Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit and reporter Will Jordan investigate Boeing’s “Dreamliner”, finding some workers with quality concerns, alleging drug use and fearing to fly the plane they build.
South American Gangster Rapper Indio Lyrico tells us at Roadside2Islam about his lifestyle as a drug dealing gangster rapper and how his life changed upon accepting islam.
Even with Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana, drug cartels from Mexico (including Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas, and Gulf Cartel) still control most of the illegal drug trade in the US.
On the surface, cocaine and porn don’t seem to have a lot in common but studies are showing that viewing pornography tricks your brain into releasing the same pleasure chemicals that drugs do.
What’s more is your brain actually begins to rewire itself because of this artificial stimulation. It may sound crazy, but it’s true.
On the surface, cocaine and porn don’t seem to have a lot in common. One is purchased in seedy alleyways; the other is free to download. One habit can get expensive pretty fast, while the other is about the price of a high-speed Internet connection. Besides, Hugh Heffner doesn’t exactly conjure up images of a cartel drug lord.
So where’s the similarity? Inside the brain.
In case you’re not a neurosurgeon, here’s a crash course in how the brain works. Deep inside your brain, there’s something called a “reward pathway.” You’ve got one. Your cat’s got one. For mammals, it comes standard. The reward pathway’s job is to help keep you alive by doing exactly what its name promises: rewards you, or more specifically, rewards you when you do something that promotes life, such as eating food or achieving something you’ve worked hard for. And the way it rewards you is by releasing chemicals in your brain—mainly one called dopamine, but also others like oxytocin.
Normally, these chemicals are really handy. They help us feel pleasure and to bond with other people, and they motivate us to come back to important activities that make us happy. The problem is, the reward pathway can be hijacked.
The way substances like cocaine and opioids make users feel high is by triggering the reward pathway to release unnaturally high levels of dopamine without making the user do any of the work to earn it. Want to guess what else does that? Porn.
And that surge of dopamine is causing more than just feelings. As it goes pulsing through the brain, dopamine helps to create new brain pathways that essentially lead the user back to the behavior that triggered the chemical release.
The more a drug user hits up or a porn user looks at porn, the more those pathways get wired into the brain, making it easier and easier for the person to turn back to using, whether they want to or not.
Over time, the constant overload of chemicals causes other brain changes as well. Just like a junkie will eventually require more and more of a drug to get a buzz or even just feel normal, porn users can quickly build up a tolerance as their brains adapt to the high levels of dopamine that porn releases. In other words, even though porn is still releasing dopamine into the brain, the user can’t feel its effects as much.
That’s because the brain is trying to protect itself from the overload of dopamine by getting rid of some of its chemical receptors, which act like tiny catcher’s mitts that receive the dopamine released. With fewer receptors, the brain thinks less dopamine is there and the user doesn’t feel as strong a reaction. As a result, many porn users have to find more porn, find it more often, or find a more extreme version—or all three—to generate even more dopamine to feel excited.
And once a porn user becomes accustomed to a brain pulsing with these chemicals, trying to cut back on the habit can lead to withdrawal symptoms, just like with drugs. While people often think of porn as something that’s been around forever, today’s version of porn is a whole new ball game. Thanks to the Internet, porn now mixes the most powerful natural dopamine release the body can produce with a cocktail of other elements—endless novelty, shock, and surprise—all of which increase the dopamine surge. And because Internet porn offers an endless stream of variety, users can flip to a new image every time their high starts to fade, keeping dopamine levels elevated for hours.
Describing porn’s effect to a U.S. Senate committee, Dr. Jeffrey Satinover of Princeton University said, “It is as though we have devised a form of heroin 100 times more powerful than before, usable in the privacy of one’s own home and injected directly to the brain through the eyes.”
Over the last decade drug use has been gradually increasing within the Muslim community. In some areas it has reached crisis point and some are still under the impression that it is not an issue within the community. In the long term a single drug user has an impact upon the whole community.
Yet, with virtually no Islamically oriented treatment options available and with very few Muslims skilled in drug related work, Muslim parents are often left in a state of confusion. Nevertheless, they are often the first ones who seek help for their son or daughters drug use!
So what is a parent to do? Be patient and develop a strong trust based relationship with your son/daughter from a very young age as a preventative measure to such problems.
If you suspect that your child is using a substance try not to shout at them as this may cause an argument. Besides this, your suspicions may be wrong. If you have clear evidence that they are using drugs, approach the subject with them in a calm, controlled manner. Encourage them to open up to you, listen to them and advise.
The drug user can only be helped when they are ready to accept change. One of your roles will be that of a motivator. Seek to understand addiction in all its forms. More extreme forms of addiction create very strong inner tension. The pull can be so great that even highly motivated individuals will have a struggle to ‘break-free’ from drug misuse. Explain the detrimental influence their habit is having on all spheres of their life, family, social and work. Coming off drugs can be a long process. Don’t expect instant results. Learning lessons from the process is as important as the end result. Make it clear to them that you have their best interests at heart but also make clear to them what you will not tolerate.
Don’t suffer in silence. Speak to someone you trust for support. Make contact with your local Drugs Project. Ensure that they can provide an Islamically sensitive service for you.
Below we have summarised some of the common drugs prevalent in our society today.
Marijuana is made from a mixture of buds, leaves, and flowering tops of the hemp plant that grows in warm climates throughout the world. While the drug preparation and storage greatly affects its level of potency, it usually contains several hundred active chemicals. Of these many chemicals, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the one credited as having the greatest affect on the user. THC produces a variety of hallucinogenic, depressant, and stimulant effects. Users report a range of feelings while under the influence of the drug, varying from joy and relaxation, to suspicion and irritation. The “high” produced by marijuana causes physical changes such as reddening of the eyes, fast heartbeat, increased blood pressure, dry mouth, dizziness, and increased appetite.
Effects on the Body
Many feel that marijuana has few adverse side effects on the body; however, this is not always the case. With its high intoxication potential, it has a low dependency potential and low risk of organ damage or death. On the other hand, the consequences of marijuana should not be ignored. It may have negative effects on memory for heavy users. Moreover, information learned while under the influence of this drug is easily forgotten, which is why chronic smokers are at a disadvantage at school and at work. Using marijuana with especially high potencies can be quite dangerous. High levels of THC can cause panic attacks, similar to those produced by hallucinogenic drugs, and the users can feel like they are losing their minds. There are indications that regular marijuana smoking may lead to lung disease and lung cancer as well.