Advice for My College Freshman


Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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115 Responses

  1. Avatar Glyph says:

    This is something I have struggled with (how much truth do you tell your kids, and when?) and your approach sounds similar to what I currently plan to do with my kids when it is time. The WOD is complete insanity and yet, I have seen close up what a drug addiction (or even a simple mistake) can do.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      My parents told me the Drug War was a croc and that it only created Forbidden Fruit syndrome when I was in the 4th grade.

      When I was sixteen and going away to a university summer program, my mom had my older brother teach me to use condoms.

      The best policy is to be realistic: expect teenage drinking and experimentation. Tell them to always call instead of driving drunk or getting with a drunk driver, etc. Tell them that marijuana is okay but meth and heroin can be pure poison, etc.

      Teenagers have always experimented with stuff and always will.

      Or you can just get them to be heavily into Dungeons and Dragons. That seems to be a reasonable way to still prevent people from experimenting with drugs.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        And girls 🙂Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          I was going to make that joke but was wondering how much disagreement it would generate.Report

        • Avatar Alan Scott says:

          It will not, and I can’t stress this enough, prevent anyone from experimenting with boys, though. And a sufficient quantity of gay boys will attract girls, and any preventative effect is out the window

          The seven people in my monday-night gaming group are all current or former SO’s or FWB’s with at least one other member of the group. The drama is almost enough to make me wish that D&D really did impede romance.Report

  2. Avatar Ethan Gach says:

    Great post Mike!

    Definitely good advice on the English 101/102 front (hopefully her professor makes them formative rather than tedious).

    “My 20s were a testament to how one’s principles change.” I am living this right now.

    The best thing for anyone enountering new things like this is to find a good group of sensible, supportive, and fun friends. Moral of that story is (having graduated not long ago myself) meet as many people as you can while everyone else is new and meeting people and eventually you’ll find the group(s) that do those things.

    The worst thing is meeting only those people that are in your dorm freshmen year, and then realizing half way through college that you don’t really like those people, and then be forced into work0holic solitude or too start meeting people at parties (in the timeline we’re halfway through junior year) at which point it’s just a complete jungle out there.Report

  3. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Ecch, if they’re reasonably responsible when they’re 13, they’ll be responsible when they’re 18. My abiding image of parenthood was formed aboard the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln CVN 72. I’d given some money to the Navy to purchase Lincoln artifacts. They invited me down. There I was, standing next to these captains of industry in my off-the-shelf suit, watching them launch aircraft.

    The aircraft comes up on a brobdignagian elevator and is brought across the deck. Its nose gear is secured to the catapult and a blast shield rises behind it. Below decks, the catapult is set to pull that aircraft across the deck based on many factors: too fast, the nose gear breaks off, too slow, the aircraft ends up in the water.

    The entire ship comes into the wind. The deadly ballet on the deck continues until the crew chief salutes the pilot and the pilot salutes back. The aircraft comes up to full thrust, straining against the catapult. The deck boss gives the order to shoot. Alongside the deck someone pushes a green button and the aircraft is hurled down the deck.

    A thousand things can go wrong in those two seconds. Hours of preparation, years of training, there’s no mulligans on that deck. It’s a miracle more things don’t go wrong. That’s what being a parent is like: it all comes down to that one moment, the entire purpose of that carrier is to get that aircraft off that deck.

    Some mother’s son or daughter rides that aircraft out over the water, pulls the stick back and roars into the sky. We below can only watch them go, cheering them on.Report

  4. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    Mom’s opening lines were,

    “Now – don’t feel compelled to deny it or not – you’re probably going to try pot. My only advice on that score is know where it came from before you try it. That’s actually good advice for any drug; if you don’t really know the person who is trying to give it to you or sell it to you, assume they’re trying to get your money with drain cleaner because that may very well be what you’re buying.

    I’m not going to tell you what LSD is like, because I never took it. But I knew a lot of people who did, and I can tell you what it was like to be the one who was there to watch out for people while they were tripping.”

