Substance Abuse

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


Delusions:  Mind Altering Substances


Delusions are abnormal mental states characterized by deceptive beliefs; accepting something that is false as true.  There are a number of ways that can bring on these states.  We will here speak about them as self induced occurrences brought about by narcotics and other mind altering substances like alcohol, marijuana, drugs such as “loritabs” (hydrocodones), etc.

There was a time when Jewish people did not indulge in these products.  Over drinking was attributed to “goyim,” not “our” people.  That is where the saying “Oy Yoy Yoy, Schicker ist der Goy, Schicker ist er, Trinken muss er, weil er ist ein Goy”.  We could not afford to be drunk or out of reality.  We had to be ready to escape our would be executioners, the Jew haters.  We had to be the fiddlers on the roof, to always be prepared for the pogroms, the Nazis, the haters of the world.

Times have changed.  Although we have not yet reached the numbers that other humans have who “indulge” in illegal and or misuse of drugs, we have become more inclusive and have joined those who want to reach an illusory state in which they “dump” their worries, their troubles, into temporary and not so temporary unreality.  Unfortunately the temporary state of nirvana not infrequently has long reaching consequences.  It dulls the mind, ambition leaves the user, the delicate, the complicated, intricate human machine – the body – does not function as well as it was intended to do.  Thought processes are dulled, the liver, the brain, the lungs and other body parts are affected.  Long term use and subsequent deterioration are ever present lurking in the structure, the body, the mind of  the human thus lured into the illusory temporary utopia.  The consequences are many and unfortunately hardly reversible. People thus smitten into unreality are the “dropouts” in school, the less educated, the less valued, the less cherished.  Jails are homes to a number of these folk who have been unable or unwilling to give up temporary discomfort; they are often folk who cannot enjoy the “real” humdrum world of everyday tasks, disappointments, or uncomfortable realities.  Whatever earthly goods they may have, they are robbed of the little that is left, since law enforcement includes monetary punishment in addition to all the other consequences described. 

Let us look at one drug, cannabis/marijuana, and the harm that can come from long term usage of this substance. 

Although it is used to allegedly send people into a happier frame of mind, into getting into the proverbial “high” spirits, the long term effects are much different:  Effects on the heart:  It increases the heart rate by twenty to one hundred percent shortly after using.  For a person with a heart condition, this can have a serious outcome.  The brain is negatively affected.  Although it is meant to produce euphoria, in others it produces anxiety, memory and learning problems, distorted perceptions, unreal sights and sounds.  There is also a loss of balance and coordination, and an inability to walk and use muscles normally.  There is the danger of chemical dependency, which is not unusual.  The person thus smitten uses more and more and for longer and longer periods of time.  Driving a vehicle becomes dangerous and the cannabis user is in great danger of having accidents and harming himself and other motorists.  When tested by law enforcement officers, it was found that marijuana can last one or more months in the body.  Distortion in behavior and thinking are a distinct side effect of the drug.  In brief:  marijuana has some very real negative effects on the human body!  

As Jews and as humans we must not abuse our bodies and minds.   Mind altering and or illegal substances must not delude us and take control over our thoughts and actions. Unrealities have no place in our minds.  We must face our responsibilities, our realities, with a healthy outlook, so that  we may live a healthy, hopefully happy, and useful life!


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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