It’s complicated.

Today, I went to a come out workshop, I mean a workshop for LGBT people to learn about the process of coming out with sharing session.

A few days before, when I first saw this event, I was slightly hesitate while the curiosity struck me. I never feel like the need to come out to anyone, not to my parents at this moment and I have no idea I am very sure about myself (that I am bisexual, because I never been in any relationship of any kind). So going to this kind of event is really a challenge. Because I was afraid to see someone I knew.

And yes. My worst nightmare came true. A student helper I knew from my internship was there. We are not that friend friend, so it’s even more awkward. I never really want to share my stuffs with strangers. But to cut the chase, she asked me what is my orientation and I told her that I am bisexual and in return she said she is unsure. Abruptly, she changed the topic to my intern supervisor, saying that she suspected he is gay. It was good. At least it saved me and her from unnecessary embarrassment and disclosure about ourselves. After all, we don’t know each other so well.

In the middle of talk, someone who I knew walked in. I kept my head down at first, afraid he will notice me. At the end I am not too sure whether he saw me or not but it doesn’t matter. Why hide? I thought. Why would I hide myself for being honest, true to myself? But I was slightly surprised, because I never thought he could be gay. Nonetheless, I left early for my counseling class.

At my counseling class, I didn’t do my best at debriefing, maybe disappoints my favorite teacher for a bit. I can tell he was slightly frustrated. But I did try my best, Cantonese is not my mother tongue and I got out of my comfort zone to do so. I tried. And I done my best….

Later, I skyped with slim bitch, my old bff. Somewhere along the line I told her about my encounter at the come out workshop. She didn’t sound encouraging but slightly puzzled. I guess she is, at some point doesn’t see me as bisexual. But well, I think I have to draw the line, it makes me feel left out a bit.

My last meeting with my therapist.

I’m so bored.

It’s not that I have nothing to do. I have tonnes of homework line-up. But it just the overall feeling, mood of boredom.

And yes. At this time suicide is not so bad. Just put an end to all these. Nobody cares anyway. It’s tempting tho.

I must admit. Why not put an end into all these misery? It’s easy way out. Too easy. It’s easy to think this way. Indulging in dangerous water. Lurking at the edge. I’m in a constant turmoil. Fighting against my own dead wish. It’s no fun when you can only dream but not execute them.

So… So… Bored….

What can I do with it? I talked to my therapist about it. And of course she can tell that I might have thought of suicide, contemplates on it, but not enough guts or plans to do it. And I assured her that I won’t be killing myself and I made the promise. Still, I’m stuck with boredom that is debilitating, in par with anxiety, knowing nothing can make this goes away. Stuck. I’m stuck. 

At last therapy session, my therapist asked me, What’s with the hands? Why the holding wrist? Why my impromptu art expression is with hands?

I don’t know, but I suddenly recalled there was once, way back then D once held my hand like that and he pull me and ran across the road. I don’t know. Maybe it’s an imprint. Maybe the memory itself is comforting. Maybe I’m just trying to convince myself, comfort myself. Because when he left HK for good, I’m left to my own devices to comfort myself when time gets hard.

My Achilles’ heel.

I went to see my therapist today and I showed her my haiku that I wrote a few days before. It went well and she wanted me say it out loud and I cracked again. She likes reading poetry and she told me the whole thing is just sad, and down except the last phrase I’ll bring you home, as if it’s a new hope. We spent quite amount of time interpreting and brainstorming. And my assignment this week is what is home to me? I don’t know, I’m just too tired of thinking as I cried so many times whenever I thought of the word home. My Achilles’ heel.

Scary thoughts: bored, death, being alone.

If anything, I’m bored. When I say bored, I mean I’m really bored. And I haven’t been feeling so bored for quite some time. As I write this, my mood is alright. Nothing too burdened. Nothing too haunting. Nothing is crushing down. But when life is boring, your mind starts to fill up with funny, witty thoughts. Like suicidal thoughts. Just thoughts not plans. The thoughts of ‘death’, ‘death anxiety’ strike me more often recently. I guess I’m really bored. So much so I start to contemplate on death and read about books regarding death by Irvin Yalom.

Contemplating on death somehow comforting, at some point of my life. The words by Niezstche like “die at the right time”,” when we are tired, we are attacked by the ideas we once conquered” resonate my predicaments. I know I sounded absurd and believe me, I think I’m slightly out of my mind too.

