse, they eventually cross the biochemical line and become physiologically addicted. Over time, millions of cells become altered to deal with the regular presence of the substance. These cells adjust from the way they were naturally meant to function and are now functioning differently with the substance that is regularly being used. After any period of depravation, these cells react in what might be called violent ways. They no longer are getting the drug they have been accustomed to and cause several different physical reactions (withdrawal).
A true physical addict or alcoholic feels “sick” when not getting their drugs or alcohol. They drink or use to “feel well.” I refer to a “true” addict/alcoholic as one who has crossed that biochemical line. All others are primarily drug/alcohol abusers and not addicted . . . . yet. . . at least not biochemically.
NOW you can talk about why people drink or use drugs. To replace the pleasant for the unpleasant is the most natural thing we do as humans. If cold, we put on a coat or sweater. If it rains, we go inside or seek other shelter. If hot, we turn on the AC. If we have a headache, we take an aspirin. If stressed or anxious, some rely on drugs or alcohol. When marriages or relationships go bad, crawling into a bottle or drug use is a temporary fix to numb emotions. If an addict or alcoholic feels “sick” s/he drinks or uses to feel better. This is why so many individuals relapse or even fail to begin treatment. They are avoiding the symptoms of withdrawal (which can be extremely severe).
Not everyone who abuses alcohol or drugs for the above-mentioned reasons become biochemically addicted. Those who have resolved their “unpleasant” issues before ever crossing the biochemical line eventually become normal drinkers or no longer rely on drugs. The person who has unfortunately crossed that line cannot return to normal drinking/using. After having gone through the withdrawals and detoxification, and regardless of the years they may be abstinent, cells retain a memory of how to function with the presence of drugs/alcohol. Should the drugs be reintroduced, the addictive process reawakens relatively quickly. In a short time, the addict/alcoholic finds him/herself back where s/he started. This is why a true alcoholic/addict cannot return to responsible use.
So what is the cause of addiction? It isn’t unhappiness, stress, loneliness, et al. Those are the reasons why people drink or use drugs. The cause of addiction is cellular mutation caused by consistent usage forcing cells to adjust to the presence of the drug of choice.
In Choice Theory, emphasis is placed on thinking and/or behaving to resolve unhappiness and emotional and physiological aspects are affected indirectly based on their thinking and behaving. In the addict’s world, drugs and alcohol have a direct and instantaneous effect on emotions and physiological conditions without any concern for thinking and behaving . . . other than choosing to use/drink. They have learned that drugs and alcohol are the most efficient tools in their behavioral system for effective, albeit temporary, relief of their unwanted emotions and physical illness symptoms. Ironically, the substance that causes their unwanted conditions is what is relied upon to alleviate them.
Shopaholics, sexaholics, and gambling addicts don’t have biochemical addictions but they do have an addiction to pleasure, which they misinterpret as happiness. If they cease their behaviors, they will experience emotional withdrawals but not necessarily physical withdrawals. Dr. Wm. Glasser reminds us that pleasure is easily attained without the involvement of other people and happiness can only be attained by maintaining meaningfull relationships. Victor Frankl tells us, those who have found no meaning to their lives find it easy to resort to things that bring pleasure.
Columbine High School, Aurora CenturyTheater, Tucson AZ, Ft. Hood TX, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Washington Navy Yard, Virginia Tech, Isla Vista CA, 3 airline suicide plane crashes, several teenage suicides – the 2nd largest cause of death of youths between the ages of 10 and 24.
A major factor in the majority of all of these instances has been seemingly and purposely overlooked. “He or she is mentally ill.” “Why didn’t someone notice their mental illness behaviors?” “Our mental health programs are ineffective.” “He’s psychotic.” “She’s irrational.” There is a strong belief that anyone who does not behave in a usual or customary way is mentally ill. When someone does not behave the way our particular culture and society expects them to behave, a label of mental illness is placed on them. The way of thinking is, “They have to be mentally ill. Normal people don’t behave like that.” Then they are given a subjective diagnosis by either a psychiatrist or family practitioner and prescribed drugs that are designed to stop the unwanted behavior and “cure” them of their maladaptive ways. How many people would subject themselves to medical treatment for conditions that have no bio-pathological source? How many people would take chemotherapy because their doctor said that they “behaved” like they have cancer based solely on outward appearance with no laboratory findings to indicate the existence of cancer cells?
Would you begin insulin treatments because your doctor said you behave like you are diabetic? Let’s talk drugs a little bit. The greatest drug discovery of all time is penicillin. It tends to cure most, if not all, infectious illnesses, if caught in time. The key word here is “infectious.” Very few drugs, have any curative capabilities for any medical condition that is not infectious. No medicines can cure heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, or any other medical condition that is not due to an infection. This will also include most of what is being called mental illness. At best, the drug only covers up the symptoms and easing the patient’s physical and emotional misery. No cures. There are those who have been on their pych meds for 5, 10, 15 or more years with no cures.
Effective medications are those that go directly to the identified source or cause of the illness. This is why people don’t take toenail fungus meds for migraine headaches, or aspirin for cancer. The source or pathology of effective medication has been identified and the prescribed medication was designed to go right to that source. And again, if it is not infectious, the medication only covers up the symptoms and makes the illness a bit more tolerable with no curative abilities.
This may be a surprise to many of you and those who are not surprised will be those who don’t want to believe what I am about disclose. There are no laboratory tests that can provide an objective, confirmable abnormality of the brain for anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, ADHD, hypertension, and many other disorders listed in the DSM V (the bible for diagnosing mental illness).
