Friday, March 18, 2016

We Must Learn to Learn. But Must We Die To Live?

"We Must Learn To Learn. But Must We Die To Live?"

Chuck Negron

When I was young and in my teens, I took it for granted that the things that were written in newspapers and magazines were factual.

I don't know why I made that assumption; I just did. Maybe it was the naïve logic of a teenager’s thinking: "Why would anyone read a publication that wasn’t presenting the facts? That they were skewed and inaccurate?"  I think most people trusted what they were reading was the truth.

As I got older, though, I came to understand there was a wealth of misinformation and dishonesty in the media, whether it was print, movies, or TV. This misinformation was more often than not driven by ideologies, agendas, politics, philosophies, and even for personal gain. All of the things that replace facts with opinions, the truth with deception.

That’s when I realized that there was only one real NEWS FLASH: People read, watch, and listen to information every day that is fabricated and misleading. Regardless of who they are, people find the words that fit their truth or their own comfort zone. They rarely, if ever, explore another opinion once they have adopted a point of view and have regularly been indoctrinated by the media, and their peers to maintain that point of view.

News outlets of every type have their own opinions and ideology which are established before they do extensive research. The writer of an article or the producer of a news segment intends to make his or her case in hopes of molding the reader’s point of view or holding the party line for the committed believers. And if we’re unaware that the news we’re getting is unbalanced and misleading, then we can’t make informed decisions for ourselves. It's fascinating to me that the believers of a particular agenda can manipulate others to do their bidding in spite of the facts being inaccurate.

Unfortunately, in today’s media climate, there is very little sharing of ideas or learning through constructive dialogue. Whatever one person or one group believes spiritually, politically, or philosophically, there appears to be no room for discussion or collaboration with another group’s opposing point of view. More often than not, the paramount goal seems to be about proving your point while avoiding any compromise or acceptance of any other concept or belief.

Even in our elite universities a single point of view or ideology prevails. Our children are being taught an unbalanced curriculum by professors who have their own agenda. Such a system eliminates constructive debate or criticism. It creates an environment that eliminates the hope of expanding the limits of young—and even previously closed—minds.

The beginning of the lies we tell ourselves about drugs.

The movie "Reefer Madness" was released in 1936. It depicted people smoking marijuana who then appeared to go insane. Graphic images of distorted faces and bizarre laughter were used to shock and scare away prospective marijuana users. America had a much more puritanical sensibility in 1936 than it does now—couple with very limited information about drugs—so the movie achieved its goal of deterring the general public from marijuana

A ploy like this, designed to mislead and generate fear in one decade or one generation, risks becoming laughable in another. That was indeed the case when the decade of "peace and love"—the 1960s—rolled around.

"Reefer Madness” achieved its initial goal in 1936, but during the 1960s it became a joke. The reason for the movie not having any legs was simple: the movie’s message and scenarios weren’t true.

Thus, people interested in drug experimentation in the 1960s used the misleading movie as an example of “THE MAN” blatantly lying about the harmful affects of marijuana. In the end, the extreme and untruthful claims the movie made did more harm than good.

Unfortunately, such fiascos regularly cause real facts to get buried. The entire attempt to convey a warning message gets washed away because skeptics can point to the one monumental failure—in this case, “Reefer Madness”—and dismiss it. That seems to give everyone the right to ignore any facts that don’t fit with their beliefs.

Deciding to ignore the facts means that we suffer by not being aware of them. Or by not accepting them. Case in point: How is it that we have not learned from the facts when it comes to the devastation wreaked upon society by drugs in the 60's, 70's, 80's, and right up to today?

The overwhelming number of drug and alcohol fatalities that has occurred over the past five decades is incredibly tragic. Yet, we make the mistake of looking at some of these deaths as something less than tragedy. After all, those using the drugs wanted only to expand their reality by getting as high as they possibly could in hopes of truly feeling alive, creating magical words, wondrous music, and an avenue to peace. They wanted to live on the edge but fell off and died. They died trying to live. It’s all so poetic, isn’t it?

Believe it or not, some of these deaths have been glamorized, romanticized as if they were a fantasy and these young gifted souls were shooting stars burning out in the heavens. The following icons are all deceased from drug- and alcohol- related issues. They all had one thing in common. At some point a doctor prescribed drugs that were addicting or they chose to use drugs and alcohol  and it killed them.

