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Addiction Hidden under the guise of recreation

Addiction, addiction, addiction.

When I was a student at the University of Kentucky, the doorways to all dorm, and fraternity and sorority houses were surrounded by crates of cigarette cartons. The cartons were free, and almost everyone smoked. Ten years later, I was helping my husband in his insurance office here in Albuquerque. A man about my age came in. He was breathing through a hole in his throat with a tube running out of it. I had difficulty understanding his speech, but his grief and repentance was obvious by the tears running down his cheeks. He could no longer work and was sure he would never live to see his children grow up.

Moving forward in time through fortunes spent suing cigarette companies, our government finally required warnings on each pack of cigarettes. “No smoking” signs were tentatively posted in restaurants and other public places. No one then or now has been willing to admit all the evil that resulted from all that addiction.

Move ahead another 10 years and New Mexico decided to embrace the idea of casinos on land owned by Native Americans. The leaders and our government assured us it was a good investment for them and would be an opportunity for New Mexico to tax all that money pouring into our state. We would never again have to worry about our schools or roads or homeless people. Has this wealth been realized, or have many citizens just become addicted to gambling?

Several years ago, a young man from one of the pueblos worked on our farm. When he left for a better job, he sent me a letter of gratitude for our help. In that letter, he rued the day the government of his pueblo established the casino. His personal evaluation was startling. He pointed out that, when he was growing up, their community had great family activities, holidays, picnics and celebrations. The family unit was blessed and children so important. Now, everyone was too busy working and playing at the casino.

Now, our government leaders are encouraging “recreational marijuana.” I always thought of recreation as activity, such as taking the kids to the playground, a walk in the park or camping in the mountains. I thought of recreation as bike-riding, running or taking part in sports – even going to a game at the high school or college. I never imagined recreation as sitting around drinking or smoking a habit-forming substance.

The other day, driving behind a large fancy car, the people were throwing beer cans onto our neighbors’ front lawns. When they came to the intersection, they ignored the stop sign and darted out into traffic, going twice the speed limit and weaving around other vehicles. Later, I picked up a tiny whiskey bottle thrown into our pasture.

I know our representatives in Santa Fe this past session made adjustments to laws concerning alcohol, how much and where it is sold. Now, we have them (approving) the propaganda idea of “recreational marijuana.”

All drugs have side effects. Cigarettes killed millions of Americans. Alcohol has torn apart marriages and left children homeless. Addiction to any drug destroys health and impedes clear thinking. Will this legalization pay for future addiction? Will it stop the cartels at the border and make our lives safer? It would help if our leaders and media would not hide drug addiction under the guise of recreation.

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