This begs the question, how can medication be created to address and treat non-infectious brain disorders when there are no lab tests or pathology to pinpoint what part of the brain is supposedly responsible for these diagnoses? The diagnosis is made purely by someone with medical authority to declare it exists when it cannot be proven or substantiated. It is medical science and diagnosis by decree. . . . an opinion with no organic pathology to support it.
These psychometric drugs have nowhere to go except to saturate the entire brain that affects all emotions, thinking, and creativity. At first, these drugs were designed to address specific disorders. Now, the same drugs are being used to address any and all emotional and mental disorders. They do this by virtue of the fact that the entire brain is being drugged and not the part of the brain that controls sadness, or mania, or schizophrenia, anxiety, or OCD. One drug tends to fit most of the other diagnosed behaviors instead of the one for which it was specifically designed. Many times, the drug name is changed and advertised as a new drug for a different illness. What this means is that these drugs hinder the brain’s natural ability to feel empathy, sympathy, sadness, happiness, or elation. They keep the brain from being able to be creative in working out a person’s own unhappiness while keeping them numbed out. Those who take these medications will still feel like something is wrong with their lives but they won’t be experiencing the emotions and thoughts that they had been experiencing that were behind their subsequent behaviors. If they attempt to stop using them, they experience withdrawal symptoms which they erroneously believe to be their mental condition returning due to the lack of the medication. So they immediatlely start taking them again.
The two most dangerous times for these medications are when someone begins to use them and those who decide to stop taking them. People with depression don’t go around killing other people. They may choose to put an end to their own life but they do not usually involve the killing of others along with them. Those who desire to kill others are doing so out of anger, not depression. Pilots who commit suicide with passengers on board are not feeling anger or any empathy or concern about anyone else other than themselves while deciding to crash the plane. They only want to end their own unhappiness because they have not been able to be creative enough to resolve their unhappiness on their own . . . and nothing else is working. The drug has caused their brain to “zone out.”
One cannot be angry and depressed at the same time. One emotion will be out of service when the other one is active. Antidepressants may cover up depression and in so doing, anger has been known to emerge with some individuals. So what everyone is overlooking when they ask for the motive behind all of these mass shooters is, “Is he, or was he on antidepressant medications or other psych meds? Should it be discovered that they were on psych meds, the reaction is: “See? I told you he was mentally ill.” No thought is ever given to the drug being the possible cause of their behavior. In every case of those who resorted to mass shooting , stabbing, and suicidal plane crashes is that the individuals all had one thing in common: They were not happy people. Those who take the lives of others are angry, not sad. When they were sad, they weren’t displaying criminal acts or harming others. And they all had been on or were taking psychiatric drugs. If depression was the cause of mass shooters, the U.S. population would be half of what it currently is.
The pilots who took their aircraft down were basically zoning out. They were neither sad nor angry as evidenced by their normal breathing patterns and non-responsive behavior while ignoring all those around them. Their emotions have been medically shut down and they were at peace knowing that what they were doing was their creative way of solving their own unhappiness. While there were over a hundred people on these planes, the flyers of these planes were not even aware of them or their existence in large numbers. Their only focus was on what they felt they had to do for themselves at the time.
Do all psych meds have the same effect on everyone? Not at all. All you need do is listen to what is being called “side effects” of the drugs advertised on TV. The side effects are often worse than the patient’s current symptoms. The ads mention these effects in order to cover their own behinds. They can always declare, “You can’t say we didn’t warn you.” Notice that even the antidepressant drugs advise that a doctor be called should they have any thoughts of suicide. Isn’t this what the drug is supposed to cure rather than cause?
There was an increase in teenage suicides when antidepressants were being passed out like Pez dispensers until a law was passed not to prescribe to those under the age of 18 as well as the addition of a black box warning on the side of the medication. Would you take a drug that warned against suicide, heart attacks and worse problems than you currently have if you take them? Obvious many people will and do. Before antidepressants and other psych meds came on the market, how many mass shootings did we have in this country? None (not counting the prohibition and gangster era). How many pilots destroyed their planes with several passengers on board? None. What is different today than the past before antidepressants were created? Mass shootings, teenage suicides, and suicide plane crashes.
How much longer will everyone stand around scratching their heads while asking the same unanswered questions of “Why did he do this” or “why did he do that” while failing or refusing to consider that it’s the drugs that are the culprit? How many more people have to die before we stop the medication madness?
Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC
I’m often asked, “If we choose all that we do, then why do people choose to be alcoholics?” I am asked this question often by those wishing to challenge the concept that we choose our behaviors. Is alcoholism a choice? Before I respond to that question, we need to look at why people drink alcohol in the first place.
Over the last 25 years, eighty per cent of my clients have been substance abusers or compulsive drinkers/users. I’ve had a passing fancy with it myself. You can say it is my specialty as I have worked with thousands of alcohol and drug abusers and addicts over the years. The average person has their first drink of alcohol around the age of 15. The first time you had an alcoholic drink, you might recall that it did not taste good at all. What it did do, however, was create a feeling of euphoria. It could be said that your first drink was a sensation more than it was a taste.
