1/30/2005

But the Pot's so Much Stronger Nowadays!

Today's New York Times has a long article about crank in the suburbs. Guess what, America? Those of you who have been busy watching American Idol or charting the course of Brad and Jen's breakup (of course he was boinking Angelina) are probably stunned to discover that methamphetamine use is at "epidemic" proportions among our "suburban" youth. By suburban, by the way, we mean white. Those black and brown kids can snort, smoke and shoot themselves into a collective stupor for all we care. It's only when white young people start in that we get worked up. The crack "epidemic" freaked us out not because black people were using crack, but because black people on crack were encroaching on white golf courses. You think I'm kidding? Those actual words are in the Congressional record. Golf courses. I kid you not.

I don't know about you, but I'm a little tired of all this brouhaha about the latest drug epidemic. Don't get me wrong, it seriously sucks when your kid becomes a crank-freak. Meth is a bad drug. It has all kinds of serious side effects, from messing with your dopamine levels to causing long-term heart and arterial damage. Like any addiction, it's a hard one to shake. What bothers me is that we wring our hands about this latest drug and refuse to confront over one hundred years of failed prohibition policies.

We spend 50 billion dollars a year fighting this "War on Drugs," a war that makes the battle of Falluja look like an unmitigated US victory. Worse, the hypocrisy inherent here is even more obvious. We have a president who has a long history with cocaine. (And yes he found God. Blah blah blah.) Adolescence (which, for our fearless leader lasted well into his fifth decade) is a time that is meant to be devoted to making poor choices. Risking-taking during this period is developmentally appropriate. How many of you took foolish risks? I know my Israeli boyfriend and I climbed to the Annapurna base camp in cloth boots with insufficient equipment on a sunny day, despite warnings that the snow was melting in the crevasses and we were in danger of plummeting to our deaths. It was the most beautiful trip of my life.

I'm not going to list the drugs I used back then, but let's just say that if Meth were out there, I probably would have tried it.

But, you say, in 1986 a nickel bag of pot gave you twenty-five joints and you had to smoke all of them just to get a buzz on. Nowadays, two tokes gets a person stoned for a month. It's a much stronger drug. So what? What difference does that make? I have news for you. Your kids are going to do drugs. They are going to experiment. They are going to smoke pot, take E (or X, whatever they call it in your neck of the woods), snort some coke, and maybe do some Meth. The only thing you can control is your response, and what happens to them.

Conservative estimates say that 54% of high school seniors have used drugs. That's lowballing it in my opinion. If you want to reduce the harm associated with drug use, if you want to avoid the situation in the Times where the 13-year-old "suburban" girl was turning tricks in her nice suburban house after school to get the money for her crank, what you need to do is adopt a policy of harm reduction. You have to confront the issue head-on. You have to talk to your kids. You have to know more than your kids do about drugs, teach them what they are dealing with, and teach them how to stay safe. You tell them which drugs are relatively benign. Marijuana, even the stuff they have nowadays, is one of the safest drugs known to humans. You cannot overdose on pot. Nobody -- NOBODY -- dies from ingesting marijuana. There is no known quantity of marijuana that can result in a fatal dose. (That's not true of Tylenol, by the way.) You have to teach them which drugs are particularly dangerous, which drugs are dangerous to mix.

They need to be armed. When Sophie goes out to a rave, I want her to know that MDMA (ecstasy), despite its absurd placement in the DEA's Schedule I, is a relatively safe drug. (BTW - that spinal fluid study is the scientific equivalent of an urban myth. I'm not even going to waste space on it. Email me if you need the info.) But I want her to understand three things. 1. There is a risk of dehydration that can be fatal, especially if she's going to be dancing. 2. Dealers often try to pass off other, more dangerous drugs as E. and 3. MDMA's potency diminishes substantially with repeated use so that it would be a shame to 'waste' it on a lousy party, or a stupid boyfriend.

I want to surprise my kids continually by knowing more than they do about drugs. I want them to shock and frighten me with their questions. Think about it, if they shock me, that means they trust me enough to come to me with the frightening problems. If they didn't trust me, that wouldn't mean that the scary stuff wasn't happening. It would just mean that I wasn't hearing about it.

For more about this, check out this URL.

660 Comments:

Blogger Psycho Kitty said...

Actually, the only Ecstasy deaths I know of were caused by ingesting *too much* water. Some people do *feel* very dehydrated, to the point that they drink so much water they basically drown themselves. My understanding is that this is a more dangerous side-effect than dehydration.
I'm so in agreement with you about the need to quit freaking out and actually give your kids information as opposed to threats or empty lectures. I think that's true for drugs/drinking but even more true for sex. I'm so disgusted with the hypocritical Puritanism of our society and its current leadership, I could just spit at the monitor.

