When I was a boy growing up on my grandparents’ farm, I remember a time about this time of year when my grandfather was removing leftover corn seed from the planter and I decided to see what it smelled like.

It was a reddish-purple color (from the protective coating) and I was curious, because I had never seen kernels of corn that color. I looked over the side of the planter box and gave it a whiff, and I remember my nose burning just a bit.

But what I remember most was the way he pushed me from the seeds, yelling at me with some choice words mixed in.

Lessons learned

I smelled the seeds because I was young and curious, and he scolded me because he knew the dangers of inhaling a chemical. I deserved what I got, even though I didn’t know it at the time.

There were times when we’d burn trash on the farm and he wouldn’t let me outdoors, for fear I’d get near the smoke and breathe in something harmful.

Many of the lessons he taught me have stuck with me over the years, and I get apprehensive even today when someone throws a Styrofoam plate onto a campfire or I walk past someone’s trash fire.

I value my lungs, my brain and my health, and the lessons taught to me when I was young are a big reason. But we’ve got a group of people today — a ridiculously large group — that puts more things into their body than I can count.

Whether it’s through inhaling, injecting or eating — they’re putting some of the harshest chemicals that even exist into their body and destroying themselves in the process.

Costing everyone

The cost to their own life is tremendous, but so is the cost to their family and those they affect.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse — abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs costs more than $600 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and healthcare.

Many of these drugs cause long-term effects, including addiction, but some of them also cause lifetime damage that cannot be repaired. Rehab South Florida Inc. helps regain control of your life and continue your favorite activities.

I remember very well the public service commercials of the 1980s, when the person would hold up an egg and a skillet, and compare the egg to the human brain on drugs, while it was being fried.

In this particular commercial, the narrator doesn’t fry the egg, but she does do a pretty good job of smashing it, and the dishes and everything around her, as she shows what drugs do not only to one’s self, but one’s family, future, money and job:

When she’s done, she tosses the skillet aside and bluntly asks: “Any questions?”

I don’t believe so. …

Need continues

But when you look at the drug use numbers today, it’s obvious a lot of people still don’t get it. They’re not listening or they’re not following what they’re told, and the cost is tremendous.

In some countries, like Singapore, you can be executed for drug abuse. Maybe that’s extreme, but it also is worth looking at.

I keep hearing from drug control agencies that want more money to fight drug abuse, and help the addicts recover but I can’t understand why it’s as high as it is in the first place — why so many expose themselves to something that, if it doesn’t kill you, you’ll eventually need help getting away from.

More needs done

I understand there are many kinds of drug addictions and some are the side effects of legal prescription drugs.

But we’ve got too many people who abuse the ones they’re not supposed to, and then pass on the cost to everyone else. For so many, they can’t even get a job because they can’t pass the pre-employment drug test.

This is ridiculous and should not have to be paid for by people who know and do better.

Maybe more people need what I got when I was a kid, a good hard lecturing about the dangers of chemicals. Or maybe that skillet that smashes the egg needs used across someone’s duff. A little more gently, but with intent.

We need something that sinks in, something that makes a difference.


Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
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