From the sensation came the desire to experience the sensation again, regardless of the taste. In simple terms, you liked the way it made you feel. If it didn’t do that, you couldn’t give it away. The more the sensation was desired, the more one is able to acquire a taste for it. In other words . . . become accustomed to the taste for the sake of the sensation. You liked how you felt indifferent about what others might think of you or what image you feel you have to project to others. Your inhibitions lowered so much that you began to feel relaxed, worry-free, and perhaps some feelings of elation.
Current emotions would become exaggerated. You felt pleasure which you confused for happiness. You were in the midst of others who were experiencing the same things along with you. Everyone saw each other as pleasing, fun, and acceptable. You probably laughed more and talked more. If an introvert, you became an extrovert. If worried, you felt apathetic toward whatever was bothering you. If weak you became fearless. You came out and said things that you would normally keep bottled up inside and now was easing all of your tension and stress. You had found a magic elixir that released you from all of those things that were consuming your unpleasant thoughts and unhappiness.
Not everyone who consumes alcohol has this awareness, acquires a taste, or has a fondness for the potion. There are those who feel they don’t like to lose control of their thoughts and behaviors. If they drink at all, it would be sparingly and in social situations only. They may even opt for some other beverage rather than alcohol. The same applies for those who use drugs. There are also those who may have a glass of wine occasionally when dining out. They generally won’t have more than one or 2 glasses of wine and then stop. There are also those who may wish to have a drink when they come home from work . . . to “relax” or “unwind.” Again . . . they are drinking for the effect more than for the taste.
So why do people drink? For the effect. They like how it makes them feel. Is there anyone who has not heard or is not aware of the fact that alcohol is an addictive substance? If you are aware that what you are consuming is addictive and yet you continue to consume it anyway . . . is that not a choice?
In Choice Theory, we know that the four components of Total Behavior is Thinking, Feeling, Physiology, and Acting. Of those four components, we have direct control of only two of them: Thinking and Acting. But there is always an exception to the rule. There are two things that DO have a direct effect on one’s emotions and physiology: Alcohol and drugs, including prescription drugs. There are very few prescription drugs that cure any of the major illnesses from which people suffer. A great many of our prescription drugs, at best, only mask symptoms by drugging the brain or keep the condition in check without a cure. Illegal drugs and alcohol can do much of the same thing and one doesn’t generally have to wait very long for them to take effect.
I don’t know of anyone who has said, “I think I’ll become addicted to alcohol (or meth, cocaine, heroin, cannabis, etc). All addicts/alcoholics have several things in common. One of those commonalities is how they became addicts/alcoholics in the first place. They discovered that they got pleasure from drinking and using as well as it being a cure, albeit temporary, for those things that are pressing on their mind. They are actually anesthetizing their brain and numbing all of their unwanted emotions.
To seek the pleasant to satisfy the unpleasant is a natural human behavior. We go from minute to minute, from day to day choosing behaviors that are purposefully designed to create happiness or pleasure. If cold, we turn up the thermostat or add clothing. If too hot, we turn the thermostat down or dress more lightly. If we have an upset stomach, there are antacids to ease the discomfort. If we get caught in the rain, we seek shelter. If hungry we eat. If thirsty, we drink. The actions we take to satisfy these unpleasant situations are all choices. Alcohol and drugs provide relief for other displeasures such as conflict with spouses, relationships, jobs, kids, debt, grief, anger, disappointments, tension, anxiety, and sadness.
While being fully aware that drugs and alcohol are addictive substances, the false belief that one is in control of his/her use is why they become addicted. They believe they will be able to recongnize if and when their use becomes a problem. The addiction will always be recongized by others long before the alcoholic or addict ever sees it. Once the cellular structure of one’s brain, organs, and muscles, have been altered due to regular and continued use, the body can no longer function without the substance without going through physical and emotional discomfort. This condition is more commonly recognized as withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms can be very severe and are always unpleasant. They can even lead to death. After any period of deprivation, when the cells do not receive their alcohol/drugs, they sort of revolt and readjust causing some physical complications and emotional distress. So if we can control our temperature discomfort, our hunger/thirst discomfort, and our need for shelter, we can also control our withdrawal symptoms by giving the cells that which they are accustomed that will end the suffering . . . drugs and alcohol. Ironically, the substance that is the cause of the suffering is what is being relied upon to end the suffering.
The most insidious aspect of addition is that the addict/alcoholic is totally unaware that they are addicted even when everyone else around them can see it. This phenomina is known in the psychiatric world as “anosognosia.” Both the physical body and the socio-psychological part of the brain have become dependent on the substance. When an unhappy person is faced with the reality that they don’t have the things they want in life that provide them with happiness; adding the idea that they are out of control and addicted will only add fuel to their unhappiness. When all their present known abilities to satisfy their unhappiness has failed, they have learned that drugs and alcohol will always make them feel better, if only on a temporary basis. Therefore, they have to continue to drink or use in order to feel better. By not drinking or using, they would feel much worse and unhappy. They know no other way to ease their frustration. It would be too painful, emotionally and physically, for them to stop drinking or using.
So is their addiction a choice? Yes. However it is an indirect choice. One first becomes reliant on drinking/using to satisfy social needs and interacting with others is a spirit of happiness. . . a social addiction. About the same time, one learns that drugs/alcohol is a quick fix to overcome unwanted emotions from unwanted situations. This is a psychological addiciton. The percepiton of their use at this time is not one of addiction. It is one of relief. The next stage is when one crosses over the line into cellular adaptation as a result of regular or consistent use of the substance. The cellular structure of the body eventually adjusts to the regular presence of the substance. The addict/alcoholic gets blindsided and doesn’t see it coming. They are now physically addicted and still refuse to believe it.
