Tuesday Afternoon Ramblings

Dear sons, this is a cautionary tale about abusing drugs and alcohol.  Right now, you are too young to comprehend this piece, but as you grow older, I hope you’ll read it and heed my warnings.

Drugs are tempting.  The temporary high can be exhilarating, and the escape from reality can seem like the answer to all of your problems.  But when it comes to drugs, both the high and the escape are lies.  Over time, your body will build up tolerance for the drug, and you will need more and more of it to achieve the high, until you reach a point when you need it simply to feel normal.  The escape is an even bigger lie because once you come down, all of your problems are still there, and more often than not those problems have become compounded by mistakes you made while high.

I have witnessed many lives destroyed by drugs, people with promise and potential who threw away their futures to temporarily feel good in the present.  I’ve seen firsthand entire families ripped apart by addictions because drugs don’t just affect the user.  Personally, I lost my relationships with my grandmother and grandfather because of the addictions of my aunt and cousins, and to this day I carry a lot of guilt for losing those relationships even though I wasn’t the one with the problem.  The addicts bankrupted and drained my grandparents dry, sending them both to their graves earlier than they should have gone and robbing them of joy during their final few years.

In short, sons, drugs suck.

Alcohol is no better.  In fact, because it is legal and considered socially acceptable, in many ways, it can be a worse addiction.  Again, I’ve personally witnessed talented, intelligent people destroy their lives trying to find the bottom of a bottle.  Well, there is no bottom, and once you cross the line from casual drinker to dependent, crossing back over becomes exceptionally difficult.  You both need to be wary of alcohol because the addiction is prevalent on both sides of your family, and you have close relatives who lost their lives because of it.

I can also tell you that when I was younger, I struggled with alcohol.  By the age of 22, I was very nearly a full-blown alcoholic, but fortunately, I was able to pull myself back from that abyss.  I believe that my abuse of alcohol in my teens and early twenties has contributed greatly to the delays in finding success because I derailed myself early on, and it took me many years to get myself back on track.  Today, by the grace granted to me, I can enjoy casual drinking, but every single day, I am wary of slipping back down that dark slope.

My hope for both of you is that you never have to face either of these issues firsthand, but the odds say you will, either with your own battles or through close friends and loved ones.  Just know, that if that day comes, whether you are facing it yourself or dealing with someone who is, I will be there for you as much as I can.  However, there will be a limit to what I can and will do for you because in the end you will be the ones who have to choose whether or not you allow drugs and alcohol to ruin your lives.  From my experiences, I already know that I will not allow them to ruin mine.

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