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From the 1968 Wisconsin workweek of health sponsored by the State Medical Society of Wisconsin and Wisconsin physicians service Blue Shield. We bring you another in a series of programs designed for teenagers and taking as its theme. Youth on a four day trip today a lecture I'm drug addiction and how to kick the habit. The two speakers Joel Cohen and Michael Tolson are both teenagers who did kick the habit and are now working with an organization of ex addicts called and counter incorporated. First we hear from Joel Cullen. Mr. Cohen you have to forgive my. Lack of. Having a professional attitude about speaking because I I don't do very much of it. And it's easier to speak sitting now and I guess but I have to bear with it. I'm really an ex teenager because I'm 20. I glanced at the program in the title of our talk is supposed to be how to kick the habit.
We hope to do or what I and I guess Michael hopes to do also is talk about something a little deeper than that because in one sense the way to kick a habit is to kick it because drugs are having a drug habit isn't really the problem. It's sort of symptomatic of a problem and we'll get into that later. I grew up in New York New York City. I guess when I was a kid I wasn't all that different from other kids I mean everybody has of time when he's young and has a lot of fears but most kids sort of talk to people about them or. Just find the way to deal with them. And I I guess that was the first problem I had was that I never really did. I never learned how. And I guess I was lacking a lot of the tools that people need to relate to each other. So I
spent a lot of my time alone because I was pretty scared of people. I thought exactly know why. I just didn't much like being with people and felt uncomfortable talking to people and things. So I spent a lot of time alone. Reading and doing things like play ball a whole life. The earliest things I can remember about my childhood are being alone with or reading who are being in school. And again like there wasn't very much different in my childhood I guess than in a lot of years until I got to be I guess about 12 or 13 and going to junior high school and that's where I guess all my real fears started to come out. That's where people started to really sort of socialize and do things more than play basketball. And I guess I found it. I figured if I had to talk to people at all our total people would be easiest
to talk to and I wasn't a conscious decision at the time I just thought it sort of got in with a crowd of people that did a lot of things to impress each other you know sort of crazy things like stealing cars and things like that and I guess I also had some kind of bad value system because I was sort of impressed by that myself. When I was I guess 12 or 13 I had my first experience with drugs in stealing cars and things of that sort. The first drug I took I guess was alcohol because alcohol is a drug. I started drinking a lot when I was 13. Just sort of all weekends. Going to parties where there was wine or beer. But during the week doing sort of. The periphery of responsible things that I had to do not to wind up in a reform school.
I was in a special class in junior high school with there was supposed to be for really bright kids. And I always thought that I was put there by mistake. I duel a whole lot of work and so I just got through by the skin of my teeth and I think they made a mint another mistake in high school. I was put into an honors program and that's I guess where I really started to get messed up because the kids there were really really bright and really I guess a lot was expected of them you know and I felt like people were expecting a lot of me and I really couldn't put it out and I can produce you know and that really messed me up. So I got more involved with. I guess to what you would call crazier elements in the school. I stopped talking to people and was completely you know just come and go.
To and from school. I did feel really uncomfortable with the people and I I began to see. After about a month there were like groups of people around the school that I was really impressed by I mean they really looked cool to me and it looked real easy because every they would do whatever they wanted like they didn't want to go to school they wouldn't go to school you know and I thought I was really hip. I thought that was you know independent and groovy you know now I look at it and I see it is really kind of bad behavior to get into. They sort of really don't care about the consequences of any of the things they did. And I guess that's where they were in so much trouble. But these are kids I got in with and it there were other things that attracted me to them too it was really easy to hang out with and because no one ever expected you to do anything that wasn't crazy. So if you were lazy as I was it was
ok and. I started using drugs with about five or six years ago when I was 15 just smoking pipe and just smoking fine. Even I sometimes say that smoking pot which is I guess a dangerous thing in and of itself. And first there was just no weekends in it. I never I never thought as I just everybody who uses drugs never thought that they would get into any trouble at all by using drugs. It struck me as being really an oculus in homeless first of all and second of all I guess I really liked it. Because as uptight as I was when I was small part I would be uptight any more and I guess that's one of the really bad things about drugs is the fact that they work. I mean they really do they make you feel better for the time being. They may take away your anxieties and of course when they come back that twice as bad. But what happened to me is I
began to get really dependent on drugs. Shortly after I started smoking pot I started taking other drugs especially codeine. The names are drugs aren't that important or the particular chemicals. My feeling is that although people who smoke pot may think that they're a lot different to people who shoot heroin they're really not. I'll get into that in a few minutes. So I was 15 and I was in high school using drugs. Excuse me and not going to school very often. Then I guess when I was 15. Shortly after I began to use drugs. The first really bad thing happened to me and that was that a friend of mine was murdered. He bought some pills from somebody and they were full of poison and he died in school and they really shot at me
because I first of all I never none of my contemporaries had ever died. I was but only you know people that were like really all died. I guess what it's more a logical thinking person would have done would have been to say well listen if he died using drugs that could happen to me so I better not use drugs. But I was in that kind of person. So what I said was. It's really lousy world so I better take more drugs and I stopped going to school completely at that time. Excuse me. I was finally just asked to leave school because they knew that I had been involved with this fellow who died and. I kicked around for a while. I don't work or anything that wasn't within my value system.