    And then she told me about having to lock a guy in a closet once because he kept trying to get at the knife block to scrape the spiders off of his body. That was a sufficient anecdote to keep me away from major hallucinogens, that’s for sure.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      You missed out, Patrick 🙂

      You know, I have been racking my brain to come up with a ‘freakout’ person who was A-1 normal & stable before taking the drug, and I just can’t. In any case where I personally witnessed (or later heard about) a freakout, well, that person was a bit freaky to begin with, and probably had no business experimenting with powerful chems, or at least not at those dosages.Report

      • Avatar Mo says:

        Set and Setting are very important.Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          Which brings up an interesting question – the ‘set and setting’ of alcohol-related parties is usually social, boisterous and gregarious, due not only to alcohol’s effects, but its legality, and ubiquity in social settings.

          So if other drugs were also legalized, would we see a lot more of the LSD-equivalent to ‘Here, hold my beer and watch this, I’m gonna try something’ that contributes so mightily and entertainingly to the Darwin Awards?Report

          • Avatar Simon K says:

            I forget where now, but there’s some work on the anthropology of alcohol that’s interesting. In cultures where alcohol is not familiar, when its introduced people tend to react to drinking by acting goofy then falling asleep. Only when an expectation that alcohol reduces inhibitions is introduced do people actually start to react that way.Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              There has been a bit work on this. Many socieites have strict bounderies on what is allowed. In some places it is okay and dokey to get falling down drunk but only as long as you do it in the designated time and place. Many cultures without a history of drinking don’t have any social bounderies which can lead to things getting out of control. However there are places with a long tradition of drinking where it still is out of control ( Russia comes to mind first)Report

      • Avatar Simon K says:

        Very much about the person, I think, but also the environment. LSD hallucinations go away when you look at them hard enough, so if the environment is stable and controlled and the person normally has a good grasp of reality, its not a bit deal. If the environment is stressful or the person is crazy its a different matter, I suspect.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      To follow up more on the hallucinogen thing… I’ve had minor hallucinations from other sources (particularly sleep deprivation). I don’t really find the majority of them to be awesome experiences. Not due to terror or anything like that, but my brain balks at input that doesn’t map onto my idea of how physics works.

      I don’t find this mind-expanding, I just find it unrewarding. So I doubt I actually missed anything.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        I’ve had minor hallucinations from other sources (particularly sleep deprivation)

        Heh, sleep deprivation combined with getting a ride in a cherry ’56 chevy driven by a dude in jeans and white t-shirt with ducktailed hair and three consecutive late ’50s songs on the radio once had me utterly convinced I had been transported three decades back in time. Never was I so relieved to hear the words “President Reagan.”Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I have also had sleep-deprived hallucinations and I too didn’t find them pleasant. But set and setting again comes into play there. I had been driving for far too long, and was starting to see things in the road that weren’t there. This obviously rattled me quite a bit.

        Another common misconception is that the only (or primary) effects of hallucinogens such as LSD are the visual hallucinations. But these can often be fairly minor and somewhat controlled. But there are also emotional effects (sights, sounds and thoughts can be funny, or engrossing, or upsetting), mental effects (the train of thought can go to some strange places, and supposedly Crick credited LSD with helping him visualize the double helix structure of DNA), and auditory hallucinations (a recent Mad Men episode actually got this part right to hilarious effect).

        Not that this Glyph knows any of this from personal experience, of course. Like Mike, I have a good, uh, ‘friend’ who told me all about it.Report

  5. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    “I insisted she take English 101 and English 102 her first year because they were invaluable to me when I was in school.”

    Depending on what they teach. I’ve always been a math/tech guy. The speech and composition classes I took in high school (where they made you get up in front of a group and speak at least once/week, and made you write almost every day and get feedback on all your writing) were invaluable. The freshman college literature classes that passed for English 101 and 102 and covered whatever the grad student or post-doc was interested in, much less so. Looking back with almost 40 years of perspective, it is my opinion that every college grad should have completed a semester of speech and a semester of writing. You should come out of college with some idea about how to communicate your ideas.Report

  6. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Mike, I say you’ve done well.

    Following up on Michael Cain above, as long as you were clear in talking about writing/composition classes, all I can say is god bless you. Students who can’t draft a reasonably coherent and organized paper are going to struggle in an awful lot of classes. A colleague of mine in Chemistry teaches a science writing class because he understands that his students need to be able to write lab reports and grant proposals, and that means being able to compose. I have a friend who is an artist who had to go back to school to learn to write because he realized he wasn’t going to make much money selling his stuff in a gallery, but had to get grants, and in doing that his writing was as, or even more, crucial as his talent.