January 30, 2005 at 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely right on! I facilitate groups in a DUI school, & with your permission, of course I'd like to print this out to use in group. Although my clients are of all ages and mainly there for alcohol related offenses, I have a lot of younger people who talk about smoking a bowl like I'd talk about having a cup of coffee. And, yeah, it IS way stronger than any of the best weed we could get 'back in the day' (five finger lid for ten bucks!), and, yeah, it's worst side effect seems to be sometimes terminal stupidity. I, personally, don't choose to use it today (or even when I was doing chemo for breast cancer) as I don't care for the 'pot-holes' it seems to have caused in my long-term memory. Now, I haven't tried MDMA personally, but I do have to tell you that I have had several clients amongst the youngsters who have ended up with major depressive issues from extensive use -- to the point of serious suicidal tendencies. The saddest thing to my mind is that, as one young man said, "Think about the happiest you ever were, like those Christmas Eves that you'd lay awake SO excited that Santa was coming -- that's what 'E' feels like -- and once you've done it, you know that you will never be THAT happy again." He tried to kill himself several times and is undergoing long-term therapy for depression. Now, would he have been depressed anyway? Possibly. Maybe he has a brain-chemistry that was fragile in the first place. Maybe his parents didn't communicate well enough with him. Seems to me from talking with these kids that there is some major dopamine receptor suppression (maybe akin to this THIQ stuff that they are coming out with regarding alcohol & addiction)going on after using MDMA, and, probably depending on their own individual biochemical and/or psychological make-up, their responses can vary dramatically, but I'd tend, personally to use caution in dealing with it! And, by the way, a co-worker just told me that she has a relative who knows the Pitts through working on 'Friends' and says that the real reason for the breakup from Mrs. P's standpoint, is that Mr. P. "is lazy and smokes too much pot". =]
I enjoy your blog very much, though I only discovered it recently -- good stuff & I do like your writing! Thanks & keep it up!
Marianne in Fullerton

January 30, 2005 at 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear you sister! I think the "drugs = death spiral for all" is one of the biggest myths ever perpetrated en masse. I work in the HIV/AIDS field and it is astounding how much damage the misinformation associated with recreational drug use causes in health care settings. It's great when someone wants to talk about drugs in realistic terms.
Ayelet, your posts are very stirring and I wish I had time every day to really get into a discussion with you!
AussieAndrea

January 30, 2005 at 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Considering my six year old is heading for a diagnosis of depression or ADD (dependent on which doctor I visit..) this shall ultimately end, no doubt, in a Prozac or Adderall prescription...

I just wonder about a nation of kids that are over medicated, they must be developing a blaise attitude to recreational drug use.

If I was put on Ritalin would I really consider pot offensive?

January 30, 2005 at 7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

UOL:
http://noticias.uol.com.br/midiaglobal/nytimes/2005/01/31/ult574u5018.jhtm

ur blog is there! =)
i'm brazilian girl

January 30, 2005 at 7:33 PM  
Blogger stephanie said...

I agree with you that the drug policy is stupid. You want to control access, what chemicals can be used as additives, etc...you can't do that if it's the drug itself is illegal! We have no ccontrol over that which we do not acknowledge- and when you make it illegal, you're saying we're not going to deal with it, cause it shouldn't exist. As you said, just cause people aren't talking about the scary stuff- and drugs are scary- doesn't mean it's not out there.

January 31, 2005 at 6:54 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

This is such a difficult, sore spot in my life...

I was raised around alcoholics and drug addicts my entire life and it was always a source of great pain and embarrassment for me. We've been evicted from homes, missed holidays with family due to their being in jail for drug related offenses, and visited other members in multiple rehabs. Last March, I lost my older sister to a car accident. She and her husband were running from the police for having just stolen fertilizer (or whatever chemical it is) from a farmer to make meth.

A good friend of mine once told me that the greatest mistake parents make when educating their kids is that they fail to mention that drugs can be fun. My own fourteen year old has often told me that he and his peers feel annoyed by all the DARE programs and scare tactics used to sway them.

Having had no control over my own environment growing up and fearing that my own children would ever develop a problem with drugs or alcohol, I take solace in the fact that my son and I do have such open communication. He's not even in high school yet but he tells me when other kids try to sneak beer in to parties he attends. I NEVER freak out in those moments...and I don't berate him with questions or comments. I just listen and calmly respond when appropriate - the whole time silently rejoicing over the fact that he feels comfortable enough to share the information with me.

January 31, 2005 at 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rememember when I was a kid what a waste of time the DARE program was. We would be pulled out of class and then do these exercises like get in groups and read questions: "What would you do if you find a five dollar bill on the street?" "If someone offered you pot, what would you do?" Of course you would not say: "I'll smoke that pot and spend that five dollars on candy!"

And then in high school we would have these annoying assemblies where we would be lectured on not doing drugs, then be shown clips from sitcoms of kids getting drunk and how uncool it was. Once I got to be eighteen, I started to have "doctor's appointments" during those assemblies and I would go off campus and write.

