A lot of the drug education—as little as there was at my school, was pretty poor, uninformed and not very educative at all. The perceived lack of understanding from the teachers, parents and thus ‘society’ at large was a major enabler for my friends in taking drugs.
Many youngsters as they grow up, tend to discover that their parents and authority figures are not always right about certain things. They notice that adults can get things wrong, or have different viewpoints and realities to their own. Many kids grow up with a smart mouth -which isn’t always a bad thing, but they tend to understand and know things better in certain areas than adults do. This is often a result of the accelerated learning and adapting that youngsters experience in early years.
How this relates to drugs is from my own experiences around people that were discovering, inspecting, experimenting and then regularly taking drugs.
When the prescribed education on drugs was of poor quality, lacking in substance, information, accuracy and relevance it left quite a gap for youngsters in what drugs were, the short term and long term effects. Videos or information we saw was quite dated, and usually generalized them all to be bad and harmful—without too much detail into explaining how and why.
This gave way to the attitude that it was just another thing parents and adults didn’t really know about, they were all boring adults who hadn’t experienced these things and therefore are not reliable sources of information. The information we received from parents and schools was therefore deemed questionable or unreliable—at least probably quite inaccurate.
When friends were presenting drugs to other friends, or even when they were asking a supplier questions, the person with the drugs was quite quickly determined to be a reliable and accurate source. Here they were with the drugs, so they had access, knowledge and real experience with them—they were a first-hand source of information.
Curious friends or first time users would usually ask—what is it? And the usual reply would be a slang name—you would never get a scientifically accurate or chemical name for a substance as the suppliers rarely even knew—and it was unlikely to sound ‘cool and attractive’.
Follow up questions included ‘what does it do? Where typical replies might be, it chills you out, gives you the giggles, relaxes you or hypes you up—never stating the actual chemical reactions that would be taking place and the organs affected by introduction of the substance to the body. The mental health effects were even further from being mentioned, as someone that had done it was clearly standing there still apparently with their life ‘together’ coherent and alert.
Another common one was ‘how much should I take? Cue the supplier to provide some advice on consumption methods and guidance, of course with the vested interest in selling as much as possible in that moment, and potentially become a regular buyer. You never heard the answer ‘NONE’ or ‘you shouldn’t take any really’ because it was a biased probably quite ill informed source that you were asking anyway.
This gap left my inadequate drug education that came from teachers or ‘boring’ adults left a huge void where the ‘cool’ dealer or supplier or other drug-taking friend could become an authority on the subject spreading further misinformation. A dangerous combination. My friends accepted this source because adults had got things wrong before, had worried unnecessarily and were usually had the purpose to take the fun out of things (or so it seemed at the time).
Educate yourself and others on the real dangers about drugs, what they are, what’s in them, what the do and both short and long-term consequences. In all likelihood you yourself could learn a thing or two no matter how educated you might think you are. Educate youngsters and others so that they have a chance to make a decision on drugs with real, useful, understandable and accurate information.