The feelings are raw. I hate it when people or things get in, destroy my equanimity. It’s good that my obsession thoughts partly sublimates into something else, like reading. *I just read 6 Irvin Yalom’s book in less than 2 months, my new record!! I never read so much in my life. But still, it doesn’t solve my problem.  I still find it difficult to relate myself with others. The distance I impose, it seems impossible to reconciles. I realized, I am truly pathetic, alone. I have little friends. At moments, I couldn’t think of anyone that I can call and hang out.

Just me, alone.

Scary thoughts, isn’t it?

 

So I went for an expressive art class today and I cracked, as usual, just like 8 months ago, when I first attended creative art class as credit-course in my university.

I broke down by the end of the class. Same old. Same old. I thought. We had movement therapy, paper-tearing, abstract art work, drawing, then ends with writing a story/haiku.

And I wrote this based on my abstract arts.

Memories like fragments

Crumbles like leftover biscuits

Swirls round-and-round

Like a merry-go-round

What are you?

I’m the dust in search of wind to bring me home

Where is home?

I’ll bring you home.

I cracked when I read it to my partner(the facilitator, Pearl) and I choked at ‘Where is home?’ and my eyes swelled up and burst. I swear I tried to compose myself the whole session, I tried to distance myself and keep my feelings on track, not to cry because I don’t want to cry in front of strangers. And I failed myself. Pearl held me at my arm and tried to guides me, feels my body, let my body guides me. And she asked me to say the final sentence.

“I’ll bring you home.”

“Can you say it three times?”

Reluctantly, with my choking voice.

“I’ll bring you home. I’ll bring you home. I’ll bring you home.”

Bring me home.

 

In the dead of night.

When the night falls

The world hushes, clarity hits, equanimity caresses

Beasts tamed, mind mellows

Only left with the whispers and grace of the nymphs

We rule the town, we rule the night

We are the kings of the night, there is no other

But we are just little blips in the dead of night

Till the dawn, slumber kicks, till next time.

Till next dusk, till, again.

Fear from outside is nothing. What is inside that terrifies me. Nothing is more terrifying than yourself.

These few days are better than usual. I feel better about working and assignments and reading really helps.  At least they take off my mind and time for good. At least I feel free and non-moody mood. At least I am not feeling crazy. At least I am not anxious about being anxious. At least I am progressing, doing something. Feeling elated is good. Means I get to finish my stuffs fast and efficient and good and I really like that.

But when all these goes down. When I got bad feelings and thoughts again. I feel alone. Very much alone. Sometimes I feel like if I ever walk out of my own life, no one will even realize I disappear from the surface of the earth. This is how disengaged I am with the world.

My parents.

My parents.

I can tell my parents are not getting along well. I can see that their wedding photo on the wall is no where to be seen. They sleep separately now, my dad sleeps on the mattress on the floor. They talk awkwardly. I can tell. They don’t communicate. I sorta see this coming. Subconsciously I put myself away from my own home and study oversea because I know I couldn’t stand them at all. Home is now foreign to me.

I find dread, foreseeing my little nephew living in a home that is not warm. I can tell my elder brother is not ready to be a dad at all. But I can see that all of them love my nephew dearly. But as he grows up and understands more, I am scared that he will see the world is not as pretty as he might thinks. And I’m not too sure what to do about it.

My mother just rented a house two floors above mine for my grandma. I think somehow, it gives her extra reason to live upstairs so that she won’t need to stay in the same room as my dad.

Anything can happen when I’m in absence. But when things deteriorate and there is nothing I can do about it, it breaks me, drives me crazy, paralyzing me. I don’t know what to do. The feelings of wanting to amend things but helpless.

The feelings of finally on the same page.

Last week is like a roller coaster of emotion but in a good way.

The feelings of finally on the same page.

Everyone starts to cry and realizes, we’re at the verge of living life on our own.

And D is slightly different after last conversation we had.

He sent me the song Turpentine by Brandi Carlie and coincidentally I freaked out and complained to him about my worry, he told me not to worry and assured me I’ll be fine. It felt good and I was fine the next day.

The next day he sent me a song playlist of Worlds Apart by Seven Lions through Spotify.

After two days, today I only got the time to listen to them. It was mix message but I sent him Clocks go forward by James Bay. Because we are like little kids who like to hide under the sheets, under the covers and forget the world ever exists.

