COLUMN: There’s a reason they’re illegal

Leslie Arntz

I don’t fit in here. My idea of the ideal Thursday, Friday or any other night of the week doesn’t exactly align with that of college students. My idea of a good time means playing Boggle at a dining room table for hours on end, gathering around a PlayStation to sing karaoke in dorms and dancing in living rooms. I don’t understand how going out, introducing an illicit substance into your body and stumbling around someone’s house with an extra beer sloshing in your hand equates to “having fun.”

There are reasons why drugs are illegal or restricted, as in the case of alcohol. And it’s not because “The Man” wants to ruin your brand of fun.

There are serious health effects related to drug use. Whether you are using LSD, heroin, marijuana or any other illegal drug out there, you are needlessly placing yourself in harm’s way. Long term effects of usage of certain drugs lead to brain damage, memory loss and damaged organs. Injected drugs bring the risk of HIV or hepatitis contraction. Death is a distinct possibility, too, when substances are being abused.

Drugs can alter the way your brain functions, impairing cognition, motor skills, attention and reaction time. In a 2004 study of a specific Maryland trauma unit, 34 percent of drivers admitted tested positive for drugs only, and 16 percent tested positive for alcohol only. Half of drivers younger than 18 tested positive for one or both. In similar tests, alcohol is more prevalent. Another test found 4 to 14 percent of drivers injured or killed in traffic accidents tested positive for THC, found in marijuana.

Any fifth grader who has gone through the D.A.R.E. program can find this information with a few clicks. He’d have a more difficult time explaining why people take drugs in the first place.

The desire to escape is a recurring theme. Drugs can be used to change your perception of who you are or what your surroundings are.

I’ve been jeered because I don’t feel the need to inebriate myself before I can let loose and have a good time. Someone shouldn’t have to lose control to accomplish that. It is too much to ask that you be genuine without having your social inhibitions chemically reduced? Drug use out of boredom is prevalent in white, wealthy suburbia. Substance abuse is used to cover up or avoid other problems as well.

Poverty and a lack of parental supervision have been marked as risk factors for drug abuse. But what does that mean? Be it from neglectful, abusive or absent parents, financial problems or a difficult living situation, it means people are hurting. Drugs can become a temporary escape from that life. Temporary is the key word.

Drugs and alcohol tear apart lives. They chemically alter the way the body functions. They change a person and his relationships. Depression and suicide are bedfellows with substance abuse.

These are people who need love. It is the community’s job to care for the personal needs of the individual. And it’s the government’s job to control the substances and punish offenders. Help is available, but if it’s not accepted, then consequences should be expected.

Leslie Arntz is a sophomore magazine journalism major and a point/counterpoint columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].