Stay Safe When Going OutPosted: January 3, 2012
From my Healthy Living column in Moncton’s Times & Transcript.
Thanks to the multitude of anti-drug programs implemented in schools, most teens have heard plenty of drug and party horror stories. However, I think most of us remain skeptical of these stories because they seem a bit over-the-top and since they’re told by the same teachers, guidance counselors, and police officers who previously encouraged us to write letters to Santa. It’s not until you hear it from the people involved that you truly realize the importance of taking precautions when going out.
”Emily” was the main character in the story I heard. Emily is a bright 21-year-old university student who lives outside of New Brunswick and who occasionally drinks when she goes out with her friends, some of which have dabbled with drugs. Emily didn’t approve of her friends’ drug taking and often reminded them that she was a good girl who never touched drugs because she knew better.
According to her friends, she was too vocal about her anti-drug policy. That’s why they decided to get back at her.. One of her “good friends” decided to revenge herself by giving Emily homemade cookies made with the secret ingredient – illegal drugs (I won’t specify the type). Unfortunately her friends didn’t remember (or didn’t care?) that mixing alcohol with drugs is dangerous and let her drink while indulging in the drugged cookies.
Although Emily didn’t die because of the combo (which could have been fatal; we all learned that drugs and alcohol don’t mix), she was very ill afterward and had to share this story with her parents. Unbelievably, Emily didn’t reproach her friends for the incident and considered it a joke (which just happened to be illegal and potentially deadly).
I think Emily’s story highlights the importance of staying safe while going out. We may not be able to control others, but we can’t control ourselves by taking cautions. Emily could have avoided the entire episode just by not eating or drinking anything that she hadn’t made or opened herself and kept under surveillance. She also could have left the party earlier if she suspected drug use.
Most importantly, she could have been more selective when choosing her friends. Although I understand that making friends is difficult, I don’t comprehend why some people choose to lower their standards and keep “friends” who don’t seem friendly at all. What kind of friend would spend time baking cookies for you that contain drugs instead of chocolate chips?
Being easygoing and tolerating behavior that goes against your values are two very different things. Not placing importance on small things is accepting diversity, but letting major values be forgotten just to keep friends isn’t. It’s falling prey to manipulation.
If you find yourself in a situation like Emily’s and need advice, you can call “Just Say No” (an international, twenty-four hour drug and alcohol helpline) at 800-258-2766 or Kid’s Help Phone (also open twenty-four hours) at 1-800-668-6868.
Readers, what do you think about this? Please feel free to write and share.
Originally published in the Times & Transcript on July 24th, 2010.