Drugs are for kids

Excuse the provocative title. Actually it is more accurate to say that recreational drugs are childish. 
This realization came to me after decades of watching drugs, alcohol, sugar, salt, and fat destroy people's marriages, careers, friendships, and finances. I don't say this like some church-lady goody two-shoes that has never done drugs or alcohol. I was getting drunk in high school. I have a medical marijuana prescription and have not only done most drugs, but I have sold them as well. In quantity.

The childish nature of drug use started coming to me when I was talking to a biker friend about a mutual acquaintance who was really going off the deep end. This friend used the expression "Drugs are fine to play around with, but sooner or later you have to put the firetruck back up on the shelf." I was amused by her analogy of recreational drugs as a toy that you play with. And I loved the image of having to eventually grow up and having to put that toy up on a shelf. You can even extend that to say you could look at the toy and even fool with it now and then, but it just can't be the center of your life like when you were 6 years old.

I read that people get addicted to drugs when they don't have a center in their life. So then you make drugs the center of your life. Its perhaps the ultimate narcissism. You can see this if you have ever been sober or straight and walked in on a party where all your friends are wasted. There really is not that much going on, but each person thinks they are important and having fun. My alcoholic buddy Terry used to joke "Let's get drunk and be somebody." Its a nice bookend to my buddy Phil Blair's dad, who used to say, "Everybody wants to be somebody, nobody wants to become somebody".

I consider sugar, fat, and salt to be drugs, too, albeit softer than alcohol and tobacco. Take your little kids through a supermarket and point all all the sugar, fat, and salt delivery systems. Sugar and fat might be softer drugs, and they take longer to kill you, but they are the first drugs a child has to deal with. Its easy to convince a child that sticking their hand in a flame is bad., What is hard is teaching them that climbing into a warm pool of quicksand is bad, since it feels so good. By the time it kills you, its too late to do anything about it. If you get them to understand sugar and salt when they are 6, there is a chance they will be handle to handle the less pervasive drugs like heroin and cocaine later in life.

I was riding my Harley down El Camino years back and a teenage girl saw me coming and promptly struck a pose with her cigarette to her mouth. I am sure she was thinking "I want to look grown up to that biker." The sad thing is she looked like a child sucking on that cancer stick. Maybe it is more forgivable for a woman. A nurse friend told me that there something involving estrogen in a woman's system, where they can smoke for decades and not get cancer. But she told me it is guaranteed they will get emphysema. Sure enough, that is what happened to my mom after smoking until she was 70.

So the next time you see a bunch of college kids slamming down J├Ągermeister and doing lines of coke, realize they are just being kids. And realize that even though you may have put up those particular firetrucks on the shelf, there are always other ones you have to worry about.

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This page contains a single entry by Paul Rako published on August 18, 2011 5:04 AM.

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