Ward warns students about consequences of drug abuse

Published 9:03 am Wednesday, October 25, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

State Sen. Cam Ward spoke to Clanton Middle School students about the dangers of drug abuse during a Red Ribbon Week assembly on Oct. 24.

Red Ribbon Week focuses on keeping students drug free through awareness and asking them to sign pledges to stay away from drugs and alcohol.

“This is a tough conversation to have,” Ward said.

He said it is not a popular topic, but it is a very important one.

As the nature of drug abuse has changed over the years, so has the way it is talked about, Ward said.

He stressed that those addicted to drugs are no longer the stereotypical homeless person just trying to get the next fix. Instead, drug abuse has impacted people at every income level and background.

“Drugs do not discriminate,” Ward said.

He said illegal drugs are more powerful now than they have been in the past, and a person can become addicted after using just one time.

“Almost everyone here knows someone or has a loved one who has a drug problem,” Ward said. “It is a disease. A lot of times a person who is doing drugs wants to quit. They don’t want to do it anymore, but because of what the drug does to the brain, they can’t (quit).”

Peer pressure is often a factor in a person’s decision to use an illegal drug for the first time. Ward said making the decision to abuse drugs is not worth the consequences that it brings.

“People will respect you for standing up for your beliefs and what’s right and what’s wrong,” Ward said.

Many start abusing drugs because it makes them feel good. Ward said this feeling doesn’t last, and then the person is taking more drugs or drinking more alcohol to reach the good feeling that they want.

“It’s a dark road … you reach a point where you lose touch with what’s important,” Ward said.

While Ward said addiction is a disease, he said starting to use drugs is a choice.

“What feels good now can kill you later, ” Ward said.

He said if the decision not to do drugs “costs you your friends … you are better because of it.”

He warned students not to listen to anyone who tells them they have to use illegal drugs or abuse prescription drugs to be successful in life.

“Everyone’s destiny is determined by their actions,” Ward said.

He encouraged students not to be afraid to talk about the pressure they may be experiencing to do drug and the issues they face related to a family member that is dealing with drug abuse.