There are some pieces writers put off finishing or even beginning in the first place. There are some entries in our diaries, our blogs, or even still inside our heads we just don’t look forward to completing because something strikes a nerve. The reason we feel compelled to write in the first place is when things hit close to home, but it never makes the sort of heart-twisting topics easier to tackle.
Where do I even begin?
A complete stranger, aged 31, died recently of a drug overdose. But he didn’t feel like a stranger to me, and the situation didn’t either. When Gleekland lost its highschool sweetheart, it brought me right back to losing my own seven years ago. Both men, full of so much goodness and so much left to give, were stopped short by a demon paired with the chemicals which fueled it.
I feel so strongly the loss of his loved ones. Even more strongly, I feel we are not educating our young population about drugs because we go about it from an abstinence stand point. “Drugs are bad. Don’t do them EVER! BECAUSE I SAID SO!”
Just like abstinence-only sex-ed programs, this doesn’t work. When you tell someone simply not to do something without educating them on what could happen if they do engage in said activity, you are essentially doing nothing. In fact, you might be peaking their interest.
I remember being nine years old, sitting in the classroom and listening to a local police officer talk to us in our [insert unmemorable time frame here] D.A.R.E. meeting. I can’t remember a single specific this now-defunct program told us, only that drugs and alcohol were not partners to tango with. I passed with a certificate. We all did.
The problem is no one ever told us what would really happen. No one told us almost all of us would end up drinking on a socially-acceptable level. No one told us half of us would be users of some kind, whether recreationally or habitually. No one told us about the gaunt cheeks we would see on the faces of the people we loved, the frail bodies we would barely notice of people we once called our friends. No one told us our friends would really die, not just in a fake prom-night accident we were allowed to opt out of viewing. No one told us they would really leave us, and leave us forever; some in horrible, violent ways, some in peaceful, lonely ways. Most importantly, no one told us how much their loved ones would hurt when they were gone. No one told us how much we’d cry when we had to sit through another senseless wake. No one told us the things that mattered, the things that could have prevented us from making almost all of these fatal mistakes to begin with.
What does it take to make the powers-that-be realize abstinence-only education about drugs, about sex, about alcohol, about gambling, about weapons, about the hundreds of other things humans abuse is not working? More death?
We don’t need a war on drugs. We need an education worthy of the devastation these things can bring not just me or a TV star, but one worthy of the despair we have all felt after losing someone we loved because none of us was the wiser.
Let’s become the wiser. Let’s help our nieces and nephews and siblings and children and grandchildren understand. Let’s let them actually grow up, and grow up in a world with a little less tragedy… and a lot more information.