By John Maki
April 07, 2006
Why is it that some folks look to non-medicinal brain function-altering chemistry to achieve feelings of worth, to relax or for recreation? Is it heredity or environment? Is it a necessary part of modern day living? Is it possible to be happy and productive without chemical assistance? Merely looking at two of our "legal drugs":
With all the scientific research and the modern world in agreement that it is one of the worst things that can be done to ones body, why would anyone inhale into their lungs the smoke from smoldering dried vegetable matter? "It is not normally an adult who decides to start using tobacco but an adolescent trying to look like one." Kevin T. Kavanagh, MD states in tobacco facts: http://www.tobacco-facts.info/
There are 4000 chemicals in tobacco with 100 identified poisons and 63 known drugs that cause cancer. The most talked about drug in tobacco is nicotine. Nicotine is vasoconstrictor and a nerve toxin, it has been classified as a class I insecticide. Other poisons include: Arsenic, Cyanide, Formaldehyde (used to embalm bodies), Ammonia Bromide (a toilet cleaner)- Each year, because of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer, and 300,000 children suffer from lower respiratory tract infections.
Nicotine is said to be more addicting than heroin or cocaine. Just where is the freedom in addiction? Where does freedom fit when non-smoking people are forced to pay taxes and increased health insurance premiums for the tobacco caused cancer treatments of smoking people they have never met?
Our society's most abused drug, of course, is the legal drug known as drinking alcohol. On one hand there are the responsible who would not even think to abuse this drug and on the other hand there are those who live to drink to get drunk and stand a chance of dying as alcoholics. The freedom to use this drug in this way by the latter causes about 1/3 the calls for service KPD responds to, and is a factor in almost 100 percent of Domestic Violence assaults and forcible rapes, not to mention carnage on the highways caused by DUI's.
Considering the costs of just these two legal drugs to individuals and to society, do we really need more legal recreational drugs? We aren't doing real well with two we have made legal.
Part of my "moral obligation" says that a person cannot serve two masters. When one finds himself or herself serving their addiction it very often becomes the center of their lives with spouses, children, other family members and their obligations left in the wake. "If it feels good, do it," is the mantra of drug users and describes amoral rather than moral obligation. The suggestion that drug consumption doesn't hurt someone else - doesn't wash. Ever heard of Al-anon and Alateen?
Freedom with responsibility should never be confused with Freedom from responsibility. Starting at elementary school age and reinforced through adolescence, kids need to be armed with the facts and images to equip them when temptation finally comes their way. Despite all the warnings and education that can be provided, there will be some who will start using, but providing kids with the tools to make good informed choices is one of the responsibilities of education by example, and in family, church and school. Youth need to learn that complete freedom is also complete chaos.
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