SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



"Twilight Zone"
By Jerry Cegelske


April 24, 2006

John Maki mentions the use of tobacco in response to Catlin Rettke's statement that "A man using drugs violates neither moral obligations, nor hurts someone else." I'm glad John mentioned tobacco and Catlin made the statement because I can now tell some people that they have not been hurt, that their pain is a figment of their imagination- the subject for an episode of the "Twilight Zone". In the 60's a young girl took the time to add up the money her mother and father spent on cigarettes and told them that if they quit smoking, they would have enough money to go on a vacation and could get away from their six kids, then living at home! She asked and begged them to quit. The father was a responsible person, had a good job, an active leader in the Boy Scouts taking them to Northern Canada for an annual outing as well as leading the monthly meetings.

The advice was not taken and request was not granted, and the man was age 59 and weighed about 90 pounds upon his death from cancer in 1974. The members of the Scouting community showed up enmasse at his funeral. In 2005, 31 years later, one of those Scouts, now 50 years old sat on porch steps with tears in his eyes and told that girl how much her father meant to him. I can now tell the daughter and her youngest brother, who does not remember much about his father, who will never be taught the skills his father taught the Scouts, that they have not been hurt by his taking the toxic alkaloid nicotine, which is more addictive than heroin. The family lost the breadwinner, a husband, and eight people lost a father from a drug he ingested. I am glad I can tell them they weren't hurt by someone using a drug. What about the Ketchikan families that have lost loved ones to illegal drug use. Aren't they hurting?

Catlin gives his condolences to the families fallen victim to irresponsible drug use. He has to share those condolences with far more families than he realizes. That raises a question, what is the test for irresponsibility in drug use? What standards do we apply? This could save many lives if we do it right. The police will be able to key into the irresponsible drug users while leaving the responsible ones alone! Medical professionals will be able to concentrate on the irresponsible! Educational efforts will be directed at the irresponsible. Tax money will be saved.

Catlin talks about the government and its restrictions on drug use as if it were the professor behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. In our form of representative government, the government is around us, it is the people we see in the grocery store, gas station, the people we work with and for, it is the people that vote in the election held locally, throughout the state, and the nation.

If your neighbor wanted to legalize the snorting of horseradish, they would be letting people know that is what they want for their children, and this society. They are the "government".

"It is the responsibility of the user to keep his (illegal- emphasis mine) drug use at a safe level. No on forces one to use drugs." Catlin Rettke.

When I was in high school, pictures of the coming May graduates were printed in the local paper. Along with their name, was their anticipated desires for the future, farming, college, Navy, vocational education, Peace Corps, or what have you. I never saw one that said "irresponsible drug user"! I don't think it is a position one seeks in life.

I owe a debt of "Thanks" to the father of a friend of my youngest son. He took away my need to continually show my son the hazards of drug use. This guy was a pothead and he so impressed my son with his drug use, my son decided drugs are not for him. Did he intend to educate children on the hazards of drug use by becoming next to useless? I think not, but he is. When did he turn from a responsible high school graduate with dreams and a bright future, to a pothead and irresponsible person? What do we look for? Is his son hurt by his father using recreational drugs? Does he say, "This is my dad- (the pothead)" proudly? I assume all illegal drug use is recreational- I don't know any users that do it for a living.

Let's see-

Jim Morrison- responsible singer and entertainer or irresponsible person? Either way- he's dead from a drug overdose. Loved some of his music until the drugs took over his life .

Jim Belushi- responsible movie actor, comic, entertainer- or irresponsible person? Either way- he's dead from a drug overdose.

Janis Joplin- responsible singer and entertainer or irresponsible person? She's dead also- drug overdose.

Jimi Hendrix- responsible singer and guitarist, entertainer or irresponsible person? Dead from drugs also.

The list goes onand on. Even in Ketchikan.

Every week we hear, "Don't drive drunk (under the influence of a legal drug) it's really really stupid." And every week it happens again. The Troopers and KPD are out protecting us from the irresponsible users, or cleaning up the mess they have made, stopping the fights and beatings. I am thankful we have not had a family wiped out as was done in Wisconsin when a drunk killed a family of four on their way to church one Sunday morning. Maybe it is just a matter of time.

How many illegal drug users get the wakeup call of red and blue lights flashing in their rearview mirror telling them they need to change what they are doing?

Catlin says" Used with discretion, drugs can offer a small get away from the stress and problems of everday life. Much like a day at a spa, or a day off spent sipping martinis in a lawn chair!"

I don't know how that deputy with the Cass County, Missouri, Sheriffs Department could have lied to me about drugs last year. He told me drugs were a major problem in many people's lives- doesn't he know it's like going to the spa? The pictures I saw didn't look like the people involved were having a great time in the back yard sipping martinis. Sores on the skin due to trying to get rid of the meth bugs. I'm sure the four people mentioned above used drugs to get away from the stress and problems of everyday life. Some trip to the spa!

