I was in seventh grade when my friend Brad, who was in eighth grade, told me that guys like us can never use illegal drugs because we will get addicted. I didn’t fully understand his advice, but he was a year older than me and someone I admired, so I took heed. 

Today, I realize how the simple words of someone you look up to can impact the rest of your life. At that young age, I could have very easily been convinced to use illegal drugs in the same way I was convinced to avoid them. My life today may have ended up much differently.

To be honest, I never really understood the attraction to roll something up, light it on fire and breathe in the smoke. My parents both smoked cigarettes when I was growing up, and the relentless stench of that kept me from ever wanting to ever smoke a cigarette, let alone marijuana. I also wrestled in high school and college, and competing in that sport meant you had to have strong lungs. Smoking anything was not part of that plan.

Drugs that don’t require inhaling are a different animal. I had my appendix taken out when I was in my twenties. It had started to burst, and I was in the hospital for an extended time. I vividly remember the nurse giving me IV pain medication, and I vividly remember how incredibly good that felt. My friend Brad was right. I could have easily become addicted. Fortunately, it was not readily available to me.

Meanwhile, I did partake in moderate alcohol consumption, and I still do. My argument as an adult has been that it is legal, but I recognize that alcohol has created just as many, if not more, problems for people than illegal drugs. I am fortunate that drinking too much alcohol gives me a horrible hangover for multiple days. So as much as I may enjoy it, I have a painful reminder of why I need to do so in moderation. 

I am concerned about illegal drug usage and its availability to kids today. Habits are difficult to break, so we all need to form good ones and encourage others to do the same.

Several years ago, I reminded my friend Brad about his words of advice. He said he did not recall telling me that, but I do, and I owe him many thanks for steering me in the right direction. It is a reminder of how our words — and our actions — can be impactful to young and impressionable people.

Have a fantastic Friday, and thank you for reading.

Shane Goodman
Editor and Publisher
Times Vedette digital editions