Drugs. The lure of drugs comes as a thief in the night, robbing us of our best and often our most promising. We are reminded as we mourn the death of Whitney Houston.
While the toxicology report is yet to be finalized, from the accounts of what transpired during the days prior to her death, and her long-term battle with substance abuse, it appears that alcohol and drugs had something to do with Houston’s untimely death.
Drugs can be compared to the most forceful tornado, capable of destroying everything in its path: individual lives, families, homes, bank accounts, and too often innocent bystanders. The enticement to use has no respect of race, age, neighborhood or profession. Through users and pushers, the indulgence is pervasive, becoming a social epidemic and private hell for too many of the vulnerable and unsuspecting.
Yes, we have known the presence and power of illegal drugs, whether heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, and other less pervasive substances. But, legal prescription drugs are posing perhaps an even greater threat. A greater threat because their danger hides behind the trust and confidence of a physician or pharmacist who is willing to compromise the Hippocratic Oath for greed and glory. We have to ask, is this what the war on drugs has come to? A fight against illegal and legal drug dealers.
With the deaths of Michael Jackson, and now Whitney Houston, we are learning that boutique doctors and pharmacists are readily available to the rich and famous to provide them their drug of choice even when they know they can be deadly. The untimely deaths of Amy Winehouse and Keith Ledger are other instances.
Perhaps, Houston’s death will be yet another wakeup call. But at what point, will we realize that a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs may be posing an even greater threat to ordinary people, member of our families, our children, our neighbors, or their children?
Losing someone like Whitney Houston is only symptomatic of larger societal woes. Does it really matter whether its cocaine, heroin, Xanax, or OxyContin? Drugs, the almighty tempests — they all shatter dreams, destroy beliefs, and make the strong weak. We watch our heroes, friends, and family members alike succumb to them.
The toll drugs are taking on every aspect of our society is staggering, eating away at the very fabric of our society. And the long-term impact will be cataclysmic and far-reaching if we don’t find the means to minimize and tear away the stranglehold.
There are many attempts at a local and national level to stop the proliferation and use of drugs. But we have to ask ourselves is anything working? There must be concerted efforts by many — parents, churches, schools, and other agencies.
While we can not give up on the adults who have fallen victim, our greatest effort must be directed toward our children. Our children are the most unsuspecting, the most vulnerable — those who can’t imagine the impact, the devastation on their lives should they elect to experiment with a drug that some uncaring, low-life pusher convinces them to try.
We must spend the time at every opportunity to show them the consequences of bad choices. It is incumbent upon every caring adult to warn them of the increasing dangers of drugs, and the potential prices people pay when they allow themselves to succumb to the thrills, the highs of the moment. It has to be our priority to help them distinguish between fleeting moments of false happiness and false security and those of lasting fulfillment and true happiness.
How do we do this? Invest the time to teach our children about the value of thinking, or using reasoning when confronted with tough choices. Life is filled with choices. We make them daily. But it only takes one wrong choice to shape the rest of one’s life.
All of our children, black, white, brown, and yellow deserve our vigilance and intervention.
It will take the village to stand and say to drugs, “No, not ours.”