I guess. My parents have been sending me to a psychiatrist when they found that I was using drugs and he told me I was emotionally disturbed. So. I said to myself well let's see if an emotionally disturbed I'm going to take some drugs I might do something that's crazy. So he did he did too much for me because he just provided another rationale for me. She People use drugs like I guess if any of you use drugs or have ever spoken to someone who does that tell you about how groovy drugs are and how they make you a beautiful sensitive expanded human being able to love and all that crap. Excuse me. Well that's really not true because when you take drugs you take drugs to avoid doing all those things. And that's that's sort of what happened to me. I had all that rational. I had I guess what you might call a hippie rationale of being
a loving person. You know when I really didn't know what love was and if I had found out it probably would have scared me to just take more drugs. My parents then decided that the thing that was wrong with me was that I lived in a bad neighborhood. So we moved to a very nice middle class neighborhood and I went back to another school where I didn't know anybody and if my parents had been right I would have been OK because I would have done my schoolwork and gone on to college and you know like everybody else. But the problem wasn't really the neighborhood and it wasn't really my friends you know or the only environment was me. It was the kind of person I was. If you'd put me in normal Laskar I would have found drugs to take and if I hadn't this important thing if I had I would have found other ways not to grow up. Another way is to block out the things I was afraid of and not deal with them. So it's not really drugs at all it's drugs again or just the symptom. You know sometimes I
hear parents or all the people say you know what SHE WOULDN'T HAVE DRUGS WHEN I WAS A KID. You know I I just sometimes wish I had been around and to find out what people did then to run away. So I know what to tell them. So I went I went to this new high school for a while and by now I've been taking drugs for about almost two years and I prided myself on the fact that I'd never taken heroin because I always said well I can small pot and take psychedelics and everything but at least I'm not a junkie because I don't take your own. And one fine day I just said to me it wasn't even a premeditated thing I didn't say well I will now go out and buy some heroin. Somebody came up to me and said hey I have some heroin do you want to use and I said sure. And that was it. I mean when I think about it now I guess I really am
a frighteningly casual attitude towards my you know what I did with my life. So I started using heroin. That's when things really started to change for me I guess. Up until then it's been a big game. You know you hide from the police and you you have a lot of fun and you say all the cool words you know when you talk to people and people around you don't know what you're talking about because you're talking hip. You know when you play a lot of social games you know people use drugs often are heard to talk about the social games that are played in our society. Let me tell you when you use drugs you play three times as many. You really do. And they're even sicker. When I started using heroin it got to be more serious because I had to have money a lot of money pretty often and. I went downhill pretty fast I guess. I mean some people it takes years and it it took me half a
year. My first scheme to get money was to sell drugs. So I was selling drugs and I had people working for me. I thought of myself as a businessman. I wasn't a good businessman because all the money I would make I would just put into my veins and pretty soon I had no money with which to buy the drugs to sell. So I was up tight because I I had a need and have the means with which to get it. So I had so little respect for myself at that time I I just went to a department store and I was going to start shoplifting. And he started trembling at the thought and I walked out. And then I started beating people for money not beating them physically but you know selling them fake drugs or taking your money and telling them I'd come back and never shown up. And that made a lot of enemies so I'd
move around a lot. I guess I was getting kind of hard to live with because my parents sort of put me out. I also kicked around people's houses for a long time as long as they would let me stay. And then I had to find someplace else. And I spent a lot of nights in the bus terminal places like that all the time. Not saying to myself hey if I don't use drugs none of this would happen to me. It never occurred to me it might sound really weird now it sounds weird to me but I never thought boy if I went back to school and stop using drugs I could live decent. I never thought like that. My mind just working. Let's see what can I do to get drugs today. And finally I started taking things out of my parents house and selling them because I figured if. My parents went to jail was what I figured I would. I think I took the television and pointed it.
