Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: The lows of opioids and how we deal with stress

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: The lows of opioids and how we deal with stress

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Japan

For many centuries’ opium was taken orally as a folk medicine for pain and injuries. The practice of opium smoking was introduced from Java to China in the 17th century. During the 1800s, Chinese addiction to opium provided a great trade opportunity as opium smoking spread throughout China. The first Opium War with Britain began in 1839, ending in 1842. The war saw China ceding Hong Kong to Britain. The Anglo-French War, or second Opium War, from 1856 through 1860 forced China to legalize the opium trade. Suddenly, poppy growing spread rapidly in China. But Chinese grown opium was not strong, so the British blended it with stronger opium grown and imported from India. The British encouraged opium use---the opium tax was helping their government’s gross revenue and balance of payments.

In 1964, the psychedelic drug revolution was sweeping America, and masking a fast-growing heroin market that progressed from heroin users during the 1940s and 1950s. Each year international criminals and cocaine families were smuggling seventy-five percent of the estimated forty billion dollars’ worth of cocaine sold in the United States. Drug-related homicides were soaring. The Human Potential Movement was spreading. Growth Groups, T-Groups, and weekend marathon encounter groups are untapping an individual’s hidden-self yearning to be discovered and set free. The psychological teachings of Dr. Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, Fritz Pearls, Timothy Leary, and Virginia Satire are flourishing, guiding the movement with intuitive wisdom and unconditional positive regard. Adding to the alpha-omega is Aldous Huxley’s book, “Doors to Perception,” a virtual intellectual blueprint for understanding and navigating hallucinogenic trips. The Gestalt “Aha” experience is unveiling new plateaus of consciousness and self-understanding, laying the psycho-social foundation for the “free-love movement” and unleashing the largest social experiment of modern times, facilitated by the largest consumption of recreational drugs the world has yet to experience.

Today, opium consists of a mixture of naturally-occurring opiate alkaloids serving as the building blocks for the synthesis of modern opioid drugs. The opioid alkaloids contained in opium extracts (codeine, morphine, thebaine) are used to synthesize many prescription narcotics (morphine, codeine, oxycodone). Heroin is made from raw materials extracted from the opium poppy plant. Some common narcotics and opioids drugs include: Opium, Heroin, Codeine, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Tramadol, Morphine, Hydromorphone, Fentanyl, and Carfentanil which is a hundred times stronger than fentanyl and thousands of times stronger than heroin.

The misuse and addiction to opioids, prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids – fentanyl, and alcohol is a serious mistake. “Purple  Haze” is not just a song by Jimmy Hendrix, it’s a cloud that fogs your mind from thinking rationally. When I was at the Combat Center at 29 Palms, Marines returning from theatre were getting in trouble due to their high stress levels. Hey, life is stressful! But, dealing with stress in a positive way builds resilience.

Stress is like snow; it builds up and can have a negative effect on your body and mind. Stop watching or reading stories about traumatic events, this is a trigger, especially for those who have been exposed to trauma. Be optimistic. Change what you can, accept what you can’t change. Just choose your attitude about a traumatic event, re-frame it; what did you learn? Replace negative thinking and thoughts with positive talk. Think before you speak, catch yourself, then correct yourself. Identify what behaviors you need to change and strengthen. Hang around positive friends. How do you spend your time? Establish some new goals. Start by making small, achievable goals.

“When under stress, clean up the mess.”  Do something! Wash the car, clean the house, vacuum the dog, stay busy. When I’m confused, I usually go to church, when it’s empty, and I just sit quietly, enjoying the tranquility, clearing my mind, and saying a few prayers. Then I bicycle to the gym and work out for about an hour. Hmmm, okay then, what’s the strategic response to your situation? Everyone happy and thinking clearly?

Life Hint: When I feel unsure about what to do – I examine the consequences.


Hilary Valdez is a retiree living in Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at or at

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