What about the crack addicted mother? She has her child in a hospital which is a responsible action. What about the baby? He or she is definitely under stress- just got kicked out of the apartment, is cold, doesn't know where the next meal is coming from, asked to do something they have never done before (breathe), is definitely under stress. They could use another rock of crack. What about the nurses who have to listen to his constant crying as his body demands more cocaine? As caring as many nurses are, it must hurt them to see a "crack baby" going thru withdrawal.

"If used with discretion, drugs can offer a small get away from the stress and problems of everday life" Catlin Rettke. Isn't that rather irresponsible? The problems and stress aren't going to go away, and if they are financial, may be made worse by spending money on the drugs. Wouldn't it be better to develop coping skills, to help someone else with their problems, take the focus off of you, to teach a child to read, share their joy, to talk with someone to share life's difficulties, to develop a plan for reducing the stress and problems? Some of the greatest joys of life are the times that we have faced difficulties and succeeded, from learning to ride a bike to algebra tests, to dealing with teenagers. That is how we grow and develop into responsible people who have learned what life is about- that is what life is. Joy comes in facing and overcoming problems, not avoiding them. Many times it is the near disasters we have faced with friends and families that turn into the cherished moments to remember, to laugh about, from wedding disasters to messed up vacations, missing pets and broken legs. To deny these events and the stress associated with them by using drugs to avoid them, is to deny life.

Is a baby born responsible? Children are very demanding and can't tell what is harmful to them and what isn't. They must be taught so that they know the hazards of life and even then many refuse to believe that something is dangerous because they have escaped harm in the past. Many refuse to or do not understand that they can be injured, killed in accidents, or any of the hundreds of things that can happen to an adult. It is a maturing process that takes a long time, sometimes a lifetime, to turn a child into a responsible adult. What about your drug use influencing younger people that are "irresponsible" and cannot handle the consequences?

When the indigent drug (of course "irresponsible") user is taken care of at a hospital or clinic for treatment, the hospital or clinic has to cover their costs of treatment or they will be out of business in a short period of time. How do they do that? By raising the costs of their services to those that have insurance and pay their bills. The cost of the illegal drug use is therefore passed on to the community and the real "responsible" people. Insurance companies are engaged in a needed service and need to pass on their costs to cover their expenses just like the hospital.

It is immature to state that every time someone has problems with illegal drugs is that they are irresponsible (It was suggested that a trip to a treatment center or jail might be educational). It is easy to do when you deny how the complex human body reacts to the chemicals that it is given, sometimes in a way that we do not want to happen.( Biochemists are still seeking the answers to how the body uses dopamine and it's relation to nerves and the pleasure centers of the brain. Some drugs enhance the transfer of dopamine and others retard the transfer. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter similar to adrenaline and affects brain processes that control movement, emotional response, and ability to experience pleasure and pain.) Ask a "recreational" meth user who is now a broken down paranoid, if they intended to be that way. A dentist who decided to increase his wealth by dealing cocaine had no intention of becoming a user of the substance, but through his exposure to the vast quantaties he was dealing with, he was soon as addicted as the corner dealer. Was he responsible?

A friend recently told me about trying to help a drug addict by sharing their home with him. They were paid back by having a coin collection stolen from them. It was the only thing the husband had belonging to his deceased grandfather. He now has nothing except memories which can't be refreshed by looking at the coins. The drugs the addict purchased with the money he got from the sale of the coin collection, almost killed him. Can you sink lower than to steal from the very people that are trying to help you, that care for you? I think with illegal drugs, there is a very good chance you can, and many do. What is society to do with them? The examples I have given are just a few of the results of "irresponsible" illegal drug use

In the early 1900's conditions in the British Navy were remarkably bad for the enlisted members. It was so bad that a captain on a ferry taking the men to Scapa Flow made the remark "The hope of dying was the only thing keeping them alive". I had to read it over before I understood what he meant. I believe that some drug abusers can also reach that depth of the human condition. They have reached the level where they know not what to do as they have run out of options, but of course, they are "irresponsible".

Jerry Cegelske
Ketchikan, AK - USA



About: In a professional capacity, Jerry Cegelske has dealt with drug users and drug dealers including an Anchorage drug dealer which resulted in the seizure of dealer's vehicle, the search of the dealer's residence, the seizure of $23,000.00 and five pounds of cocaine, resulting in the serving of a five year mandatory federal prison sentence. Cegelske has observed evidence of the manufacture of methamphetamine in Ketchikan. In training Cegelske has observed evidence of the death and destruction this drug causes, including the burned body of a meth maker's ten year old son, killed in the explosion and fire resulting from the meth making process.

Related Viewpoints:

letter Re: Drug abuse affects everyone By Catlin Rettke

letter Drugs - Bondage By John Maki



Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


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