I did a lot of really low things that I'm ashamed to talk about. And I was. Still not really stopping to think about what was happening to me. The thing that made me stop and think was one fine summer night about two years ago when I was it was a week after my 18th birthday. Let me tell you about May 18th birthday. It was the worst birthday ever had in my life like everybody supposed have a good time when their birthday I remember. I mean how I was living at home and no place to go and the only birthday present was a junkie and bought me a big girl and I was pretty miserable at that time and it was a week after this that I took an overdose of heroin and I was really scared because I thought I was going to die
and I was in the scariest part. The scariest part was when I found out that I was OK. I took heroin two more times that same night and the next day I said so what I said. I said Good Lord. My attitude towards my life is nowhere. I mean here I was saying anything I was saying you know please God if I if I don't die now I'll never take drugs again and an hour later I was doing it. And that really scared me. And I've been taking drugs for three years and this is the first time in three years I was more scared to use drugs than not to you know now it's like a significant change for me. And I was what I guess the beginning of my decision to do something about my life. I decided my thinking at the time was a little warped. And I said Well my
problem is heroin. So if I stop taking heroin I'll be OK. So I had a set of works. That's what we used to call it a needle in an eye dropper and a baby's pacifier that she used to inject heroin. And I brought them over to a friend's house and I figured Listen I'll leave them with him. And he was a amphetamine user. I guess these days you call him a speed freak. And while I was there he shouted to me a phenom and this was a kid I'd grown up with and had known for a long time. He showed to me a phenom when he took an overdose and he fell down and was falling down he cut his head on a table and he was just laying there and all this blood and I said to myself he's going to die and I don't want to be here only those I just left. I pulled the needle out of his own door and I guess that was about the worst thing I ever did because he could have died. And I guess
for practical purposes he did because a few weeks later he went into a mental hospital and he's been there since then. Ok the same day that happened my partner and the guy I guess my partner in crime or whatever got arrested for grand larceny and those three things happening within a week. If you told me that swimming across that lake would have made me a better person I would have done it I would have done anything that anybody told me at that point because that's how scared I was. I found out I wasn't the raft of dope fiend I thought I was I was just a scared little kid. And luckily I happened upon the right people. I ran into an old friend of mine who I used to get high with and he said Joe you're looking pretty bad. And I said yeah I feel bad. I told him what I've been known I had seen him in a year and he he looked really good he looked he had decent clothes and he looked pretty clean. And he told me that he had stopped taking drugs about six months before
that and had with some other exotics started a program called Encounter. And I went down there. You have to understand at this time I wasn't thinking about never taking drugs again. My idea was just to clean up you know to put on some weight because I weighed up about one hundred seven pounds there and I was as tall as I am. I put on some weight and get a front you know a job so the police would look for me and then I would go out and learn how to use drugs responsibly. That was my idea. OK I was in a room with these people and I don't really know who they were. They frankly look like policemen to me and they asked me some questions about myself they said why did why do you take drugs. And I said well I'm emotionally disturbed we all started laughing at me you know. And they said Are you smart. And I said Yeah I really swore and told him I had a
high IQ and I start laughing at me. And they said do you think you're a man and I said well I have a motorcycle and a whole lot of things and yeah. And then he really laughed at me and he said The only problems and I said no. And that broke him up. You know that really you know I know how to deal with that I was prepared for anything I was prepared because social workers would always give me all the sympathy and tears and stuff. And these people were just laughing at me and I don't know how to handle it you know. I kept looking in the door and it was getting closer and closer you know. Finally I found out that all these people are extraordinary acts. And the reason they were laughing at me was because they had been in my predicament a lot worse than I was and knew what I was saying wasn't true. You know they knew these were the games that I used to impress people and they told me that they said you think you're smart. Well what do you call a guy that doesn't have a place to live and keep sticking things
into his body and he doesn't know if they're poison and runs away from the police. And isn't very happy I said That sounds like me. And he said well is that smart and I said no and I said What is it. So after about 20 minutes of wargames I finally admitted that it was stupid and that my behavior was stupid and I was stupid for acting that way. Then they asked me if I was if I thought I was a man again and I said yeah and they said where you live. And I said well woman care of my parents. They said who takes care of you who cooks who gives you money who makes you a bad mother. They said What do you call God is totally dependent on his mother. After another 20 minutes and word games I admitted that you call him a baby. And they said OK maybe your problem isn't that you're emotionally disturbed but that you're stupid and you act like a baby. And No really seriously if
if those are the things that are wrong with me and they were I couldn't change them and I did if I was an emotionally disturbed person that means I wasn't responsible for my behavior I wasn't responsible for what happened to me. And the first thing I had to learn in encounter was that I was responsible for my behavior. And I started going to groups we call them encounter groups I guess is like group therapy except there's no psychiatrist or analyst or social worker or anybody of that ilk around. The groups are all run by our by ourselves by ex-drug addicts or people just people have been through our concept. In the groups I was told to get a job and I asked why and they said so you can get some self respect. And I said it's just a middle class game but I did it and I was told to go back to school. And I said why and I said so you can learn and I did. And I sort of took direction. That's what you get in Encounter in the beginning just a lot of direction.