The overall dependency is now so strong that they refuse to believe they are out of control. They believe that they actually need it in order to survive and feel “normal.” And when they eventually do realize they are addicted, they are still defiant against sobriety because they don’t possess the means to deal with their unhappiness without it. They have tried everything else that they know in order to find happiness so they are not aware of anything else they can do besides rely on their drug of choice. They know they can rely on their drugs or alcohol and it has practically instant results. Nothing else will work as quickly. If given a choice between instant gratification versus 5 days of detoxification and 90 or more days of rehab and months or years of learning new ways to deal with life on life’s terms . . . which one do you think they will choose?
If someone has to put something into their body in order to feel happy, they are only temporarily masking their unhappiness and their life is out of control. They have not learned how to find happiness by breathing pure air. There is no happiness pill. There are only brain and emotional numbing drugs to mask unhappiness. Continue reading
By: Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC
Those who are involved in the arts are known to be emotional and often moody individuals. Whether it is music, drama, comedy, painting/sculpting, or writing the arts require the ability to reach deep into one’s soul to emote in their work to evoke the emotions of the reader, viewer, or listener. They want to convey their happiness, joy, sadness and despair that may exist in the roles they play, the stories they write or tell, or the artwork they create.
The “high” received from the artist is their audience’s reaction and acceptance of their work. The artist thrives on acceptance, appreciation, and respect for all that they do. Appreciation and respect are genetic needs that we all have that fulfill our need to acquire happiness. Some require it more than others. The artist who receives positive feedback is rewarded with a rush of dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter that occurs when given appreciation for their work. It’s like a shot of adrenaline and a high that is not easily described.
If given psych-evaluations, the majority of both successful and starving artists would be diagnosed as “Bipolar” due to their many ups and downs. They thrive on their emotions and a common phrase used to describe them is often, “He wears his heart on his sleeve.” If not getting their “high” dose of acceptance, they often settle down to either an uncomfortable middle ground or even a depressed state of mind. When one does not receive a steady dose of the creative high, they often rely on such drugs as cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, and alcohol to substitute for the void. All one need do is look at the list of those in the arts who have a history of addiction or died due to drug overdose or alcoholism.
Creativity is the life source of all the arts as well as happiness. Without it, there would be no performance worth any note to the viewer, reader, or listener. The audience wants to be moved emotionally and they get their high from the ability of the artist to deliver it to them. The artist does all the work and the audience is the benefactor if the artist is successful. The more the audience is moved, the more the artist is emotionally rewarded that culminates into a symbiotic relationship. The artist constantly needs to be “working” or creating in order to satisfy his need for acceptance, appreciation, and respect. When not performing or creating, they often become very unhappy and feel something is lacking. It’s an addiction and even the greatest acceptance never seems to be enough.
One of the worst things that can happen to a creative artist is to put them on psych medications. These drugs have no curative powers but do have the distinct ability to destroy or cease the creative process of the brain. The result is even deeper depression than they had before taking the medication which can and often does lead to suicide. While not every artist who died from suicide was on psychotropic medication, many were relying on other drugs or alcohol to deal with their unhappiness. Added to this is the fact that all long term emotional problems are relationship problems with the important people in their lives and is something that is happening in the present. The relationship problem may also easily be their unhappiness with themselves.
Even when one has the respect, acceptance, and admiration of the world, it can be a very lonely place for an artist if he doesn’t have these things from those who are the most important people in his life.
Go Sell “Crazy” Somewhere Else
Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC
One of the major road blocks facing the improvement of “Mental Health” is the medical/psychiatric community, the media, and the general public’s misunderstanding of just what IS mental health. When I ask my group members or non-Choice Theory based audiences to come up with words depicting Mental Health, they invariably give me words that are being used to describe Mental Illness and not Mental Health. How can mental health be improved if it cannot be correctly identified?
A recent article posted on AOL boldly announced that the death of someone close to a person can “trigger mental disorders.” What we have come to realize, and the world has yet to accept, is that the majority of what is being called “Mental Illness” is no more than unhappiness. . . and that any long term unhappiness is the result of not having a satisfying relationship with the important people on one’s life. Rather than reporting that certain events can trigger mental disorders, it would be more correctly stated that certain events can trigger “unhappiness.” A person who is unhappy may not be as mentally healthy as they could be but they are not mentally ill.
Is there really such a thing as mental illness? . . . absolutely. Alzheimer’s, Parkenson’s, Mental Retardation, Tourette’s, and Autism are just some examples of mental illnesses. These conditions have pathology. However, one would not see a General Practitioner or psychiatrist to treat them. They would seek the help of a neurologist. So now, should someone close to you die and you grieve their loss, you are now considered to be mentally disordered.
Declaring unhappiness as the source of aberrant behavior would be too naïve a concept for the world to accept. Rather than accept a person’s unhappiness as the real cause of what appears to be a mental illness, the general consensus is that a pathophysiological condition exists and that it is the cause of one’s behavior. “Normal people don’t behave like that. It must be a mental disease!” This tenet is strongly held even when no pathophysiological conditions exist and with absolutely no laboratory tests to prove that they do exist.
When a person who has been living in frustration and unhappiness for a long period of time because they are not experiencing the relationship that they would like to have with the important person(s) in their life, they try many things to make the relationship better so they can feel better. But when nothing they have done has been successful, they create behaviors that are meant to ease their unhappiness and frustration while still being involved with the person(s) with whom they are not receiving their need for acceptance, love, and belonging.