Rethinking UK’s antidrug law—towards decriminalization of drug use?

Rethinking UK’s antidrug law—towards decriminalization of drug use?

The issue of illegal drug has been a growing concern in many countries; given the globalization and the advancement of technology have increased the sophistication of such illicit activities. With many historical antidrug laws failing to produce desirable results, countries are prompting for a more drastic and radical paradigm shifts in order to tackle this issue. British’s 43 years old antidrug policy is currently in a tough spot, when the recent report released by the Home Office of United Kingdom concludes that tough anti-drugs laws do not work; causing a great debate in the parliament. From the study of drug use from multiple countries, it is found that heavy criminal punishment on drug users do not affect the rate of drug use in a country.[1]  Norman Baker, Home Office minister calls for radical change to drug laws as he supports on pursuing “a balanced, evidence-based approach” to tackling drug use problems.[2] However, Prime Minister David Cameron insisted the government’s antidrug policy is working fine[3]; as long downward trend on the number of drug users in England has been observed.[4] Nonetheless, countries around the world have been fighting the war on drugs with different approaches, from the decriminalization of all drugs in Portugal to the legalization of recreational cannabis in Colorado and Washington in US. These new approaches towards handling drugs consumption has produced mixed results, creating reasonable doubts on the effectiveness and relevancy of UK’s current antidrug policy. Decriminalization is differs from legalization although it involves the abolition of criminal charges for certain acts, monetary penalties and regulated permits still applicable. As such, it is argued for the possible reform of UK’s antidrug law towards decriminalization of drug, especially on cannabis decriminalization due to the apparent benefits.

The preposition for drug policy reform implying the current policy is ineffective, or even counterproductive to addresses the underlying problems. Goode argued that the punitive regulation that criminalizes drug abuse ensue the illegal drugs remain expensive.[5] Meanwhile, criminalizing drugs do not deter rate of drug uses, thus the demands for drugs remain constant and inelastic. Such potentially increase the number of illicit organizations to exploit the illegal drugs market as it is a profitable business. Thereby, it is argued that prohibitive policy is futile in the sense it did not work in the way intended. Besides, Thronton claimed that the potency of prohibited substance used will increase with tougher law enforcement policy. In the other word, drug pushers prefer for hard drugs (cracks, methamphetamine, etc.) with stronger potency rather than soft drugs (cannabis, etc.) as they have a higher profit margins.[6] By decriminalizing certain drugs and offering alternative assess to drugs via government controlled organizations could potentially reduce drug-related crime and violence. Police Chief Mike Barton also supports the decriminalization of drugs as he argued that it will substantially affects the income stream of crime gangs, making it a more effective way to tackle the supply chain.[7]

On the other hand, New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) marketed as the alternatives to banned drugs, are largely unregulated and posed as a growing health threat in UK. Drug users have opted for “legal highs” for easy way out as NPS are perceived as legal, safe, and it is widely available. These “legal highs” are found to contain controlled substance and likely to be “more harmful than the substances they are designed to mimic”.[8] With given the current legislation cannot provide a concrete ban on these items, UK government seeks to apply temporary class drugs ban to crackdown on NPS.[9] Nonetheless, research has found that prohibition based-system is succumbing to the overwhelming variety of NPS. As it is argued that prohibition promotes the illicit market to be more creative in developing new drugs with new chemical variations that are not banned.[10] Evidently, repressive drug policy could not solve the drug problems, but indirectly creates more.

Nonetheless, the advocacy of decriminalizing drugs should be in par with the principle of harm reduction. Therefore, Barton believed that drugs should not be freely available but to be controlled by National Health Service (NHS), allowing registered drug addicts use drugs in controlled environment.[11] Such, could potentially bring drug-related health risks into control, especially on blood transmittable diseases and drug overdose-induced death. From a study, it is found that drug consumption rooms (DCR) facilities in Canada are found to be a cost-effective public health measure, with 1 to 5.12 ratios benefit returns.[12]  In Portugal, the decriminalization of drugs has contributed to significant reduces in number of new HIV and AIDs cases among drug abusers.[13]Meanwhile, the number of deaths related to drug misuse in UK (in 2013) has increased by a staggering 21% (1,636 to 1,957) when compared to previous year.[14] Thereby, it is believed that the decriminalization of drugs certainly addresses the health concerns arises from drug misuses, encourages drug addicts to seek for treatment and breaking the chain of drug addiction. Subsequently, it will reduce the number of drug-related death in UK.

