My current views on drugs and alcohol are somewhat different from my original perspective on these substances. I believe it is because I did not have a complete understanding of drugs and alcohol due to how I was introduced to both.
As a child, I went to a private Christian school and avoiding drugs and alcohol was incorporated into our curriculum and drilled into our minds. There was more of an emphasis on not participating in drug use and it was drilled into our minds. Looking back, I realize now how ambiguous the term "drugs" was. I didn't know what the drugs looked like, what they smelled like, how they tasted, how they were put into the body, what their names were or the reason people gravitated toward them. I simply knew that they were bad and that the people who used them were not of a godly character. Our school did not have a D.A.R.E. or M.A.D.D. program. Drugs and alcohol were not at the forefront of my mind. I didn't see relatives do drugs around me nor did I see them consumed by alcoholism. Drugs and alcohol were not a part of my life.
I do not remember when I finally learned the differences between drugs. It may have been after I learned about them in the 10th grade, when I transferred to a public school. I would overhear classmates talking about drinking and getting high, but I never saw these things with my eyes. However, due to being in a public school, I gained more awareness about the dangers of drugs and the abuse of alcohol which resulted in lifting my ignorance about them.
The first influence on my views was in eliminating my naivete. This was done by being exposed to how alcohol and drugs could destroy people's lives. This also went hand in hand with safe driving, for our school was in the middle of farmland and the roads could be potentially dangerous. I will never forget all of the speakers who came to our high school speaking on being irresponsible with drinking, There was a mother who had lost her child after he was hit by a car by someone under the influence. There was a woman who brought a presentation showcasing photographs of victims of drunk driving. There was one with a baby mangled in a car. My mind was so disturbed and terrified by the tragic possibilities of drinking and drugs, I made a conscious decision never to drink or do drugs. Before, I had just said "no" to both for religious reasons. But then, I made a personal choice which had a more powerful influence on me. Before, I was simply following rules. Now, I had a true reason: I didn't want to harm myself or others.
My second influence on my views about drugs and alcohol came during my college years. I was still in the state of mind that drugs and alcohol were bad. I knew classmates that would get drunk and high often. I didn't go to parties because, primarily, I couldn't dance and secondly, I still had the fear of alcohol. There were so many "what if" concerns. What if I couldn't make wise choices under the influence of alcohol? What if something happened to me because I was drunk? I recall someone offered me a beer and I turned it down. I didn't see the point in alcohol or drugs. I thought that it was idiotic. I didn't understand why people had to drink to have fun or why they would drink themselves into vomiting hangovers. I didn't understand why they were fighting so hard to legalize marijuana. When I turned 21, I made a point not to drink. I could not see what all of the excitement was all about.
Around this time, I worked at a summer camp/after-school center for children. Ironically, this was the place that I learned more about the differences in drugs. They were telling the children, ages five and older the nicknames, appearances and effects of particular drugs. Though it was helpful to me, as an adult, I didn't feel very comfortable with them exposing it to children. I couldn't tell if this was supposed to do the children a favor to prevent harm, or if it was discrimination against them because of their social class. I was in my early twenties and I was finally learning that drugs could be sniffed, swallowed, smoked and ingested. This second influence had an even greater impact on me than my first influence. I had not realized at that point how vulnerable a person could be to drugs, especially children. Though more fear was instilled in my mind, I felt much more aware. Questions I had been confused about for most of my life began to make sense.
As I matured, I began to listen to other perspectives about drugs and alcohol. This was the third influence on my current views. As a result, I began to have a broader definition of what a drug was and what moderation was as well. I came to a point where I stopped painting alcohol as wicked due to my experience in social settings where people drank. Because I was exposed to people of various ages who occasionally drank in moderation, it discontinued my belief that drinking and vulgar personalities were synonymous. I also altered my views on marijuana. Prescription drugs and environmental poisons were added to my list of what drugs are.
The final influence on my views was reflecting on the reason why people turned to alcohol abuse and drugs. I began to read and hear personal stories of people suppressing their trauma with toxic actions. I began to see how tragedies such as assault, poverty, health issues and other situations could potentially lead people in the direction of substance abuse. My compassion for those suffering from substance abuse grows more and more throughout the years. I cannot look at a drug user or alcoholic in the same light as I did once before. When I see them, I wonder what happened in their lives to get them to such a point. I wonder what will be the catalyst for their spiritual and physical healing.
To conclude, I will state my current views on drugs and alcohol. I do not drink and I do not do drugs because I do not want to poison my body. I believe that drinking in moderation is okay, particularly in a social setting. However, I don't think it is necessary to drink in order to enjoy yourself. If one has to have alcohol in order to have entertainment, there is probably some inner work that he or she has to do. I never had the desire to drink, even peer pressure did not influence me to do so. Therefore, I do my best not to judge those who struggle with alcoholism.
As far as marijuana goes, if it is for medical purposes, I all right with it. If it comes in the form of CBD oil or a tea and is used for medical purposes, I am okay with it. For recreational purposes, I do not think that doing such an action is a wise idea. It is a powerful herb and can cause a spiritual and physical response. Perhaps in some cultures, an herb such as this is used for a spiritual initiation with proper guidance. Because a majority of people are using this herb may be using it in an irresponsible manner without guidance and with no intent of developing themselves spiritually, they become addicted to marijuana. Though some say you cannot be addicted to this herb, I have seen people emotionally addicted to it. They cannot be stress free without it. Also, one may not know if they have received an herb of quality and may end up using a tainted or synthetic version of it.
As I stated earlier, I have expanded my definition of what I consider to be a drug. Synthetic foods, synthetic prescriptions and synthetic thoughts and behaviors are all unhealthy for the human body and soul. A drug can be emotional attachment to a toxic relationship or addiction to sugar. Drugs take from you. They take your time, money, family, health, willpower, beauty, career and future, depending on what it is and how far it has been allowed to control your life. Addictions trap us and do not allow us to step into our power. We give our power away to our drug, our idol. We suppress ourselves and cannot experience life because we are clouded in our bodies, minds and hearts. Over time, I believe we should reflect on what is or what is becoming a drug in our lives and to handle it accordingly. If we do not, we are denying ourselves of an authentic livelihood.
It all makes sense now, the simple lesson I learned as a child. Just say no. Say no to poisoning your body and mind with toxic thoughts and foods. Reject being irresponsible and inconsiderate without thinking about the effect it will have on others. Say no to anything or anyone who tries to take over your life using the tools of addiction.
Just say no.