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POT, ALCOHOL and PILL-POPPING Some Shocking Facts You May Not Know
Plain Truth Magazine
April 1981
Volume: Vol 46, No.4
Issue: ISSN 0032-0420
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POT, ALCOHOL and PILL-POPPING Some Shocking Facts You May Not Know
Donald D Schroeder

If you have a serious accident or health crisis, it matters greatly what drugs you have used!

   I know what it is like to feel the mind and life ebbing away. I once screamed futilely within my brain: "Oh, my God! I'm going to die!"
   I experienced this totally helpless feeling just before passing into unconsciousness, after 16,000 volts of electricity hammered and shook my body like machine-gun blows.
   This serious electrocution accident happened in 1975. I was in a tree trimming branches in my backyard in Pasadena, California. While I was moving to come down out of the tree, my pole slipped out of control and the tip nicked a high voltage wire in the alley.
   I was instantly snapped back and paralyzed by the powerful hammering jolts. I desperately fought to break my grip on the pole for what seemed like minutes (in reality, it was only seconds). I couldn't. Gradually my mind and senses faded away.
   I don't remember the 20-footfall. I only remember waking up on the ground with my wife shouting over me. The tree was aflame. It was a miracle that I was alive.
   What does the near-fatal accident have to do with pot, alcohol and pill-popping? More than I ever dreamed it would. Let me tell you why.

Past Drug Use Matters

   I knew I was badly hurt as I lay upon the ground, but I didn't realize how much. The palm of my left hand was badly burned. My clothes and skin were riddled with burnt holes wherever branches touched me and electricity arced through them to ground out through the sap of the tree. Paramedics had to cut some of my clothes off to check my wounds. They administered bottled solutions to ward off shock.
   I was helicoptered to the University of Southern California (USC) Medical Center burn ward in Los Angeles. I lay stripped on a carrier with only a sheet over me in a lone room for what seemed a long time. My heart and pulse were being constantly monitored by machine. Before anything else was done for me, an intern came in and asked, "What drugs have you used in the last 20 years?"
   He went down a checklist of commonly used drugs — barbiturates, sedatives, tranquilizers, pep pills, marijuana, heroin and many other drugs I can't remember. I had not taken any kind of drug — besides an occasional alcoholic drink and some novocaine at a dentist's office — for more than 20 years.
   But that was not all. Two more interns came in at different times during that first hour and asked me the same questions. I didn't then grasp the significance of so much concern over a past drug and medical record. I only wondered, "When are they going to do more for my injuries?"
   I was finally moved to a big room in the burn ward. With me in the room were many tragic burn victims. Some had had cars roll over on them, or else they were hit by another vehicle, and the gas tanks spilled and caught fire.
   Some had been cleaning something with an inflammable liquid. One young man had been barbecuing and thought he could get away with pouring a little gasoline on the fading coals to get them going better.
   Some were mechanics whose engines backfired in their face when they tried to start them by pouring gasoline down the carburetor. One teenager was a gang leader. He had several Molotov cocktails (gasoline bottle bombs) thrown into his car by an enemy gang.
   Most of these burn victims suffered 15 percent to 50 percent burned skin damage. One was 85 percent. I was only 5 percent to 7 percent. Many of these burn patients had to have regularly spaced painkilling shots to endure the pain they experienced. They needed those shots to survive.
   But here's the lesson. One young man of about 20 years of age was brought in with second-degree burns over his chest and stomach skin area. A metal-reducing furnace at his job exploded into him.
   In agony, this young man wanted the powerful pain killing shot that the others received. A nurse went to get it, but just before administering it, she asked: "I forgot to check your record. Have you smoked marijuana in the last few days?"
   The young man said, "Yes." The nurse said to him, "I'm sorry, you can't have this shot," and walked away. He had to take a less effective pain killer and endure some suffering. Do you know why?
   The answer was driven home to me as never before: it does matter when you really need medical help what drugs — any kind of drugs — you have casually used in the past! You see, combining wrong kinds of drugs in the human body can lead to disaster or death!
   This lesson — little realized by many in society — was emphasized to me yet again in the burn ward. My burns necessitated surgery to clean out dead tissue areas so they could heal and also so I could receive some skin grafting.
   But before I went into surgery, the anesthesiologist came to me to go over my total drug history again. After confirming that I had almost no drug usage for more than 20 years, and no kind of bad reaction from any drug before that, he said: "You are clean. It is unlikely we will have any trouble with you. It is the pill-poppers that we have to worry about. They cause all kinds of drug reaction problems because of the things we have to do to save them."