January 31, 2005 at 9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rememember when I was a kid what a waste of time the DARE program was. We would be pulled out of class and then do these exercises like get in groups and read questions: "What would you do if you find a five dollar bill on the street?" "If someone offered you pot, what would you do?" Of course you would not say: "I'll smoke that pot and spend that five dollars on candy!"

And then in high school we would have these annoying assemblies where we would be lectured on not doing drugs, then be shown clips from sitcoms of kids getting drunk and how uncool it was. Once I got to be eighteen, I started to have "doctor's appointments" during those assemblies and I would go off campus and write.

Jennifer

January 31, 2005 at 9:25 AM  
Blogger Harold Davis said...

Hi Ayelet --

I've posted a link to your blog in my blog entry about parents writing about kids. Here are some pictures of my kids.

Best wishes (your Berkeley neighbor),

Harold

January 31, 2005 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger Ayelet Waldman said...

Jessica, thanks so much for writing such an honest post. Your son sounds like he's lucky in his mother.

January 31, 2005 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger karenmcbryde said...

I read this post to my husband who works as an ER doc in an insanely busy urban hospital in the southeast. He couldn't agree more with your comments on the benign nature of marijuana. So much of what he deals with is drug related, from gang bangers getting shot, to junkies to opiate seekers and drunks, marijuana is the least problematic mind-altering substance he encounters...

January 31, 2005 at 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you about the benign-ness of marijuana, but don't you think the implications of promoting Ecstasy (or writing comically about how you would "advise" your daughter to experiment with it) could be a bit dangerous? There's a thin line, it seems, between wanting to be an accepting and realistic parent, and wanting to come across to [one's] children as cool. (I don't know what drugs my parents have done, and I'm quite comfortable with that.) Meth is a destructive drug and Meth addiction is a huge problem in many parts of North America. The fact that it is a "white" problem (which isn't necessarily accurate) doesn't make it less of one, or one that we should ignore.

January 31, 2005 at 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think another huge problem in this debate is that people conflate those chaotic cases (who end up in emergency departments, stealing from their friends, robbing shops etc) with "users" in general. The capacity for a reasonable debate is often shut down by assuming that any person who uses a drug is:
a) dependent on it
b) resorts to crime to feed the habit.
In this way, drug users are demonised and turned into something to fear. When in actually reality, the number of people who have used drugs recreationally and without harm SWAMPS the number of people who use drugs recreationally and end up in the horrible cycle of addiction.

If somebody shot up speed every single day, but managed to stay functional (ie. retain their jobs and their relationships) do you think you would know about it? Of course not! They would never admit, because there is too much stigma associated with using drugs - so unfortunately, all you hear about are the chaotic, awful ones who end up in contact with law enforcement or health care....

January 31, 2005 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger Ayelet Waldman said...

I have zero interest in seeming "cool" to my children. It's a hopeless endeavor. I want to know more than they do not to be cool, but rather to protect them. As far as MDMA goes, I think it's a very important drug for certain things. I think it's a therapeutic tool that has tragically been taken from psychiatric use. I think it can add tremendously to a relationship if used in the appropriate context. And I think it can be used to appropriate effect once or twice ... in a lifetime. Which means that it does cause neurological changes, however having studied the research I'm comfortable that the drug, while certainly neuro-active, is not neurotoxic. That's what I will tell my children when they ask, and I hope they do. My concern with their use of MDMA is what I've said, that they would use a much more dangerous drug expecting to be using MDMA and that they would waste what I think can be a tremendously positive life experience when they are too young to appreciate it, or when they do not need it. As far as Meth goes, I said in my post that it's a vile drug, but our response to it is ineffectual at best and destructive at worst. Wringing our hands about "epidemics" isn't going to protect our kids. Arming ourselves and them with information and harm reduction skills is.

January 31, 2005 at 9:39 PM  
Blogger 21st Century Mom said...

"A good friend of mine once told me that the greatest mistake parents make when educating their kids is that they fail to mention that drugs can be fun. My own fourteen year old has often told me that he and his peers feel annoyed by all the DARE programs and scare tactics used to sway them. "

That bore repeating. When I first started talking to my kids about drugs I made sure they knew that the primary reason to stay away from them is because they are fun but then.... It's the 'but then' you have to talk about. You have to talk about how getting high takes precedence in your life and all of a sudden nothing else seems all that important. And that's exactly what happened with one of my kids. He slid down the same slippery slope I fell down in high school (although for him it was Jr. High). Unlike my own mother, I was watching and worked actively to haul him back up to higher ground (ha ha ha..... you know what I mean). For him that experience was short lived and he has moved on in a more positive direction. For me, getting it together took many, many years and a lot of mistakes.

