Recreational drug use is a funny thing. One minute you're snorting lines off a bejewelled Chanel compact in a city high-rise and silently patting yourself on the back about just how glamorous and wonderful you are (have I mentioned cocaine makes you completely obnoxious?). The next, you're cowering under a park bench wearing a shower curtain, muttering something about hats. What can I say? Drug addiction is a slippery slope.
When I announced my first pregnancy, well-meaning family and friends wanted to know why I wasn't racing to set up digs in some suburban wasteland miles form the Big Bad City. Did I really want to raise my children among the drug addicts so central to where I live? My answer was a resounding yes! I've been around the block a few times now – enough to know that the 'just say no' talks don't really work. Living in an area where you can see clearly where that slippery slope can take you? I want in. I figure if you're not turned off by people nodding off in their own urine, or offering oral at a train station for $20 a pop, then there's nothing I can ever say to my daughters that's going to make a real difference later on down the track. Won't stop me trying though! Here are my top tips for our girls:
* You know that saying, 'Beware strangers with candy'? Well, beware silver foxes with nose candy. Middle-aged men who ply you with a drug that costs hundreds of dollars a gram aren't doing it because they want to be your friend and have only your best interests at heart. No, they're trying to get into your pants and they figure if you're not turned on by snorting white powder through $100 bills off a black AMEX card, then hopefully you'll just be guilted into putting out.
* I know marijuana seems harmless enough but smoking pot regularly can cause drug-induced psychosis and convince you to try all sorts of random things like jumping off pedestrian bridges into traffic. It's one thing to have the rare night sharing a joint with friends as you plan world domination, but if you're waking up in the morning and reaching for a breakfast bong, you have a problem you need to address. Ditto for the garden hose that keeps getting shorter.
* I'm amazed – and not in a good way – that anyone tries ice. If watching people masturbate until they pull their own bloody skin off while enclosed in a specialised hospital café isn't warning enough, I really don't know what is. Don't try it.
* I've known a lot of heroin users in my time and I can tell you with absolute certainty that heroin use never ends well. The best thing that can happen is you'll have one or two good hits before addiction takes hold but once it does, it's a rapid decline into the world of stealing from friends and family, breaking into cars and selling your body just to get your hands on more. Your parents didn't spend all that time, money and effort raising you in order for you just to piss it all away. You are better than this.
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* I know pharmaceuticals appear harmless because a doctor writes a prescription and we pick it up from a well-lit chemist filled with beauty products and teddy bears but that's exactly why they're so dangerous. Pharmaceuticals can be incredibly addictive and oh-so-easy to overdose on (think about the likes of Heath Ledger). Always follow the instructions given to you by your doctor and don't mix them with any other drug. If you start feeling unwell after taking something, contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.
* You know those TV commercials advising against drinking and driving? Well you can't do drugs and drive either. You may not get caught as easily, but aside from pulling over every time you think you hear a siren (you'll hear a lot of them in your head), you're going to be the worst and slowest driver ever. Oh yeah, there's also that not-so-small risk of killing yourself or someone else.
* If you've had a big night out, don't come home and attempt to cook anything (that's what 3am kebabs are for). I once attempted to make spaghetti while drunk out of my mind and passed out on the floor of the kitchen while the pasta was on the boil. Fortunately, the smoke woke me up before the fire really kicked in. Who knew you could set spaghetti on fire?
* The next time you're hanging to get on the disco biscuits and hugging every sweaty, shirtless dancer you see in that rat-infested warehouse you call a 'party', remember this: when you sweat, you release tiny particles of uric acid in your skin, which means that all those people you find you suddenly love so much are essentially pissing all over you. Enjoy your glow sticks.
* If you're going to ignore every sensible bone in your body screaming at you not to take drugs, at the very least tell a mate before you do so they can keep an eye on you. Obviously this makes no difference if your mate is taking whatever it is you're taking so aim to find one who is planning on staying sober.
* Before you go out on the pills, it's worth knowing hundreds of young Australians have died taking ecstasy in the past few years. This is usually due to overheating (the drug interferes with the body's ability to regulate its own temperature), water poisoning from drinking too much water to compensate for said temperature irregularities or because the pill was cut using a nasty chemical.
* As I've pointed out, cocaine is super-expensive, but I'm sure there will be no shortage of men offering it to you in order to have their way with you. Risks include sleeping with aforementioned despicable older men, behaving like a wanker and berating yourself in front of the bathroom mirror once you start coming down. There are serious health risks too: the drug is super-addictive and you can look forward to a heightened risk of heart attack and stroke. Oh, and have I mentioned it probably came into the country via someone's anus? Glamorous.
* People do speed because it's cheap, lowers inhibitions and increases energy, but you should know that as the drug wears off it will leave you feeling depressed, anxious and exhausted. You might do a little more of it to get that warm and fuzzy feeling back but the big problem here is that the more speed you do, the more you'll need before you feel high. Before you know it, you'll be sitting in the gutter somewhere with a patchwork face covered in pus-filled sores wondering where it all went wrong. Make sound choices.
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* Acid trips last six to eight hours, so if you have a bad trip, you're going to be in a world of pain and terror for quite some time. If you must give it a go (and I advise you don't), always make sure you're in a safe environment with sober friends watching out for you. Avoid crowds, public spaces and dangerous places such a dark forest notorious for its cliff faces.
* I know marijuana has a reputation for being safer than hard drugs, but not only is it classed as a 'gateway drug', it's known to trigger a multitude of mental health problems such as schizophrenia. If you choose to smoke it, you need to know that the risk to your health is a lot higher than you can ever imagine.
* When you're under the influence of drugs and alcohol, your mental and physical impairment leaves you vulnerable to physical and sexual violence, unwanted pregnancy, STIs and accidents. You need to weigh up whether getting off your chops is worth it, and if you decide (against your better judgment) that it is, make sure you've got someone looking out for you at all times and that you're never separated.
This piece on drug use was first published (2012) by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited in Dilvin Yasa's first book, Things My Daughter Needs to Know. Yasa's second book, Good Enough: Confessions Of A Less-Than-Perfect-Mum is available through Pan Macmillan.