Archive for June 25th, 2009

Drugs and BBYO

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

It’s no secret that some BBYO members use drugs. I realize it’s not something anyone wants to talk about publicly – nobody wants BBYO to be associated with drug use (never mind the fact that members of every other youth organization do drugs as well). But ignoring the problem doesn’t solve it.

Especially if you don’t think it’s a problem in the first place.

So bear with me, and you’ll read the truth about drugs and alcohol – what they don’t teach properly in school. Please read it even (especially) if you don’t yourself use drugs or alcohol – because it will help you know what to say to your friends.

Drugs Kill Chapters

The logic is simple. Parents disapprove of drugs. Parents trust that BBYO will be a good influence on their kids. If your chapter gets a reputation or is known to be involved with drugs and alcohol parents will stop sending their kids to your chapter. It will become harder and harder to recruit and ultimately your chapter will die. I’ve seen it happen.

What you do outside events matters

I’ve heard a remarkable number of members argue that as long as they don’t do drugs or drink at events, everything is fine. There are two reason why this is wrong:

  1. You are a role model for other members even outside of events.
  2. Parents don’t care whether it’s an event or not – if their son or daughter is being introduced to drugs or drink by members, they consider it BBYO regardless.

These may not seem “fair”. But fair or not, they are absoloutely true and you can’t escape, argue, or avoid them.

Drugs aren’t simply “bad”

Most schools do a lousy job teaching the truth about drugs. They give the impression that drugs and alcohol will ruin your life. So what happens when teens experiment once or twice and discover that their life doesn’t fall apart overnight? They assume that the school was lying and that drugs and alcohol aren’t that dangerous.

Here’s what they should be teaching:

Drugs and alcohol may or may not ruin your life

Drugs and alcohol are like playing Russian Roulette – you don’t know how it will impact you. Everyone is different. Some people can use these substances in moderation and it will have little or no impact on their lives. For others, it is much more dangerous – they might become alcoholics, or move into harder drugs. Even pot can, in certain individuals, trigger serious mental illness.

You won’t know how it impacts someone until after the impact

Not only does the reaction to drugs and alcohol vary by individual – the consequences don’t become apparent for months. So the fact that someone can experiment once or twice and not see an impact doesn’t mean a thing. By the time you see the impact, the damage has been done.

Introducing someone to drugs or alcohol is unfraternal

Because you can’t know how it will impact someone, introducing someone to drugs or alcohol is literally putting their future and lives at risk. Doing so is one of the most unfraternal and cruel things you can do to a brother Aleph or sister BBG. Anyone who does so is not worthy of being a member of the organization.

The younger you are the greater the danger

One of the fastest growing parts of your body during adolescence is your brain. Bathing it in alcohol, THC or other substances can change the way your brain grows. If you feel you have to experiment in these things, do yourself a favor and wait until college. It’s not “safe”, but it is safer – by then your brain is largely constructed, your character and habits formed and stable. Starting at 13 or 14 is incredibly reckless, and the odds of serious harm happening at that age are much, much higher than for those who start at 18 or 19.

The Final World

If you do get high, smoke or drink, there’s a good chance you’ll find excuses, justifications or even reasons that I am wrong – most users won’t even admit they have a problem, even as their friends watch them self-destruct. But maybe you will see the truth here and stop (I’ve seen this happen as well) – and someone who stops and stays clean is just as good a role model as someone who never started.

In truth, I am mostly writing this for those who are tempted, or who have friends who are tempted to experiment with drugs or alcohol. If you understand the harm they can do to your chapter, and how unfraternal it is to allow substance use to spread in BBYO, maybe you’ll wait until after your time in BBYO to try these things (if you must). At least that is my hope.