    As to the drug talk, right on. I despair of students who are true potheads, but as bad as they are they don’t get in as many fights or fall off roofs or get raped with the frequency of the binge drinkers. I know a straight arrow guy who’s probably had less than 10 drinks in his life and has never tried marijuana, but after more than a decade of working in a national park with huge influxes of college-age season help each summer, he’s dead certain that the potheads are preferable to the drinkers; they’re just not as destructive, to themselves or the people around them. I don’t smoke pot and I like my liquor and beer, but by god you gave her the right advice.Report

    • Avatar Mo says:

      I wonder how much of it is due to its current legal status? Obviously the lion’s share of the behavior is due to the differing physiological and psychological effects of the substances. Though I wonder if part of the better behavior is because you can go to jail for one and not the other.Report

  7. Avatar Glyph says:

    Mike, you are the hunting guy right? Would you ever consider a post on the similarities (if you see any) between guns and drugs? To my mind they are more alike than they may appear on surface – both are tools that can be used responsibly & relatively safely (even enjoyably!), and can be lethal & destructive when misused.

    Lord knows I wouldn’t want to fire a gun that some home enthusiast slapped together with no real knowledge of how to build the thing correctly, and the tools to do so, and proper quality control; nor does it makes much sense to ingest a drug (or gin!) cooked up in a bathtub by some random dude.Report

  8. 1) Avoid all illegal (or illegally-used) drugs that must be injected, snorted or consumed as a pill.

    2) Avoid smoking anything that can also be snorted or injected.

    3) Avoid smoking anything that has been dipped in anything else.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      That blotter acid’s looking pretty good right about now.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        And it dissolves readily in infant formula! 🙂

        Hey Jason – what is that photo in yr gravatar? I feel like I almost recognize it, yet can’t identify it, and it has been driving me crazy.Report

      • Nobody ever overdosed on LSD, nor is there any evidence that it is addictive.

        Sure, people do crazy-ass shit after having taken it. But the same is true to a much greater and well-documented degree with hooch.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          Russell, is “crazy ass shit” the official medical term?Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          Hi Russel, I don’t disagree, but as an MD what is your opinion on people in which it appears (and some will even tell you this of themselves) that their LSD use may have caused permanent effects?

          IOW, would a Syd Barrett have lost his mind eventually, no matter what? Did the LSD speed the process up, or destabilize him further than otherwise would be so once the primary effects have faded?Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            My ‘friend’ tells me that the LSD itself never really caused him any problems but the speed that was often mixed with it was a nightmare. He tells me that if he ever wanted to trip again he would find some good mushrooms instead.Report

          • You’ll want to find a goodly grain of salt to take this with, Glyph, since it’s been a long time since I last read anything authoritative on the subject. That said, it is my understanding that LSD as typically ingested on sporadic occasions by the overwhelming majority of users does not induce mental health disorders in otherwise normal individuals. If you are already predisposed to mental illness, it might hasten the process, but I believe even that is unclear. But unless I am mistaken (which is quite possible), I do not believe it will make you crazy if you weren’t already headed in that direction.

            On the other hand (same stipulation as above, FWIW), I do believe the effects of Ecstasy on serotonin stores can precipitate depression, even in patients who were otherwise normal. While I think it’s hard to state with certainty that a patient absolutely would not have been depressed had they not taken it, I’ve certainly had patients whose first major depressive episode came shortly after taking the drug.Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              Thanks Russell, and sorry for misspelling yr name above. How I do wish for an Edit button.

              This comports with my personal observations and what I have read on the subject.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 says:

              Isn’t Ecstasy — or well, a more scientific sounding Ecstasy — being used in (in conjunction with therapy) to treat PTSD?

              Or am I mixing drugs again?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

                Morat – I’ve heard the same thing about PTSD. Professonally made methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) has some promise for treating this problem.

