It bothers me that we candidly talk about drug abuse on television. Of course, on HBO I expect it and various other gore, but here I’m talking about ESPN, local news. Not necessarily kids shows, but programming that has the perception of being public, for everyone. And by drug abuse, I don’t mean needles in a junkie den, but a more subtle, insidious mention.

Still haven’t caught on? I’ll explain with the most recent example comes to mind. I was watching SportsCenter and they congratulated an anchor on coming back so smoothly from a long time off. She humbly said, “aw shucks” (paraphrasing), and then said “just 3 or 4 cups of coffee later…” as an explanation for her good performance. If you aren’t bothered by it, you won’t be. But if it stirs the hair on the back of your neck like it does mine, you’ll see my point.

We casually discuss abusing caffeine like we would discuss eating too many potato chips. If she had said “just 4 or 5 hits from my bong” people would be losing their minds. If she said “just another cup or 2 of peyote tea” the same. I understand caffeine is (or has the perception of being) a safer, more socially acceptable drug, but the evil of drug abuse doesn’t have to do with the drug; it’s the abuse. That’s why it’s wrong. She is saying that it is okay, if you need a pick-me-up, to take a drug. And if that isn’t enough take more. I’m not saying caffeine is a gateway to harder drugs. I’m saying perpetuating the acceptability of drugs as a solution to problems or as performance enhancers is a gateway to bad decisions and is a poor moral example. Because honestly, if she said “just 3 or 4 bags of potato chips later”, those same hairs would erect on the back of my neck.

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