They told me that I had made the right decisions for myself. And then until I could learn they were going to make some of my decisions for me. And I guess my letting them do that was what saved my life because I stayed there and went to groups and worked them with the school and I cut off four male friends which was probably the hardest thing I had to do in the first year was tell people that I thought were my friends. And at the time I really believed that they were the only people in the world that were really good. But I would have nothing to do with them in the future unless they came to the counter and start taking drugs. And of course none of them did. So I was at that time I didn't have my drugs anymore a block out my fears and to block out my loneliness. Plus an animal friends and that in itself was enough to almost drive me back. But it didn't. I really stuck it out so I was starting to gain some good feelings. And I never had those before my life. And
I guess I was going to give them up for some drugs. And then I went back to high school full time after about six months. I also had a lot of respect their own encounter because I came into encounter three weeks after it started and I was the only person in this day who came in at all during the first four or five months everyone else. The program wasn't really together at the time because we were all pretty new at it and a lot of people left and some of them are dead. Some are in jail. So I was feeling pretty happy then after about a year of going to groups and going to school and being involved in other functions and encounter. Getting more responsibilities as I grew into it and I guess I was made a staff member and I was that meant a lot to me because I was a first person a guy through the program that was made a staff member. And I was only there for about five minutes but just to show you that I was in.
Well. I've been given a contract. That as long as I were honest I was understaffed I had to maintain a certain average in school and I didn't do it and I was suspended from the staff for four months. You know what I think an encounter is when you do the right thing when you do things that are good for you you feel good. And one of my problems was that I felt good even when I didn't do the right thing or at least at least I didn't feel bad. And in character sometimes we have artificial means to make people feel that you know feel guilty about when they do something when we have something called a haircut. Which is sort of ambiguous because they're If a person for instance uses it. We have two rules in Encounter no chemicals and no physical violence. And in Canada we have people that have expressed themselves with violence for their whole lives.
We've never had one act of violence encounter in two years. Never. If we did we would deal with it. But we have it because it's like a family and I guess you don't have people in your family unless you're a baby. And no chemicals no drugs. If a person were to break one of those rules you might get a haircut a haircut is when two or three of his peers in two or three staff members were taken down in the basement and I guess just scream for about an hour. Tell how stupid he was and how responsible and the purpose of it frankly is to make him feel bad so he won't do it again because again people encounter people use drugs in general are babies who have to grow up and one way to grow up is if you do something wrong and you feel bad enough the next time you won't do it. I never got any hair cuts like that. I had some rough groups where Michael tell you more about what goes
on in a group but what we do basically is we sit around after about two or three hours a couple times a week and talk about our our behavior mostly And what we have to change in our feelings and after we've changed some of our behavior then we can start to deal with our feelings and or makes us feel good in bed and things like that. And then after I graduated from high school I guess you know I was back I went back to work for Encounter. I graduated from high school last June. I also graduated from encounter where an official graduation two weeks before that and frankly the uncracked the graduation from encounter meant a lot meant a lot more to me. It was really a painful thing that six of us graduated and we had sort of I had to be you know really corny and dramatic but it just really struck me that we'd sort of pull each other out in the mud
and we all fell pretty close to each other. And it was a beautiful experience. When I worked for encounter all summer my I worked with Mike in induction that was taking in new members and I had some other functions are functions very staff and I guess part of the concept of encounter is growth. And for me to stay in character would have been growth for me because I was beginning to feel really comfortable there. You know just relating in that way and I know for me at the age of 20 I should be doing other things. So I started college last week in a small experiment the college in New York and. I don't work for Encounter anymore. I mean it's still my family you know and I can still go back when I want to and I don't know really forget it. I'm going to stop now. Michael talk for on their list of questions thank you.
