Written by: Lane Gormley, EdS, LPC, NCC
Illegal drug use is so common in our society that many of us take it for granted. My teenage Clients rattle off the list of illegal substances that they have tried or that they were invited to try. They mention classmates who became dealers. A Northwest Atlanta homemaker told me that she does “polite drugs”. A health professional of my acquaintance, a competitive athlete who would never inhale smoke of any kind, bakes marijuana in brownies. I have known ballerinas who used cocaine for high energy and low weight. Drugs are bought and sold in wealthy neighborhoods and in grammar schools. Are these things important? They are to me. I am a therapist, and I frequently work with Clients who used and cannot stop. This could be my longest blog ever if I allowed myself to give full expression to my concerns; but I am going to keep this short for now and only talk about two possible consequences of illegal drug use.
Some people think, “It’s just pot”. If someone is arrested with an illegal substance in their possession, they may go to jail. Some cities and counties are very serious about reducing drug traffic in their jurisdiction because, aside from the illegality of the drugs themselves, it is feared that dealers attract or are part of a “criminal element”.
Two young people that I worked with were found with very small amounts of “pot” in their cars. The young woman went to jail for three months. She was only 18. She did not have good family support, and she had few legal resources. She thought that the court was trying to make an “example” of her. I believed her. The delicate-looking, blond, young man has been to jail once and fears that he will be sent there again. He believes that the officer who performs his urine screens is trying to frame him. More than once he has been accused of having a bad screen (a dilute urine specimen) which can mean another court appearance. His family has spent almost $18,000 on legal fees. They are not wealthy, but they do not want their son in jail. Some people think that the police have more important things to do than arrest kids for pot. So did my Clients. Some people think they won’t get caught. So did my Clients. Others think they will get off with a warning or community service. My young Clients did community service after they got out of jail. The young man told me, “Jail scared the crap out of me.”.
When someone purchases an illegal substance, there are no guarantees. They do not know what is in it or how strong it is or even if it is the substance that they think they are buying. Another way of saying this is that illegal substances are not controlled.
The people who manufacture drugs, the dealers they sell to, and anyone else in the sketchy chain of acquisition may cut them with flour, salt, lye, Comet, talcum powder, Epsom salts, oxygen bleach, panadol, pseudo-ephedrine, procaine, lidocaine, crushed aspirin, OTC medications, PCP, and many other materials to stretch them out and make more money. A person who handled the drugs may have a contagious disease and have forgotten to wash his or her hands. Someone’s 12-year-old brother may have put something very unappealing in the “product” as a joke. Online, users warn each other always to buy illegal drugs from reputable dealers. What!!??!!
During the 1960s and 70s, some of my friends used LSD. Most of them were fine afterwards. Two of them were not. They were not fine then, and they are not fine now. A lifetime of mental instability is a high price to pay for youthful high jinks. I will stop with this advice: protect your health and freedom because they are very precious. Yes, yes, I know… I can hear my godson saying, “Another one of Aunt Lane’s drug lectures…”. Stay tuned because at some point, I will not be able to stop myself from commenting on alcohol. I have a right to comment on it because it almost killed me.