A Time and Place for Drugs

A Time and Place for Drugs
Posted by CN Staff on December 29, 2003 at 22:36:28 PT
By Christopher Hutsul 
Source: Toronto Star 
Two things were certain for anyone who grew up in the Eighties: 1) If you experimented with sex, you'd end up with AIDS, and 2) if you experimented with drugs, you'd end up covered in scabs in an east end-crack house, soliciting $5 tricks for junk cut with rat poison. As part of my elementary school anti-drug conditioning, I also learned that the current strains of marijuana were "X times more potent" than what our parents may have smoked.
We were even visited by police, who told us about the perils of drugs, describing (in gory detail) the downward spiral that inevitably followed the sampling of an illicit product. The first time would be fun, they said, and would feel like an escape from the challenges and drudgery of everyday life. The second time would induce feelings of isolation and paranoia.By the third time, the drug user would be losing control. He'd be robbing his parents, shoplifting syringes, flailing in a sea of chaos and dementia that would come to a dramatic conclusion at the airport, where officials would hold his sickly frame at gunpoint while they waited for him to discharge baggies of coke. But despite the propaganda, the "just say no" generation found itself saying "yes" once in a while. And many of us, to our great shock, survived without experiencing the aforementioned calamities. At 26  having experimented with both sex and drugs (the kinds that don't require syringes)  I pinch myself in the morning to make sure that this is my life, that I really am healthy, that I'm not begging a pawn broker to hock my parent's sofa so that I can buy speed. Amazingly, I don't suffer from flashbacks. There are no track-marks on my arms, nor do I have any embarrassing twitches or drooling problems. Am I the lucky one? Or am I the norm?According to an expert at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, my experimentation with drugs was just a part of a healthy development  a sharp contrast from anything I'd ever learned in school. "The policy of the Centre for Addiction and Mental health is that drug use isn't a no-no right across the board," says Dr. David Wolfe, RBC chair in children's mental health at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. "A certain amount of drug experimentation is developmentally normal."Not only is it normal, it can actually be a good thing. "There's some research that suggests that kids who don't experiment at all have some other social adjustment problems," says Wolfe. "It's one of those cases where too much is a bad thing and too little doesn't mean that you're necessarily healthy either." Nick Barry, a drug and alcohol counsellor in New Brunswick, agrees."People who act out when they're growing up, and maybe smoke the odd joint or whatever, learn about how to manage these things later on better than people who've never done them."I've seen some friends struggle with drugs, and others who've dabbled in a responsible, nonchalant manner. Obviously, the drug experience is different for everyone, which is why it's impossible to make an overriding statement about the role of drugs in society  and whether one should try them, or avoid them. In answering the latter, I've always followed the "there's a time and a place for everything" approach.For me, most of high school was neither. It sounds dorky, but during those years, I was too busy learning about myself, and trying to figure out what kind of life I wanted to live to be tempted by that which alters the mind. I was terrified about the prospect of losing what limited footing I had. Not to mention the fact that I was dubious of how trustworthy my friends were in those days. No offence, but my pals seemed volatile at the best of times, let alone when they were messed on drugs. If I were to experiment with drugs, I surely didn't want to do it at the back of the mall parking lot with a scruffy clan of anorexic girls and pimply, self-destructive thugs. If something went wrong, I'd be on my own. Needless to say, it's different when you're a little older, and you've got friends you can trust and a place of your own. To ask yourself the "to do drugs or not to do drugs" question, as is the theme of this week's I.D. section, is also a time to think about the nature of your own personality, and whether drugs are something you'll be able to manage. Wolfe says one factor in how a person will cope with drugs has to do with his or her upbringing. He prompts us to ask ourselves: "Were either of your parents addicted to substances? If you grew up in a home where there was a lot of drinking, smoking or drug usage, you're at risk." According to Wolfe, that applies to harder drugs, too. But for people who've reached a certain level of emotional stability in their lives and friendships, even cocaine could be managed by a casual user. "I believe very few people become addicted to a drug like cocaine, not only because it's expensive, but because most people who come from a solid background, have solid friendships and a life plan aren't going to start using it every day," says Wolfe. "It's totally recreational in that sense." "The ones who tend to get in trouble with it tend to have other risk factors, and if they don't get in trouble with that, they'll probably get in trouble with something else."No matter who you are or what issues you have, every drug presents a worst-case scenario (what you heard about in school and on Miami Vice), and a best-case scenario (the eye-opening, culturally bonding experience you heard on the euphoric drug albums of the 1960s). Anyone who dabbles will experience something within that spectrum.As Barry says, some will have troubles with substances, but others  the vast majority of us  will be just fine. "Certain people are going to become addicted to drugs no matter what," says Barry."It's in their personality. Those are the ones who always want more. But most people can take something and then leave it alone."We live in a country that has mixed feelings about drugs. You can see that in the lingering federal debate about the lawfulness of marijuana possession. The very fact that the question is on the table tells me that drugs might not be as evil as they once told us. And it's okay to "Just Say Maybe." Note: Should you do drugs? Not all use is intrinsically bad. Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)Author: Christopher HutsulPublished: December 30, 2003Copyright: 2003 The Toronto Star Contact: lettertoed Website: CannabisNews -- Canada Archives
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Comment #7 posted by jose melendez on December 30, 2003 at 09:41:49 PT
thanks kapt. I put that link under southernMenace
Article III, Section 3 defines drug war as treason. Really. 
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Comment #6 posted by kaptinemo on December 30, 2003 at 08:39:46 PT:
Jose, that's a powerful button on your site
The one showing the origins of the DrugWar being racist - and putting Klansmen on as an example - is powerful ju-ju. It hits antis where they live. But most people haven't the foggiest about the connection between early 20th Century racism and drug prohibition. You might consider making a link to as a means of explanation. Keep it up!
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Comment #5 posted by MikeEEEEE on December 30, 2003 at 08:11:16 PT
Possible Theme
I've noticed in a bid to become re-elected Bush is going to all types of measures. For instance, raising the terrorist threat, and protecting us from that evil ephedra.If he's trying to protect us don't believe it. He wants re-election.
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Comment #4 posted by jose melendez on December 30, 2003 at 08:04:12 PT
set and setting
I'm opening a wood-fired kiln soon. We will be encouraging artists to express their opinions in stoneware, pottery and sculpture.I think y'all will like this, especially after clicking the brick:
boycott the drug war industry
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Comment #3 posted by cloud7 on December 30, 2003 at 07:45:58 PT
sorry this is somewhat off topic
It is related to the drug war though. In a couple of months, expect to see headlines proclaiming ephedra runners in the ghetto and ephedra raids at schools.,2933,106956,00.html
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Comment #2 posted by BigDawg on December 30, 2003 at 04:55:03 PT
LOL - I once asked an addiction counselor why it was that a person wasn't considered to have a "problem" if they drink a couple of beers occassionally... a class "B" barbiturate no less... but anyone who occassionally smokes a joint... a mild analgesic with minimal risk... belongs in rehab.She stuttered and stammered until I mentioned that it was because it helped make her boat payment.
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Comment #1 posted by CorvallisEric on December 29, 2003 at 23:09:24 PT
Can you imagine any "Center for Addiction and ..." in the US allowing publication of views like these by it's staff? 
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