                The WOD has left a lot of drugs with potential positive uses illegal largely because of lobbying dollars from the pharm industry. A good example is
                Ibogaine, which grows naturally and is used to successfully treat addiction in certain countries. Because it has psychoactive properties it is also, sadly, illegal in the U.S.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                IIRC, Israel has experimented with treating soldiers who are suffering from PTSD with MDMA, to promising results. There have been rumblings of the US doing the same, and of course some people have already done this underground, on their own initiative, and at great legal risk. MDMA and certain psychedelics have also shown promise in alleviating anxiety and depression in terminal patients.

                See here for some interesting info:


        • Avatar Chris says:

          LSD isn’t physically addictive, but if it’s the same as when… ahem… people I knew used to do it, it is often spiked with drugs that can be. For example… ahem, some friends of mine may have dropped a couple hits of acid once in the mid-1990s and then stayed awake for over 36 hours straight because it was spiked with amphetamines (as was often the case, back then at least). Trips also used to end with back aches for similar reasons, or so I’ve been told, having no such experience myself.Report

          • LSD is measured in micrograms. The amount you have to take to feel the effects is so small that you wouldn’t “lace” it with anything. We are talking about a piece of blotter paper that is an 1/8th inch square. If you are talking about liquid LSD you might take 1-3 drops. It isn’t cost effective for people to “lace” LSD with any other drug.

            LSD is typically sold for $5-10 for a hit where as a single pill of Ecstasy could run you $20 easy.Report

            • really could use an edit button 🙂Report

            • Avatar Chris says:

              It wasn’t laced to be able to make more selling less.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                What he’s saying is that a piece of blotter paper can’t be meaningfully “laced” with very many things at all. If there was any speed on that blotter, it was likely too small of a dose even to be noticed, let alone keep you up for 36 hours. (My bet’s on the LSD itself, here.)

                The drugs that might fit on a blotter in pharmacologically significant doses are very few. There’s LSD, fentanyl, nicotine, and some of the more exotic new hallucinogens. Not too many others among the recreationals.

                Even the old LSD-laced-with-strychnine thing is probably a lie, because you could soak a blotter with strychnine solution and it wouldn’t do very much at all. The dose is just too low. Also, strychnine is one of the most bitter substances in the world, and you’ll taste it way, way before you suffer any other ill effects from it.Report

              • You can ingest a pharmacologically active dose of fentanyl from a blotter? I didn’t know that, though it seems plausible enough.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                I’ve read about overdoses from chewing the patches.Report

              • Ah. I’d be surprised if a blotter’s worth would pack much wallop.

                But I’m glad to know I live in a world where people took it upon themselves to chew a transdermal patch.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Some more less than useful drug advice….

                Never smoke a transdermal patch.
                Don’t smoke vodka, chloroform, or ether.
                Don’t inject nitrous oxide.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Never smoke anything bigger than your head.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                > Never smoke anything bigger than your head.

                OMG that killed me. I’m dyin’ over here.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                I’m not denying anyone’s experiences. I’m only saying you can’t fit five milligrams of anything into a piece of blotter paper, and that’s the starting dose of amphetamine for a child.

                The most likely explanation is that LSD itself makes people’s teeth chatter. I know that when I tried mushrooms in Amsterdam, that was definitely the case with me. It doesn’t seem unreasonable.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                When I had mushrooms in Amsterdam I made sure to use a credit card for the purchase. I was disappointed that the credit card bill wasn’t more clearly reflective of the item bought.

                Never liked mushrooms.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                p.s. My friends generally did acid in one of three ways: on blotter paper, in gel tabs, or using a dropper. In general, all 3 produced the back aches (so I’m told), and if I remember what they told me correctly, the blotter and gel tabs produced… wakefulness beyond what you would expect from LSD itself.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

              When my ‘friends’ were taking LSD it was in the form of a gel tab and it was most definitely laced with speed. Fun for the first few hours (they said) but when the LSD wears off you’re lying in bed with your teeth chattering for another 3 hours. No fun.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                One of the things that… my friends… were disappointed about, with acid, was that it didn’t last as long as we’d been led to believe. The explanation was always that the acid sold in the 60s and 70s was more potent or in a higher concentration or whatever, but I had older friends who talked of 12+ hour trips, whereas my friends’ trips lasted no more than 3 or 4.Report

              • If a trip does not last for 8-12 hours then it’s probably a dose that is below threshold. One of the tough things about LSD is that you can’t eyeball a dose. You have to trust the seller/creator. There is lots of good information here.


