I recently started a correspondence with a teacher from the Twin Cities Metropolitan area. She has been using some of my letters in her curriculum to teach her students the consequences of their actions. Whether that is drug use or selling, being sexually active, or being mean on social media.
My letters have helped them to look specifically at the effects of drug use and selling; I have already shared on the “Consequences of my Actions” blog post and how they have reached much further than spending time in prison, although that has been the most direct.
The question she had was, “what does addiction look like?”
Because she expressed that many of her students have the mindset that addiction is only for certain populations of people, and their mentality is, “it won’t happen to me.”
So, what does addiction look like? Does it have a face?
White people smoke meth; black people are crack heads, Hispanics bring in cocaine from South America. These are a few stereotypes that Hollywood movies and TV shows have fed us. Well, I quickly proved a few of those stereotypes wrong myself, as I come from a nice middle-class family, I am a while male, decent height, decent build, educated, and am fairly good looking (ha!). Addiction doesn’t have a face. White, black, Hispanic, or Asian, it doesn’t matter; it has turned them all out.
You think it matters if you are rich or poor? Addiction doesn’t care how much you have or what your background looks like; it will suck you down all the same.
When I graduated from high school and moved down to Minneapolis to attend college, the only drugs I had tried were alcohol and marijuana, and I can relate with kids who think they are invincible because I did.
I thought I could do whatever I want, go out and party, have unprotected sex and never get an STD, drink and drive and never get a DUI or kill someone. I thought I could get into a fight and not get seriously injured; I could experiment with any drug and have the self-control to stop whenever I wanted to.
Boy was I wrong.
By 25 years old I had a daughter that I wasn’t ready for; I had been dope sick from heroin multiple times even though it wasn’t my drug of choice; I was using any upper to get me through the day, methamphetamine, cocaine, or crack…it didn’t matter I was addicted to them all. I had plenty of places to turn for help even though many of them were sick of my antics. But when you are an addict, it doesn’t seem that simple.
In the depths of addiction, to quit using and get clean sounded harder than trying out for the Olympics and winning a gold medal.
So how do you change that mindset?
The sad truth is, you will never get through to some people. They have to put their hand on the stove to find out if it’s hot (right Dennis). But if you can get through to just one, isn’t it worth it?
What if someone hears this and decides; you know what I am going to take this guy’s word, maybe drugs aren’t for me. That’s a victory.
When I grew up, I knew about D.A.R.E., I heard speeches from police officers that had seen first-hand the effects that drugs have on a community, but they never really made me feel passionate about not using or experimenting. It was their job, and they didn’t convince me they weren’t worth trying at least once. I don’t know if a real addict coming to my classroom would have redirected me from my course to prison or not, but we will never find out.
In all my years of doing drugs, I didn’t hear any of the people I was using with voice concerns about the use, and none were inspiring to stop use. Most people want you do to the drugs with them whether it’s to share in the fun or share in the misery, because misery likes company.
Not everybody who experiments with drugs is going to become a drug addict. Most of the friends that I used to use with are now married, have kids, and work decent jobs or even own businesses. I am sure some still use and continue to find ways to function but even their lives are affected in some way, shape, or form whether it’s a strained marriage, low productivity at work, or self-loathing, hatred, or depression.
Some people, however, are pre-dispositioned to become addicts or battle with a mental health issue, and sometimes it just takes one use, and you are a full-blown addict. I have met people who claim they are an alcoholic, and they have never tried alcohol. I don’t know if that is even possible, but you have to applaud the individual for not wanting to find out with a single-use just to see.
Prison has taught me a lot, and one of those lessons is addiction has no face.
I have seen every combination you can think of in regards to ethnicity, childhood or upbringing, and walk of life, and then aligning them with a drug or criminal activity, I have seen it all.
Every action has a consequence. And if you don’t believe me, then you have to find out for yourself.
Good luck. I will be here when you are ready.
From the inside,