After a long while, they eventually give up on focusing on the relationship, disconnect from others, and begin to focus only on easing their frustration and unhappiness. It is these behaviors that others see as being odd, strange, weird, and mentally ill. Observers fail to see that these behaviors are meant to ease their unhappiness at that particular moment that they perform them. While it may look like mental illness to you, it seems the most appropriate thing for the unhappy person to do at the time they do it. Why? Because everything else they have tried hasn’t worked. They would feel even more frustration if they didn’t have these behaviors to rely on to acquire some modicum of relief from their unhappiness.
Why do some people choose such things as schizophrenic type behaviors over OCD, or depression, or anxiety, or ADD/ADHD, Bipolarism or resorting to murdering others, etc? Because it’s whatever they discovered to do first that had any effect of easing their unhappiness and frustration. Have you ever been so frustrated and unhappy that you fel like you were gong to “lose control?” This is what it is like for those who feel the way you have. Only they have been fighting it for longer periods than you did. It is not a mental illness. It is an emotional condition. They are not as mentally healthy as they could be but they are not mentally ill. They are often quite “normal” during times when they are not so frustrated.
Their behavior is the result of an emotional condition resulting from their particular situation and not a physical/medical condition or illness. Fortunately, most people choose to depress before relying on the extreme measure of mudering others. The act of mass murder is the result of choosing something to do when everything else they have tried to do to feel better has failed.
There is no conclusive, scientific evidence provided in the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA’s) bible, the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders” (DSM) which is relied upon to diagnose mental illness. The creators and writers of this book openly admit under the heading of “Associated Laboratory Findings: There are no laboratory tests that have been established as diagnostic in the assessment of schizophrenia, bipolar, Anxiety, ADD/ADHD” or any of the other 400 listed mental illnesses in the DSM.
Would a dentist perform a root canal or extraction without first looking at X-rays to justify the existence of a condition that would warrant such a procedure? Would a doctor start chemotherapy or insulin treatment without the proof that a patient had a pathological condition and laboratory tests that indicate this treatment be conducted?
Yet unhappy people, who are severely frustrated as a result of not finding a way to satisfy the relationships with the important people in their life, are being diagnosed by general practitioners and psychiatrists with diseases they don’t have and with medications that have no curative abilities that can lead to aggressive and suicidal behavior. Medications are harming the brain by keeping it from functioning the way it is normally supposed to function.
Today, the most common unhappy people we are finding that are being labeled “mentally ill” are young men between the ages of 15 and 25, who are, or were, on psychotropic medications, and are shooting people in schools, airports, military bases, and shopping centers. In each case, they were having relationship problems with the important people in their lives. If it is a mental illness, why are these shooters only men and none of them women? If mentally ill, why don’t men over the age of 26 commit mass murder shootings? These are the questions that need to be addressed. If mental illness is the cause, then where is the pathology? Where are the lab tests to prove a disease exists? Is mental illness gender specific only to males below the age of 26? These questions are not being answered because the focus is being placed in all the wrong areas.
All of these mass murder shooters have these things in common and therefore very importance to consider. Instead, the only common traits that are being considered are: They all had guns and shot lots of people. Therefore, they must be mentally ill and we don’t know what to do except put them on psych meds and blame the mental health community.
What IS known is that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the American Psychiatric Association (APA), and any medical group or organization that exists today cannot provide scientific evidence that a psychiatric disorder or illness is the result of an objective and confirmable brain abnormality. Mental Illness is being diagnosed by decree and not by physical evidence. And this is why Mental Health cannot be improved until it can first be accurately identified and defined.
- Stop calling mood disorders mental illnesses with a physical cause.
- Make mental health a public health issue and not a medical health issue and stop treating it as a medical condition. Treating a non-medical condition by means of medical procedures has never worked and will not work other than to harm the patient.
- Educate unhappy and currently happy people how to resolve their unhappiness and frustration with the important people in their lives . . . their mothers, fathers, siblings, personal relationships, with themselves, an employer, and perhaps a teacher.
- Teach our children how to resolve conflict and get along well with others . . . something that has been missing since the beginning of mankind.
- Focus on teaching in schools the things students need to know and can use in their life and not things they will never need to use or know or even want to know.
For further information, the following references are available:
Glasser, Wm., M.D., Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Dangerous To Your Mental Health, New York, Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., 2003
Gosden, Richard, Ph.D. Punishing the Patient: How Psychiatrists Misunderstand and Mistreat Schizophrenia. Victoria, Australia: Scribe, 2001
Lynch, Terry, M.D. Beyond Prozac: Healing Mental Health Suffering Without Drugs. Dublin, Ireland: Merino Books, 2001
Breggin, Peter, M.D. Toxic Psychiatry. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991
O’Meara, Kelly Patricia, Psyched Out: How Psychiatry Sells Mental Illness and Pushes Pills That Kill. Indiana and UK, Author House, 2006
Glasser, Wm. M.D. Defining Mental Health as a Public Health Issue.(Pamphlet) CA, WGlasser.com, 2005
Whitaker, Robert. Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill. Cambridge, MASS.: Perseus Publishing, 2002
Johnstone, Lucy. Users and Abusers of Psychiatry, 2nd ed. London and Philadelphia: Routledge, 2000
MADMAN VS HAPPYMAN
By Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC
What would you say is the opposite of the word,
“Madman?” Happyman? The word Madman was used in the reporting in
yet another mass shooting spree . . . this one by 22 year old Elliot
Rodger. Ironically, the use of the word
“Madman” is as close as society will come to the real cause of Elliot’s choice
to kill 6 people and wound several more.
