Five Tips for Decreasing Drug-Related Harms

Over the past 15 years, I have given thousands of doses of drugs like cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine to people. I do this as part of my research to understand how the drug affects the brain, behavior and physiology.

Late one summer night, I picked up my 17-year-old son from a party, a graduation celebration for one of his friends. As he got in the car, I noticed that he was chewing a heavily mint-scented gum. It occurred to me that some of the partygoers might have brought drugs and that he might have indulged.

Given what I know from the Monitoring the Future surveys and my own research, this shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me. It did. I was now faced with the horrifying thought that my little son (by the way, he’s taller than me) might have taken illegal drugs.

Alarmed, but attempting to appear cool, I asked, “How was the party?”

“It was wack,” he replied.

Meanwhile, I was secretly looking for signs of drug use. Apart from the obvious ones that occur following heavy drug use, which is rare, there are few, if any. So I decided to just ask if he or others had taken drugs at the party. He explained that he had not, but some others had drank alcohol and a few had gone to the park to smoke marijuana.

As we drove home, I asked what he remembered from our talks about drugs over the years. I was so impressed by what he said I thought it might be helpful to share with others. Here are the five simple lessons that I have taught my own children about drug use and ways to decrease associated harms.

– Read the entire article at AlterNet.