Invisible substance abuse

As a parent with my own checkered past with drug experimentation, I now and then worry about the issue of drug abuse and how I need to be handling it with my kids. I certainly don’t want them to be afraid and paranoid, but I want them to be afraid enough — to realize that right now, with our current social and legal climate, drug use (casual or not) is not going to lead them into good friendships or uplifting behaviors. Since I don’t know how early is too early to be talking about drugs, Steph and I have followed a policy of being very open and honest with our kids. We take advantage of opportunities that come our way to have conversations with the kids, so they’re used to talking to us about all sorts of things. If my kids are ever dumb enough to go to a party and get smashed, I want them to be more afraid of trying to drive home or hide it than they are of calling me to come get them.

That’s why this article on the dangers of inhalant abuse hit me like a ten-foot pole. Cans of Dust-Off (or generic equivalent)? I know them well; they’re in my house, since I have more than once in the past opened up a computer and dusted it out.

Wherever you are on the drug legalization spectrum, you owe it to yourself and those around you to be watching for signs of this kind of “invisible” substance abuse. No one should ever be taking any substance unless they are fully aware of the risks and dangers, and I don’t care how strongly you value individual freedoms. The “right” to do drugs (if there is such a thing, and while I don’t personally think there is, I find it difficult to square that with alcohol and tobacco — or even caffeine — so there you go) must be predicated on informed, intelligent consent if it is to be a freedom that is in any way meaningful. Come to think of it, that’s probably true of most freedoms, but that’s a rant for another day.