Hi I'm Mike. And Ikes teenagers here I'm 21 stone and I'm also not an an ex-addict as you think I never used hard drugs and I think that's important too in talking to her because like a lot of things Joe said a very real and honest. I mean I laughed too with some of the things he said. They same time I laughed I felt something shoot right through me like a pain because I thought about things he said. See like I came out of a very secure middle class background myself and my reaction to that kind of thing the almost like minor accident things I see on TV. But one thing I've learned in the last year or so is that these things are real you know and I know people who have died because of drugs and now people who are in prison you
know people I love. You know and these things are real and I think that you know we still talking and me talking. She member that we're here and we're talking about our lives but the people were really talking about are you because we're all the same and the things are the same we're no different from anyone of you anything is different and we happen to use drugs. I guess I want to start out by if you say something about my life too and I'll tell you something about a pound. I never used drugs in high school or even in my first year of college for that matter in high school I was an honor student and straight A's and and I went on a scholarship to the University of Chicago which is near here I am going to physics student. And so my background was one where I never I knew nothing about drugs and he's not in high school. Nothing about any drugs. And I heard about junkies and I thought there are these very slimy you know black things that crawled out from under
garbage cans and everything and stuck filthy needles in their arms and we something far less than human. You know and that was frankly my idea about it maybe it's your idea to do with drug use and if I was what I thought I'd tell you came one myself. I don't have a lot of stories to tell. About things that happened to me. I suppose I did and I did things that were bad things that hurt me hurt things that hurt other people. I think first of all I want to talk about more than my biography of what I did is like a biography of my feelings because like Joel when I reached junior high school age I became very conscious conscious that I was living in a social world you know on and people going to parties and everything and guys around me that I you know used to play with is starting to get girlfriends and I was really scared by the whole thing. I was really frightened much the same way I feel frightened by not talking or a lot of people
and my reaction was one to sort of run away I tried I tried to become part of you know I tried to go to the parties and I was always put down because I was were little was a runty and. I remember one day and we had to do push ups and I can't even do one pushup and nobody laughed at me. And so it's funny now that I think about it then it really crushed me. And so I I we started to feel alone even then I stuck by myself a lot. And I felt bad about myself you know because I didn't have a girlfriend and I wasn't going to the parties you know. I didn't have a lot of friends and I needed a way to feel good about myself and the way I found to feel good about myself. Well as you know I discovered that I could do well in school and and I was put in honors classes things and I was told I was a bright student and I had potential as garbage. And I hung onto that for a long time maybe maybe I still haven't let go of it entirely. I hung on it all the way through high school that you know and I became a lonelier and
lonelier person. And I I didn't have real friends real friends not people I was close to. And I developed a very at arrogant and cynical attitude towards people. Not that was real I pretended that I was above people I acted like I was above people I was better than people I thought I was fantastically brilliant you know. And you know and tried to feel good about myself and it didn't work because really I felt I felt very small. I felt very alone and it didn't matter if I got you know the best grades in school and I got scholarships and all this because I still felt alone. When I got to college it was even worse you know because then I saw people also to people I thought were really cool very interesting people. This is the University of Chicago. And I've met a lot of New York hippies and a lot of people from Chicago who are really cool and they use drugs and I was so naive that I didn't even know what I know once I went into a room
and I opened a humidor you know and I saw this green tobacco and I looked I saw a green tobacco and in closing I went away and I realized it was marijuana. And I can also say that a lot of the drug traffic went from the University of Chicago to the University of Wisconsin and I know that I know people of that sort here. So I was still alone and I still didn't want to face it and I still didn't go out and go on dates. You know I stuck to myself and I did. I even started to mess up in school work because I was lazy. And I didn't get A's anymore. I was also very curious about drugs you know because I started to do a reading and I read about you know LSD and their wine and read things by Timothy Leary and things like this. I was very curious about him people told me how they expanded their consciousness is and how they saw the Buddha nature and cetera et cetera et cetera and I thought this was a big thing and I really was interested and I was very very curious about it.
And I had a lot of curiosity about taking drugs and so finally this was towards the end of my first year in college somebody you know offered me a chance to teach it to take LSD. And I jumped at it because I wanted to you know I wanted Also I had a lot of feelings I wanted to do something was different. I wanted to feel something special and I liked it. And that's one thing I'll say about drugs and I like taking drugs. I enjoy it a lot. I never had a bad drug experience. And it's fun to get high. You know makes you feel good. And Joel says a word. Then my second year of college I went to school in California because I changed my major I didn't have money and then I started using drugs a lot more. Now it's the marijuana. You started out only using it maybe on weekends smoking marijuana out of it on weekends and maybe once a month or so I took a chip and I thought you know I thought I had control over my life
and I thought that I was a person who had taken my life in stock and I was going to school and I thought I was learning something about myself from taking drugs and I could have been mistaken more. But a lot of things were happening to me too in my life. I was still the same lonely person. I still didn't have many friends and I didn't feel very good about myself and so I found when I was high that I felt good. You know what I found when I was high I didn't feel so lonely and so I stopped going Hi more and more often to reach a point. The end of last year or the year before last when I was high all the time and practically all day every day either on marijuana or I was taking chips two three times a week and it didn't make me feel better in the long run though because every time I came down you know I wasn't the enlightened person I was and the person with the expanded consciousness or the new perception I was just