No Safe Drug

   Millions in our society don't realize the true nature of drugs and what potential damage many drugs do. But the best doctors do. They don't like- to take dangerous risks in administering drugs. They can't afford to in these days when so many costly malpractice suits are being brought against them.
   Marijuana may seem as common as cigarette smoking in your area or school. Maybe alcoholic parties among your friends or peers are even more popular. Maybe you're pressured to get loaded or stoned with drugs or drink. Maybe pill-popping with uppers, downers, hallucinogens is the "in" thing. You know many of the various names — reds, blues, bennies, angel dust, etc.
   What you may not know is there is no such thing as a totally safe drug. "The drug with no ill effects has yet to be made," warned a medical column in a newspaper a few years ago. Similar recent warnings from the medical profession go totally unheeded by many.
   George P. Larrick, former U.S. Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration warned that data on the damaging side effects of new drugs can often only be learned by painful experience. "People die every year from drugs generally regarded as innocuous," he said. "The administration of potent drugs [by doctors] involves a calculated risk where the presumptive benefit is balanced against the possibility of toxic effects or [individual] idiosyncrasies" (Chemical & Engineering News, April 6, 1964).
   Understand this. The administering of drugs by doctors is not a pure science. It is also an art. It involves some guesswork. The use of any drug involves taking chances and risks.
   That's under trained medical supervision, even if single drugs only are being administered!
   How much more dangerous is it for humans to assume they can casually take any drug they want, singly or in combination with others, simply because others are doing it and seem, temporarily, to be getting away with it. The shocking truth is, they really aren't getting away scot free.
   "Whether or not you realize it, every time you take or are given a drug, you are conducting an experiment," said Dr. Harold Thomas Hyman, M.D., in a newspaper medical column (Newspaper Enterprise Association release, January 7, 1960, emphasis ours).
   It is critical that you grasp this one point, if nothing else. Your life may depend on it. Not everyone responds to drugs in the same way. Humans metabolize drugs differently.
   What kind of reactions may occur if you take medical or any other drugs after smoking marijuana or drinking alcohol or engaging in pill-popping for kicks and thrills?
   There is no way one can tell with absolute assurance. The reaction may be negligible — or it could be a disaster!
   Just how any drug will act in any one person depends on his or her age, size, health, medical problems and metabolism at a particular moment in time. No medical practitioner can predict precisely the side effects of any drug for any individual.
   A person may respond well to a drug once, and then experience the opposite at a later time. Yet millions today — adults, not just young people — pop pills as if they were candy, as if there were no dangers or risks in drugs.
   All drugs by their very nature have potential side effects. That includes common nonprescription drugs you can buy over the counter. All drugs alter or interfere with the natural course of some bodily condition or function.
   "The potential for drug abuse radically arises when drugs are not taken as prescribed [that is, are taken casually or as one wants], or are used in combination with other drugs, or alcohol," says former drug commissioner Larrick.