Janis Joplin

Jimi Hendrix 

Jim Morrison 

Elvis Presley 

Keith Moon 

Sid Vicious 

River Phoenix 

Marilyn Monroe 

Lenny Bruce 

Kurt Cobain 

Frankie Lymon 

John Belushi 

Amy Winehouse 

Phillip Seymour Hoffman 

Judy Garland 

Chris Farley 

Michael Jackson 

Whitney Houston 

Heath Ledger 

Freddie Prinze 

Ike Turner 

Anna Nicole Smith 

Abby Hoffman 

Scott Weiland 

John Entwistle 

Jack Kerouac

Brian Jones 

Brian Epstein 

Billie Holiday

Corey Haim 

Dana Plato 

Bradley Nowell 

David Ruffin 

Jeff Conaway 

John Bonham 

Margaux Hemingway 
Brittany Murphy 

Michael Bloomfield 
Lowell George 

Dinah Washington 
Tim Buckley 

Tim Hardin 

Florence Ballard 

Joe Schermie 

Danny Whitten 
Chet Baker

Cory Monteith 

Johnny Tapia

Albert Lavert 

Reggie Lewis 

Sonny Liston 

God rest their souls! They are at peace and free from the pain and incomprehensible demoralization associated with addiction. Viewing the faces of so many gifted people who have succumbed to drugs and alcohol is overwhelming. How many more are there? I couldn't possibly write all the names of the mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, friends, lovers, who have lost their lives to drugs and alcohol.  

We must never forget that drugs kill our children and have been destroying our country for decades. Death by drugs is not pretty, especially for the loved ones or friends who find the one who has died. I can't conceive living with that image the rest of your life.

The myth of “legal drugs”

There is too much factually ambiguous dialogue bantered about regarding marijuana use. Making it worse, there is a notable lack of balanced perspective in the media about the risks to our youth when it comes to marijuana consumption. The harmful implications for our young people and their still developing brains and bodies are unsettling. Still, there are the naïve and uninformed who would legalize these drugs in the belief that it would curtail crime. So let's legislate that some illegal activities are now legal, thus ending crime and a portion of the War On Drugs. Genius.

Colorado has legalized marijuana (I guess they won’t have any biophysicists coming out of that state for awhile) and there are many other states who want to follow suit. Some of them are eager to cash in on a new source of revenue, and some of them will continue the mantra "legalize drugs" believing it will help stop drug-related crime. Even if the bureaucrats from these states are correct—and I contend that they are not—the fact remains they are playing Russian roulette with the youth in their states. Studies indicate that 9% of people using marijuana will become addicted. That number goes up to 17% for teen users. With daily users, the percentage goes up precipitously from 25 to 50%.

Legalization equals marketing, advertising, and. of course. more awareness of the product, increased sales, and demand! At some point, we may see as many marijuana outlets on busy American streets as liquor stores.

You probably won't see an in-depth print article or mainstream media coverage addressing marijuana-causing damage to the undeveloped brain of teens. Such use can lead to the impairment of executive functions, a proclivity to choose an easier task, lack of motivation, signs of impulsivity that could lead to criminal behavior and violence, depression, and anxiety. When the pre-frontal cortex is damaged from marijuana use, it will affect the area dealing with memory, problem solving, and IQ.

Logic and medical data leads one to believe marijuana is addicting, and the facts concerning marijuana being a gateway drug to stronger and more dangerous drugs is compelling.

It’s my educated guess the residents of Colorado didn’t read or hear the latter before they voted to legalize marijuana. Nor did they know marijuana seriously impairs teen’s ability to drive safely.

A reason for our government officials not revealing this information is that they might not want to be on the wrong side of political correctness. Nor are they in the business of balanced information especially when the issue is not politically correct or doesn't fit their agenda. Political correctness is now more expedient than honesty or prudently enlightening their constituency to the clear dangers—and accurate scientific medical facts—about marijuana consumption.

Our leaders seem unable to look at this crucial issue from various perspectives in order to weigh them all and make informed decisions. They only address the information that fits their agenda avoiding all other facts.

Legalization continues. And as more states legalize marijuana, Mexican drug cartels are replacing lost profits by pushing cheap potent heroin into new markets. Heroin use is surging in cities and small towns across the United States. The Attorney General of Ohio, former State Senator, and Congressmen Mike DeWine says this is the worst drug epidemic he has seen in his lifetime, stating that heroin is in every city, county, wealthy suburb, and small town in Ohio. The stigma of a heroin addict is all but gone since heroin is smoked and injected by high school and college athletes, valedictorians, privileged, fortunate, and even the stereotypical "Good Kids."

Another tragic example is Cape Cod in New England. It experienced a heroin epidemic that left 1,256 dead from overdoses in 2014 and 134 overdose deaths in the first 80 days of 2015. 
have heard it said that each time you shoot heroin, you lose a bit of your soul. I can tell you from experience that even though you might not feel your soul leaving, you’ll know when it’s gone. Feeling void of any emotion is but one of many bottomless pits the addicted will come familiar with. 