This is because the use of the word, “Madman,” is perceived as being Mad
as in “Insane,” “Crazy,” or “Daft.” Yet, if asked
what the opposite of Mad is, they would most likely say, “Happy.” So why isn’t the opposite of Madman a
Happyman? Then shouldn’t the goal of mental health be to help transition one’s mental illness of a madman towards that of a happyman?
Elliot and all of the other mass shooters over the last few
years were all unhappy and “detached” young men under the age of 25 and all who
had been on, or were currently on, psych meds.
Yet the world will not accept that unhappiness is why these young men
attempt to ease their frustration and anger.
Incidentally, why aren’t any of these mass shooters women? Does this form of so-called “mental illness”
only affect the male gender?
People don’t go around shooting other people because they
are happy. So why don’t we start right
there? People shoot other people because
they are unhappy. And why are all of
these young men unhappy? . . . because they are not experiencing satisfying relationships
with the important people in their lives.
It hasn’t anything to do with some past traumatic event several years
ago or some pathology that doesn’t exist.
It is an unhappy situation that is going on in the present at that
moment in their life. Their unhappiness
lies within a very unsatisfying relationship with such possible persons as a
mother, a father, a sibling, a boy or girlfriend, a husband/wife, an employer,
possibly a teacher, or even an unsatisfying relationship with themselves.
When a person has exhausted all that they have tried to do
to resolve their unhappiness by trying to control what they can not control,
they often detach from friends, family, and even society. They may believe that people don’t like them
so why should they like people? And since
they don’t like people, it means nothing to them to exact revenge for their
anger on people they may or may not even know.
If they have been, or currently are on psych meds . . .
these medications drug the mind with no curative powers but shut off the brains
ability to be creative to resolve their unhappiness in more logical and
appropriate ways. Seeking ways to
resolve intense distress, they rationalize with a drugged mnd, that eliminating
specific people, or people in general, will ease their frustration. Psychotropic medications are no more than
what Dr. Peter Breggin calls “chemical lobotomies.” They are not selective in the emotions that
drug companies report target specifically..
If a drug has an effect on one emotion, it has an effect on all
emotions. Elliot Roger was receiving
“professional help” according to the family’s attorney.
The report was that after his
parents notified others about their son’s youtube post, Police interviewed Elliot Rodger and found him to be a “perfectly
polite, kind and wonderful human,” he added. Police did not find a history
of guns, but did say Rodger “didn’t have a lot of friends,” had
trouble making friends and didn’t have any girlfriends.
They failed to recognize any
condition because they were looking for signs of “a madman.” While Elliot was mad, others were looking for
“crazinesss.” People who have mental
illness don’t turn their illness off and on when they feel like it. Anyone is capable of changing their thoughts
and subsequent emotions at any given time.
If being interviewed for possible signs of insanity or criminal
activity, a person can easily think and emote naturally. What the police failed to recognize as the
cause of his behavior is his relationship unhappiness ,even when they admitted
he had relationship problems with others.
They simply glide right over the source and cause and look for other
signs of what they believe to me mental illness..
Until the world begins to address
the real cause of what is being called mental illness, nothing will
change. What is being called mental
illness is the behavior of unhappy people who are having difficulty with the
important people in their lives. While
not everyone who is unhappy resorts to mass shootings, others have found other
creative ways or behavior to ease their frustration. These behaviors are identified by decree of
the psychiatric delivery system as:
Schizophrenia, severe anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behavior,
depression, Bipolar, ADD/ADHD, and any other mental illness listed in the
DSM. While the symptomatic behaviors of
these conditions are accurate, they have no medical or physical, or organic, or
genetic pathology. These behaviors serve to ease one’s frustration and anger regarding his/her unhappiness that is rooted in unsatisfying relationships. Mental Health will
not improve until the focus is placed on the true source of the behavior . . .
“If you don’t change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever.
Is that good news?”
― W. Somerset Maugham
By Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC
“What we have been doing in psychiatry for the last hundred
years has been half-baked.” William Glasser, MD
Dr. G.L. Harrington, a mentor of Dr. Glasser, has stated,
“If all the professionals in our field suddenly disappeared, the world would
hardly note their absence.” His
reference being that if there were no psychiatric professionals, there would
not be any change in the amount of unhappy people who exist in the world.
Dr. Glasser discovered, as I have in my practice, that what
is being called mental illness is the result of people who are feeling
miserable . . . that all long term emotional problems are relationship problems
that are happening in the present with the important people in one’s life.
If those of you have experienced depression, anxiety,
compulsive behaviors, eating disorders, or any of the listed mental illnesses
in the DSM V, you would not be surprised to discover that whatever was going on
in your life, at the onset of these so-called mental illnesses, was an
unsatisfying relationship with someone important to you.
For over a century, psychiatry has been focusing on and
teaching those in the psychiatric community that mental illness is a medical
condition. As a result, the majority of
the world believes this to be true. This
is why the psychiatric communities’ efforts in dealing with mental health have
not been effective.
Unhappiness is not a medical condition nor is it a chemical
imbalance in one’s brain that the pharmaceutical companies would have you
believes. There is no physical pathology
to what is being called mental illness.
