I guess I’m ‘above the influence’

By: Opie Ohm

My drug week confessions aren’t be nearly as juicy as most others, but here it goes: I’ve never smoked pot, and the hardest drug that’s ever been in my system was the hydrocodone the doctor prescribed after I got my wisdom teeth pulled.

Yes, yes, I know – I must be such a dork. I must not be any fun. I must have been a goody two-shoes in high school, when a lot of social judgments were made based on who smoked and drank and partied and whatever.

That’s cool. You probably think that way because most people who haven’t at least tried some illegal substance – or at least one damn cigarette! – are the “OMG, drugs are BAD and ILLEGAL, and I’d never be caught doing something BAD or ILLEGAL” types. They’re the kind of people who put on a holier-than-thou attitude and lecture you about what you’re doing to yourself in the middle of a crowded party.

You’d be surprised.

Like any other kid growing up post-Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” crusade, I went through D.A.R.E. class in elementary school. I heard all about the side effects of alcohol and drugs in high school health classes. And I’ve seen all the lame “Above the Influence” commercials – and yes, I think they’re just as lame as you do.

None of that made a difference. OK, maybe it made a tiny impact, but the fear those programs struck into my impressionable little mind isn’t the driving factor behind my decision.

If you want to light one up around me, go right ahead. I’ll say “No thanks,” you’ll smile and say, “Cool, more for me,” and everything will be fine. If someone presses me about it, I just lie and say that I’m allergic to it. That always does the trick.

It’s a  choice. Just like occasionally smoking pot, or doing some other drug, is your choice. We are grown adults and are in charge of our own lives. Until that choice starts interfering with the rest of our lives (and even then, only if you’re a good friend), it’s really no one else’s business, now is it?

And it turns out a lot of Millennials are making the same choice. As of 2007, marijuana and illegal drug use were down among 18-25 year olds from 2002. Psychotherapeutic drug use was up from 2002 but down from 2006, and the amount of 18-25 year olds smoking tobacco was down, too.

The Monitoring the Future study further breaks down the statistics, drug-by-drug, revealing that the most-used drugs are alcohol (no longer illegal for most Millennials) and pot, which is perhaps inching closer to legalization.

Statistics, though, don’t reveal the interesting stuff – what makes each individual choose to use or refrain from using drugs?

What made the difference for me was knowing myself sober. Sober me has the coordination of baby Bambi and a brain that has a trillion different thoughts flying a billion different directions at a million miles an hour. Two strong drinks will have me feeling veeeeeeeeery nice, thanks so much.

I don’t want to see sober me turn into high me, and I sure as hell don’t want anyone else to have to take care of high me the way they occasionally have to take care of drunk me because drunk me can be bad enough.

Choices don’t always have to have some good versus bad reasoning behind them, even when they concern a topic as controversial as drug use. The strongest, most solid decisions come when you know yourself and focus on what you think and feel, not the statistics, the images or what the rest of the world is saying.

Next Great Posts labeled as Next Great are generally submissions by various contributors, whose information can be found within the text of the article. Next Great posts without author information are the collective effort of the editorial staff: Christine Peterson, Alex Pearlman and Edward Boches.

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