When Did I Lose My Self Respect?

Drugs and Losing Self Respect

A good friend of mine came up with the following motto: “In the spice of life, drugging chokes it.” What he was trying to say was that using drugs ruins the joy in life. He loved the motto so much that he made stickers and sold them to people to make them aware of how drugs could ruin their lives.

Most people are confused about whether or not it’s acceptable to use drugs—even commonplace drugs like the nicotine in cigarettes. One of my friends commented about smoking, “If smoking is bad for you, why are so many people smoking?” But then he revealed his own confusion by also asking, “If smoking isn’t bad for you, then why are so many people trying to quit?” He’s really not alone. That confusion is a big reason so many people can’t figure out whether or not they should avoid the use of drugs.

How do they make up their minds? They will accept a philosophical statement to guide their decisions in life, maybe something like YOLO—you only live once. That’s the rallying cry of many groups of young people. Because they believe this, they think they should live life to the fullest and do anything and everything that gives them even a moment of pleasure. In many cases that includes taking drugs or drinking excessively.

I understand that it’s hard to know what’s right or wrong in this area, especially if you’re being subjected to either subtle or overt peer pressure. I’ve known some young people who made their own decisions to avoid drugs but because of the pressures they faced in life, they didn’t stick with this decision. That’s the kind of change that can ruin—or even end—your life.

But not everyone takes drugs. Some people don’t go near drugs no matter what. Others are easily attracted to them. When I was growing up, I watched my school friend John evolve from a decent person into a drugged-out criminal. That made me decide that I wanted to know what turned people in my neighbourhood into criminals.

Before he turned into a criminal, I’d been to John’s home a few times. I saw that he lived in a physically abusive environment. Through punishment and ridicule, John’s father clearly expressed the idea that John was not wanted and not worth anything to the family or anyone else.

But in the same neighbourhood, I had other friends in worse situations who did not turn to drugs or crime. I then looked at my own life and tried to determine what events caused me to turn to drugs when I’d been young. There was an exact event that created a domino effect that led to me turning to drugs and it had to do with my own integrity.

The event that started it for me was when I was about 12 years old and I stole money from my mother’s savings. For me, this was a tipping point that led to many more similarly dishonest actions. Before that point, no matter what was done to me by others, I retained my integrity and self-respect. After that point, however, everything changed.

Suddenly, my mother seemed to be so much meaner to me than before. It seemed to me that the world treated me more harshly. Suddenly, I needed an avenue of escape from this meanness and harshness and that’s what drugs offered.

My friend John went through this same change. When we were growing up together, he was the nicest friend I had. He was truly a pleasant, friendly person. Then later when I saw him in his early twenties, he was drugged up and a dangerous criminal that you would not want to ever cross.

The advice I would give to any drug taker or someone thinking about taking drugs is to look at where you lost your self-respect. Where did you give up your integrity for some imagined gain? It is not easy to take stock of yourself in this way when you feel like your pain and problems are the fault of someone else or the world at large. But you can do it. Think back to a time you were not taking drugs or didn’t feel oppressed by life. What happened just before this that might have caused you to give up your own integrity? Was there a confusing situation in life that you just didn’t know how to deal with and you compromised with what you knew was right?

If you find an incident like mine where I stole from my hard-working mother, try not to focus on how bad you were. We all make mistakes. Instead, think about your attitude toward life before this happened. What were your values? How did life look to you at that time? I bet it looked brighter and full of possibilities.

Focus on forgiving yourself. Maybe there’s some way you can correct that long-ago wrong. Most importantly, can you recover those values that were once so important to you? I bet you’ll find that those values represent who you really, truly are.

If you’re currently mired in drug use, you might need some help to get back to those values and that integrity once again. That’s what a detoxification center is for—to help a person out of the muck and mire and back onto solid land so they can really feel and act like themselves again. That’s what we can do for you at Narconon Melbourne. That’s what we do every day. To get help returning to your true values and integrity, give us a call today.


A. M.

I am a 44 years old construction project manager living in Sydney, Australia. Married with one child, doing volunteer work twice a week to help others to improve conditions in life.