With no pathology, there is no medical or physical cause. Doctors and psychiatrists have been treating
people for diseases that don’t exist with medications that have no chance of
remedying something that has no pathology.
The only thing these drugs do is drug a person’s brain, numb their
emotions, and have a history of causing many to commit suicide or do harm to
others. . . sometimes both at the same time.
The medical profession refuses to consider unhappy
relationships as the cause of “mental illness” because it doesn’t fit into
their medical mind-set. To them,
anything that is not medical is not worth considering. So they claim it to be a medical
condition. It is science by decree. This is why mental illness and mental health
are not improving.
Until just recently, you could not find a definition of
Mental Health anywhere until Dr. Glasser gave his definition: You are mentally healthy if you enjoy being
with most of the people you know, especially with the important people in our
life such as family, sexual partners and friends. Generally, you are happy and are more than
willing to help an unhappy family member, friend, or colleague to feel
better. You lead a mostly tension-free
life, laugh a lot, and rarely suffer from the aches and pains that so many
people accept as an unavoidable part of living.
You enjoy life and have no trouble accepting other people who think and act
differently from you. It rarely occurs
to you to criticize or try to change anyone.
If you have differences with someone else you will try to work out the
problem; if you can’t you will walk away before you argue and increase the
You are creative in
what you attempt and may enjoy more of your potential than you ever thought
possible. Finally, even in very
difficult situations when you are unhappy – no one can be happy all of the time
– you’ll know why you are unhappy and attempt to do something about it. You may even be physically handicapped as was
Christopher Reeve, and still fit the criteria above.
It wasn’t until Dr. Glasser wrote these words that you could
find any definition of “Mental Health.”
At best it could only be defined as “the absence of mental
illness.” Since then The World Health
Organization (WHO) and several other sources have announced a watered-down
version of Dr. Glasser’s definition including the Merrium-Webster Dictionary
that previously had nothing listed. Now you can find several versions of Dr. Glasser’s definition. And
what it particularly interesting, including that of the Mayo Clinic’s
definition, is that none of the
definitions cite a medical condition as its cause. So why is it being treated unsuccessfully with
medications and techniques that do not address the real cause?
People don’t go around shooting other people because they
are happy. Nor do they have a chemical
imbalance in their brains that make them do such things . . . unless it is an
imbalance created by the medications they have been given.
When a person has tried everything they know how and what to
do to ease their frustration from unsatisfying relationships, they grasp at any
behavior that comes to mind that they haven’t utilized so far. These behaviors take the form of what is
being called “Mental Illness.” And if
the behavior has even the slightest effect of easing their frustration, they
rely on it. To not do so would only
cause them to feel more unhappy than if they are if they didn’t do them. When they choose the behavior, it
makes perfectly good sense to them at the moment.
What needs to be done?
- Make Mental Health a
Public Health Issue just as Physical Health has done.
- Educate the public that
mental illness is not a medical condition and stop treating it as such
- Cease the use of
psychotropic medications except in such cases where harm to others may
- Take the medical model out
- Teach people how to
improve their relationships and get along with others.
- Teach people how to take
responsibility for their own happiness and not blame others for their lack
- Teach people all the
things they do to control others when the only people they can control is
- Teaching people what is
missing in their lives that are keeping them from their happiness and to
discovering ways to get these needs met without infringing on the needs
and rights of others. Why won’t we see this changing
anytime soon? Because there is no money
in Mental Health. There is only money in
Mental Illness. The survival of the
pharmaceutical companies and the psychiatric profession appears to be more
important than the consideration of society’s well-being.
WHAT’S A GUY LIKE YOU
DOIN’ IN A PLACE LIKE THIS?
By Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC
Much of what is being called “Mental Illness” is really no
more than unhappy people whose genetic and basic needs are not being met as a
result of unsatisfying relationships with the important people in their
lives. Having tried, to no avail, to
control their unhappy life situation, and having exhausted all the tools they
possessed to deal with such matters, they resort to other behaviors that serve
the purpose of easing their frustration.
They become very creative and develop behaviors that serve the purpose
of bringing some form of relief to their unhappiness. It is these usual, creative behaviors that
are being exhibited by the greater majority of people who have been labeled as
Is there such a thing as Mental Illness? The answer is, “yes.” But these illnesses are physical conditions
that have identifiable pathologies in the brain and not something that is based
only on observation or symptoms, alone.
These mental illnesses are things such as Parkinson’s disease,
Alzheimer’s, Mental Retardation, Tourette’s syndrome, etc. And for these illnesses, one would be treated
by a Neurologist and not a Psychiatrist.
Ask someone to define Mental Health and they will often name
Mental Illnesses such as Depression, ADD and ADHD, Schizophrenia, Bipolar,
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and practically everything else listed in the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) for Mental Illness. If one can only define Mental Health by
naming Mental Illnesses that have no pathology, then how can Mental Health
programs ever be effective? It would
appear that not only does the general public not know how to define Mental
Health, neither can many of the professionals involved in Mental Health.
Educating the public is at the core of making Mental Health
a public health issue; by teaching people that what is being called mental
illness has no pathology in their brains, and that the unifying problem of
those who have been diagnosed as mentally ill
is the result of unhappiness and more specifically . . . unhappy
relationships. There is also the stigma
of mental illness being a character disorder and that one who is mentally ill
is also not very intelligent . . . both of which are untrue.
