Addiction eventually touches everyone. I understand the stigma given to drugs and why our parents and teachers were telling us how horrible they were when we were growing up. Unfortunately, when someone continuously tells you not to do something when you’re a young know-it-all kid, it peaks your curiosity. You certainly can’t tell children the truth about drugs; that they feel awesome and can take away all the pain associated with life’s misfortunes. That would be counter-productive right?
Movies and television do a great job of glorifying the occasional drug-user. The fast-moving businessman who makes tons of money and knows how to party. How many times have you seen this guy? Many movies that center on drugs show the eventual implosion of the users’ life at the end, but that is not the part that sticks with you. What you remember is George Jung and Diego partying lavishly and trying to find room in their house to hold all the piles of cash.
Programs like AA and NA do a great job of simplifying the journey back towards salvation. They help people who have been turned-off from religion for whatever reason, find a basic path to living normally. But the programs are really for an “after-the-fact” type situation, which includes a personal “rock-bottom” to rid yourself of any lingering thought that you’ll be able to right-course on your own.
In my opinion, the biggest mistake that is made comes from the over-classification of marijuana as a “gateway-drug” that will lead you straight to a spoon and a lighter and living under a bridge downtown. I understand parents being overly-protective and not wanting their children touching anything, but when a teenager does smoke weed and nothing bad happens to them, the rest of the drugs start to lose credibility. Kids are not stupid, (some are and they grow up to be stupid people). Knowing that at some point in their future they will be legally allowed to drink alcohol puts that specific drug (and it is a drug, don’t kid yourself judgmental house-wife who likes her chardonnay) into a different category. It is socially acceptable.
My approach would be putting marijuana in a similar category as alcohol as far as its social acceptability. You can still explain the dangers of abuse with both booze and buds and mandate kids do not partake before a certain age. Keeping the class-A narcotics in their own taboo corner away from pot and drinking will at least make them seem more destructive. This would create another wall that a kid would have to climb over to try them.
*This post is dedicated to my friend Harry Snyder, who recently lost his fight. He was 25 years old.