However, the reform of antidrug policy towards decriminalization of all drugs in UK at the current state might not be a viable option given such practice is still at the precocious stage in many countries around the globe. Certainly, the reform requires to challenges the social taboos in UK. Currently, Portugal is the only country which has decriminalized possession of all drugs (within certain threshold amount) and replaces with dissuasion commissions as a method to reduce drug use overall.[15]  Nonetheless, there has been a growing support suggesting UK’s drug policy reform towards decriminalization of certain soft drugs such as cannabis. From a survey, 52% of British support the introduction of Colorado’s and Washington’s way of cannabis scheme in UK.[16]  Of all drugs, up to 88% of Britons believed that cannabis should be either legalized or decriminalized, with magic mushrooms ranked second (22%) and LSD (16%) as third on the list. Besides, when research found that use of cannabis has attributed to zero death, while more than 37,000 deaths from alcohol use annually in US; undoubtedly the public health risk of cannabis use is benign as compared to alcohol.

In UK, cannabis is currently listed as Class B drug, unlicensed possession, growing, distributing or selling cannabis are illegal (drug law). In a 2014 survey, possession of cannabis contributed to up to 67 % of UK police recorded drug offences.[17] Noting a staggering amount of police’s workload can be reduced dearly if cannabis possession for personal use is decriminalized. Between the years 2004 to 2009, cannabis was momentarily reclassified to a class C drug (less harmful). During the reclassification period, the arrests for cannabis possession in the first year had reduced by one third. Such momentary change had saved the UK’s criminal justice system nearly a lump sum of 200,000 police hours.[18] The cannabis decriminalization measures in US also found to be significantly decreased the law enforcement costs.[19]Similarly, Akinson and McDonald argued that liberalization does not increase the rate of cannabis while the criminalization of all drugs is generally a costly and ineffective deterrent to drug users.[20] On the other hand, a study in US has found that the lacking of cannabis decriminalization could encourage the greater use of other more potent and harmful drugs.[21]  Therefore, cannabis decriminalization in UK is welcomed in such it allows the shifting of target criminal offenders from drug users to drug pushers and decreases the rate of hard drug use. In such, law enforcement’s resources can be properly utilized by diverting to other more severe offences that involves harder drugs or NPS.

Thereupon, as the general punitive approach has evidently failed to fight the war on drugs, many countries have fought with alternative policy. Certainly, decriminalization is not a single proposal. Drug decriminalization comes with continuum of degrees of regulations and availability. Certainly, the implementation of drug decriminalization in UK is still a viable subject for debate.  But with the rising of empirical evidences suggesting the positive outcomes from the drug decriminalization and heated criticisms on the current policy, the non-penal policy has arguably becomes more favorable and appealing. Nevertheless, many ideological and political considerations still underlie the issue of drug decriminalization in UK. Therefore, the debate on reform should based-on empirical grounds, devising towards a more progressive and sensible strategy in this dynamic times.

Bibliography

Andresen, Martin A. and Boyd, Neil. “A cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis of                             Vancouver’s supervised injection facility.” International Journal of Drug Policy,                            (2009).  doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2009.03.004.

“Alan Travis, home affairs editor Ministers look at new solution to legal highs.” The Guardian,                 last modified December 12, 2013,                                                                                                            http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/dec/12/ministers-new-solution-legal-highs.

Atkinson, Lynn and McDonald, David. “Cannabis, the Law and Social Impacts in                                                Australia.” Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice (1995), 48.

Baker, Norman. Drugs: International Comparators. United Kingdom: Home Office, 2014, 52.

“Cannabis Reclassification – Reference: Stat002/2005 (Press release).” United Kingdom: Home                office. Last modified Jan 28, 2005.

Christie, Paul, Ali, Robert and Drug and Alcohol Services Council (S. Aust.), “The            Impact of Cannabis Decriminalisation in Australia and the United States.”                  Journal of Public Health Policy (2000) 21: 157-186.

“Drug Laws,” United Kingdom: Home Office.  Assessed November 10, 2014.                                           https://www.gov.uk/penalties-drug-possession-dealing.

Goode, Erich. Between Politics and Reason: The Drug Legalization Debate. United States: W.H.             Freeman  & Company, 1997.

