As part of a new program with LVUSD, I will be appearing in each science class at AC Stelle three times throughout the year. This past week I returned to Mr. Beutel’s class for the first time in a couple of years.
After reintroducing myself to the kids (most of the kids remember me from when they were in elementary as 3rd and 4th graders), I spent the rest of my time giving them an overview of the hazards of drug abuse and how kids can get themselves in trouble by making bad decisions or caving into peer pressure.
The first principle that I like to tell the kids (and then repeat pretty much every time I see them) is that there is no such thing as a good or bad drug. Drugs are inanimate objects; they don’t have feelings. Drugs aren’t trying to hurt us like Darth Vader or save us like Captain America because drugs don’t have feelings or intentions.
The good or bad a drug can cause comes from how a person uses the drug. Are they using the drug appropriately? Are they using it under a doctors’s orders? If its a recreational drug, are they using it lawfully and responsibly? Are they abusing the drug? Are they using it in an unsafe manner or in some illegal fashion?
With that being said, I emphasized a couple additional points to the kids:
- Anytime someone uses a drug, there is a risk involved – Some drugs are obviously easier to abuse than others, but that applies to everything from caffeine all the way to cocaine and everything in between.
- The way we get drugs into our bodies also have different risks and outcomes – Vaping and smoking effect our lungs; injecting or absorbing drugs can lead to overdoses and infections; eating or drinking drugs can cause unpredictable results too.
- The younger a person uses any recreational drug, the more likely they are to have a lifelong problem with drugs – Using nicotine, THC and alcohol as a teen all greatly increase the risk of long term health, addiction and social problems. Different types of drugs have different consequences, but growing bodies and minds are robbed of their potential by drug abuse.
There’s no getting around the fact that kids see people in their lives using drugs all the time. Whether its a prescription from the doctor’s office or a glass of wine with dinner, its important that the adults in their lives model responsible behavior. They also see a profound amount of exaggeration and irresponsible activity regarding drug use in the media they consume. It is critically important that the adults in their lives help provide context and consequences for the garbage our kids see on You-tube and Instagram nowadays.
I am looking forward to talking to all of the AC Stelle students about the specific hazards of tobacco and nicotine related products over the next couple of years. However, we have to make sure kids understand that whatever the popular teen drug of the day is, any misuse of drugs by kids can have a huge negative impact on them now and to their future. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.