Last week was our annual end-of-year celebration at the Meth Action Coalition (MAC). It’s a time when our board of directors and all volunteers gather to celebrate the work we accomplished throughout the school year.
When I tallied the numbers before we met, I was astonished to realize that we gave our drug prevention talk in fifty classrooms this past year. No wonder some of us are so tired! Seriously, that number translates to nearly two thousand teenagers in Central Oregon who have heard our message this school year. We believe lives are being saved.
For those of you unfamiliar with our coalition, we were founded in 2004 when meth labs ravaged Oregon. With cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine (a key ingredient in making meth) now available only by prescription, the labs are gone but the meth is not. Now trafficked up the I-5 and Hwy 97 corridors, meth continues to take its toll on Oregon. And heroin has joined in with a vengeance…five people have died of overdose in Bend alone just since January.
We at MAC now tackle the problem of drug abuse at the consumer end by offering prevention education in the schools. And we’re not just about meth anymore. We talk with teenagers about all drugs of abuse, including the drug alcohol, and work to empower them with information. We talk about the latest research in brain science, the fragility of the teenage brain, and offer caution that the seeds of addiction are sown during these very vulnerable years. The most compelling part of our presentation, however, is when an addict in recovery shares his or her personal story. When they speak, a classroom of restless teenagers goes silent. It goes something like this:
“Hi, I’m Jane and I’m a recovering (meth, heroin, marijuana, alcohol) addict. I attended middle school in this very school, and sat in the same seats in the same classrooms you’re in now. And I was just your age when a boy I liked first offered me drugs. I was so shy, and all I was trying to do was fit in. But here’s where it took me…I lost everything. Like everyone, I had hopes and dreams for my future and at no time did I ever see addiction in it.”
No glitz, no shock and awe, no scare tactics. Just honest vulnerability.
I love our volunteers. Their willingness to humble themselves before others, and share stories from the abyss, is a picture of true courage. My life has been enriched by the many friendships I’ve formed with people in recovery, and I’ve been inspired to do better myself.
I congratulate everyone at MAC for another year well done. Thank you for helping to make a difference in our community, and for making a difference in me.