As for ecstasy - my kids used to refer to the kids who used it as e-tards. They believed the stuff they heard at school about how a red line runs down the back of your neck because your brain bleeds. I did nothing to contradict them. In this case fear played a useful role. I'm quite happy that they stayed away from that particular drug. When I was in high school I damn near walked in front of a bus high on angel dust because I figured it didn't matter if a bus hit me. Had someone not grabbed the back of my shirt and pulled me back to the curb I wouldn't be sitting here writing this post. It was a fine, fine day - I had a great time.

And so - I would just like to say that it is all well and good to look back on very dangerous things we have experienced and say, "and it was the most beautiful trip of my life" but you must always remember that you can reminisce about that fabulous experience because it wasn't your last. It is with that in mind that I do my best to get my kids to steer clear of drugs, raves and other assorted experience that carry inherent danger. We all have to make our own way in the world and as you point out, knowledge is power.

January 31, 2005 at 10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant insights.

I'm only five months pregnant and already wondering about parenting issues like this. Most parents I know are afraid to be this honest--including being scary (based on your own research, not the urban myths) and uncool ('fessing your own blunders while on drugs is far more uncool than parroting mainstreamisms). Maybe it's the hormones, but your post moved me to tears. Your kids are lucky!

February 1, 2005 at 5:38 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

21st Century Mom - enjoyed your post.

Ayelet - your comment reminds me of moments when my son wants to do something that I've repeatedly said "no" to. He'll whine, "C'mon...don't you want to be the COOL mom??" That's when I give him a 'frankly, my dear' look and say, "I have no interest, but thank you for the opportunity."

February 1, 2005 at 6:07 AM  
Blogger Rose Thetis said...

I mentioned this story to you before when you were getting ready to talk about drugs at your kid's school: "Back to the Eocene" by T.C. Boyle. I saw him read this to a bunch of stodgy rich blue hair "liberals" in Carlsbad a while back. Hilarious. No one knew quite how to react.

Also, "The Big Lebowski" will never go out of style (in my humble opinion). Quote it liberally when drug references are made. Use this random Lebowski quote generator to help you: http://www.dymphna.net/randomquotage/lebowskiquotes.shtml

Rose
postmodernmom.blogspot.com

February 1, 2005 at 7:38 AM  
Blogger chicky said...

You know Oprah did a show a while ago on Ecstasy a while back that was so full of misinformation I actually wrote a letter to the producer. MDMA as it was originally utilized was an excellent therapeutic tool. Ecstasy as it shows up at raves isn't always the same chemical recipe.

I was talking to a friend of mine who works at DEA last week about this very issue and he said that MDMA looks like it's going back to schedule three because the medical community has logitudinal studies that shows therapuetic benefit of the drug for use in treating... I can't remember - maybe ADD.

I have some of those potholes a previous poster mentioned.

In any case my friends and I often talk about the whole drug issue with regard to children because we did do all the drugs and we had a lot of fun, but we also have a lot of dead friends. The irony being that many of them died after they got clean. Long term heroin use will damage your veins, making them more fragile, and I know three sober guys who had gotten their lives together and had families who just didn't wake up one day because they bled out.

Or the people that are still alive but they have Hepatitis C.

I think that's something I will impress on my kids. That there are consequences down the road, like when you're really old, you know, like 30, that you can't know about and that you should consider. I believe that if kids are given the respect to be part of the decisions that affect their lives they will make good ones. Yes, they'll experiment and make mistakes but hopefully it'll be something they learn that they don't need to do again (like the time I drank all that rum and threw up in my sleeping bag in high school) That goes for pretty much everything from alcohol and drugs to sex.

And then there's the consequences of not flossing. Geez, if I'd only known.

Susie

February 1, 2005 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Salinas blogger said...

Ok it's great that you have this novelist career going on and all, but can you post something on your blog, please? I just found it via the NYT article and I've already read the whole damn thing. I need fresh material, damnit. Fresh!

February 1, 2005 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger bj said...

My current un-favorite drug advertisement is the one where a couple is watching their teenage girl in a bathroom. She's sitting on the toilet, and they're looking at a positive pregnancy test (and they're not happy). OK, what is this an advertisement for?

Turns out that it's an anti-marijuana advertisement. I detest it; does any teenager come away from that thinking "oh yeah, smoking pot makes you pregnant" If they did, isn't it kind of like thinking that kissing makes you pregnant? And is there a connection between pot-smoking and teenage pregnancy rates? do pot-smoking girls get pregnant more often, than say, ones who drink?

My second un-favorite is the anti-smoking advertisement where you see a beautiful girl develop lesions on her face while she's smoking. The point is supposed to be that you're developing lesions in your lungs. But, what's patently obvious to me is that smoking doesn't cause lesions on your face. Do kids get these far-fetched analogies? Or do they just think hey -- I'm smoking and I look good, so everything must be OK.

bj

February 1, 2005 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Yael K said...

