In a lot of ways, Hansel represents the ideal, modern white collar American. He works as a software engineer for a company in Colorado. The two of us met in college and had very similar backgrounds growing up. In this episode we discuss the drug and addiction education curriculum we were taught during school.
Thinking back, one thing sticks out mostly, and that was just the DARE programs to be honest. I remember receiving education for those in an auditorium style wholeschool event. As early as elementary school, i want to say fifth grade but it might have been earlier. They brought everyone together and gave a seminar. Definitely one day, if anything else it was maybe like two days. it wasn’t a regular recurring thing… For the most part, it really just was drugs are bad, don’t do them.
In a lot of ways Hansel and I are very similar. Growing up we came from comparable homes, education, and backgrounds. We also followed the same logic specifically in regard to drugs during our early years. Hansel summed up this rationale as:
They were talking specifically a lot about marijuana and how much of a bad idea it was to meddle with it, and I remember doing pot for the first time, it was eighth grade… I didn’t fall over and die. I’m not having heart palpitations I feel a little goofy and I’m a little hungry. So this is a crock of shit really. That kind of jaded my opinion of the rest of the content of the courses. They were completely dead wrong about marijuana and the risks that it posed, in my opinion, and so it was hard to really treat anything else that they said without a grain of salt.
Hansel is not an addict, he smokes marijuana recreationally and drinks on occasion, but it doesn’t negatively impact his life. Substances don’t stop him from enjoying an active lifestyle that includes camping, hiking, and participating in marathons. However, he does acknowledge that hasn’t always been the case.
There have been times in my life where I feel like I’ve abused marijuana. Now, marijuana isn’t inherently deadly… For me, smoking pot every day would cause me to essentially abandon my hobbies. I would get home and just smoke and do nothing. [Marijuana for a time] got in the way of me achieving my goals which are to do a lot of varied things, and have a lot of hobbies and soon so. So for me, I ended up abusing marijuana for a period of time.
We talk about how his thoughts, how society views addiction, the stigmas associated with it, and Hansel speculates why some people might fall into the trap of addiction.
I definitely think that there’s a difference between how society views somebody who pops pain pills versus somebody that injects heroin and to be honest they’re not that different. They’re different in the way that you’re applying the drug, but fundamentally, they’re the same…
Take any person on the street who is completely Vanilla, has no experience with drugs, and you put in front of them a needle with heroin in it or a pill that looks like a tylenol Capsule. Which one are you gonna be more inclined to take? Which one do you think is gonna be safer? I think that’s where a lot of the risk comes in is that it looks just like any other pill that you’ll take over the counter, and you don’t quite understand the risks associated with it. Because prescription opioids are just as dangerous, often times, as injecting heroin in your veins.
Hansel is one of the most intelligent people I know. His insight led to a fantastic Discussion on the topic from a lens OD hadn’t previously captured. We hit on everything from drug education alternatives to US drug policy. Hansel proposes that we change our approach:
I am gonna go off the rails a little bit here. But how we teach sex education in schools. On the other hand, if you take that discussion into the open and don’t treat it like taboo, then people are safer because they have a knowledge to be safer. The same goes of the drugs. It’s treated like it’s a heavy topic too much now. And as a result, people don’t know how to be safe, they don’t how to make informed decisions about the drugs that they do take, and if they find themselves in a troublesome situation, they don’t have the tools available to them to be able to come out of that situation alive in some cases.
I won’t claim to know all the ins and outs of the United States drug policy. But to me, it seems like the motivation behind it has two key components. The first is to keep the citizens of the country safe, and the second is the public image of the United States and the example that we portrayed to the world and we’re failing. Number one in favor of number two.