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4.05.2012

Do we really have to talk about drugs at such a young age?

We're entering some dangerous waters: Tio is starting to show some real curiosity about recreational illegal drugs. The good news is that he's talking with me about it. The bad news is that he's sniffing Kool-Aid and thinking about smoking dill weed because his friends tell him that'll get him off. 

The first question to wrestle with for any parent facing this talk is - do you tell them about your own past experience with drugs or do you pretend you were an angel and walked through the valley of darkness with sunglasses on? I decided on the former. Primarily because Tio is no stranger to witnessing drugs in his life. He watched them tear apart his parents, watched them how they made so many adults in his world behave badly, saw all the 'secret' paraphenalia littered around the apartments of people even he thought were drug free, and had to endure the lifestyle of those who give their dignity and responsibilies up in favor of a constant high. Frankly, I was hoping that would be enough to give him a lifelong aversion to drug abuse. Alas, it hasn't. Two years living in a drug free world seems to have softened his aprehensions.

As I've mentioned in prior posts, I did my share of unprescribed drugs in my youth, smoked too much weed, and behaved correspondingly irresponsible as a result. My brother got me started at 14 and I nearly flunked out of high school as a result. Fortunately, when it was my turn to be parent, our daughter wasn't interested in doing drugs, but Buddy was living with his biodad at that age so we had no input into his keeping. That means that right now we're stepping into uncharted territory.

Tio's curiosity is disturbing because of his history but understandable because of his peers. He's already being invited smoke grass with some friends and it will only get more persistent. He needs a solid reason to want to say no, something that he can commit to and have his friends accept. That way when the joint comes out of someone's pocket, he can refuse without impunity.

I've told him about my own experiences and that drugs are for losers who can't deal with the reality of their lives (which included me at that age) and that's not him. He's popular, smart, a talented athlete, and the girls line up to be with him. Why would he want to spoil that? Marijuana will only make him stupid, clumsy and lazy. It could also get him kicked out of sports if he got caught.

He gets all that, even agrees. But the question he has is a fundamental one: "What's it feel like to be high?" After all, it appears that everyone and their dog wants to get high at one time or another so there must be something to it. 

"Yes, there is an appeal," I said. "but if it was that wonderful, I'd still be using it, so would your dad, and a lot of others who left it behind. You've watched them ruin the lives of people you care about and nearly ruin yours. So maybe the down side is a stronger guide for what direction to follow than the curiosity to experiment."

That argument won the day - for now. But this is going to be a long and difficult discussion for the next few years. And he has two younger brothers who will have the same questions.