Ignorance leads to overconsumption

I know a few who wallow in the hollow bottle. Too many willing to burn their green on green. A ride that started with blissful ignorance ended with remorseful knowing.

Drugs and alcohol are surrounded with an alluring taboo aura when you are young. What are Mom and Dad trying to hide from me?

Separated from the limitations of home, we are liberated into a world of libations and rising heat. Fun. No longer riding on the end of the shopping cart, the emancipated college id has a field day exploring the forbidden fruits aisle. Want a hit? You in on this round? Sure, why not …

Somewhere along the checkout line, the superego breaks through. Is this really you? Some listen. Some poor souls pour another. Either way, we hear the internal call.

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Experiencing all that our parents warned against is as much a part of this rite of passage as any other, but the unknown is fascinatingly ferocious. It can devour your false assumptions. Pull the veil back on what you foolishly believed yourself to be ready for. The cost of the ticket to this wild trip is our childish innocence.

I have always been interested in what our culture attempts to hide. I am free to construct my own definition as my understanding is nearly free of external conditioning. After all, “don’t do it” doesn’t tell much about the real nature of something. Supremely curious as a young teenager, I began to read about these mythical substances. What are the facts that can provide some concrete understanding of these effervescent chimeras?

While this distanced, scientific approach certainly helped ground my understanding of socially suppressed substances, the best lessons come in practice, not theory.

It started with watching others. Two of my closest friends bore the burden of alcoholic parents growing up. Close friendship forges a collective heart bound by love, and I felt my share of their shared pain. But rather than swearing off the bottle themselves for all the pain it had caused them, my friends realized the real root of their parent’s pain. Mind-melting substances can certainly lead to destructive behavior, but show me a person with substance problems and I will show you someone with bigger problems.

My group of friends and I started experimenting relatively early. My buddy and I both had older siblings who were more than willing to share their experiences, and when you are young, you want to be just like big brother/sister. At the same time, we benefited from watching the elders go first. We thought we had an idea where the pitfalls were, and naively believed we were prepared to navigate the world of intoxicants.

Walking in stride through the adventures, discoveries and misdeeds of adolescence, my friends and I wrote our own myths with fluid and smoke. We were surprised to find them different than what we expected. While there were the early praises of the porcelain goddess, we navigated relatively successfully through the hazardous realm of children trying to act like adults.

Looking back it is a wonder I made it through largely unscathed. And while my route was not mainstream, I am thankful I chose it.

My time at college is occasionally marred with disgusted surprise at the willingness of new partygoers to allow others to determine what is good for them. Substances are still a mysteriously blank page, and they are willing to hand their pen to a relative stranger for a definition. This is potentially dangerous. Substances provide altered experiences of self, not experiences of an altered self. Each definition is personal.

We have all heard the stories of classmates falling victim to the bottle or pipe— swallowed up by the ‘Illinightlife.’

Combine the search for an escape with a culturally approved ignorance of drugs and alcohol, and you get a victim.

I am not saying everyone should play with Pandora’s box before college, or at all for that matter. I simply disagree with shrouding a natural human interest in secrecy. Associating overconsumption with coolness is equally foolish. Openly offer truth and education, and the smart choices will prevail.