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Setting Healthy Boundaries
Bullying Article - Ronda Diegel
A Little Weed Never Hurt Anyone
A true story by Sarah, a former private high school student from the Birmingham/Bloomfield area, now in her early twenties
“Marijuana is not a gateway drug. It is virtually harmless. Marijuana is a means of relaxation and serenity after a frustrating day at work. It evokes creativity from an individual in order to devise an English thesis for school. It eases the anxiety and stress brought on by everyday life. The worst consequence that can come out of marijuana use is an increased grocery bill due to the “munchies.” Honestly, have you ever heard of someone stealing a car, holding up a 7-11, or mugging a pedestrian while in a weed-induced frenzy? I think not. Today’s smokers are not tomorrow’s headlines.” Four years ago this was my claim.
After high school I was accepted to a private liberal arts college and my merits as a writer, compounded with my ACT score, landed me scholarship money in order to proceed with my education. I immersed myself in college life taking advantage of all that it had to offer – courses of personal and career interest, a library of innumerable resources, a cafeteria with a halfway-decent menu, fellow students as a network of friends and classmates, and teachers who took a genuine interest in me and my capabilities as a student and a person. However, when class ended on Friday, I immersed myself in a different aspect of college life: the college party.
Weekends were what I lived for – my chance to clock out as a student and the freedom to forget responsibilities in my life. Fraternity parties, house parties, dorm parties, room parties, parking lot parties… even the History Department threw parties. In high school, I went to some gatherings, but nothing like this. In high school I occasionally drank a few beers; I had even tried marijuana a couple times. In college I had no curfew, I was three states away from my parents, and I could think of no good reason to stay sober and do homework on the weekends. I was a student all week, I deserved a break. I took my break with alcohol and marijuana until Saturday night, and saved Sunday for homework. This schedule worked well for me. I was drinking and smoking weed, but no harm no foul, right?
However, my affinity towards marijuana and the feeling that I deserved more of a “break” than just the weekends allowed me to reason that getting high occasionally during the week after my last class of the day provided no obstacle to my education or well-being. The fact that my two best friends had no problem participating with me in this ritual of relaxation further encouraged my behavior. We got high, ate dinner at the cafeteria, and headed to the dorm to try to do some studying.
After a while, any time seemed to be an appropriate time to smoke marijuana – before class, after class, instead of class – and my need to relax, unwind, and be creative severely inhibited my progress in school. I became so relaxed from all this marijuana use that I no longer attended many of my classes, had trouble getting out of bed in the morning unless is was to smoke a joint, lapsed out of regular contact with my family, and lost interest in any kind of mental exercise unless it was to figure out where and when the next party was. But marijuana hadn’t affected my life. I was just trying to have fun.
I was having fun. All the time. I simply refused to do anything that wasn’t fun. I refused to hang out with people that I did not deem as interesting. The only people I thought were interesting enough to spend any time with were people exactly like me, who stayed out late, drank, got high, and liked to party. The campus on which I lived was full of people who had goals, who went to class, who did their homework regularly. Accompanied by my two best friends, we sought out other people like us, off-campus.
The people we met didn’t go to school, had their own places, their own jobs, and did whatever they chose. This was, conceivably, the best lifestyle imaginable. Just like I had done when I began college, I immersed myself in all that this newfound way of life had to offer – parties, nightclubs, alcohol, all the marijuana I could smoke, and a job as a waitress for extra spending money because all I did was spend money. I had missed most of my midterms because they cut into my work hours and class was no longer an option because it interfered with my social engagements. I became less and less discriminating about who I spent my time with, where I spent my time, and how long I was doing it. Unbeknownst to me, my self-esteem was taking a beating. My attachment to the morals and values instilled in me growing up loosened, until I had let go of them absolutely. Anything and everything became acceptable to me and it was at this point that my experimentation with harder drugs commenced.
Marijuana was not enough of a rush. Alcohol had lost its glamour. I searched for something better and stronger, and more often than not found it through my new acquaintances in the new places I frequented. Over time, I stopped experimenting and starting using. What was formerly an occasional buzz became a necessary routine in order to make it through the day. My life was no longer fun, neither were the people I associated with, the parties I went to, the relationships I was in, and the work I did. Instead of living I had reduced myself to merely existing. I survived day-to-day, hand to mouth. The only joy in my life was brought on by the use of one drug or another, until one day, even drugs did not work.
When that day came, I saw only two viable options facing me: life or death. I was fast heading towards the latter, so I chose to go home and get help. I packed what little I had left to my name and drove back to Michigan to enter a treatment center and learn to live a sober life.
It’s true. Today’s marijuana smokers are not tomorrow’s headlines. I speak from my own experience in saying that I, as a former pothead, achieved absolutely nothing in the way of fame, money, power, skills -- anything deserving of any kind of recognition at all. I was definitely not a newsworthy personality. Marijuana did do one thing for me though: it allowed me to be open to a lifestyle that is accepting of all drugs and all sorts of behaviors. Marijuana helped me to let my guard down and forget who I was and what I stood for. Marijuana enabled me to associate with people who did not care about my personal wellness, also enabling me to become a person who did not care about others’ personal wellness. Today, when I hear that marijuana is not a gateway drug, I think of how naïve and ignorant I was four years ago when I entered college, and how grateful I am that I know better now.