                If you are going to do ANY drug you should research and proceed with caution. Start small.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                I’m so glad you mentioned Erowid. Truly an invaluable resource, and everyone should know about it. (This is good advice to one’s college freshman, incidentally.)

                Earth and Fire Erowid wrote for Cato Unbound a few years back. You might find it interesting, if you haven’t read it already:


              • I hadn’t come across that article but thanks for sharing.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I don’t remember hearing of anyone who had a trip that lasted more than 6-8 hours in the 90s, and most lasted fewer than that. Now I don’t know what to chalk that up to. And it wasn’t a matter of too little in all cases, at least, because … my friends knew people who made the stuff.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                By the way, it has been ~15 years since… my friends… have done any of this sort of thing.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Eric speaks true here.

                My misbehavin’ days are behind me, mostly due to lack of time (I want a bumper sticker that says ‘I don’t miss drugs, I miss the time to do them’) and changed risk/reward calculus.

                But I still read Erowid occasionally to see what the kids are getting up to, and live vicariously a little, and empathize/laugh at the young and foolish (Hold tight onto that carpet, little camper! Everything’s gonna be OK!)Report

              • Glyph I feel like we are the same person right now.Report

          • Avatar Glyph says:

            Chris, my, uh, friends, were getting up to some of the same hijinks at around the same timeframe, and experienced some of the same unwanted side effects, usually attributed by most, as you do here, to adulterants.

            But I have to say that even then that never made a lot of sense to me. The rumored adulterants were generally either more expensive than the drug being taken (so it doesn’t make any sense to ‘cut’ using these – for a long time LSD was only $5 a pop, for gosh sake’s) or did not work well in that form factor (it was tiring repeatedly explaining that no, Ecstasy is probably not cut with heroin because you could only get a tiny amount of heroin into that pill and it’s not too effective orally).

            But there’s no doubt adulterants do happen, either through greed/malfeasance or simple incompetence/error.

            Which is to say, if we really wanted kids to be safe, we’d manufacture all these things under proper lab conditions, with proper quality control, and testing and labeling.Report

  9. Avatar Will says:

    I don’t have kids, but I do have younger female cousins. I also clerked for a court that saw a lot of sex crimes, mostly between young adults (18-22) who were away from home for the first time ever.

    Alcohol should be your number one concern. Full stop.

    I never saw a single rape or sexual assault case where the parties where high. There were plenty of cases where folks got BCD or DD because they got high and got popped on a test, but rape cases begin with beer-bongs, not bong hits.

    People consume too much alcohol. They consume it too fast. They don’t take into account that they weigh less than other people. They make bad decisions while drinking it. They get violent when drinking it. People forget about consent issues when drinking it. If anyone drinks enough alcohol, somewhere between blitzed and passing out, they can become a different person.

    Somewhere, as a far distant second to alcohol, you should probably encourage them to avoid the more habit forming drugs–nicotine, opiates (heroin, oxy, percoset, vicodin, etc.), meth, cocaine…

    Then, if you’ve still got time, you can talk about hallucinogens.Report

  10. Avatar James K says:

    This depends on the country to some extent, If I had children then I’d advise them of the dangers of taking illegal drugs in the US – chief among them being what the government would do to them if it caught them. Don’t get me wrong, marijuana is illegal here too, but the police don’t even bother arresting people for simple possession because it’s not worth their time (I imagine they’ll add it to the charges if they’re arresting you for something else).Report

  11. Avatar Trumwill Mobile says:

    My basic thing is…

    If you drink, don’t put yourself or others in danger. If you smoke pot, don’t get caught If you smoke cigarettes, don’t let Mom find out. If you do hallucinagens, don’t let me find out. (There’s a story attached to this last part. “You know that friend Walt that I talk about and you never met. You haven’t met him because he died when he was 19…”)Report

    • Are you ok with sharing the story?Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I second this request, was afraid to make it myself for fear of appearing ghoulish.

        But there has been so much of the ridiculous ‘Reefer Madness’-type propaganda & rumors, now discredited, that I think many people now incorrectly discount any risks at all (one more unwanted side effect of the current WOD approach).