lonely. Again I was all by myself and I felt bad about myself about this time. I met I met a girl in California and I fell in love with her. And we were playing get married and she didn't use drugs. And I did and I was very anxious for her to take drugs with me I guess sort of like misery loves company. And she said that she didn't let me take drugs she thought she said she thought it was stupid and she thought it was dangerous and I was I was jeopardizing her career and my own school and she had about become a teacher but I didn't pay any attention to what I thought a lot of pressure on her and I think back now I think those were always cruel of me because you know I got a black eye on us that we don't love me if you don't want to get high with me. And like finally she couldn't take anymore she she she got high with me. Your time with it was just too much on her fine and she said Mike he says I can't I don't want to
see you ever again we were going to marry. And she says you know you used to be responsible you don't offer me any security. And I say this just emphasize something Joe said. About being stupid. Because she warned me a lot that I was doing something that was wrong and I really cared about her more than I cared about anything else in the world. And still I didn't care about her and even more about myself enough to stop getting high because I like getting high. I was reacting like a baby. You know I want to get high I want to feel good and I think you know what the consequences were. And things happen to me that should have taught me a lesson too and they didn't. I was stopped by the police twice and searched when I had drugs on me. And both times they just didn't notice the pain going into. You know and it scared me temporarily and I said to myself I'm 21 I can get high anymore and the same with drugs. I don't want to go to jail. And I went back and used
drugs again. My friends got arrested. And one one person I took a chip with flipped out completely went totally crazy and spent four or five hours screaming hysterically you know and at that frightened me. And but only for the moment I never paid attention I never learned. I never and I never really learned because I cut back and went back at using drugs. And I did lots of very very stupid things I think about now and they scare me. Maybe you know I. Was thinking about how dull it's been pretty good in Congress. And I started thinking about a lot of things when he was talking and I start remembering a lot of feelings I had. And right now I feel pretty serious about the things I'm talking about because there are serious things for me are remember once I took my girlfriend riding a motorcycle at night we were both high on LSD and I couldn't even see the road it was turning changing colors and swimming around and I was going 70 80 miles an hour a night on the freeway and I thought I thought it was fun. You know I
thought it was a big gas. You know I thought is really exciting you know. And that's how stupid I was because you know like anything could have happened I could've been dead it could've killed her I could've killed myself. I know people who died that way. And still I didn't think you know it was just Big game big you know fun and games type things. So when she when she broke up with me you know I couldn't. I really just felt horrible and I've always had a habit of running away from things I felt bad about. So I ran away from them from California packed up a backpack and I hitchhiked across the country. And I stayed high the whole time. And I came close to being busted in Chicago the day after I left. The people I was staying with got busted by the federal agents with a quarter of a million dollars of our stay in their car me and I didn't think about that I thought that was sort of a joke you know. And I came to New York. My sister was involved in encounters she didn't use drugs but she was involved in what we have called the community part of the program where people who. Are in the community and
concerned about are concerned about the drug use and the drugs themselves and they help think to speak in groups. So one night you know I was thing in New York for a couple weeks I was going to go onto to Mexico I had a lot of LSD with me that I wanted to sell to people. And she sort of chick means coming down to encounter he said she'd meet me there to go to a concert and then we'd go and I went down there to meet her and she didn't show up and I was sitting down there and thinking I was pretty cool I was wearing boots and my levis and look like me looking like a mess. And there's some people sitting in a circle talking and I heard overheard and they're talking about drugs. And I heard you know in terms grass used to be like then. And so I went over and I sat down with them because I really really dug this kind of I really dug talking about drugs. I remember in California I once went to a symposium on drug use sort of similar to this a lot smaller. Where some people got up you know and we're talking about you know things that happen in their lives and I laughed at them I sent it back around I laughed because I thought it was so funny. You know they were
telling about the lies and that I was laughing you think it was funny that I was a big joke. And so I went in and I sat down and Connor and I talk to people. And we started rapping about drugs and I was talking about LSD you know saying how good it was and how much I learned about myself. And. How it expanded my consciousness and a lot of things I said which are just garbage. And this is very fine because I was on my own ground you know I like being arguments about with people I like discussions about things that are always done it changed. You know that the tone of the conversation changed I found myself sitting a circle of about 15 or 20 people who were saying some things to me they were saying what are you doing with your life Mike. Where are you going. I dropped out of college and walked out and all my finals got mess. You know I had gone from you know straight A's to F's you know I was miserable in the girlfriend the person I love very much it just left me.
I was filthy and I was broke. I was alone and I was talking about how group in my life was and I said this look at yourself. And look at you you know look what you've done with your life and I they called me things that confronted me very strongly. Confrontation is something that takes place in Qana quite a bit. I told me that I was a baby and he told me that I was stupid. And they told me when I said that I thought I had learned a lot about myself taking drugs that I was a liar and all of these things are things that me with my middle class background they didn't like at all. You know they they bothered me disturb me. And so I sort of green which is my way of handling things that I'm uptight about. And you know I left that evening you know saying a bunch of square creeps you know go all crazy and they don't know what they're talking about. And I'm still really cool and I'm going no more things around but I also thought you know a little. And I realized in my head I was saying those things but my gut things were different. And it really hit home because that's what they said was essentially true.
