[October, 1989] Drugs are Bad
Today two people are going to come in and talk about drugs.
I was probably too overwhelmed by the visit to write more about it.
That day was a somber one in the classroom, and our teacher told us to be on our best behavior and give our guests our full attention.
One of the visitors was a police officer, dressed in uniform, probably to intimidate us with his authority (in my case it worked, in spades). The other was a civilian, probably a drug educator of sorts. They walked around the classroom with a small open suitcase which contained samples of drugs and drug paraphernalia, in order for us to more easily recognize narcotics and say “no.” There were also diagrams and we got a lecture about the dangers associated with the different drugs. Physiological effects were detailed and anecdotal evidence shared, such as the kid who smoked PCP, thought he could fly, and jumped out the window.
Up to that point, my only exposure to drugs was limited to what I had read in books and seen on television. In the Sweet Valley High series of books, one of the characters tried cocaine and died almost instantly of a heart attack. There was also that Very Special Episode of Growing Pains when Mike Seaver was offered coke by a pretty blonde played by Kristy Swanson (of Flowers in the Attic “fame”). There was also that now-iconic commercial where an upset Dad confronts his teen son about finding drugs in the youngster’s room, only to be told “I learned it by watching you, Dad!” All of these fictional incidents disturbed me and hammered home the point of how scary and dangerous drugs were.
None of these moments unsettled me quite like the school visit, though. I found it terribly spooky and could not understand why anybody would take drugs, why they would risk their lives for a temporary high. Those classroom scare tactics made a believer out of me. I didn’t even touch a cigarette until I was 18.