Pubdate: Wed, 02 Jul 2003
Source: Stettler Independent (CN AB)
Copyright: 2003 Stettler Independent


Sometimes we have to take our lessons where we find them -- even if
it's in another family's sorrow.

Nineteen-year-old Sonya Weeks died Father's Day. The young Castor
woman was just a year into her life away from home when complications
from ingesting Ecstacy ended it. Whether this was her first time or
not is irrelevant to most except her family. What is relevant is that
this single event, this particular one time, was the last time.

And it proved all it takes is once.

What most drug users fail to understand -- and that includes users
running the gamut from tobacco to alcohol to marijuana to harder drugs
like heroin and meth -- is that the average human lifeline is a
fragile, tautly strung thread. While resilient enough to bend, all it
takes is one good tug to break it, one sharp stroke to cut it. And it
can be as near as the next drink, next hit, next toke.

Most of us can understand this immediacy if we're talking about heroin
or cocaine or crack. Those are big button, scary drugs we associate
with people already on the edge. But the next beer? The next joint?
Those we have more trouble with.

Think of it this way -- what if after that next beer or toke you still
feel fine to drive and so slide behind the wheel? Now can you see the
knife hanging over your thread?

You might have gotten away with it once; heck, you might even have
gotten away with it a dozen times or more. That doesn't mean you're
going to get away with it this time. This time might just be your once
too many.

Now here's the rub. Most reading this are adults -- people, in theory,
with enough life experience to weigh the risks, and make a choice
based on what we've learned. Our kids, however, are without the
benefit of that experience. They're still learning.

Although a recent study by the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Commission suggests substance use trends among Alberta's youth is
typical of North America and less than usage rates in Ontario and Nova
Scotia, it also shows that at the Grade 10-12 level, 75 per cent of
respondents had used alcohol in the last 12 months, 42 per cent
cannabis and seven per cent club drugs. In reality, the values are
probably higher.

Why? Because substance use behaviours are reinforced in the community
as a whole, as adults talk about having one too many on the golf
course or having a good time with having a few beers or tokes or
whatever this weekend, turning it into some kind of rite of passage to
be laughed at later. We're all guilty of it.

This isn't meant to be a diatribe against drugs. Most of us have
dabbled with one substance or another and are still around to tell the
tales. But maybe, rather than spinning tall tales and making our
experiences out to be something special, we should consider how lucky
we were to get through them, look for the lessons they offer, and
extend the benefit of our experience to our kids.

Because it's our job to help them all develop a little horse sense.
It's not something any of us were born with -- we've learned it along
the way, despite pushing the odds, despite taking that next drink,
that next hit. We all know someone in our lives for whom the odds
didn't play, where that one more was their once too many.

Hopefully the Weeks family's experience has let us all learn a little
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake