The war on drugs started many years ago. There were campaigns all designed to have young and old alike just say “no” to drugs. Millions of dollars were spent on developing drug treatment centers with counselors whose task it was to educate people who were addicted to drugs.
Were these dollars wisely spent, and were the programs successful? There are those who would say that the programs were successful. However, there is also a group that would say that the money was not well-spent and that the programs were not useful. My opinion is that the money and the programs did make a big difference in educating the public about the harmful effects of drug use. I believe there are enough positive stories out here about how our friends and relatives turned their lives around and literally went from shame to fame.
Drugs have such a far-reaching history. During my college days, smoking pot was the big thing. While I was exposed to it, I never did it. Does that make me a saint? Of course not. Maybe it was because I saw what it did to a person. Losing control and acting a bit crazy weren’t interesting enough for me to take a chance, so I didn’t.
As I got older, the drug scene became a bit scary to me. The more that I read about the effects that drugs have on you, the more I realized that I would take a pass on it. While programs help to stop people from taking drugs, it is my belief that it is up to the individual to want to stop using drugs. Drugs are addictive, so at some point, you have to ask yourself if your will can trump your addiction. I will further opine that it is your will plus program intervention that can trump your addiction. There are a lot of opinions out here these days about how to attack the drug problem. Some may say that drugs have a “hook” on society and that they are here to stay.
While programs and money help, many of us in the old school believe that drug education really starts at home. If you have elementary-school-age children at home, then the conversation must begin with them. I believe that if a child is able to wear Nikes and Reeboks, then they are old enough to hear about the harmful effects of drug use.
You can’t argue about the socio-economic status of the household. Drugs come into rich, almost-rich and want-to-be-rich homes at the same rate of speed. Money does not make you immune from drug use. In fact, some would say that your chances of using drugs are better if you have money.
Dinner time and television-off nights are good times to have these conversations with our children and grandchildren. These conversations, while uncomfortable at times, should continue on through college into young adulthood. It is important for us as love providers to know that there are a lot of different stages of maturation in our children’s lives, thus the reason for the ongoing conversations.
Some might say that once you are in your 30s, these conversations are no longer necessary. We know that this is not necessarily true. Chris Kelly, of the ’90s rap group, Kris Kross, died recently from a drug overdose. According to reports, he mixed cocaine and heroin together. Chris Kelly was 34 years old. There are far too many cases like this one that don’t end up well.
While there are more drug programs than ever before, there are more people than ever before using drugs.
Many years ago, you could also tell that a person was high on drugs. Now if you skip to 2013, people are functioning at school and at work high on drugs. How can this be? I would not be surprised to see even more companies implementing random drug tests for their employees. Some may rail against this, but I believe future employment may hinge upon passing multiple tests to determine if a prospective employee is using drugs.
For example, if you are a college student and about to graduate, don’t be surprised if you are asked to take more than one drug test. The job market today is tight, so for every job there are hundreds of applicants. While a bit exaggerated, you get my point. The college campus has its share of drug activity. Colleges have always had their place in the fight against drugs. Professional counselors, peer-to-peer counseling and spiritual leaders all have a role to play, whether that is on or off campus.
Drug-related deaths are on the increase across the nation. We must recommit ourselves to stamping out the drug culture. Some of us have taken a rest, but unfortunately, the drugs have not. If we want to see our children and their children have a chance at success, then we must take up the fight. Pretending that it doesn’t exist or that we are better off is just our imaginations running away with us.
Take some action on your campus or in your community. The drug problem is not someone else’s problem; it is our problem. If you know someone is using drugs, then let them know that you know and that you are going to do something about it. Yes, it may hurt your relationship, but they will live to see their future and will thank you for it.
Dr. James B. Ewers Jr. is a higher education consultant/youth advocate and a member of The Academy Speaks.