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  • Wednesday, March 16, 2005


    Illicit Drug Use and Revisionist History

    I admit it: I've abused illegal (and legal) drugs in my past. "Abused" in this case is not just a euphemism for "used" although that is true too. Except for a few very notable times, I've never really tried to hide this part of my past. Of course I don't have children so the problem of what to tell the kids isn't one I've had to deal with. But this is an issue that needs to be confronted honestly not with deception and revision of personal history. The whole "Do as I say, not as I do/did" thing is creepy to me. I think there's a real problem with trying to maintain an idealized past/history. I think these lies reverberate, create modes of thought and denial which become a sublimated part of the public discourse. (ooo, "me talk pretty some day," as the title of David Sedaris' book says.) The following is from Do You Puff, Daddy?:

    According to the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than a third of Americans over the age of 12 have tried marijuana at some point in their life – that's 80 million people who actually admit it, and I suspect there are a couple more who don't. Many of these millions can look at their offspring with a straight face and explain that while they once experimented with drugs during the folly of their youth, now they don't – and neither should you, little man.

    That must be nice for them. I don't know many of these people.

    The people I have spent the last decade working and playing with have inhaled more than a few puffs and taken a variety of trips down Alice's rabbit hole. Yet some way, somehow they have turned into able and impressive members of the republic. These are people with good jobs, who engage in charitable pursuits and who rarely cut in line at Whole Foods. We've taken some of our old vices with us into adulthood without burning down the house or checking into rehab. We've done a good job prolonging our adolescence, but now we're facing adulthood's ultimate gut check: children. And when it comes to kids, we have a drug problem.

    What to tell the children about past – and, in many cases, current – drug use ain't easy. Should we practice what we preach? Should we lie? Where do you draw the line between being a hypocrite and protecting your kids? Are we worse parents if we get high in front of our kids than if we have a couple of stiff drinks? How do we reconcile our own experiences with drugs – ones that have been overwhelmingly positive – with the very real possibility that our kids could run into trouble with what are in fact potent substances?

    Before you write nasty letters to the editor denouncing my friends and me for advocating drug use, let's be clear: Scores of people have had their lives and the lives of those around them destroyed by drugs. No one I know believes that all drugs are good nor wishes a nation of junkies on anyone. Drugs are not for all people, all drugs are not for all drug users, and no illicit drugs are good for children.

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