Politicians and their perspectives are tainted and flawed for very obvious reasons: They are obliged to see issues through the eyes of lobbyists, powerful financial contributors, and the leaders of their parties. We, the people, are rarely factored into the equation. For the most part, we and our congressmen are often unable to address issues that directly affect us when many bills we are asked to vote on are polluted with bipartisan and shameful addenda.

It is not a prudent course to legalize drugs. With the doors wide open, millions of potential new addicts who would never have thought to use illegal drugs might be inclined to investigate drugs—with no threat of punishment. The peer pressure to experiment with newly legalized drugs would be immense, and would almost certainly increase the number of addicts and fatalities. In reality, we're rolling the dice with our country’s future by putting our youth in harm’s way by making drugs more available to them.

If I may, I'd like to describe a simplistic, common sense scenario. If you're doing marijuana, maybe for the first time, you're probably doing it with someone who does drugs. At some point, the chances are good that other drugs will come into play with one of your friends who is experimenting with cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, or even prescription drugs. Heroin is now cheaper than pain medications like OxyContin, which some might know as oxycodone.

Young people are often in a cocoon of ignorance, feeling bulletproof or immune from the harsh realities of addiction. It's difficult enough for the youth of the world to make their way through life without the subtle innuendo in advertising and seemingly socially acceptable drug use all around them.

We are all special, unique in some way. Unique due to a talent we are proud of, or simply a feeling about life that makes us feel unique. That special part of you will evaporate once you become addicted and you will acquire all the predictable and tragic characteristics of a junkie. Once you make the decision to use drugs, any drug, you are opening a door you may not be able to close,

The reality of medical addiction

We've all heard the terms “alcoholic” and “addict.” However, many people don't realize those words refer to a specific group of individuals. These individuals live with a burden, a curse that can only be arrested by a lifetime of abstinence from drugs and alcohol. The sad paradox is that they will only realize they must abstain from these substances when they take that first drink or drug. And at that moment, they begin their unwitting journey towards alcoholism and drug addiction. 

Once a person with a predisposition to an addictive condition drinks, a physical craving begins that can only be satisfied by another drink. Thus, they will drink until extremely drunk or they pass out. After a period of time—weeks, perhaps months—the craving will be coupled with a mental obsession that will compel you to drink until you die. You then have what the medical field refers to as alcoholism.

Most drugs are physically addicting after a few weeks of use. This is then coupled with the mental obsession brought about almost immediately due to the overwhelming addictive properties, and euphoric feeling, caused by heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, OxyContin, and a cornucopia of prescription drugs. You have little chance of not succumbing to this evil once you start.

Oxycodone, when sold on the streets, can go for $75 a pill, but you can get a hit of heroin for $10. The Mexican cartels have also created a market for heroin by supplying pain pill addicts with a much cheaper, stronger alternative to the expensive pain pill prescriptions. The drug cartels take advantage of every opportunity, every weakness. They go where the consumer is and always own the product and control distribution completely. They invade and conquer all smaller, but important competitors simply by assassinating them or brutal unspeakable persuasion.

I am asserting that the pot farmers in The United States are easy pickings for the masters of drugs and crime-The Mexican Drug Cartels. Is it feasible for the drug war to infiltrate the American heartland if the Cartels decide they want the American marijuana business for themselves ending the risks of smuggling and competition cutting into their profits?

For all of those cavalier pot aficionados who use with impunity and thus don't understand that marijuana is a gateway drug for many, I guess you’re lucky. Or maybe not. There are many of your fellow pot smokers who might be predisposed to addiction that lead them to harder drugs. Maybe not all who indulge will cross that line and then again you just might.

The Yin and Yang of addiction

The future for aspiring addicts is grim at best--incarceration, poverty, homelessness, and death by overdose or crime. And these are only a few of the horrific possibilities in store for them.

Chuck Negron

The human devastation accompanied by addiction is rarely looked on in a compassionate light. Instead, it is viewed as a moral shortcoming, or just a dilemma for society to deal with. That view is enhanced and even perpetuated by the actions of practicing addicts and alcoholics. After all, addicts lie, cheat, steal, neglect their families and children, and even do the unthinkable-taking a life while driving intoxicated or drugged.

There are compelling reasons that people find it difficult to accept addiction as a disease. This behavior is morally reprehensible. I pray for forgiveness for I know this behavior first hand.

