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the trinket-sized truth

April 9, 2014

Very early yesterday morning while beginning to wake, I heard the words: You should have been a painter. The voice came from a distance and was addressing not me, but a group of people. I was aware of people, but I could not see them, for their [space] was dark. These are the target. I woke, perplexed, but it wasn’t too long before I realized what it is saying.

In an earlier essay, I wrote a little on the maladies of man and the quick fix. These can be anything from robotic prayer practices to pain killers. If you get hit with something difficult, do you have within you what it takes to restore—even improve—without turning to something that will ultimately lead to devastation.

Heroin is an epidemic in the states. One week I was reading about the advances of organic farmers extending their growing season by using new methods, the next, National News is announcing that Vermont and Maine have an explosion of heroin addicts. I hear heroin is often cheaper than pain killers, and after a while, it’s no longer about the high, but the struggle to stay alive.


Allow me to share from a few articles.

Vermont has always had relaxed attitudes toward drugs. When we were growing up there during the 1990s, everyone smoked weed and some of our friends’ parents even grew the stuff. According to surveys conducted in 2010 and 2011 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Vermont leads the nation in illicit drug use per capita. That’s not particularly surprising or alarming when it comes to marijuana, but the wave of heroin that’s surged into the state is cause for concern.

Police officers, drug counselors, and drug addicts all agree that heroin is easier and cheaper to come by than pot these days. Some people even said heroin is becoming socially acceptable the way marijuana is. On a recent trip back to our home state, we found heroin stories everywhere we looked.

From a family friend: “Jim just got back—he was up with his son, detoxing him from heroin. He was there for a week, keeping an eye on him.”

From a stepsister: “The kids I used to nanny for, their dad was really into that, he’s actually in federal prison for trafficking—drove down to Hartford to pick up a bunch of drugs and got pulled over on his way home, and I don’t know why, but he told [the cops] he was bringing heroin back up to Vermont. Guess he thought they’d let him go if he just told them or something.”

The night we arrived, we turned on WCAX, the state’s largest news channel, to hear news of a traffic stop on Interstate 91 that led to the arrest of six people for heroin trafficking. The cops found more than 1,000 bags of heroin, worth around $30,000, inside a Nissan Maxima. Just weeks before, the Vermont State Police had swept through Franklin County, in the northwestern part of the state, and nabbed 30 dealers selling the stuff.

Then, on October 18, police caught two men from New York with 9,000 bags of heroin, one of the biggest busts in state history. US Attorney Tristram Coffin subsequently told the Burlington Free Press that during the first nine months of 2013, 65 people facing heroin-trafficking charges appeared before federal judges in the state—twice as many as appeared in all of 2012, and eight times as many as in 2009.

Lieutenant Matthew Birmingham, the head of the Vermont State Police narcotics task force, which was responsible for the recent busts, said opiates are the top drug problem statewide. That makes sense—rural New England’s cold, dark winters and isolation make it ideal downer country. Oxycontin was a big problem over the past decade and a half, but when the manufacturer changed the formula in 2010 to make it harder to crush and dissolve, heroin became the drug of choice.

Birmingham told us that recently, demand for the drug has exploded. “In the early part of the last decade, we were seeing a bundle here, a bundle there, and that was a big deal,” he said. “Now we’re seeing thousands of bags at a time, multiple raw ounces and grams, levels of heroin that we’ve never seen before. That’s indicative of a problem.”

A central Vermont cop, who asked to remain anonymous because he did not have permission to speak to the press, said heroin mainly comes up from Hartford, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts. Lately, however, he’s seen dealers from New York City and Philadelphia creep into his jurisdiction. “They set up a distribution center in a cheap motel, and have the locals run for them,” he told us.

That’s standard procedure for bigger dealers, who use local users as both customers and distributors. “Addicts create this local network that’s established for any out-of-state source to come in and hook into in any location,” said Birmingham. “From there, they can distribute widely.”

The big-city dealers are also bringing their big-city problems with them. With out-of-state drug retailers coming in to meet surging local demand, competing traffickers—some of them organized and violent—are starting to stake out territory in the Green Mountains.

“There are real and legitimate organized gangs and organized criminal groups that are operating drug rings… and establishing themselves in Vermont,” said Birmingham. “It’s disconcerting to us in that you’re bringing a very different criminal element. They are usually highly organized—and they’re usually armed.”

It used to be mostly local people going down to cities to bring drugs back. Now, according to Birmingham, dealers are coming to Vermont to set up shop. “You’re dealing with guns, you’re dealing with gangs, and it becomes problematic for the citizens of Vermont, too,” he told us. “This kind of activity now exists here and with it comes violence and shootings and all kinds of different things that happen on the streets.”


Experts say the problem can be traced back to the aggressive prescribing of opioid drugs for pain about 15 years ago. OxyContin and Percocet are two popular, legal opioid drugs. Heroin is also an opioid drug; it’s the illegal cousin. They are all made from the poppy plant, and they are all addictive.

When you talk to people who use heroin today, almost all of them will tell you that their opioid addiction began with exposure to painkillers, says Dr. Andrew Kolodny, chief medical officer for the Phoenix House Foundation and president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing.

“The main reason they switched to heroin is because heroin is either easier to access or less expensive than buying painkillers on the black market,” he says.

Kolodny says the statistics are stark. Areas with the highest rates of opioid or heroin addiction are often wealthier areas, where people have more access to medical care. With medical care comes access to doctors — doctors who could write prescriptions.


Afghanistan has been the greatest illicit opium producer in the entire world, ahead of Burma (Myanmar), the “Golden Triangle”, and Latin America since 1992, excluding the year 2001.[1] Afghanistan is the main producer of opium in the “Golden Crescent”. Opium production in Afghanistan has been on the rise since U.S. occupation started in 2001. Based on UNODC data, there has been more opium poppy cultivation in each of the past four growing seasons (2004–2007) than in any one year during Taliban rule. Also, more land is now used for opium in Afghanistan than for coca cultivation in Latin America. In 2007, 92% of the non-pharmaceutical-grade opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan.[2] This amounts to an export value of about $4 billion, with a quarter being earned by opium farmers and the rest going to district officials, insurgents, warlords, and drug traffickers.[3] In the seven years (1994–2000) prior to a Taliban opium ban, the Afghan farmers’ share of gross income from opium was divided among 200,000 families.[4] In addition to opiates, Afghanistan is also the largest producer of cannabis (mostly as hashish) in the world.[5][6] Wikipedia.


I will let the reader digest that info, but I encourage all, including those with religious, political and RACIAL agenda, to see it from all angles. Walk around it many times and try to understand where the world is running.


Now, I want to speak to those of interest, and I think you know who you are, but I don’t think you realize what you are. When I was young, I believed there existed those who could paint and those who could teach painting, but I believed that there were only a few who were able to do both, and do it well. To be honest, the only teachers I have found to be of consequential ability (in the area of artist and teacher) have already passed this flesh life, and have moved into Spirit Identity, or are in the extended and provincial process of coming into ID. I say this not because I have super high expectations, or because I worship saints, prophets or angels—I do not—but because my own experience in the Spiritual teaches me in ways the world cannot. This is Scriptural, by the way.


And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54.13




A valid question would be: What is your drug of choice? Man is given free will. It is not just of validity to understand the source when things go terribly wrong; it is of vitality to know its root. 





Peace and Love.



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