That's the kind of person I was. I was alone I was frightened I didn't know what was happening in my life or somebody. So I never used hard drugs and I never used heroin or codeine or anything like that. You know if somebody had offered me a needle at that time and I was stuck in my arms and I would have done anything as a matter of fact. You know I would have thought about it you know I would have done it without compunction I know that I know that's why I was in terms of my feeling. And so I stuck around and counted I decided well try it out for a couple weeks you know. I thought it was interesting. This is what I told my you know people talked I said What seems interesting you know. So that was a defense for me. You know I was defending the fact that we really felt shaken up inside it or we realized something was wrong with my life. So I stayed for two weeks and then I decided to stay for the summer. And then I started to feel things I had never felt before. I could never remember feeling before I start to feel close to
people. I started to feel some warmth from people. I started to feel a little love from people. I started to feel a little love for people too and I started to feel a little better about myself. So last the end of last summer. And I made a decision which I think is probably the most important decision I ever make in my life. And that was a decision not to return to California and go to school I know I would have started using drugs again. But the stain encounter and so I stayed in New York and I've been in a counter ever since last April I was hired I'm a staff member and I want to working part time now because I'm going to college full time and I'll be leaving in counter to I'm a graduate. I want to work in there for the next few months. And I'm not saying even that. You know like. I'm you know totally different person. It was a lot of me that's changed a lot of me has changed counties really helped me a lot. And now I have a number of friends and I get a lot of people I really feel close to and now I have the ability to express my feelings to express the feelings I
always wanted to express to the people around me to say to people hey you hurt me or I like you or I'd like you to be my friend. Very very simple things here there's nothing very complicated about what goes on in a counter. Very The simplest things in life are the hardest things to do it was not hard for me to stop using drugs I stopped the day I wanted to encounter what it was hard for me to do things like get up courage to go on dates you know because I had been put down by girls you know to to get up the courage to speak to people. You know. I would have never done this year ago never spoken any but I would run away and hit my head and something. And I still have a lot of problems in your life. You know life isn't south for me. You know I'm going back to school and that's a Scranton thing you know it's hard it's a lot of work I have to support myself you know. And I know a lot of more difficult thing is going to come up in my life but now I know at least I have one thing I know I'll never
never have to run away from. The things that happen to me anymore. You know now I feel something inside of me that's different something that says I care about myself enough to do a hard thing to do difficult things to change my life to make my life a better thing. I'd like to talk a little bit about encounter and some of the things that happened and some things are basic to the concept of what we call the concept of encounter. The purpose of encounter is on a one purpose encounter it's not to. You could say it's to rehabilitate drug addicts. And I don't think it would be correct I think because it's much more basic than that. There are three year three goals we strive for and encounter for any person. The first of those is to love. And that doesn't necessarily mean romantic love. It means to love genuinely and to love responsibly. To love somebody enough. Unlike some
parents in a program of done to throw your own child in jail because you are using drugs and messing up their lives to do to love somebody enough to do really difficult things to confront somebody to yell at them like a haircut you know do you say you take somebody to go to the basement you know it's somebody I have to do that a lot. You know as a staff member and I don't like it because it's very painful it's a hard thing to do. So sure when people I care about. You know. But that's the best thing for that person a lot of people think that love means well anything goes I love you and you can do anything you can you know you can act crazy and destroy yourself but I love you anyway. We don't believe in that. That's called unconditional love. We believe in what we call responsible concern. So the first goal in Connor is to enable people to love. The second goal is to enable people to be loved to feel loved. And that's something you know it's still hard for me to feel and I know I am loved. But it's a hard thing to feel when it's a new it was a very very new thing for me too and I
imagine a lot of people have that feeling. No one loves them. Very difficult thing to feel and it's very difficult thing to grow to the point where you can respect yourself enough. And that ties in with the third goal of Encounter which is to feel self esteem to love yourself. And that for me was the hardest thing because I was hated myself. You know I can hope through high school I hated myself I thought I was nobody. I thought I was a nothing. And the hardest thing to do harder than ever ever kicking any habit or you know going straight or anything is to really believe in yourself because a person who sticks a needle in a person gets high even who smokes pot at to if the person doing that tells me they don't believe in themself. Really does. Some other things about the concept of accounting don't mention in passing that there are no psychiatry to anything understand and that most people are people who use drugs. I think the. Most
