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A Thought for Today

by Terrell Tebbetts                  

A Lyon alum commented last week on the development of powdered alcohol, lamenting that the world has come up with yet another way to get addictive elements into the body.

The developer of this product claimed she’d just wanted to give travelers something “lightweight and easy to carry on-the-go.”

Another alum wondered how long it’d be before kids are snorting the stuff like cocaine. Sad to say, if it’s already for sale, I suspect some are already doing that. I hope emergency rooms are preparing.

Thinking about that brought me to today’s topic: the drugging of America.

We know we have a meth plague. A few weeks ago Batesville Police Chief Alan Cockrill described to the Kiwanis Club how Mexican gangs produce meth by the ton and distribute in the U. S., with Batesville one of the distribution centers.

Now we’re starting to hear more about a new prescription plague. A recent article pointed to the rise in the use of Adderall. It’s a prescription amphetamine and thus a stimulant approved for treating attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but now college students and twenty-somethings without ADHD are using it, legally or not, like ball players used steroids, as a quick and easy performance enhancer.

Those using it without medical supervision subject themselves to a number of dangerous side effects including confusion, dizziness, panic, hallucinations, irregular heartbeat, and coma.

But the wider problem is the dependence it and other drugs breed. We “fix” ourselves by using external substances instead of using our own innate self-healing abilities.

The recent miniseries on the Roosevelt family pointed to how our own innate abilities can heal us if we’ll use them.

Teddy Roosevelt was sick and puny as a kid and later as an adult was subject to depression. Determining to fix these problems long before drugs promised easy ways of doing so, he began a program of physical exercise and outdoor activity. Thus his months spent in America’s old Wild West, his hunting, his campaigning, and his famed Rough Riding. His mantra was “Get Action!”

By contrast, Teddy’s brother Elliott (Eleanor Roosevelt’s father), who also suffered from the family curse of depression, chose to self-medicate with the substance available back then, alcohol. He became addicted and committed suicide at age 34. So much for the easy way out of our problems.

Yes, we legitimately use modern drugs like Paxil and Adderall to correct clinical depression and clinical hyperactivity.But when we’re using four times more Adderall now than we used ten years ago, we know all of the increase isn’t treating rising hyperactivity.

No, we’re drugging America as a substitute for the self-discipline we need to correct our problems on our own, as Teddy Roosevelt did.

Are we a little lethargic? Get Action, not Adderall! Are we sad? Get Packing, not Paxil.

The easy way makes us weak. The hard way makes us strong.

Terrell Tebbetts is the Martha Heasley Cox Chair in English at Lyon College. He can be reached at