Remember that old anti-drug commercial "This is your brain; this is your brain on drugs (visuals: eggs frying in skillet)?" That commercial was single-handedly responsible for me --and nearly every other until-then non-drug using kid that I've talked to in my age group --saying to myself, "hmm, maybe I *should* try some pot, after all." And most of us did. The creators of these campaigns really seem to have a knack for convincing kids to do the opposite of what they want.

Ayelet, you are my role model of a _good_ mother. Sigh, now I just need some kids to model on.

February 1, 2005 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

The Times is in the business of whipping up hysteria, they're just less honest about it than Court TV. The article states nothing new & packages it as some sort of revelation. It's not news to any suburbanites I know that crank is a bitch.

And what do you have against American Idol??


beautifulatrocities

February 1, 2005 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger wakarimasen said...

Hmm. I'd have to say that you're the only person- previous commenter- that I've heard make such a statement about that egg/brain frying commercial. I was about six at the time, and was afraid to eat eggs for awhile.

February 1, 2005 at 6:24 PM  
Blogger wakarimasen said...

Hmm. I'd have to say that you're the only person- previous commenter- that I've heard make such a statement about that egg/brain frying commercial. I was about six at the time, and was afraid to eat eggs for awhile.

February 1, 2005 at 6:26 PM  
Blogger wakarimasen said...

Hmm. I'd have to say that you're the only person- previous commenter- I've ever heard make such a statment about the egg/brain frying commercial. I was about six at the time, and was afraid to eat eggs for awhile.

February 1, 2005 at 6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this last post, it made me realize how uninformed I am now that the world of drugs has changed so much. My kids are little, so I have some time, but it's weird to have done so many drugs but not tried those your kids will no doubt tried. We live in a little college town in the mountains, so my dream is that my kids' idea of recreation will be will be to smoke pot and go camping with their friends...or maybe that's my dream for me...god am I NOT ready for this.

I have some mixed feelings about your blog. I need to be honest and say that it bums me out when you criticize other women writers I admire, even if it's just a quick, flip comment. I like reading your stuff, but it is narcissitic in a different way than some of the other biggies are--your insecurities come through a lot to me and you don't really seem to claim them. The real issue I have, though (kindof connected to the nytimes article, kindof connected to you being disparaging about other bloggers) is that there's something about your project here that's undermining the feminist value of women writing in this medium. It's powerful, and many of them simply kick ass, and they're already coming under fire in a way from crabby-ass jealous men (finslippy controversy a great example). Moms need to support each other, with all the shit against them. The nytimes article I read as prostitution--sleep with the enemy, say what he wants to get more hits, more for you. I know that sounds harsh, but that article was a blow to many people, and I'd respect you so much more had you not given into the self-absorbed stereotype (or cloying, in the case of Catherine Newman) that piece of shit was promoting, even if it meant less airtime.

Why not just wait around, get better at this, and come into your own as a blogger (or autobiographer of sorts) and give some respect for the others who got there first and who have become great writers (and designers) in the process. You're not good enough yet to toss out the snarky little petty comments, and when you get there, you probably won't feel like you need to anymore.

I'm not saying you should censor yourself, just try to earn it more. One thing that keeps so many people coming back to blogs like dooce is that they touch on something a little universal, in talking about themselves and their lives they also move beyond them. Why were you chosen for the nytimes article? Not because you're a blogging phenomenon (in other words not because you do this), but because you already had a high profile. Earn it, Ayelet. You can do better, that's why I'll keep reading.

February 1, 2005 at 6:42 PM  
Blogger Krissy said...

Metrodad brought up this issue on his blog and I've talked about it on mine:

http://www.speckblog.blogspot.com

I think that you make some excellent points. Talk about the real risk that you run with drugs, rather than the alarmist crap. Talk to your kids as honestly as possible.

The thing that makes me insane is when parents have, what is to me, a very misguided idea of what their role is in their kid's lives. They don't seem to understand that implicit approval of drug use is more dangerous than lying to their kids.

In my opinion, even if you used drugs and loved them and would use again in a heartbeat, as a parent it's your responsibility to play up the negative aspects of drug use.

Anyhow I go on about it at my blog. It's a great question.

February 2, 2005 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Krissy said...

Metrodad brought up this issue on his blog and I've talked about it on mine:

http://www.speckblog.blogspot.com

I think that you make some excellent points. Talk about the real risk that you run with drugs, rather than the alarmist crap. Talk to your kids as honestly as possible.

The thing that makes me insane is when parents have, what is to me, a very misguided idea of what their role is in their kid's lives. They don't seem to understand that implicit approval of drug use is more dangerous than lying to their kids.

In my opinion, even if you used drugs and loved them and would use again in a heartbeat, as a parent it's your responsibility to play up the negative aspects of drug use.

Anyhow I go on about it at my blog. It's a great question.

February 2, 2005 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger Krissy said...

Metrodad brought up this issue on his blog and I've talked about it on mine:

http://www.speckblog.blogspot.com

I think that you make some excellent points. Talk about the real risk that you run with drugs, rather than the alarmist crap. Talk to your kids as honestly as possible.

