Essay: Say No To (Some) Drugs

Essay: Say No To (Some) Drugs

Drugs are bad. That’s the prevailing notion in this country. We must keep our kids away from marijuana. Marijuana, so the theory goes, is a gateway drug that will lead its users to try other drugs.

President Nixon once declared drugs to be “public enemy number one.” To date, this war on drugs had cost an estimated $1 trillion, and estimates suggest that someone is arrested on a drug-related charge every 19 seconds in the U.S. Right now, hundreds of thousands of Americans are locked up in jails and prisons because of drug offenses ranging from possessing a joint to smuggling drugs from southern nations.

President Reagan picked up where Nixon left off, renewing the efforts to keep kids off drugs. In a highly-publicized campaign, Nancy Reagan famously urged schoolchildren all across the land to “just say no” to drugs.

I’m sure we can all agree, no one wants to see little Johnny slouched in the corner, syringe in arm, pounding heroin into his veins. Yet, while little Johnny’s mom and dad are telling him to avoid drugs at all costs, Mom’s taking a handful of prescription pills to control every conceivable affliction under the sun, and Dad is stockpiling boner pills, just in case of a malfunction. And you can bet the first time little Johnny gets sent home from school with a note about him being hyper in class, Mom and Dad will be rushing him to a doctor to get a prescription for what ever ADHD drug is most popular that week.

“Here, Son. Take these pills. They will help you. But for fuck’s sakes, don’t let me ever catch you smoking a joint. Pot is the Devil’s drug and it will ruin your goddamned life.”

What a mindfuck for little Johnny. We sit him down and tell him drugs are bad for him, then juxtapose the message with the idea that, if a doctor says you can have them, then drugs are good—nay, even necessary for you to function as a normal member of society.

“Meth. Not even once.”
Remember that cheery ad campaign? More taxpayer dollars spent to discourage kids from trying amphetamines. A noble cause to be sure, one, I surmise, most of us can get behind.

The powerful ads by the Montana Meth Project featured vivid scenes like a teenage girl in a motel room, lying on the bed in her underwear. An adult male zips up his pants and leaves the room, handing a young male—later identified as the girl’s boyfriend—a bag of meth on the way out as payment for having sex with her. As the girl sobs, the boyfriend dips his pinkie finger into the meth to inspect its quality.

Later in the life of the campaign, the Meth Project used animated reenactments of former meth users to illustrate their stories. In one, entitled Ashley’s Story, a female voice tells the story of being high on meth and feeling like bugs were crawling under her skin. She tells viewers how she cut her skin open to see what was beneath. She found only “blood gushing out.”

While the effectiveness of these ads have been called into question, their message was still important: Try a drug like meth, even once, and you might be hooked. You might sell your body to get more of the drug, and taking it may lead to your death.

However, the message is deluded when parents and doctors demand that little Johnny try Adderall or Dexedrine—amphetamines handed to him over a pharmacy counter—because he won’t sit still in his American history class. A new message emerges: Meth. Not even once, unless prescribed by Dr. Feelgood, of course.


Abusing Prescribed Amphetamines
Let us pause here for a dose of real life. I can tell you, from personal experience, prescription amphetamines—acquired legally or illegally—can be chopped up and snorted quite easily, and with a satisfying outcome. The initial high comes on quick, and even with a harsh crash, you’ll still likely be awake for a full day, maybe even two. Let me also add that, to a teenager, this often seems like a better use for the pills than the label’s directed use.

Now honestly, can you look little Johnny straight in the eyes and tell him there’s a whole lot of difference between taking a couple pills with a glass of water and his morning Cheerios or ingesting it straight up his nose? No. Because there’s not a big difference. An amphetamine is an amphetamine regardless of how, or why, you ingest it.

That said, a prescribed amphetamine will never compare to a street amphetamine because, in pill form, it contains a small amount of amphetamine combined with a bunch of binders. When snorting the crushed pill, you must also snort a bunch of dry, useless stuff with it. With a street amphetamine, you can bypass those binders and get straight to the drug.
If, after snorting a prescription amphetamine, little Johnny decides he likes the outcome but wants something stronger, how long will it take him to search for the street version of the drug?

Some may argue that I just made a big leap there. True, not every child who is prescribed an amphetamine is going to grind it up and snort it, and even those few who do may not go searching for the street drug equivalent. But it the same argument used by those who call marijuana a gateway drug. Applying the same logic, once little Johnny has acquiesced he must take a drug in order to function as a normal human being, he’s already comfortable with drugs in general and may welcome other drugs that come his way. Or maybe little Johnny will never start snorting street drugs. Instead, maybe he’ll just start selling his prescription pills to others at his school willing to pay top dollar.


Street Drugs Are Bad; Prescribed Drugs Are Good
May attest that prescription drugs are good, but street drugs are bad. Regulators seem to agree. While tobacco companies are prohibited from advertising on TV, millions of Americans sitting in their homes watching their favorite shows are being bombarded with commercials for drugs to treat every ailment that’s ever been possible. As Average Joe sits in his den watching these commercials, he doesn’t think about the drugs on TV as products, but that’s exactly what they are. Products being hawked to him as good drugs, not those evil ones you might buy on the street.

Maybe he doesn’t even view them as drugs. Since regulators have decided that only good things are advertised on TV, anything being sold during the evening news must be good. They’re being sold during a national news broadcast on a reputable TV station, not in some dark ally in a questionable part of town. And they all have the same tagline, “Ask your doctor if XYZ is right for you.” They never mention asking your local neighborhood drug dealer about them. Doctors are involved. They can’t be bad.

So, when Average Joe’s dick looks a little softer than he remembered it being, he asks his doctor about some pills for it. When he can’t sleep at night, likely worrying about his penis, he asks his doctor about sleeping pills. And then, when he’s a groggy mess with a four-hour erection, he asks his doctor about some pills to calm his nerves. That night, on his way home from work, Average Joe picks up his new prescription—and some more meds for little Johnny, too. He then hurries home, because tonight, he is going to have The Talk with little Johnny. The all-important discussion all parents should have with their kids about the dangers of drugs.


Possum Hollow
August 2013