        So genuine stories of the real risks are still needed. More info is always better.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Well, the short version is that it was an ingredient in his (unexpected*) suicide. The long version involves the wreckage he left behind and why I would go apespit if I ever found out that he or she was doing that particular drug. Especially given some of the self-destructive tendencies that run in our family. Alcohol is an ever-present concern as well, but that’s one of those throw-your-hands-in-the-air things that’s too culturally ingrained (and due to our extended family, the negative ramifications of alcohol abuse will be ever-present).

        * – Well, it’s rarely expected of course, but there are some people it never occurs to you to worry about that with. You’re worried about Pete, and then Walt does what he did.Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          Will, thanks for sharing. Interestingly, the two suicide attempts in my circle were alcohol-related.

          Not that I blame alcohol per se (though, you know, depressant); but one was a full-blown alcoholic (my grandfather, a successful suicide) and the other (a friend) was drinking more than his girlfriend was comfortable with in the period leading up to the attempt (ultimately unsuccessful, but will never be the same mentally due to the injury incurred in the attempt).

          Both men’s alcohol usage may have been cases of self-medicating for depression, of course.Report

          • Thanks for sharing. The only suicide attempts I’ve been around resulted from depression and drinking was present in both cases. In the once case my friend it was a successful attempt. He had done two tours in Iraq/Afghanistan and was suffering heavily from PTSD but wasn’t seeking treatment.Report

  12. Avatar Trumwill Mobile says:

    My parents speech consisted of…

    (This space intentionally left blank.)Report

  13. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Mike – I loved this post. And it’s coming at just about the right time. I’m trying to figure out the messaging that I’ll need to engage in a year or two.

    So I’ll mostly be a cautious observer here, but I LOVE that you posted this.Report

  14. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Cheetah Chrome, who is a great guitarist that nearly ruined himself with drugs (seriously- Guns’n’Roses once covered one of his songs so he could get clean, because *GUNS’N’ROSES* thought HIS drug problem was out of control), once ended an article with the line, “Remember kids, stay off the bad drugs!”

    Okay, my advice to the younger generation about drugs: You’ll probably try drinking too early and drink way too much. Have a designated driver and sober friend with you. Sometimes, be the designated driver and sober friend. All other plans are stupid. If you’re still drinking too much at 30, get help. Don’t have sex with anyone who is drunk that you are not already having sex with when you’re both sober.

    You’ll also probably smoke pot. Do it at home, where you can entertain yourself with movies, music, video games, and sex. Make sure you’ve got snacks so you don’t have to try to locate them when you’re stoned. All other plans are stupid. Both pot and booze are nice leisure activities. People who do them daily are either seriously troubled or musicians.

    Acid: It’s nearly impossible to find good acid and whatever you’re going to find is bad, so skip that. Shrooms: basically, what I said about pot. Cocaine is a good way to waste a lot of money and act like an asshole in order to get the same effect as drinking way too much coffee and acting like an asshole. Heroin: I’ve never known anyone who did heroin and later looked back fondly on their heroin days. Most of the friends I knew who did it are dead from doing it. If you’re going to do crack, it’s better to drink all of that coffee, punch yourself in the face repeatedly, alienate all of your friends, and give every last dime to people you don’t like. If that’s your thing, there’s always Scientology.

    That would be if I had a kid and was being really, really frank with them.Report

  15. Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

    As somebody on the younger end of the median age here (I think), I hope your wife told your daughter something to the effect of, “never believe a guy when he says this picture/video you’re sending/making with him will only be seen by him.”Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:


    • Avatar Ken says:

      My standard version of that speech is “never allow anyone(including yourself) to take a picture of you that you wouldn’t be comfortable having your parents see on page A1 of the New York Times. Also. Assume you’re always being photographed when you’re in public.”Report

  16. Avatar A Teacher says:

    I would be very cautious downplaying the fact that most drugs are still very illegal (unless you’re in a state/ county that has opted to not enforce them). While the case can be made that majuiana wan’t cook her brain into nothingness, getting caught with the right amount of it by the right person could put a felony on her record and makes things like Law School a pain to get into.Report

  17. Avatar Philip H says:

    Hey Mike,
    You do realize you are starting to sound . . . a tad liberal?

