Telling My Christian Mother I Did Drugs
Just the other day I announced to my mother that I was moving town to pitch a tent in a mate's backyard. After receiving a short lecture on the harsh practicalities of my sketchy accommodation my mum asked, "Did you do any drugs last time you stayed with your friend?" While I would usually reply with some thoroughly tested line such as, "Of course not, I hardly even drink," something clicked in my head—I said, "Yeah."
As her friend's son's methamphetamine addiction recently concluded with thousands of dollars' of damage to their family home, my mother was shocked. She's the kind of person who has only been drunk once, and that was because no one ever told her cider was alcoholic. When she was first introduced to the beverage, she drank three whole bottles with a meal and could barely walk. So assuming I was mere weeks away from fellating strangers for meth, my mum argued with me for the next hour or so about my life choices.
Assuming I was mere weeks away from fellating strangers for meth, my mum argued with me for the next hour or so about my life choices.
Why did I tell her? Well, if you haven't been exposed to people who do drugs and aren't fuck-ups, your view of drugs is going to be entirely negative. I know of high-up corporates, university lecturers, creative geniuses, and successful entrepreneurs who love their drugs yet take them in a way that is largely safe or conducive to their mental and physical health. The thing about these people is that there is no possible way you would know of their drug habits without becoming close to them. That's what needs to change, and that's why I told Mum.
The world we live in still makes it scary for us to be open about what we like to get up to on a Friday night, and this fear creates the problem itself. Why admit you enjoy a small cone on the weekend when it's possible your employer has a similar outlook to my mother—preventing you from moving up the ladder as they assume you're going to steal their stuff to buy more black-tar heroin and hookers. Why tell your mum and dad you take a psychedelic trip every few months when they might assume you're about to drop out of university to start selling crystals out of a clapped-out Honda Civic you call "The Love Machine".
The reason is that it's for the greater good. Our drug laws are absolutely fucking stupid—we regulate substances based on their profitability and public esteem instead of their health and societal effects. As the legalisation of various drugs abroad has brought positive results including lower rates of hard drug use, lower rates of abuse, and economic prosperity, the argument for legalisation has never been stronger. Yet as older generations grew up under the ridiculous vilification of any drug but alcohol, our laws will remain the same until enough of the oldies die off or we change their minds.
Our drug laws are absolutely fucking stupid—we regulate substances based on their profitability and public esteem instead of their health and societal effects.
Just look at Jeff Sessions' efforts to reignite the drug war. To his mind the idea that "drugs are bad and bad Democrats with long hair do drugs" outweighs the reality that prohibition creates strong criminal syndicates, costs the taxpayer billions without doing much to remove drugs from society, prevents a billion dollar legal industry with massive tax yields from existing, and massively increases the rate of incarceration with a strong racial bias. Sessions' view is one of ignorance and lack of empathy, but imagine if he had friends or family members who responsibly used drugs to challenge his view—nothing is more persuasive than a loved one bringing science and their example of a solid life to the table.
So I had a talk with my mum. I showed her a few journal articles and documentaries. I talked about the reefer madness craze and how its hysteria was used for political gain. I told her that Barack Obama, Carl Sagan, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, and countless other contemporary super-achievers have all enjoyed enjoyed the occasional joint or tab of acid tab.
I made it clear that I was telling her this because I'd done my research and knew the risks and benefits. I just wanted to be open with her about a part of my life which I had previously hidden from her. I told her straight up about my personal level of use and helped her understand why mine is safe. Yes, drugs can ruin lives but the chance of this happening is far reduced if we are open about our use and broaden our support networks.
The conversation I had was a difficult one, no doubt, yet at the end of it I felt lighter. My mum now has a more open stance on drugs, and knows that someone she loves is a responsible user. And for the debate we need to be having about drugs and legalisation, that can only be a good thing.
(This article previously appeared on vice.com and was written by Isaac Craig)