Once clean and sober, though, addicted individuals are completely changed and able to lead normal, productive lives. While in rehabilitation, they learn they have a disease that can be treated and arrested. Many avenues are made available to help the addicted navigate their way back into society. Rehabilitation can create a life-changing environment that helps addicts begin their journey back to “normalcy.”


Miracles happen everyday in recovery. I have met people in recovery who have spent most of their lives in and out of prison. Once they accept the potential offered by recovery, they have been able to remain clean and sober—never to be incarcerated again.

Unfortunately, the active alcoholic or addict often does extensive emotional damage to his or her family. The individual in recovery has to be aware that it can take time before they're welcome or trusted again, but some bridges can never be mended. On my personal path, I have been forgiven by most of my family and friends. For that gift from God, I am extremely grateful.

Three Dog Night

Chuck Negron

As lead singer of the hugely successful Three Dog Night from its inception, my voice was responsible for 4 Number One records,  4 million selling singles, 5 top five singles, and 7 top forty singles.*

I traveled all over the world performing for adoring fans and seeing wondrous sites. I was afforded the opportunity to perform on the same bill with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, and many other icons of our time! 

All of my dreams--and more--were realized when I was a young man.

But they were snatched away because of my decision to experiment with drugs and alcohol. I was a practicing drug addict for twenty-five years of my life.

Chuck (Negron) Rondell

I had never done drugs until I was out of college. I became involved in the Hollywood music scene in 1966 when I was signed to a recording contract with Columbia Records. Some of my drug buddies would also be a part of Three Dog Night. I went from pot to LSD, PCP, Peyote, Mescaline, DMT, Quaaludes, Seconal, Valium, Chloral Hydrate, Tuinal, Mandrax, Darvocet, Dilaudid, Codeine, Methadone, then moved on to Cocaine, and inevitably began taking Heroin. My decision to experiment with drugs and alcohol tragically altered my life and took away everything important to me.

Once I decided to get clean and sober, though, it took 13 years and 37 rehabs before a power greater than me intervened. I call that loving and forgiving power 'God', and God did for me what I couldn't do for myself. On September 17, 1991, I was accepted into CRI-Help a long term recovery facility. They saved my life and I will be forever grateful. While in CRI-Help, God removed my obsession with drugs and alcohol. I've been clean and sober since that day.

I sincerely hope I’m not offending or putting anyone off with my references to God, my faith, and the miracle that occurred in my life!  Trust me, if you did for me what God has done, I would be talking about you right now.

Thanks to recovery, I was blessed with two new miracles in my life: my 15-year-old daughter Annabelle and her 22-year-old sister Charlotte, pictured below with their proud dad--ME! My daughter Shaunti, son Chuck, stepson Berry, and son Tom are also very special blessings in my life.

Chuck Negron with daughters Annabelle and Charlotte

    1991 CRI-Help
   Chuck, Sr, Shaunti, Chuck III and Chuck II

  Michael Botticelli 

The chance to choose change

President Obama appointed Mr. Michael Botticelli as the Director of The National Drug Control Policy. Mr. Botticelli is a perfect selection for many reasons, one of the most significant being that he is a recovering alcoholic who has been sober over 27 years. He could be a game-changer in the war against drugs by focusing our national efforts on rehabilitation as opposed to incarceration.

Rehabilitation and recovery reunites and heals families. People in recovery seek out and help others who are looking for guidance in their own journey to sobriety. Recovery serves as a system of built-in support. It also transforms people who have been involved in illegal activity into productive citizens. It goes beyond incarceration by offering hope.

In stark contrast to recovery, incarceration decimates families and destroys the potential of the incarcerated because they are forever stigmatized. In many cases, individuals entering prison or jail are devastated, disillusioned, and vulnerable. When they leave, they are often damaged, angry, bitter, revengeful, hardened individuals. Incarceration makes sick people sicker.

An open-minded conversation

I wonder how many positives would come about if we refrained from demonizing and ridiculing opposing views, from religious preference and ethnic origin to color and political affiliation. I wonder what would happen if we chose to embrace compromise and open-minded discussion or debate.  W
I wonder what would happen if we could learn to listen and respect other people’s journey in life. My guess is that we all would learn and grow in a remarkable way. It could be that simple.

We must always remember it's much easier to control thought when dissenting voices are silenced!

•Denotes chart position of the following songs•


July 12 1969 
# 1) "One" 

Oct 4 1969
# 1) "Easy To be Hard"

Easy Listing
Jan 1, 1971 
# 1) "An Old Fashion Love Song"

Hot 100
April 9, 1971
# 1) "Joy To The World"  number 1 for six weeks!