Echo Press Editorial: The very real consquences of drug use
When something terrible happens, such as the two young people who are believed to have died in a murder-suicide in Alexandria last week, it’s helpful to search for any lessons that can be taken from the tragedy.
In this situation, it’s how drug abuse and addiction can rip lives apart.
Friends and family members of the victims, Devin Blowers and Katie Christopherson, said the couple were caught in a cycle of addiction. It reportedly led to an incident in West Fargo about two weeks before their deaths when Christopherson called police to report that people in a van were pointing guns at their building. Police, after finding no such van or suspects, determined Blowers was amped up from methamphetamine. Christopherson was found hiding in a laundry room and allegedly had a small scale in her purse containing meth residue.
For those who have never struggled with addiction, it’s a hard concept to grasp. It’s easier just to blame the addicts for being messed up in the head. But there is more to the picture than that. A sibling of Christopherson’s put it this way in a statement to the media: “Devin is being made out to be a monster, when in fact, the only monster is addiction… it is truly to blame, even if it is impossible to wrap your mind around it.”
People need to understand the horrors of drug use, how it can begin with experimentation and quickly escalate into life-ruining consequences.
Too many young people are failing to heed that message. Recent surveys of U.S. students show that they still don’t understand that abuse of drugs can lead to addiction and even to death in some cases.
Each year, the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan surveys thousands of 8th, 10th and 12th graders to find out their substance abuse habits and attitudes toward drug use. While statistics on drug abuse go up and down slightly from year to year, there is never very much overall change, according to Narconon Arrowhead, which helps those with addictions. It points out that some of these children will wind up addicted and some of them will overdose. More of them will develop illnesses related to alcohol or drug abuse and a few of them will die unnecessarily in accidents related to substance abuse.
“Unless young people get the message about drug abuse dangers clearly enough that these numbers begin to fall and keep falling, we are going to lose some of them,” said Narconon Arrowhead.
According to the survey, OxyContin abuse remains steady, hydrocodone abuse is down slightly, but Ritalin and Adderall – a form of amphetamine – abuse is growing. Between 2009 and 2011, the percentage of high school seniors who abused a prescription amphetamine or stimulant climbed from 6.6 percent to 8.2 percent.
The message from Narconon Arrowhead: “There may be people, both young and old, who think that these drugs can be abused without becoming addicted. And sometimes it’s true, a young person can abuse some of these drugs and then decide to quit. But others take a different path. They can’t quit when they want to. The cravings drive them to abuse the same drug over and over. Their life begins to deteriorate. Grades drop, activities and interests are discontinued. Friends change so the young person is now hanging out with people who use drugs, not the sober ones…They may see the damage that is occurring, they may realize that they are losing things that have value, such as their families, their honesty, their self-respect and the respect of others. But they can’t change the path they are on because of the grip drugs have on them.”
Parents: Talk to your kids. Young people: Don’t ignore the dangerous consequences of trying a drug. And those who are just starting to experiment: Get help before it’s too late.