Drug-Alcohol Dynamite

   What catches many people by surprise — some too late because they are dead — is that some drugs react synergistically with alcohol and other drugs. That is, one drug plus another drug does not equal the effect of two drugs. The combination may produce a reaction within the body 10 or even 50 times greater than either drug alone.
   The Bible reveals that alcohol has a proper use — in moderation and control at all times. But don't forget, alcohol is, technically, a drug. It is a readily metabolized one in most persons. Still, you need to understand that not everyone responds to alcohol in the same way. You are not proving you are a man or woman by unexpectedly getting smashed by alcohol or drugs. You are proving just the opposite.
   Many medical personnel are alarmed. Adults as well as young people are mixing alcohol with other drugs in unprecedented and staggering proportions. A lot of these persons have been just plain lucky. Maybe they haven't suffered serious reactions — yet. But given time, many will. It could be you if you do it.
   There is no way I can overemphasize this fact. Every person's tolerance for drugs is different, just as everyone's tolerance forvarious foods is different. A drug — a tranquilizer for example — and alcoholic drink taken closely together may produce few or no obvious ill effects in one person and yet kill another with sudden ferocity.
   Mixing medicines or drugs of any kind may make one drug act faster or slower than it is supposed to. It may intensify a drug reaction or neutralize it.
   Joe Graedon, a pharmacologist writing in Esquire, May, 1976, warned: "Mixing medicines, even with nonprescription agents — alcohol, cold remedies, pain relievers, vitamins, antacids — is like playing Russian roulette: you
The administering of drugs by doctors is not a pure science. It involves some guesswork. The use of any drug involves taking chances.
never know when a particular combination will finish you off."
   He emphasized: "Booze and tranquilizers do not mix. Together they produce a deep sedation.... This drug interaction may lead to a big fall in blood pressure — and to a breathing failure."
   He also warned against mixing alcohol with such a commonly used drug as aspirin. "Alcohol makes your stomach supersensitive [to aspirin]. Significant bleeding from the stomach wall can result."
   Articles like this one in Esquire, entitled "Killing Combos," pages 136-142, are important reading for everyone.

Harmless Pot?

   What about pot? Lots of people you know or see may be using it, and they may look and act OK the next day. But are they? No, they are not! They are walking time bombs!
   Why? Because THC, the major psychoactive ingredient in marijuana smoke, has an affinity for fatty body tissues and brain tissues. Once you have used marijuana for any length of time, months of abstinence are required for all the accumulated THC to be excreted by the body.
   But what if these individuals have an accident, or get sick with a serious illness, with marijuana substances or other drugs floating around in their bloodstream or body? What if they need potent medical drugs to save them? What will happen?
   What these young (or old) pot, alcohol and pill poppers have done is multiply the chances of a serious drug reaction if other drugs must be administered to them for some reason. They may look all right to you, but the truth is their lives are more endangered!
   "I get a very sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hear talk about marijuana being safe," said Robert L. DuPont, former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Marijuana," he said in an interview recently, "is a very powerful agent, which is affecting the body in many ways. Now what the full range of these consequences is going to prove to be, one can only guess at this point. But, from what we already know, I have no doubt that they are going to be horrendous."
   Pot has been in popular usage in the United States and many other nations for only a little more than 15 years. It took 50 years of research for truly serious implications of cigarette smoking to become firmly established.
   But already evidence of serious or potential health damage from pot smoking is mounting with each passing year. There is growing evidence that regular use of marijuana produces lung damage, immunity system damage and threats of cancer. Marijuana smoke has been found to contain more possible cancer-causing agents than tobacco smoke.
   If you're an honest, truth seeking person, you won't bury your head in the sand and disregard such findings. You won't be able to honestly say after careful research, "I don't think pot smoking harms anyone!"
   The January, 1980, U.S. issue of The Plain Truth carried a thorough article on the subject entitled, "Marijuana–It's Far from a Harmless High!"

What If...

   I have to look back at my near-fatal accident and ask what lessons I learned from it.
   I am glad I never carelessly used medicinal drugs. I am also glad that I wasn't drinking or popping pills for kicks before it happened. I thought that I had taken reasonable precautions for my safety. But accidents and mishaps happen in life. Just a little slip, a little carelessness is all it takes. Accidents and sickness can happen to you too.
   God doesn't want any of us to defile or ruin our bodies or minds by imbibing excessive amounts of alcohol, or casually using potent drugs just to thrill our senses, or so we will be popular with others.
   What if I had chosen to disregard what I know about drugs and pop pills or smoke pot anyway? Would I have survived? I don't know. But if I did, I'm sure God would have allowed me to suffer an awful lot more than I did to teach me lessons about rebelling against His ways.
   God, indeed, was merciful to me. He intervened and helped me survive my accident. Even the doctors said it was a miracle that I came out with as little damage as I did.
   I can guess why I am alive today. Perhaps it was because God wanted to show mercy to my wife and my children. Yet maybe, just maybe, God also let me survive so I could share this critical knowledge about drugs with you!

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Plain Truth MagazineApril 1981Vol 46, No.4ISSN 0032-0420
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