The thing that makes me insane is when parents have, what is to me, a very misguided idea of what their role is in their kid's lives. They don't seem to understand that implicit approval of drug use is more dangerous than lying to their kids.

In my opinion, even if you used drugs and loved them and would use again in a heartbeat, as a parent it's your responsibility to play up the negative aspects of drug use.

Anyhow I go on about it at my blog. It's a great question.

February 2, 2005 at 8:47 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

My problem is, if I'm to talk honestly to my kids about my drug experiences, I'm going to come off sounding like an anti-drug ad. The first time I smoked pot I got wildly paranoid and mostly fretted about how I'd ruined my brain for all eternity instead of spending the evening being mellow.

I tried it again, because, y'know, maybe it was just something about the first time. The second time was *worse*.

I want to keep talking to my kids and hope I engender enough trust so that they'll tell me what's going on. I hope my honesty with them doesn't make me come off as a scold: "I never had any fun doing that, and you're not going to have fun either, missy!"

February 2, 2005 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger Pandora said...

When our son J entered high school we made a contract with him. If he was ever someplace where folks were drinking or using drugs and he called us for a ride home...there would be no discussion for a minimum of 24 hours. No lectures. Minimal consequences. If we ever discovered he was in a car with someone who had been drinking or using drugs...major consequences.

He had a friend who used drugs frequently...and J noticed that his brain wasn't what it had been. Since J has always cherished his own brain...this served as a potent prevention. Too bad it had to come at someone else's expense.

Pandora

February 2, 2005 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Evil Stepmother said...

No kidding, Ayelet.

I have done more than my fair share, and my husband jokes that I'm going to be the poster child for Why Not to Do Drugs for our kids.

I'd love to say more, but I fear it would turn into more of a post. With your permission and credit for the idea, of course.

February 2, 2005 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger Evil Stepmother said...

Stupid Blogger. I hope you don't get this twice.

I wholeheartedly agree with you on almost all counts. I don't know how I'll react when the time comes, only how I will theoretically react, and how the husband and I will coordinate these things is entirely a mystery to me.

Everything I want to say would fill an entire post, so instead of hogging your comments section, may I gank your idea, with proper credit, of course?

February 2, 2005 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Evil Stepmother said...

Stupid Blogger. I hope you don't get this twice.

I wholeheartedly agree with you on almost all counts. I don't know how I'll react when the time comes, only how I will theoretically react, and how the husband and I will coordinate these things is entirely a mystery to me.

Everything I want to say would fill an entire post, so instead of hogging your comments section, may I gank your idea, with proper credit, of course?

February 2, 2005 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Evil Stepmother said...

Stupid Blogger. I hope you don't get this twice.

I wholeheartedly agree with you on almost all counts. I don't know how I'll react when the time comes, only how I will theoretically react, and how the husband and I will coordinate these things is entirely a mystery to me.

Everything I want to say would fill an entire post, so instead of hogging your comments section, may I gank your idea, with proper credit, of course?

February 2, 2005 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger Evil Stepmother said...

Stupid Blogger. I hope you don't get this twice.

I wholeheartedly agree with you on almost all counts. I don't know how I'll react when the time comes, only how I will theoretically react, and how the husband and I will coordinate these things is entirely a mystery to me.

Everything I want to say would fill an entire post, so instead of hogging your comments section, may I gank your idea, with proper credit, of course?

February 2, 2005 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger J said...

Amen!

Now if only someone would have been as honest with me as you are with your children! I hope when it comes time to talk to my children, I am as prepared as you are. That time is coming sooner than I am comfortable. EEK!!
J
http://momtofour.typepad.com

February 2, 2005 at 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this Ayelet. I just discovered your blog (from the NYT article) and am really happy I did. I am a middle-aged (47) mother of two teens living in the Berkeley Hill, and seeing your opinion about this stuff in print was a breath of fresh air. You would be amazed at some of the attitudes about kids and drugs that I have heard from other mothers my age in my community - from people who count themselves as being extremely progressive in all areas - but seem to have bought the government's Anti-Drug campaign hook, line and sinker.
So many parents seem to be trying to raise their kids in bubbles around here; scared to let them have any independence at all; basically telling them all drugs are equally bad and scary -- so just don't go out!
A bit of a generalization on my part, I guess -- but based on many conversations. Wait until your little ones get older - you will meet many parents - even in this "enlightened" town - who seem unable to accept that their kids might want to engage in what you very accurately describe as developmentally appropriate teenage behavior!
A local mother

February 2, 2005 at 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally off topic, but your name has been mentioned in the comments section of this week's Bringing up Ben & Birdy by Catherine Newman.... Just thought you'd like to take a peek, nothing bad though..

February 2, 2005 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger Bridget said...

Okay... maybe I'm on drugs. New user here. Be kind. How do I find Ayelet's February blogs?

February 2, 2005 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Amie Stuart said...

