Just Say No To Awareness Campaigns?
I've always been skeptical of efforts to deal with drug problems. The Times- Standard reports some local people and agencies are concerned about prescription drug abuse. No doubt we'll be seeing some sort of educational or awareness campaign towards that end in the months to come.
I suppose any good that comes from such programs could outweigh the bad. My personal experience makes me wonder.
Some of you might remember the Datura scare of some years ago. People found that a local ornamental plant had intoxicating properties. One of the local news stations did a story on it one night that featured a Datura plant in a front yard of a house down on Eureka's west side. The next morning much of that plant was missing- someone having come in the night to take some home for their own use.
They might not have known about that plant's psychedelic properties before the news cast. They did after.
My personal experience with drug awareness programs goes back to around 1969. I was in 8th grade at C.E. Utt Jr. High School in Tustin. They had anti- drug programs in school even back then and simple possession of marijuana was a felony at the time. I hadn't even smoked pot yet and had no first hand experience with illegal drugs.
Some drug identification brochures were given out during a class one day. As someone who was fascinated by all I'd read and seen on TV about drugs, I couldn't put those pamphlets down. All the pictures of barbiturates, amphetamines, pot and opiates looked so enticing. I wanted some!
After class I got together with an acquaintance and pointed out some of the things in the brochures I thought I'd seen in my mother's medicine cabinet. The one I was sure of was called Dexamyl- an amphetamine/ barbiturate compound I would later find out. Dan (won't use last names here) said he wasn't sure, but he'd check the medicine cabinet in his house for things on the "list".
The next morning we met and went out to the school's sports field to check out our booty. I forget who found what. I know I'd grabbed a bunch of the Dexamyl (I found out later it was prescribed to my mother for weight loss but she'd stopped taking them years before). We also had an assortment of tetracycline (antibiotic), estrogen (female hormone supplement) and some other stuff that wasn't on the list- anything we could find. Pretty silly, really.
Time came to go to class so I told Dan to hold on to the stash. He refused, not wanting to get caught with it. I didn't want it, either, so we put it all back in the paper bag and I tossed it over a fence at the far side of the field. We could pick it up after school.
Problem was, Mr. Kempton, our P.E. teacher was watching us. He went out to the fence, found the bag and took it to the school office. The Tustin Police were called.
I got called to the office and a detective questioned me. He used that old tactic of, "Dan says....". He suggested I brought the stuff to school and tried to sell it to Dan, or so said Dan. Naive as I was, I believed it, but I just told him exactly what happened: We'd seen the pills in the drug brochure, found some at home and brought them to school.
To make a long story short, we were both arrested and charged with felonies- the Dexamyl I'd brought being the biggie. The rest of the stuff would have just been misdemeanors. I ended up being charged with Possession of a Dangerous Drug. Later that would be reduced to Possession of a Hypnotic Drug Without a Prescription, a misdemeanor.
I have no idea what they charged Dan with or what happened to him. Some years later I saw him briefly from a distance when I first started attending continuation school. He must have saw me, too, as I never saw him again. Maybe he did say I was trying to sell the stuff to him, got scared when he saw me and hightailed it out of that school?
Anyway, all that, thanks to what would be considered the Drug Abuse Resistance Education at the time. I don't know that I would have ever known about Dexamyl or gone rummaging through the medicine cabinet had it not been for those drug pamphlets we were given. I'm not suggesting I wouldn't have done drugs eventually, but that awareness campaign piqued my interest and got me involved quicker.
So much for awareness and educational campaigns, at least for me.