Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How should I tell my (non-existent) kid about the dangers of drugs?

Q: Two night ago, when I couldn't sleep, did I scheme about how to elope in Vegas?
A: No, this time it was another scenario just as crazy.

I don't know what caused my mind to get on the track it did the other night. For the record, it before I was prescribed that codeine strength cough syrup.

However, it was the cough that kept me awake - and I had to figure something to do with my mind besides counting the seconds in between coughs.

The following is a fictitious monologue. A talk between a father and his child about the dangers of drug abuse. I think it's the way I'd want to tell a kid if I ever had to have one of these talks.

Obviously, I don't have any kids - and this talk is quite a ways away (if it even happens at all is as much a mystery). But if I were to ever become a Father - it's definitely a talk that would have to happen:

* * *
Hey, do you mind if I turn off the TV for a moment? Yeah, I know it's not called that - but TV is just so quick to say - and easier than Interactive Envrino-Holo-Globe-a-tron... I just want your undivided attention for a moment. Yeah, if you could turn that off too I'd be great... Uh huh that as well. Okay? Good.

(Deep breath)

I wa-... need to talk to you about drugs.

Yes, good, I'm glad that you've had a lot of talk in schools. But I want to focus on something that's not quite talked about in schools. Well, first off, have you been offered drugs?

By anyone?

Even friends?

(deep sigh of relief)

That's wonderful. That's going to help me fall asleep better tonight, believe me. But something that usually keeps me awake is that first time you'll be asked.

No, no. It will happen. I'm very certain and positive about it. You have friends. You're a cool guy that's going to meet a lot of people between now and then. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

I have been offered drugs before. Not when I was as young as you are now...

(pause for thought)

Well, I think I was 19. Which, even by that era, was remarkably late in my life. I'd jump through flaming hoops in excitement if nobody offers you drugs between now and when you turn 19 - but I don't think that's likely... It's why I want to have this talk now.

I need to get to you first.

I was lucky. That time, when I was 19, it was a complete stranger at a concert in Milwaukee. So when a guy you never met, offers you something, it's very easy to refuse. But you won't be able to decide your own story.

It could come from your best friend at the time - someone who you might not have even met yet right now. It could also come from someone who you would want to be a good friend. A person you respect, and want to be like. Even someone you may think you are in love with. Those will be the more difficult situations that when I had to decide.

They told you this in school? Really? Ok, good. Did they talk about why people use drugs? Okay, that's true - that's true. But there's another reason why people use drugs - probably the most important of all.

Drugs work. They are very powerful and have a goal, which is almost always accomplished. They are, without question, a model of precision science at work. People who use drugs love them. It feels good to them. They were feeling bad before, and feel better because of these drugs.

It's like when you're hungry.
You have that bad feeling, and you want something... like pizza - right?
After the pizza, you feel good - so good you want more pizza and could even want your friends to have that too.

That bad feeling is a good thing - because it lets you know that you need food.
The purpose of all drugs, even the good ones a doctor may give you, is to change what you are feeling. It's why we trust doctors to give us medicine, they are smart enough to know what these bad feelings are signaling.

But let's say you're hungry - very hungry - and there's no pizza anywhere... I mean, you're so hungry you'd even have that old Pea Soup recipe from Grandmother - but nothing was around... And let's say someone offers you a small pill with the promise that you won't feel hungry after you swallow it...

The thing is, that pill won't make you feel hungry anymore. It will work. But the reason you were hungry in the first place is because you needed food - and that pill didn't change the situation. But for the moment, you don't feel hungry so it's easy to think you're not hungry and don't need food. Think about what would happen if you never ate again? Yes, it's scary. Every day people die because they don't realize - or feel that - they are hungry and need food.

The point I'm trying to make in all this is that it's not as important what drugs are out there, or what people are out there to offer you drugs... What's very, very important is to know why people are using drugs.

These are the thoughts I hope go through your mind when you are offered drugs. To think about why people would use that drug... Because, and I know this sounds like Dad-talk, drugs aren't the answer.

If you are hungry, you know to come to me letting me know - right? Just like you did about two hours ago? You know you can come to me if you have any bad feeling, right? That's why I'm here - to help you through stuff like that.

I'm supposed to feed you if you're hungry.
I'm supposed to protect you if you feel unsafe.
I'm supposed to be here if you need something...
... and there are plenty of other people, like if I'm out of town, that love you and are just as willing as I to help.

Okay, okay - I won't lecture you anymore... But this talk may be over now, tonight, but this discussion... this conversation... is not over. If you ever feel bad, so bad that you don't know how to change it, please come to me - so we can talk about it.

I'm an option.
I trust you. I know you're a smart kid and will make a good choice. Please just consider why others may have to use drugs, and realize that because I - and so many other people love you - that you have more options than they do.

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