"Hi Doug, I watched your presentation at our Middle School. I’m almost 13 years old and I’m in seventh grade. I suffer from anxiety, ADD and depression. I wanted to share with you my experience with loved ones and their choices with drugs; and thank you for your educational presentation.
About three years ago, I was a gymnast with ___Club gymnastics. My coach had just helped my learn a new skill. She was the best and most caring coach (in my opinion) that I’ve ever had. A few days later, she had overdosed on a drug with fentanyl. The same Starbucks bathroom that I had used an hour before this afternoon’s assembly. At first I didn’t understand why she would do this to herself; as she always seemed happy and healthy, both mentally and physically. I understand that this person was not educated.
My uncle died before I was born due to lung cancer caused by cigarette smoking. I was aware of this as a child and developed a fear of people who smelled, smoked, or even talked about cigarettes often. I thought that if I smelled cigarettes I would become addicted and die a horrible and painful death. I realize now that I had been having this belief due to lack of education on this topic. I still get anxious smelling cigarettes, but now after lots of learning I understand what drugs really do.
My grandfather died in August. He had been horribly addicted to alcohol, and gave my father a lot of issues from the way he acted around him. My biological dad was impulsive and struggled finding his purpose in life. He became a detective in his hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa, pretty much doing the same job you described you have done. He went undercover and investigated drug heists. Not long later, he was stabbed six times. If he hadn’t gotten to the hospital in time, I would have NEVER been born.
It saddens me to see the ignorant choices youth just like me have made. I’ve been offered a vape. I’ve been attempted to be brainwashed by my peers to believe that this is cool. I used to think, maybe I shouldn’t think that cigarettes are harmful, and maybe my uncles death was a fluke, or a made up story. Without this kind of vital education, I could have made the wrong choice. Went down the wrong path. Chose to put my health and other’s in danger. And that is why I am so grateful for people who do what you do.
I plan to go to UBC. I want to study paediatric and adolescents psychology and addiction. It was people like you who have inspired me to help others; and I deeply appreciated that you take the time to educate."