January 6, 2014

Just Say No. (or If The Drugs Don't Kill You, I Will.)

Today I had to help Slim with a Cub Scouts project.  Among other tasks he had to tell me why smoking and drinking are bad for one's health.  Then he had to tell me why drugs were bad.  Slim was a bit stumped and admittedly, I was kind of proud. I'm no expert, but my first place poster in the "Say No to Drugs" poster contest in the third grade kind of gives me a leg up, I think. However it dawned on me that his naivete and book-smarts may be no match for an on-the-spot "Psst-do-you-want-to-try-this-it'll-make-you-feel-good" scenario.

I will be the first to admit that I watch too much I am a big fan of Dr. Phil, but one of the scariest things I see on his show is those kids who are addicted to one drug or another and who he is shipping off to some rehab ranch out in the middle of nowhere. I watch those episodes with equal amounts of terror, it-couldn't-possibly-happen-to-me/my kids/my family and maternal guilt (that I am not preparing my kids enough for the inevitable invitation).

Although the Sarge and I have never had a specific conversation regarding our kids and drugs, I am 110% certain that his entire argument is "Don't do drugs or I will kill you." Period.  And although I agree 110% with the sentiment, I feel like an actual conversation needs to be had.

Slim is nine, and he's very intelligent, but I wanted to keep this as simple yet thorough as possible. I explained the difference between OTC drugs, prescription drugs and street/illegal drugs.  I explained that OTC drugs can be harmful when used incorrectly and that even prescription drugs can become illegal when put in the wrong hands.

We talked about the body and the mind--how drugs can effect you physically AND mentally.  Thoughts, feelings and actions are all altered. How you can quickly become addicted and how that vicious cycle can spiral out of control. How they can take over your life and ruin everything. Physical and figurative poison.

I didn't want sound like a naive third grader making a poster.  I have had up close and personal daily contact with people on drugs. My sister's high school boyfriend died from an overdose.  My old roommate and best friend smoked pot quite frequently and a former (relatively recent) coworker was an addict.  I have also tried them myself--something I did choose to tell Slim. I smoked pot when I was 20. It was never something I did with much regularity and it was a choice I made as an adult (albeit a young one with few responsibilities). Thankfully it was not something I was ever pressured to do when I as younger.

Although I was fortunate never to have encountered drugs at his age, I told him that there was a very real possibility that he might. I told him there are three reasons that someone might try drugs:  they feel pressured by friends, they are trying to escape reality or they are curious. I want my children to have the confidence in themselves to not feel that pressure, enough happiness to not ever want to escape their reality and enough pride in their accomplishments to not want to satisfy that curiosity.

I feel that the worst thing, the absolute worst thing about drugs is that they change who you are--in every conceivable way--and I want them to love themselves enough to not ever risk changing that.
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