Friday, April 21, 2006

"It's like OWL, except with drugs!"

Had the end of year meeting that I assume is standard with the youth coordinator. She asked the standard questions, how I was doing, the direction I'd like to see YRUU heading in ("Life is stressful, but I'm ok" and "With more religion. I think we're too much like a scout troop as is," respectively.)

And the youth coordinator mentioned what folks want to do next year. There's teaching OWL, and the Drug Education program.

"I could do OWL, though I'd rather lead discussions about faith. What's the drug education program?"

"Well, it's sort of like OWL for drugs. THe focus is on minimizing harm. We talk about why people do take drugs the health effects of doing so and how they can do it most safely if they are going to."

All the sudden I knew exactly how religious conservatives feel when faced with OWL.

"But recreational drugs are bad for everybody," I said. "I mean, everyone agrees that meth seriously fucks you up, but people will say marijuana is harmless. Given my students and my friends who've smoked it regularly I really don't believe that. Pot smokers rarely understand how bad they smell and how obvious the odor is. When I smell that on a GRE student, I can almost always go to my grade book and find little homework done and lower scores. And the long term pot smokers I know are a lot like the long term alcoholics. If you have something that takes the pain away every time life gets difficult, you really don't develop into a whole person. My experience is, like alocholics, pot smokers are often little children emotionally."

(Which, I understand, is not to say that every person who smokes pot regularly is a little kid emotionally though the anecdotal correlation is strong, at least in my life. But the teenage years and young adult years are when we, for good reasons and less important ones, do some of our most intense feeling. It seems like a pretty important time. Emotionally, we should all be there for it, IMHO. Though I'm sure people who quit using or quit drinking grow up eventually. Well, some of them do. Jokes about the president not welcome.)

The youth coordinator had sat attentively through all of this, which is to her credit as it was basically a rant. She said comforting things about how our youth generally show distate for drugs and we agreed that I was better off teaching OWL or talking about religion.

For what it's worth, if adults want to screw themselves up emotionally, that really is up to them. I don't love that my tax money goes to fix them up again, but I can see that it is the least bad option. I can even see that the drug war is not working and we should try something else, though I don't think we as a religion have much business crusading on the issue for the same reason I don't like it when we crusade on other political issues.



PeaceBang said...

Brava, CC, for saying what no one wants to hear about pot.

Joel Monka said...

Eloquently stated, CC. It also amazes me that they don't spend more time talking about the unknown physical consequences than they do. After all, none of the seriously abused drugs were intended for human consumption- drugs intended to heal must undergo years of clinical trials and get FDA approval, while drugs intended for recreation get a free pass. Doesn't seem logical to me... I know people who worry terribly about "frankenfoods", and then ingest industrial solvents to party.

Steve Caldwell said...

CC wrote:
But recreational drugs are bad for everybody


That's a pretty big blanket statement to make. And it may not be that accurate either concerning all the legal and illegal mind-altering recreational drugs currently available for our youth.

There are some recreational drugs that have serious harm and can screw up your life ... perhaps even kill you (crystal meth, heroin, cigarettes).

There are some recreational drugs that affect some users are so severely that they are seriously harmed and perhaps even killed by them. But other users can ingest them with minimal harm (alcohol, marijuana).

And there are some recreational mind-altering drugs that are very low risk (coffee, chocolate).

When I was in college from 1977 to 1981 and afterwards before joining the military, I knew some students who occassionally used marijuana on the weekends. Some of these students could use this responsibly and eventually went on to become medical doctors, dentists, and lawyers. Some of these students could not handle it and left after one quarter in college.

Before you pass judgement on the field of harm-reduction education, you may want to look at some resources related to this area:

Safety First: A Reality-Based Approach to Teens, Drugs, and Drug Education

Getting Real About Teens and Drugs

An Alternative to the "War on Drugs" (UUA Study/Action Issue Resource Guide, 2000-2002)

None of this harm-reduction health class issues address the reasons that YRUU event rules prohibit drug and alcohol use (with the exceptions of caffeine and chocolate of course).

Even if the drug use does no harm to the individual, it does have potential to harm the YRUU youth community as a whole.

Steve Caldwell said...

CC wrote what direction she would like to see her YRUU group head in:
With more religion. I think we're too much like a scout troop as is


You and youth from your congregation may want to check into the "Spirituality Development Conference" (SDC) opportunities in your district.

Here's the description from the UUA Youth Office web site:

Spirituality Development Conferences
Like LDC's (Leadership Development Conferences), Spirituality Development Conferences are small working conferences for youth and adults. An SDC focuses on ways to design effective, creative & meaningful worship services; ways to integrate spirituality more deeply into youth programming and the lives of the participants. SDCs work to bring youth and adults together to share common worship experiences. Of the Six Components of Balanced Youth Programming (worship, youth-adult relations, community building, leadership development, social action & learning) the first, worship, is often overlooked or saved for Youth Sundays. This training helps youth and their adults put the R back in YRUU. (The 'R' stands for religious.) An SDC can greatly transform the tone and culture of a local youth group and congregation; people return from an SDC inspired to integrate worship more deeply into their program and congregation as a whole.

An SDC provides experience and skills for those that are inexperienced in leading/designing worship services. They also give the experienced worship leader an opportunity to grow and stretch through exchanging ideas and inspiration.

This may be what you're looking for.

Anonymous said...

As I've mentioned before, the real problem is people's attitudes towards pain.
I would say that Tv commercials do as much damage to that as drugs do. Let's get rid of them....:-)