There was a salesman who was driving on his way home. As often happens with motorists, he had a
flat tire and he pulled over on the side of the road to change it. There was a decorative wooden fence that went
around several acres of land where he had pulled over. And on top of the ridge in the distance was a
mental institution. The salesman got out
of his car only to find he was in waist high weeds. He removed the jack and spare tire. He loosened the five lug nuts on the flat
tire and then jacked the car up so that he could remove it. As he was doing so, he noticed one of the
patients from the mental hospital, who had wandered down to his location, was
leaning against the wooden fence observing his tire-changing efforts.
The salesman removed each lug nut and placed them in his
wheel cover so as not to lose them in the tall grass. His back was aching from having been stooped
over for so long so he decided to stand up to stretch the muscles in his
back. As he did so, the heel of his shoe
caught the wheel cover causing it to flip up and throwing all of the lug nuts
in unknown locations in the tall weeds.
“For crying out loud,” he yelled. “Now what am I going to do?”
The man from the mental hospital remarked, “Why don’t you
take one lug nut from each of the other three tires to use on the replacement
until you can drive into town and acquire the additional lug nuts to make all
your wheels secure?”
The Salesman seemed stunned.
He said, “Wow! I never would have
thought of doing anything like that.
That’s an excellent remedy to my predicament. Tell me, what’s a smart guy like you doing in
a place like this?”
The patient replied, “I’m here because I’m crazy. Not because I’m stupid.”
NOT AS BAD AS ALCOHOL
By Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC
When I continually hear others
say, “Marijuana is no worse than alcohol” or “not as bad as alcohol,” what I am
hearing is, “Marijuana is bad but no more than alcohol is bad so it must be
okay.” Based upon this rationale, one
might also say, “Arsenic is bad but no more than cyanide.” And since it is no worse, then it must not be
There are those individuals who
can drink one or two drinks and not be affected as much dependent upon the
weight. However, anyone who smokes weed
becomes high instantly regardless of their weight. They aren’t using it for the acquired taste
as with alcohol. There are more alcohol
abusers than there are responsible drinkers.
Marijuana is specifically used to get high just as the alcohol abuser drinks
to feel euphoric. They get higher faster
and don’t have hangovers . . . the latter being one of the qualifications for
claiming it is not as bad as alcohol.
One perspective might be: Users don’t know how to get high on life with
just pure air. They need to rely on a
chemical to alter their brain’s ability to function as it was meant to function
. . . regardless of the ill effects and damage it does to the lungs and the
brain, not to mention loss of motivation, lost employment, and harmed relationships.
As with alcohol, marijuana users will
fail to see the problems they will incur as a result of their use. They will staunchly defend their position of
it being a harmless drug even if and when those around them observe otherwise.
While it is true that people
don’t rob banks or convenience stores to get money for pot, it has been my
experience, as a drug and alcohol therapist, that pot smokers, generally, don’t
do much of anything. I have never heard
of anyone dying from an overdose of marijuana but I have seen many people die
from complications from smoking marijuana.
If you think alcohol causes
problems, just wait until you see what problems legalized recreational cannabis
use will cause. But . . . then again . .
. It’s not any worse than alcohol.
If you agree that alcohol causes
problems for people, you can expect double the problems with legalized
marijuana. I am greatly assured of job
Holidays are often celebrated with the consumption of alcohol. Even those who don’t regularly imbibe do so on holidays and special occasions. Others don’t need a holiday to justify their use. They drink because they have acquired a taste for it and like the effects it causes. Alcohol, like coffee, is an acquired taste. At first, it doesn’t taste good at all People drink it because they like how it makes them feel. If it didn’t do that, most drinkers would not drink at all.
Alcohol is a sedative drug as well as an addictive
drug. The effects of alcohol begin with
only one drink. The more a person drinks
the more effects they will experience. Any one of the effects is detrimental to the
brain that controls thinking, feeling, physiology, and behavior. Alcohol affects the brain by interfering
with the brain’s oxygen supply. In
simple terms, alcohol anesthetizes the brain and puts it to sleep.
Because alcohol is a legal drug, and because it causes a
feeling of euphoria, many people drink it specifically to get that
sensation. Both the seasoned and the
novice drinker often lose count of how many drinks they actually consumed and
become more impaired than they believe themselves to be. A recent study showed a man who felt he was
capable of driving only a few blocks home because “I only had two drinks.” Video coverage showed that he actually had
five drinks and when tested, his blood alcohol level was .13, one hour after
having consumed his last drink.
If you drink to feel euphoric each time you drink, then you
are purposely drinking to feel high on a drug.
This is no different than the person who uses cannabis, meth, cocaine,
heroin or other drugs. It is used to
acquire the desired effect. The only
difference is, alcohol is a legal drug.
If you consume more than you had intended to drink on more than a couple
of occasions, you might want to evaluate your pattern of use of alcohol.
On average, the body metabolizes one drink per hour. Someone who drinks 3 or more drinks an hour
will be impaired to some degree or another.
And when continuing to drink after that hour will only increase the
impairment to the point of legal intoxication.
One must also take their weight into consideration. A larger person can consume more alcohol on
average than a smaller person due to the amount of blood they have in their
body. Some can become legally drunk on
only two drinks if they are not very large.
So this holiday season, be aware of your alcohol intake and
the dangers that may befall you, and those you don’t even know. Play it safe.
Don’t drink and drive. DUI task
forces are fully in place this holiday season.
Police stations have bars you don’t want to go to. Hospital emergency rooms and morgues are
fully staffed and prepared to meet you.