Druganaba is a horrendous name


For much of my work career before retirement, I worked professionally as a counselor for children and young adults ages 7-25 in schools, the YMCA and 6 universities. Although I was not certified in substance abuse counseling, I did some of that with supervision and in teams. Connected to that, I began working with prison and jail inmates 20 years ago in Wyoming, then Iowa, and now primarily locally and statewide. Here is what I have encountered locally:

While working the homeless shelter one day, a guest (clean) asked me if I wanted any drugs. I said, “What?” He repeated himself. I played along….“What ya got?” He told me that this particular drug was near the courthouse, that one behind this church, this one at these apartments, etc. Another time I dropped a young user-friend at his friend’s place. As we left the car, about eight guys standing around scurried off, one of them whom I knew, hustling over to me blocking my view. Methinks they thought me to be narc or a cop. Another friend told me that I was his only friend that did not use. Another one showed me his needle track marks, not proudly. Another one before going to treatment, his fourth, bravely posted his journey to there on social media. Of his hundreds of contacts, he had only four responses, two wishing him luck and two saying he would not ‘make it’. Hmmm. Another friend told me how he lost his children years ago — no visitation privileges….hurtful. Another one, 27, just got sent off to prison, drug violation — again. Last week in court an official there publicly said he was fully aware of the current access to drugs in our county jail. Another friend, fresh out of jail, told me he had 37 phone messages, all drug-related. Two ex-pot users told me they quit, the one not liking feeling out of control, the other making him anything but mellow. At least three users have told me that drugs only added to their substantial mental health illnesses.

Recently, professor Richer wrote about the “cost benefits” of recreational pot” and its support from law enforcement and the medical community. In my research I found no such report whatsoever. The number of local accidental and intentional overdose deaths is frightening. Addictions are “cunning, baffling and powerful” and are not a moral issue. Let’s not blame the addicted.

My local drug friends all agree on three things: 1. The benefits of any drug use are only momentary — and the addiction a killer. 2. Stopping is super difficult. 3. Folks locally have few clues as to the extent and seriousness of the epidemic. Beginning drug use before the age of 23 (brain formation issues) is deadly.

Thanks go to: 12 step programs, drug court, Angel Program, counselors, and definitely non-enabling families and friends. Druganaba is a horrendous name.

Mike “Chief” Olson