by Ben Kritikos
Disclaimer: I am NOT advocating the use of drugs. But: I don’t believe that drug users are criminals.
In June, it’ll be three years since I last smoked marijuana — the last vestige of my illicit drug use in adulthood. Want to know why I stopped? I just did. It wasn’t a conscious choice. I haven’t felt particularly different since I stopped, either.
So much fuss was made about drugs when I was growing up. Even my mother, who made a virtue of over-explaining things to me when I was little, strayed off the good path and told me the biggest whopper of her whole life.
“If you take drugs, even once, you will DIE.”
The thing about well-intentioned lies like this one, as soon as the kid is old enough to be the slightest bit discerning, they’ll know it’s bullshit. Some bits of anti-drug campaigning are such bullshit, they’re the stuff of legend:
Of course, loads of people take drugs — loads of normal, functional, healthy and happy people — as well as junkies, alcos, crack heads, nut jobs and Pete Doherty. And when kids realise they’ve been misinformed about drugs, they may come to one or more conclusions:
1) Anti-drug campaigners don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about
2) Anti-drug campaigners are liars
3) Drugs have improved since their parents’ time
Being so poorly informed, kids run the risk of trying things they shouldn’t, or trying things that are arguably okay but only if you know in advance what to expect, or trying way too much of something that is ordinarily not dangerous. You’re told that all drugs are bad, in between adverts for booze and coffee and antihistamines. When you first enjoy a spliff you may very well think, “I bet heroin isn’t as bad as they say, either”.
Hysteria and closed-mindedness are actually more of a danger to kids than the drugs themselves. Much in the same way nobody regards alcohol as inherently “evil”, but everybody understands that drinking tequila for breakfast will, at best, eventually leave you drowning in a pool of your own vomit; or, at worst, turn you into Winston Churchill.
People need to talk to kids openly about drugs. Take it from somebody who tried just about everything before he shaved.