Volume 96, Issue 60
Thursday, January 16, 2003

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Epidemics, academics and ignorance

There are precious few absolute truths in the world, but it's fair to say most would agree with the following: Education is better than ignorance – always.

No matter what decision you're about to make, acquiring the greatest amount of knowledge possible is a good idea. Dealing with drugs is no exception.

Let's drop the pretense – university kids do drugs. Not all of them, not even the majority of them, but a healthy portion of higher learners put various things in their bloodstream for a variety of reasons.

However, upon arriving at university, many students are uninformed about drug culture. They are told by peers "c'mon, give it a shot," and make the decision to do drugs based on the loose assurance from a new acquaintance that all will be well.

There are too many things in our society that are swept under the rug because the majority of people don't want to acknowledge their existence. This willful blindness is appalling and, at times, dangerous. Why it is so difficult for people to accept the reality that good people, on occasion lie, cheat and do drugs is puzzling.

The intention behind a piece like the Campus and Culture feature in today's Gazette is to neither glamourize drug use, nor preach about its pitfalls. It is intended to teach. It is designed to present information in a frank manner, thus allowing people to make an informed decision.

Many people will argue that it does more harm than good to make information pertaining to the safe use and physical effects of drugs public knowledge. The truth is, if you want to do drugs, you will. Nobody is going to read about how to shoot heroin and instantly decide it's for them.

No matter what, life comes down to personal choices and the more awareness you have before making any decision, the better. If nothing else, presenting a guide to drugs will spark debates and get people talking about a controversial topic – and that's never a bad thing.

As a society, there is hope that we're moving in the right direction. Government funded clinics, like the one in Vancouver where heroine addicts can go to get a clean fix , are a good start. An option other than forcing a person to wander the streets and be subjected to the possibility of transmitting a disease via an infected needle, is a commendable step. It indicates that, rather than burying their head in the sand, governments and people are willing to take a constructive approach to curbing a problem, rather than simply turning a cold shoulder to it.

Many people consider drugs to be an epidemic in our society. However, drugs, both legal and illegal, are on their own far less potent than the epidemic that should be of greater concern – ignorance.



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