Meth is a bad bad drug. In Oklahoma you now have to have a prescription to buy Sudafed because it was being stolen/bought to make meth--i saw a thing on the Texas news about how it's disappearing off shelves here too. I'm sure the OK law is just a band-aid though (as I think most are).

Even the most informed parent can't stop their kid from using. My 15 YO Nephew smokes pot (as does his dad--who has since he was that age and is ADD-- and my cousins. My SIL gave up her husband and kids to live with her dealer (btw addiction runs in her family and my brother's obviously--I'm adopted).

If I remember correctly Ritalin is in the same DEA category as Meth. My youngest boy is also ADD and I wont give him Ritalin--we use alternative therapies. I've seen too many kids start out on it only to end up worse off. I wonder why (being facetious) since a lot of the side affects seem so simliar to long term Meth use.

What are you gonna do? Like you I dont wanna be the cool parent, but I do think I'm a pretty cool parent. I like the commercial where the parents are screaming "its just a little pot"--but why not heroine? then the ones for smoking? My 11YO son and I watch them together and I wave my cigarette at him and say "dont smoke" and we laugh. But at least we've talked about it. I've quit, he's seen me quit and we've talked about addiction and how hard it is to quit.

Great post and lots of thought provoking answers. Sorry I dont have more to add.

Cece

February 2, 2005 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger Amie Stuart said...

Meth is a bad bad drug. In Oklahoma you now have to have a prescription to buy Sudafed because it was being stolen/bought to make meth--i saw a thing on the Texas news about how it's disappearing off shelves here too. I'm sure the OK law is just a band-aid though (as I think most are).

Even the most informed parent can't stop their kid from using. My 15 YO Nephew smokes pot (as does his dad--who has since he was that age and is ADD-- and my cousins. My SIL gave up her husband and kids to live with her dealer (btw addiction runs in her family and my brother's obviously--I'm adopted).

If I remember correctly Ritalin is in the same DEA category as Meth. My youngest boy is also ADD and I wont give him Ritalin--we use alternative therapies. I've seen too many kids start out on it only to end up worse off. I wonder why (being facetious) since a lot of the side affects seem so simliar to long term Meth use.

What are you gonna do? Like you I dont wanna be the cool parent, but I do think I'm a pretty cool parent. I like the commercial where the parents are screaming "its just a little pot"--but why not heroine? then the ones for smoking? My 11YO son and I watch them together and I wave my cigarette at him and say "dont smoke" and we laugh. But at least we've talked about it. I've quit, he's seen me quit and we've talked about addiction and how hard it is to quit.

Great post and lots of thought provoking answers. Sorry I dont have more to add.

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February 2, 2005 at 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Bad Mom,

I think you are correct with the idea of having more information about drugs then your kids. However, I think it is better to show children/kids/teenagers that drugs are really inappropriate, similar to tax evasion. I mean no one dies if you cheat on your taxes but it is still hurtful to all. True, risks are going to be taken, and the more the better, like taking your saved money and investing it in a high risk high return mutual fund. Also, the nonchalante attitude about pot and E is really interesting. Have you ever worked, lived and talked with, also loved and admired a person who was a chronic (today's grade) pot smoker? It is so hard. Especially when they use it to medicate. I don't know if I told you anything interesting here or took you any where from your orginal post but I just wanted to send some feedback since your post was very interesting. Plus, I really like that you actually had some planning points when dealing with these issues and kids.

Yours truly,

Bad kid

February 2, 2005 at 3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Bad Mom,

I think you are correct with the idea of having more information about drugs then your kids. However, I think it is better to show children/kids/teenagers that drugs are really inappropriate, similar to tax evasion. I mean no one dies if you cheat on your taxes but it is still hurtful to all. True, risks are going to be taken, and the more the better, like taking your saved money and investing it in a high risk high return mutual fund. Also, the nonchalante attitude about pot and E is really interesting. Have you ever worked, lived and talked with, also loved and admired a person who was a chronic (today's grade) pot smoker? It is so hard. Especially when they use it to medicate. I don't know if I told you anything interesting here or took you any where from your orginal post but I just wanted to send some feedback since your post was very interesting. Plus, I really like that you actually had some planning points when dealing with these issues and kids.

Yours truly,

Bad kid

February 2, 2005 at 3:20 PM  
Blogger Evil Stepmother said...

Damn, you say it better than I could.

But with your permission, I'd like to try. With credit for the idea, of course. I have so much to say and I don't want to be a big old comment-hog. OK?

February 2, 2005 at 6:00 PM  
Blogger Evil Stepmother said...

Ok, ayelet. Do you screen these? Because I have been thinking it wouldn't let me comment from work.

If so, please only use one of my very repetitive comments. And do not laugh and laugh. At least not publicly.

February 2, 2005 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Ayelet Waldman said...

Sorry to Comment -- but I'm having technical difficulties on the blog, guys. Please don't write me off. It'll be solved today, I promise.

