Apathy just as dangerous as needles

Published 11:08 pm Thursday, December 4, 2008

Like many of you, I’ve driven up Jeff Davis Avenue countless times, just like I have other streets in this city.

And you all have probably seen the billboards that line the street.

Ever notice what’s unique about them? Several of them aren’t advertisements. They are promoting some type of program that tries to prevent children from getting hooked on drugs or alcohol.

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Because I’m 26 and have never so much as put a cigarette to my mouth, I haven’t really paid them much attention.

At one point I thought to myself, “If haven’t gotten hooked on something addictive or deadly by now, I’m not going to.”

And then I read statistics and listened to people in law enforcement and realized how absurdly wrong I was.

Can someone please tell me if the “War on Drugs” is over? I don’t really remember when it started, but I do recall first hearing about it during a commercial break of the Cosby Show when I was a little kid.

I’m pretty sure the American government hasn’t given up on trying to rid our culture of the scourge of illegal narcotics, so maybe it’s more en vogue to call the “War on Drugs” something else. After all, the Cosby Show went into syndication, like what, in the early 1990s?

Anyway, just in case you’re driving down Jeff Davis any time soon, take a peek at the Zero Meth billboard.

I probably would have driven by it again today without a second thought had I not heard about something the program’s sponsors have done to reach school children in Alabama.

The Alabama District Attorneys Association plans to send a video with before and after pictures of methamphetamine users to every high school and middle school in the state.

Gov. Bob Riley and district attorneys are in favor of the video because it graphically portrays people whose bodies have been destroyed by the drug.

District Attorney Michael Jackson endorses it because students respond more to visual evidence than lectures from adults.

This is true. I was laughing it up after Bill Cosby delivered a punchline, and the next thing I knew it seemed drug dealers were invading the country. I grabbed the nearest pillow I could find and wished my house had a storm shelter attached.

Point is I’ve outgrown that. I found out several years ago adults in high-stress jobs will often turn to some addictive or abusive habit to “relieve stress.”

I know it may seem like I have a world of fun sitting at my desk writing articles for your amusement, but this is a 24-hour job. Same for doctors, politicians, law enforcement and the list goes on.

What do we say to the 20- and 30-somethings that one year are building a nice little stash in their bank accounts and the next year are homeless because months of rent money went to drug dealers?

How about the wife in a normal-looking middle or upper class family turning to prostitution because it looks suspect for her to withdraw thousands of dollars from her bank account?

Not happening to anyone you know? Sure about that?

Contrary to what we would like to believe, the government is not losing this war. We as a public are throwing all that effort and money into the wind.

A drug problem doesn’t strike a singular race, age group or part of town. It wouldn’t even be a problem if we weren’t all contributing its spread by thinking it’s not our problem.

So what does someone who is single, childless and does not have a history of drug use do to help fight this war?

You could either get your own column in a newspaper, which believe me, is not likely to happen.

Or you could take some pressure off the government and talk some sense into at least one kid or one adult friend before they make the biggest mistake of their lives.

If they don’t listen, offer them Pudding Pops. Bill says that works.

George L. Jones is managing editor of the Times-Journal. He may be reached at 410-1744 or e-mail him at george.jones@selmatimesjournal.com