Home » Dr. Neal's Corner » DRUGS and DRUG USE? Just say “KNOW MYSELF AND MY CHILD”



Below you will find an article, Just Say “Know! I wrote in 1987, in the midst of Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s formula for solving the drug problem, “Just Say ‘No.’” I wrote this as board president of (then) On Drugs, Inc. (now Centre Helps ), a local 24 hour drug/crisis hotline and drop-in center.



Drugs! They are here to stay. From aspirin to alcohol to heroin. Face it. Drug use has saved countless lives. Drug use has destroyed countless lives. Drugs are not the issue. Drug use is the issue.

We are a culture of coffee and tea drinkers, nicotine consumers, pill poppers, and alcohol imbibers telling our children not to do drugs. And they are not listening. Can you imagine that? “Just say no,” we tell them. If it is so easy to say “No” then why do we have so much trouble with our diets? And if we do not say “no” does that mean we are bad? Is that the message we want to give our kids? What is the message we want to give our children, anyway?

Virtually all societies and cultures throughout the history of humanity have had a traditional intoxicant, alcohol being the most widely used. And have you ever seen young children spin around until they get so dizzy they fall down? Nobody taught them to do that.  Certainly nobody makes them do it more than once Maybe the need to alter consciousness is a basic human appetite (a conclusion also drawn by Andrew Weil in his book, The Natural Mind). This is not presented as a justification for drug and alcohol (alcohol=drug) use to induce altered consciousness (meditation and yoga are two examples of means toward non-drug induced consciousness alteration) but it is something to consider when addressing drug use. If we recognize and acknowledge our needs, we have the opportunity to attempt to properly meet them. If we ignore and deny our needs, there is no chance of meeting them.

A need of mine as an adult member of my society is for our children to develop into individuals capable of caring for themselves while helping others do the same. But how is a need like that met? And what does that have to do with any message we want to give our children?

Well, WE are the message. Our own experience bears out how ineffective the “Do as I say, not as I do” school of thought is. Yet, we continue to threaten, inform, and confuse our youth about the dangers of drugs while sipping our coffee (“I drink coffee only because I love the taste”) and drinking our alcohol (“I just drink to be sociable”). As long as we lie to ourselves, we lie to our children.

We must be willing to look at ourselves if we want our children to be able to do the same. We must take care of ourselves and others if we want our children to do the same. We can ask nothing of our children that we are unwilling to ask of ourselves.

This is no easy task, but I see no choice. I have spent the last few years talking with young children, adolescents, and adults about the dangers of, the concerns about and the fascination with drugs. I have no answers, but I have developed some guideposts that may be helpful with regard to our relationship with drugs and to the world in general. They come in the form of three R’s:

Respect for oneself

Respect for others

Responsibility for one’s actions and feelings.

These are simple, though not easy tenets to practice. They require sound decision-making skills, as well as the ability to communicate one’s own needs and to be sensitive to the needs of ourselves and others.

It takes practice to become adept at most skills. These are no exceptions. But with love, the proper tools and the 3R’s, I believe that our children will be able to take care of themselves and become whomever they wish to become, regardless of the obstacles.

What is the message? The message is:




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