So it's pretty well established at this point that I'm a very drug informed person on this campus. I won't go as far to call myself a drug guru, but I do feel comfortable with the title of knowledge dealer. You all may be intimidated by encyclopedic knowledge about all things psychoactive, but all of you can (and should) be as informed as me on these topics.
I'm going to go ahead and say I got beef with the United States educational system. It is my personal opinion that abstinence only drug education is doing a huge disservice to our country. Here is a fact: people currently do and always will do drugs. No matter how many people we arrest or how big of scumbags we try to make drug users feel' there will always be a desire in our communities to get high.
Now that we know this, I feel that the next logical step is to make sure that people are being safer with their drug use. To me this means we don't want people OD-ing or dying of alcohol poisoning or getting AIDS or abandoning their children for drugs. As a good college student should, I feel that the best way to accomplish these goals is to make sure people know what the hell is up before they make their health decisions. And telling people they are going to get hooked on the first hit is neither accurate nor helpful.
Since this is America, there is a general sentiment that giving people information in an unbiased way is some sort of acceptance or promotion of drug use. It doesn't particularly work for sex education (see our teen pregnancy and STI rates) and I don't think it is working out very well for drugs.
This is why I write this column. I think that as reasonable human beings, we deserve better than scare tactics and “just say no.” And because this is my last opportunity to chat with you this year (sad violin music), I'm going to show my hand and let you all in on how and where I get my info. My goal is that you will all continue to educate and inform yourselves and each other.
So this is the digital age, and most of us are plugged in to the World Wide Web. I'll start on a field trip down the information superhighway and tell you about the best drug pit stops along the way.
First in my heart is the site erowid.org. This is a virtual powerhouse of trustworthy, medically accurate information presented without any judgmental overtones. They present information on specific legal and illegal drugs, their history, law, effects (positive and negative), and users' experiences. They are run completely on donations, and have been around since 1995. Basically, I love this website and use it all the time.
The website lycaeum.org is very similar in its encyclopedic range of information. The graphics are less snazzy but the information is just as credible.
There is a blog called drugnerd.com, which I like. They have fun videos (like one that shows what a 40,000 lb. cocaine bust looks like) and articles about drugs and society. It's a cool site for tidbits of info.
I also like the DEA information website, although I don't trust the bias. It's just kind of fun to laugh at, as is the DEA museum website.
Mostly, I use books though. There is a textbook on all things drug-related called Uppers, Downers, and All-Arounders written by Darryl S. Inaba and William E. Cohen. It has fun facts, good information, snazzy photos, and covers everything related to drugs, their history, culture, and law.
I also like this book called Buzzed by Cynthia Kuhn, Scott Swartzwelder, and Wilkie Wilson, all of whom work at the Duke University Medical Center. Each chapter is devoted to a specific drug or drug family and it has more detailed and specific information than you can shake a stick at.
Both of these books are totally available for perusing in my office library and available for purchase via the internet. For those who find themselves often in need of good information, it's a solid investment.
So again, you're all people who deserve good information about your or someone you love's choices, and there is plenty of credible information out there. There's a lot of shifty and crappy information too, but hopefully this guides you on the path to making safer, more informed choices.
Anyway, I'm really going to miss this opportunity to chat with all of you like this, it's been a long and strange trip. Be well, take care of yourselves, and stay safe.