February 3, 2005 at 7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where have you gone, Ayelet?

February 3, 2005 at 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where'd you go, Ayelet

February 3, 2005 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

yes yes yes ... but no. I agree with everything except for equating meth with e, pot, psychedelics, and hiking to Annapurna in your slippers.

Meth really is that bad. Put it up there with crack adn heroin. It's already devastated the poor communities in Hawai`i, and trashed gay culture in the big cities. It is one of those substances that just is not safe to experiment with.

My problem with drug education is that, when something bad does come along, no one listens because they've heard too many hellfire and brimstone speeches about lesser evils.

February 4, 2005 at 1:16 AM  
Blogger jkd said...

Ayelet,
Gotta disagree, BIG TIME, about your stance on E. For whatever it's worth, I am a Young Person (graduated college these three years back), and most of my friends have at least tried E. Many have been, at some point, enthusiastic, or at least regular, users. Including one who is perhaps the smartest person I know, degree in neuroscience. But once he started taking neuro classes, he stopped doing E immediately. It is a bad, bad drug - it PERMANENTLY reconfigures your dopamine receptors. The comment earlier, about the kid who said he never felt as good as when he did E the first time? Well, that's the deal - you never will. E is bad, bad news, especially for kids whose brains haven't fully matured.
You said: "3. MDMA's potency diminishes substantially with repeated use so that it would be a shame to 'waste' it on a lousy party, or a stupid boyfriend."
You're not getting it right - MDMA's potency doesn't diminish, it's that your brain is more and more fucked up, thus forever decreasing the ability to feel joy and happiness, in any context.

I'm no puritan, but really, shame on you for even passive promotion. Shit messes you up BAD.

February 4, 2005 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger Cephas said...

Hey Ayelet, I've been kind of stewing on your post all week. I think you express a great deal of wisdom, but it also scares me. And reading some of the other posts stirs me up. My daughter, who is 25, is in a terrible situation right now, hooked on meth big time. It has cost her her marriage, her son, her job, her friends, and virtually her family... several times in the past year she has come to the conclusion that she had to get help, and her mother and I and others would do what we could to get her lined up for treatment, then she'd bolt. Finally last month, she was ready and eager to start a 28 day treatment program. She checked herself out after less than 24 hours. She takes off, with or without some real questionable friends. She missed her son's 3rd birthday party. Obviously I am heart broken and terrified. She told me not long ago, on the eve of one of her unkept treatment dates, that she read a stat that said 98% of meth users can't get off it... and she said, "Dad, I read that statistic before I first used it." So she knew. She and her former husband used to smoke a lot of pot, and then moved on to meth. Thank God, four months ago he had a breakdown at work and ended up in the hospital, and in treatment. He's been going to NA meetings nearly daily since, and seems to be holding it together, basically for his son. My daughter has gotten to be a consummate liar and manipulator in order to get what she needs, from whoever will listen to her, and it tears me up. I still have hope that she can make something out of her life, but I wonder if that hope is justified. I think in many ways, part of her problem may be the rigidity of her family and community on this issue... it was like all or nothing. And a lot of it stems from her need to cover up some deep emotional scars inflicted when she was 14-- which she has long had trouble addressing in therapy or any other way. At Christmas, I bought her a copy of your book, "Daughter's Keeper." She loved it. She said it was her new favorite book. Well, I am rambling, obviously... but thank you for listening. I think the world of you and Michael. Blessings.

February 4, 2005 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger 21st Century Mom said...

What did you think of David Sheff's piece in the NYT Sunday Magazine? I was very moved because of my own experience as a parent with a kid who started to suffer for his drug use and his drug was pot. I did my best to write about it on my blog and also provided a link to the original article.

February 7, 2005 at 7:13 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I've always thought they should appeal to kids' vanity. Use Keith Richards & Marianne Faithfull as the Just Say No posterchildren.

February 7, 2005 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger Hombre Tang said...

I know I'm commenting about a month after you wrote this, and you're not blogging any more, but I just found your blog after reading your article on Salon, so that's my excuse right there.

I so agree with you on this one-- how much smarter to rationally lay out the pros and cons (of which there are many) of drug usage as you would with any life choice. And of course to point out that as with anything you consume, even ice cream, extremes will hurt you!

Love the blog-- very fresh, very honest, very real.

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This makes me think of a teen I know who's parents are hysterical about her drug use and general acting out. They've labeled her an addict and it just seems premature and not helpful. She actually doesn't know anything about drugs and I think that is part of the problem---she thought crack and pot were equally bad because they are both big bad "DRUGS'.

I absolutely agree with everything you've said. Except that I do think that trying to be the cool (drug informed) parent can be it's own trap and actually put pressure on your kids to one-up your experience. I speak as a child of hippie-era parents. I think it's important to find a way to remain a parent along with maintaining open communication. Not easy.

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