Everybody has their own personal story, but somehow in most of those stories there’s at least a tiny part concerning drugs…
The truth cannot be ignored and, truly, I don’t want to remain indifferent and not to share what’s struggling in me and searching for answers, seeking change, searching for a solution…
People asked me: – What if your child took drugs, you will stay on the side of the harm reduction programs and will seek re-socialization centers? Or what if your child has problems with drugs, you won’t punish him, and will support him? The answer to both questions is OF COURSE! Aren’t we all people and don’t we have the right to decide for our lives? Where nowadays is the right to choice?! I am aware that every one unit at least once had a situation in their lives when it encountered drugs. And the possibility to get in contact is huge. That is of course, a reality, and we as parents can, as for other things, tell ourselves that ‘my child would never do such a thing, s/he would never try drugs…’ and, of course, we are unrealistic… we must not destroy the curiosity in our children for anything, but we can influence them to make the right choices. The right way to go, on the right track, and to communicate the true choices is when we have the right education, lots of communication among us, understanding and love.
If we start from the idea that every human being has the right to choice, then we have the right to say that s/he has the right to use drugs. But, the question which comes up is whether the individual knows what drugs are and how they are used. What do they cause? What is the outcome? Firstly, it’s education and getting to know the consequences. Truly I will not be honest if I say that it is all right and nothing scary if my child is using drugs. Maybe it’s not scary if s/he tries, but chronic use is an obvious rebellion, a revolt, demonstration, a problem, an inability to control curiosity. Then, the parent should know the changes and recognize the consequences, and of course, should consciously seek help. But, where is the help?! And the dilemma for her always is – is it the real one.
Why harm reduction programs? Because of the possibility not to interfere with the choice, while preventing high risk consequences. And a possibility, of course, to introduce programs that lead to education for the health risk, motivation for treatment and direction towards gradual dependence treatment.
I have always been on the side of prevention, not prohibition. And the way to prevent the use of drugs, to find a solution about life’s problems means to first and foremost, be willing to face what is before us, to be awake and aware about what the reason is, and locating it, to find ways to motivate him/her to focus his/her energy in a different direction, to find the motive to be willing to win, to be happy, but not on the account of other’s misfortune, and finally, to find the appropriate institutions that will affect the resolution of the problem of any nature, whether psychological, economic, social… and, of course, my vision about the prevention is guiding them from very early age towards sports and healthy lifestyle. I say this from experience, as a former professional sportsperson and a physician working in the field of prevention.
Suffering is great in situations when there is an dependent person in the household, actively seeking drugs and making his life priority that. I wouldn’t want to have anybody go through that, not even me as a parent… but, the choice of others is not always the same as ours… the fear, the sleepless nights, the wakes, the worries and thoughts about the forthcoming future, the outcome and the limit between what is a life or death, the feeling of guilt and the thoughts where lies one’s mistake, the pain when you see the suffering of a mother whose child enjoys drugs, all this is a great agony and fear… But, fear doesn’t resolve anything. Turning a blind eye before the problems and putting guilt towards oneself or others does not resolve the problem. Ignoring or hiding the problem makes the problem dormant, but still present. Fear takes us over the cliff. Whether I will use drugs, is above all, my decision which is why I should make the decision to stop using drugs. Eventually, it is us who decide about our lives, we are the ones who create all around us. And our closest ones of course should contribute to creating the conditions to help me accept my decision.
I don’t know how long will this world take to understand that punishing will not solve the problem that the police and the legislators should change their purpose and be the support, guidance and help. What if a person caught with a certain amount of cannabis for personal use is punished as a dealer and remains in prison more than 2 years? First of all, the question is whether this person should be punished because of the reason he possessed or because of the intent s/he had with the cannabis, and whether that is proven. And who will pay the penalty for a wrong sentence? Who will pay the suffering and traumatized life of the person, and maybe his/her children? Shall the system always be part of our lives, and shall we be victims of the system? Of course the system should have a protective role, prevent for the good of other people, but also to trust the individual and to provide support from institutions other than prison. Institutions which will identify the real reason, where a person can get support and help. Prison really isn’t that… it just fails to provide to all these people the try way because it lacks the true features of education and re-socialization. It has penalties, traumas, bad conditions, personal degrading. It has an inhumane nature which makes these people nothing more than to feel rejected, miserable, used, manipulated and that years have passed, and they haven’t gone through the process of re-socialization, and what is worse, they think they were born as such, that they don’t know about anything else and that they continue to follow the same trail. I will reiterate, a system must be found – that knows what it punishes for – and not to only statistically punish. The reason and intent are important, not the quantity.
If we go back to the role of the family, comparing prison, we will come to the same thing. I don’t want my child to end up in prison because with his/her personal choice s/he doesn’t hurt anyone, although, unfortunately, if it uses drugs it hurts him/herself. That’s why I think that penalties will not solve the problem. Understanding, education, facing other people, communication are those that will resolve this. The true wish to help and the willingness to understand WHY and HOW.
Natasha Nikolovska Stankovikj
The author is a medical doctor, engaged by the Ministry of Health within the Unit of Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.