While on the phone with my debate girls, we were discussing summary drug offenses (In Canada, if you are arrested for carrying a modest amount of marijuana for personal use you get a ticket rather than a court date). Anyway, one of the young women commented that she didn’t think that marijuana was addictive.
I disagreed. I disagree strongly.
Now, I’ll stop here. Lots of people use marijuana, including my neighbours, and they are good and decent people who pay their bills, have jobs and are an asset to the community. Frankly, I’m pretty sure that our cops have better crimes to fight than arresting my neighbours toking up in their backyard. No, it’s not the neighbours. It’s the kids who go looking for drugs as a panacea – to ease the hard stuff in life, to stop the hard stuff of growing up, and when marijuana isn’t enough to blot stuff out, when it’s not enough of a thrill, they keep looking. Not every kid, but some of them, enough of them, that we are losing millions a year.
I got involved in drugs when I was younger – enough – more than enough – and with hard enough stuff that I am profoundly fortunate to be alive. I am fortunate to be in possession of most of my brain cells. I am fortunate that no great harm came to me while stoned out of my mind. The fact that I have used cocaine makes my heart do strange things in my chest.
One of the girls asked me, not just if I had used drugs, but what I had used. My heart stopped beating. I’m not proud of my past, but I’ve reconciled it, and truthfully, I’m over it.I haven’t even really thought about it for years. I’ve never thought about explaining it to a teenager. I didn’t know how to explain. Things I haven’t remembered for years now suddenly came back. I didn’t know how to tell her about luck and fortune and stupidity. I didn’t know how to tell her I was lucky. I wasn’t smart, I sure as hell wasn’t in control, and I didn’t have a plan. I was lucky. And I didn’t know how to explain that. I didn’t want her to see me, and not realize, not everyone is lucky.
You see, it’s not the drugs. The drugs were bad, and if I’m honest they were good. After all, no one does drugs because they don’t like the feeling of being high. It’s enough that I’ve tried them, and enough that when I think about it, I am beyond thankful that I’m not dead. It’s the friends. It’s what I saw. It’s what I did. It’s what I did that I remember, and what I don’t remember.
I got to the end of junior high, and was sent to boarding school. I turned my life around and other than the fact I smoked for years, I’ve never had a problem. I ran into a friend during my first year of university. I was upset that I had failed calculus. He hadn’t finished high school. When he caught me up, 2 friends were in jail, one for murder. 3 friends became single mothers. 5 funerals in university.
And I don’t know how you tell a young woman this – not that I used drugs, but everything that goes along with it. The things you will do for drugs, the decisions you make and don’t make, dropping out of life. How do you tell someone that it started out as fun, and it ended with death? How do you tell them fear? How do you tell them the horrible, awful things you’ve seen? How do you tell them no one wakes up and thinks that they will become a drug addict? That you think you will control the drugs and then they are controlling you? How do you talk about the nexus of power and control and addiction? That people who supply drugs are exactly who your mum warned you about, and she didn’t warn you enough?
There was no good in it. It leads nowhere, don’t listen to anyone who tells you differently.
The older I get, the more thankful I am.