Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Some Good Advice from the MSM

After the NSW government pulped the Choosing to use ... but wanna keep your head together? booklet, we got a blunt reminder that Harm Minimisation is still on the black list in Australian politics. The Howard government might be gone but drug hysteria lives on albeit without the fanfare. So it comes as a surprise when the MSM publish tips on safe drug use via a regular and popular column in the Sydney Morning Herald.
This is not to say kids have to take anything that's pushed at them - Christ, I'd hope they'd have the fortitude and character I lacked at their age to say 'no' - but if they are going to do it, 'take half of what you're offered' is a pretty sound rule of thumb. -Sam de Brito. All Men Are Liars(SMH Column)
All Men Are Liars is a SMH column by Sam de Brito giving a male perspective in response to the many girlie columns discussing sex, personal image, mating rituals, sex, career advice, fashion and sex. I can’t really comment on the quality of the content but I must say I admire what I stumbled onto early one morning. Here was a popular columnist giving sound, rational advice to kids when confronted with drugs. It wasn’t the usual rhetoric but real world advice that might save some teen from unnecessary harm or suffering. Whether the advice was missing the complete gamut of safety measures or considered to be sending the wrong message, it was recognition that in the real world, drugs are present whether we like it or not. 
Even more surprising were the comments. No moralising or the silly Just Say No counter argument but instead many additional tips or rules that parents used for their own kids. The article wasn’t condoning drug use or promoting it but rather making the point that some basic advice on safe use was more responsible than the ignorant belief and wishful thinking that it just wouldn’t happen to our kids.
On a negative front, it is really frustrating that a columnist for a newspaper can give advice about safe drug use for kids but when the professionals do it, the world falls apart. Why wasn’t this article damned by the moralists who object to teaching safe practices for drug use? Why wasn’t sending the wrong message made more important than the safety of our kids? How did Sam de Brito get away with teaching the young on how to use dangerous and addictive drugs? Why wasn’t the SMH pulped and the government internet filter introduced early for this emergency? If the advice of addiction experts and medical professionals is rejected by way of destroying their life saving booklets, surely the author of a gossip style column who gives tips on safe drug use should be questioned about his ethics? Maybe it’s because he gives tips on the safe use of alcohol which is deemed as responsible. Maybe it’s because he acknowledges many of the issues that drive the government’s binge drinking initiative. Maybe because it won’t help win over voters by criticising someone who’s popular. Either way, it’s refreshing to see some common sense in the MSM instead of the usual drug hysteria that dominates our lives. Well done Sam.
Take Half of What You're Offered Sam de Brito SMH - All Men Are Liars It remains to be seen how successful the Rudd Government's $20 million anti-binge drinking television advertising campaign will be and while I wish it every success, I dunno how it's gonna compete against the hundreds of millions spent to push piss as the essence of the Aussie way of life. You can't turn on the TV over summer (or winter) without seeing boofy blokes from every sporting code blowing the froth off the sponsor's finest and giving the camera a wink, just in case you hadn't worked it out: getting drunk rules. I daresay that's the terrible hypocrisy that leaps out at most teenagers, who more than anything want to be adults: the entire friggin' world glorifies sucking piss - sportsmen, politicians, celebrities and mum and dad are constantly falling foul of over-indulgence - yet nascent teen drinkers are expected to exercise control on the drink. I'm not sure what the answer is, but I know I'd tell my kids to have a water every second drink, switch to light beer if you're getting stupid, stay away from shots and don't get in cars with anyone once you or they have started boozing ... Kids are going to drink, a lot of them are going to take drugs as well, and no amount of scare tactics is going to change that because young people do things to scare themselves, to scare their mates, to discover their limits. A few months ago I was chatting with a doctor who's run some of Sydney's busiest hospital emergency rooms, dealing with overdoses of all descriptions. "The thing I tell my nephews and nieces is 'take half of what you're offered,'" he said. I'm sure mums and dads aren't too excited about the assumption their children will take drugs, but advice like this operates from a real-world understanding. "I've seen so many people come through hospitals who wouldn't be there if they're followed that simple maxim," he said. This is not to say kids have to take anything that's pushed at them - Christ, I'd hope they'd have the fortitude and character I lacked at their age to say 'no' - but if they are going to do it, 'take half of what you're offered' is a pretty sound rule of thumb. I'd add a few others to the advice I give my children, some of which I'm robbing from my book No Tattoos Before You're Thirty (now in it's eighth reprint!) Don't do drugs with strangers If there's a chance you're gonna lose control, you want to be among friends, not some lurking date-rapey Casanova you just met on the dance floor. Friends will throw you into a cab and stay with you until the refrigerator stops speaking Urdu. Never inject anything It's so beyond crazy. You're breaking the sacred seal protecting you against the world - your skin. Don't share bank notes snorting coke The blood vessels in your nose can rupture doing any drug nasally. That $20 note may be buying you a lifelong case of Hepatitis or worse. Don't smoke hydro Hydroponic marijuana is chock full of fertilisers and pesticides. If you're going to have the odd joint, stick with naturally grown weed - and stop when the voices start. Take drugs later in life This is a little tougher, because kids will be kids, but research shows about the worst thing you can do to a developing brain is smash it with drugs and booze. I'd encourage my kids to stay away from the Persians until at least 18. Don't get in cars with people who've done drugs So many teenagers understand the whole drink and driving thing, yet lose that common sense when it comes to friends who are stoned, on pingers or pumping the pipe and want to drive. My kids are getting a couple of Cabcharge e-tickets to take out with them for such occasions. So that's a short and none-too-exhaustive list of drug and booze advice I'd give to youngsters. I'd love to hear yours.

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