    That’s the problem we have created for ourselves. I can go online and find government-sponsored information that will tell me how many drinks I can consume in five hours and still be legal to drive (answer: 6). I know that hard liquor does things to me that I don’t like while a few beers cause me no problems. I found this out through 100% legal trial and error. But kids get no similar advice on drugs. There are no quality controls. They are exposed to drugs that someone made in their bathtub because it can’t be produced legally. Our government’s drug polices just don’t make sense.

    Growing up is pretty hard and parents do our best to guide our kids in the right direction but I can’t address every possible obstacle or choice she will face. On this subject though, I hope I’ve done the right thing.


    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

      Phillip – you dirty dog. I consider myself more libertarian on the issue than liberal.

      P.S. We might be heading to DC in the fall. I still owe you a beer.Report

  18. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Actually, my wife does a lot of therapy with teens and listening to her horror stories, I’m starting to think I’d have to warn my kids, “There are some fairly self-serving people out there who will try to push psychotropic drugs on you that will alter your perceptions, do long-term damage to your body, and provide a crutch that you don’t need like they say you do. Now, not all psychiatrists are that way, but be alert!”Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

      That was a point I almost made Rufus and decided to simplify. But it’s also 100% correct hat there are plenty of legal drugs that mess you up waaaay more than marijuana.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        I have to wonder if there are parents out there who find out their kids are experimenting with mood altering drugs and treat it by getting them on Lithium. I’ve heard worse.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        If it was a choice between my kid taking up pot or booze, and both were legal? I’d push for pot.

        If nothing else, stoners don’t tend to start bar fights and try to drive. Plus, less liver damage and blackouts.Report

        • Avatar Ken says:

          No one ever smoked a bowl and then tried to put someone’s eye out with a broken pool cue.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            No kidding. We talked to our squirt — still in high school — and flat out spoke about dangers and addiction risks.

            If he got the impression we’d much, much, MUCH prefer to find him with a joint than a beer or a cigarette, well…then he got the point. OTOH, we also have a pretty open policy towards alcohol that boils down to “We don’t care if you try it. But we will end your entire social existance if we find out you tried it anywhere but HERE. And god help your immortal soul if you got into a car.”

            There wasn’t anything to do BUT be honest. What is legal, what isn’t. What’s addictive, what isn’t. What the results are, and what they aren’t.

            Strangely my biggest worries are alcohol and tobacco. The former because, flatly, it’s dangerous as shit and it’s very legality tends to make kids underestimate it. The latter because, well, I’ve watched people try to quit. It’s addictive as hell, and not exactly good for you.Report

  19. Avatar Miss Mary says:

    My father made it clear that experimenting with pot was OK. Being the rebel that I am, I’m 25 and never tried it. Dang reverse psychology.Report

  20. Avatar Jaybird says:

    There are a lot of speeches that I heard but I look back and see that the speeches that would have made the most sense were never really given to me.

    I’ll try to put a speech that would have worked on me together…

    You know how it feels good when you write a paper, or get a math problem correct, or throw a perfect frisbee into the chains at the frisbee golf course? Well, weed will make you feel good. It’ll make you feel that good just watching Quantum Leap or Bob Ross on PBS. You won’t have done a damn thing, but you’ll feel just as good as if you had written the best paper you’ve ever written and gotten back and gotten an A on it.

    It’s also easy. If you wanted to write the best paper of your life, it’d take a couple of weeks, at least. Then clean up the rough draft, clean up the transitions between paragraphs, add a point you wanted to make, remove a point that really didn’t go anywhere, and polish the conclusion until it’s razor sharp with exactly the right words that turn your writing into *PROSE*.

    To light up a doob, all you need is a doob.

    Since feeling good feels good, it can be very easy to not write a paper but, instead, light up… and, eventually, the best paper you could possibly write is not as good as the one you would have written before you started with the weed.

    Nothing wrong with wanting to feel good every now and again, of course. Sometimes you’ve had a week where that sort of thing is a reward… but feeling good, for nothing at all, can be very tempting. So tempting that you could fall into the exact same trap as hundreds of thousands of others: people who don’t do anything who smoke pot because it makes them feel like they’ve accomplished something. You should never, never, never, EVER get used to feeling good for nothing.Report

  21. Majoring in English has proven the practical choice for me so far.Report