Hughes, Caitlin Elizabeth and Stevens, Alex. “What can we learn from the Portuguese                              Decriminalisation of Illicit Drugs?”  British Journal of Criminology, (2010).                                    doi: 10.1093/bjc/azq038

Mann, Jim. “British drugs survey 2014: drug use is rising in the UK – but we’re not addicted,”                  The Guardian. Last modified October 5, 2014.                                                                                         http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/05/-sp-drug-use-is-rising-in-the-uk-but         ­were-not-addicted

Mark Thornton, “Prohibition’s Failure: Lessons for Today.” United States: USA Today. Last                    modified March 1992. 70.

“Mike Barton, Police Chief, Says UK Should Decriminalize Drugs Because Drug War Is                         Failing,” Evening Standard Huffington Post, last November 29, 2013.                                               http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/29/mike-barton-uk-drug-                                                  decriminalization_n_4012326.html

Model, K.. “The effect of marijuana decriminalization on hospital emergency room episodes:                    1975-1978.” Journal of the American Statistical Association (1993), 88: 737-747.

Press Association. “Drugs policy is working- Cameron.”Daily Mail UK. Last modified October               31, 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-2813447/Drug-policy-no-impact                       -use.html

“Statistical Report: Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending March 2014”. Office for National              Statistics. Assessed August 8, 2014. 92.

[1]. Norman Baker, Drugs: International Comparators. (UK: Home Office, 2014), 52.

[2]. Ibid., 4.

[3]. Press Association. “Drugs policy is working- Cameron.”

Daily Mail UK, last modified October 31 2014,  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-2813447/Drug-policy-no-impact-use.html

[4]. Norman Baker, Drugs: International Comparators. (UK: Home Office, 2014), 4.

[5]. Erich Goode. Between Politics and Reason: The Drug Legalization Debate. (US: W.H. Freeman  & Company, 1997). Chapter 6.

[6]. Mark Thornton, “Prohibition’s Failure: Lessons for Today.” (US: USA Today, March 1992). 70.

[7]. “Mike Barton, Police Chief, Says UK Should Decriminalize Drugs Because Drug War Is Failing,” Evening Standard Huffington Post, last November 29, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/29/mike-barton-uk-drug-decriminalization_n_4012326.html

[8]. Norman Baker, Drugs: International Comparators. (UK: Home Office, 2014), 36.

[9]. “Drug Laws,” United Kingdom Home Office, assessed November 10, 2014, https://www.gov.uk/penalties-drug-possession-dealing.

[10]. “Alan Travis, home affairs editor Ministers look at new solution to legal highs.”  The Guardian, last modified December 12 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/dec/12/ministers-new-solution-legal-highs.

[11]. “Mike Barton, Police Chief, Says UK Should Decriminalize Drugs Because Drug War Is Failing,” Evening Standard Huffington Post, last November 29, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/29/mike-barton-uk-drug-decriminalization_n_4012326.html

[12]. Martin A. Andresen and Neil Boyd , “A cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis of Vancouver’s supervised injection facility.” International Journal of Drug Policy, 2009.  doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2009.03.004.

[13]. Caitlin Elizabeth Hughes and Alex Stevens, “What can we learn from the Portuguese Decriminalisation of Illicit Drugs?”  British Journal of Criminology (2010). doi: 10.1093/bjc/azq038

[14]. Norman Baker, Drugs: International Comparators. (UK: Home Office, 2014), 9.

[15]. Ibid., 47.

[16]. Jim Mann, “British drugs survey 2014: drug use is rising in the UK – but we’re not addicted,” The Guardian, last modified October 5 2014.  http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/05/-sp-drug-use-is-rising-in-the-uk-but-were-not-addicted

[17]. “Statistical Report: Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending March 2014”. Office for National Statistics,  assessed  August 8 2014. 92

[18]. “Cannabis Reclassification – Reference: Stat002/2005 (Press release).” Home office, last modified Jan 28 2005.

[19]. Paul Christie, Robert Ali ,and Drug and Alcohol Services Council (S. Aust.), “The Impact of Cannabis Decriminalisation in Australia and the United States.” Journal of Public Health Policy (2000) 21: 157-186.

[20]. Lynn Atkinson and David McDonald, “Cannabis, the Law and Social Impacts in  Australia.” Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice(1995), 48.

[21]. K. Model. “The effect of marijuana decriminalization on hospital emergency room episodes: 1975-1978.” Journal of the American Statistical Association (1993), 88: 737-747.