Posted by Dan Joyce on

I know I harp on you about the mental health, addictions and poverty systems. Of course, I do this because not only does it apply to me, but the safety and well being my personal friends, loved ones, and all in the community. This week another murder has occurred in the sober living system in Irvine directly related to this broken system. You can say one murder is insignificant to everyone or that it is only one murder, but people are dying all the time and I’m watching it like a Jew in a NAZI camp. My friends, my loved ones, are all falsely imprisoned for a crime they never committed. Mental illness of all forms is not  only caused by the individual, but by their makeup and enviroment as well. We all know this by now. There may be no cure, but we have some solutions that are working and they would work better in a system that didn’t involve the deaths of innocent people.
When the Fullerton Kelly Thomas murder occurred,  much of the community blamed Kelly as I watched the self-help programs do this actively. Around 10 years ago, Alcoholics Anonymous won a lawsuit involving the death of an innocent single young college student by her boyfriend she met in AA. In both cases, AA members actively blamed the victim. A mission from God movement is dangerous. Using religion to cope with these kinds of problems has been helpful for some, but in most cases doesn’t work and we have freedom to go to church in this country to do so anyway. That is, for those who find it beneficial.
This week an 18 year old boy was murdered in a Sober Living situation in Irvine, a nice boy from good family.
I’ve talked to you about the problems with the tough love philosophy and the common belief that the only solution for mentally illness, addiction and poverty is to force individuals into a scenario that increases the risk of death. While survivors swear by this, victims perish all the time to a spiritual beliefs that is continuing to murder. Often in National Alliance for Mental Illness, Alcoholics Anonymous and Alanon, I have heard the morbid cliche, “If he dies, he dies. There is nothing we can do.” Now innocent people are dying when we know there is a lot we can do.
What works for mental illness, addiction and poverty?
Here are some things that have worked for me.
* Abstinence instead of moderation. There is no physical need to diet cigarettes or meth amphetamines.
* Avoiding triggers, people who don’t drink, smoke, etc.
* Individual therapy by a qualified counselor if one can afford it.
* Fair and just economic practices overcome poverty as well as budgeting and hard work.
* Personally, I have found medicine helpful in clearing my thoughts when severely confused. Although it is problematic, studies and research are being done to make that more helpful.
* Groups of supportive people can be very healing, but MUST be supervised by qualified people. Anarchy only leads to chaos, ignorance and in this case, dangerous fanaticism.
* NAMI, AA and Alanon are all made of people with problems governed by other people with problems who are unqualified and angry people. The abusers end up treating the abused. We saw this with the Kelly Thomas case and the solution seems quite simple.  There are organizations coming about with some of these solutions, but many are still acting as though the experts who research are unhelpful.
1. Government regulation is a must in these programs and especially housing where people are dying regularly, even murdered in good neighborhoods, and commonly in bad neighborhoods. It’s not enough to say get rid of the drugs when we have addicts dying in a system that feeds into their demand. Telling people to go ahead and die only ensures that they perish.
2. Saying drugs will always be there is only going to allow it. Legalizing marijuana may be a fun idea for some college students, but it has become an epidemic amongst the homeless. Again, should we really place this economic judgment on human life? Taxing cigarettes and national education on alcohol and drugs seems to have been more helpful. Also, laws when needed. The police can chart where the drugs are coming from and fight that war without the people becoming the casualties.
3. Mental Health Reform and community crackdowns on broken treatment methods that are not working and doing more harm. To quote a local counsilman, “A system that purports to help people should not do harm instead.”
4. Another problem has occurred by privatizing the industry. Our housing, medicines, treatment is all being influenced by these corrupt unqualified nongovernmental organizations. Often their hateful treatment has become the only therapy offered. Again, they can do good, but must be regulated. So that our lives and the lives of others are not determined by selfish and financial interests.
Obviously, and finally, people just being a little nicer to each other. Many are already angry about the murder of this Irvine boy, but I am more deeply saddened by the commonality and continuation of such brutality that can be prevented with a little more love and care from everyone. Apathy is our enemy.
What can I do politically and civilly to communicate this message to others so that laws, policies and changes can be considered before I see more preventable overdose deaths, suicides and murders?


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