Posts Tagged ‘alcohol’

As so often happens, I was reading an article in the Metro Times, one which advocated for marijuana dispensaries as legal business within the city of Detroit (and Michigan, in general).  Read it here.

Right now in Detroit there are about 180 dispensaries all over the city; Weedmaps has a service allowing users to locate their nearest dispensary, much like a yellow pages for pot.

You may have already guessed I’m an advocate of legalization; honestly, I’d like to see all drugs at least decriminalized, so we can stop filling up our jails with simple users and non-violent drug crimes.  But the dispensary issue is a bit murkier.

Since the end of prohibition in the 1920s, liquor has been widely available for purchase and subject to government regulation.  Like it or hate it, we have an age where use is legal and we have standards for how to sell it (by looking at an ID, bartenders aren’t supposed to over-serve, we have a legal limit for driving etc).  Even though we know parents buy for kids, teenagers sometimes get a ‘fake’, we still (generally) see the rules being followed.

There aren’t real, concrete rules for marijuana dispensaries or who they can sell to, where they can be located…it’s a bit of a mess.

I love the idea of stores because it’s a safety issue; it’s safer to go into a business than to talk to some dude on the street (or, more likely, to trust that the guy your friend uses has safe, quality product and isn’t working for the police).  I love the idea because it moves us one step closer to that state of legalization and of decreasing stigma of use.  It just worries me, because we’ve seen alcohol be used as a means of oppression in poor communities, and I’d hate to see this go the same way.

Poor areas are wayyyyyy more likely to have an abundance of liquor stores.  WayMoreLikely.

Easy availability of alcohol is associated with increased rates of neighborhood violence.  Alcohol advertising is targeted toward people and communities of color (l think we all remember the Colt 45 ad with Billy Dee Williams, now ironically appropriated by rich white hipsters).  Liquor stores take up space that could otherwise be used by local businesses, schools, religious organizations, etc (or even grocery stores to increase food availability).  Liquor ensures poor communities stay poor, and contributes to lack of safety and economic decline.  When liquor stores are less prevalent, youth homicide drops and median income rises.

Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a plea to make booze (or weed) illegal again, but we can’t deny the impact adding liquor and weed to the environment has on our vulnerable communities (including the perpetuation of racism against and within communities of color).

So we’re seeing enormous numbers of weed stores popping up all over Detroit.  When I look at the map of dispensaries, I’m not seeing them ONLY in poor areas, but perhaps concentrated in areas of vulnerability.  District 1 is home to 13 stores; District 1 has some of the lowest employment rates in the city.

We don’t need rules and regulations to protect us from ourselves – we need them to ensure corporations and single-minded businesses aren’t allowed to create negative environments just because they can, because we haven’t said no.

Weed might be safer than other drugs, but if we don’t pay attention, it will be added to the oppressor’s toolbox.

When I first started therapy, at least this round of therapy, I immediately got into a fight with my therapist about drinking.

As a substance abuse counselor for many years, I am well familiar with the symptoms and signs of problematic use; my issue was her assertion drinking causes mood disruption for almost a month after the drink.  One drink?  Depressed for a month? Sounded a bit loony to me, especially as I’d never read anything in the literature matching this assertion, with the exception of those who drank every day, then suffering withdrawal and PAWS.  So I did an anecdotal, totally unscientific study and stopped drinking for 45 days, tracking my mood each day.

Through this time period, my parents invited me to visit them on vacation in Florida, I was living with roommates with whom drinking was our main activity, and I was single and working three jobs.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to say no to booze (it’s always nice to have a reminder that I really can stop if I want) and drinking club soda usually solved the problem at bars, as it looks like it could be a drink.  But my mood stayed the same.

(Depression and alcoholism (as well as other drug use) usually go together.  They do not help each other.)

I have never been hungover and told myself I would never drink again.  For one, that’s an absurd cliche.

For two, I knew it was baloney.  Sure, I wouldn’t been tossing shots back the day after a big night, but forever is a long time (hence the one day at a time motto in AA).  But as I grow older and older, I am drinking less and less.  My tolerance is down, and I don’t find myself out on Friday and Saturday nights, spending money and carousing.  I have fewer hangover brunches, and my fridge keeps beer in it for weeks at a time (it helps not having roommates).

I struggle, because in the states especially, it seems drinking is associated with being young, being in college, with fun, with cutting loose.  I worry I am getting too serious, that I am losing friends, that worst of all, I may be growing up and out of the party scene.


It’s this that is most difficult, because really, drinking is putting a neurotoxin in your body.  It has calories, makes you do stupid crap (sometimes) and it destroys your body if you drink enough for long enough.  I have friends in their forties who party like college students, and my parents definitely drink with their friends on occasion.  It’s these thoughts and experiences that make you sympathetic to anyone in recovery, anyone who has chosen to make changes in their life and put the bottle down.  Because even for us weekend warriors and college boozers, it’s not easy to stop.

This article states an alcoholic is anyone who’s life gets better when they stop drinking.  Does yours?