basic concept most basic fact in concert with encounter is that a behavioral change. You know a lot of people like Paul said he went to a psychiatrist and the guy said he was you know emotionally disturbed you know that's really groovy and you know you can be emotionally disturbed and still be using drugs. You know you can be emotionally disturbed and still be cutting your wrist and all sorts of things we do not accept that kind of behavior. We refuse to accept. What we call acting out behavior. That means we refuse to accept the use of drugs. We refuse to accept you know any kind of crazy behavior. That first thing a person has to do if they come to encounter is stop using drugs or stop doing whatever they did in their life that was destructive that meant cutting classes not going to school you have to go to school. That meant not working. You have to work. And we believe that. You could talk you know until the you're blue in the face about. You know how bad you feel and everything else. But if you don't change your behavior your feelings will never change. For me the behavioral change was to get up you know just go out
meet people and talk to people to get the courage to go to a dance and ask somebody to dance and ask ask a girl out or something. I think about it now it's almost funny you know because I can do that now and it's no problem my still a problem and I get a lot. And you know that was the basic behavior change I had to do because I was I was a very lonely person when I first came to sit in a corner read books all the time and never talk to anybody you know. And I have to talk to people and I have to do all the things that really harm other people. It's much more serious maybe they have to. Stop using drugs of course they have to go to school they have to work they have to pursue those things that will make them a better person. We have another part a concept whose responsibility you have to be responsible to yourself and that I think that word is almost self-explanatory. That means you know we don't have. People who are afraid of reading and other people encounter. If I see something that Joe is doing wrong encounter you know I first go to Joe and I say hey Joe don't do that that's
wrong. And then if you persist in doing it you know I can take him into a group and confront him there or I could tell other people and I want to say OK Joe I like you and I could tell anybody you know that you're getting high or something like this that doesn't happen in color and it ties in with nothing it's part of the concept which is confrontation which is a very difficult thing for everybody to do. I think our whole society is hung up about this. Confronting people around us. You see somebody you know you really care about around you doing something that's wrong you're fraid to tell them. You know you don't want to make them dislike you. You don't want to make them you know hate you or think you're a creep or something like that so you don't say hey you're stupid for getting high and you're doing something that's really crazy. But that's something we have to do and something we have to learn to do and encounter. In groups we have group sessions which is an important part of encounter. Anything goes is basically the rule in groups. What we expect and
demand is honesty from people. You don't say I feel internally impoverished. Here's a good example Joe. You say I feel bad. I feel unhappy. That's what honesty is. Honesty says instead of saying. I find your personality somewhat antagonistic to somebody instead of saying that you say hey I don't like you. I really hate what you're doing. Or instead of talking to be honest and say you hurt me. That takes a lot of courage to tell somebody that they have that kind of power that they hurt you. That's honesty. The other thing it's very useful It happens in groups is identified cation we've all been through the same things. Somebody says hey I feel really really bad about such and such and somebody else says so to y so raw you know but I did this and maybe you can do that. I saw groups you encounter is nothing special there's nothing no secret to it. All encounter is a process number one of growing up for people. You know growing up we may be 20 or
25 or 30 or 15. But when we come to encounter you know we're all infants because we need to grow up we need to do things we should've done a lot longer before. I'm very confused and I can't remember what I was going to say so I won't. Rather than go on about encounter because none of you will know there are very few of you ever again after me being counted as only one encounter in this in New York I want to read something to you. Which has a lot of meaning to me and I think you should listen to it closely. This isn't county's philosophy it's something it's borrowed from. Emerson. We are here because there is no refuge. Finally from ourselves. Until a person confronts himself in the eyes and the hearts of others he's running. Until he suffers them to share his secrets. He has no safety from them
afraid to be known. He can know neither himself nor others. Where else can our common ground. Can we find such a mirror. Here. Together we can appear at last clearly to ourselves not as a giant in our dreams where the door of our theories but as a man part of a whole with a share in its purposes. Here together we can at last take root and grow a lot. Not alone anymore as in death. To live to ourselves and to others. Thank you. You've been listening to Michael Tolson and Joel Cohen members of encounter incorporated a group of ex drug addicts as they discussed how to kick the habit. They originally spoke before a teenage audience during the 1968 Wisconsin work week of Health a project sponsored by the State Medical Society of Wisconsin. And there was guns and
physicians service Blue Shield. This program was made available by W. H A the University of Wisconsin. This is the national educational radio network.
Youth on a four day trip
How to kick the habit
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WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
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University of Maryland
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Duration: 00:59:06
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Chicago: “Youth on a four day trip; How to kick the habit,” 1970-04-22, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 19, 2024,
MLA: “Youth on a four day trip; How to kick the habit.” 1970-04-22. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 19, 2024. <>.
APA: Youth on a four day trip; How to kick the habit. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from