JACK SIMPSON: Command your own ship

Beloved and talented comic Robin Williams, 63 years old, spent decades in struggles with substance abuse and depression. He was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Perhaps it finally overwhelmed him, because he fashioned a noose out of a belt and hung himself, ending his struggle.

For some addicts who have not responded well to treatment, this seems to them to be their only solution. Oh, what a sad story and a tragic loss!

If you are a young person with an addiction, can you spare me a few minutes of your time? I am not a preacher, just an old law man who has seen countless lives wasted by people who decide to try dangerous drugs for a quick high. Once hooked, they cannot turn back and begin the long road to self-destruction.

Having a party with peers and getting high on drugs may seem like fun at the beginning. But if you yield to temptation, you are walking a trail that can destroy your life, the lives of loved ones, your personal and financial status, and your health, and the resulting nightmare will eventually drive you to take drastic measures.

Knowing this, why take a chance to join the statistics? One in four teens abuses drugs. About 90 percent of those addicted start by using marijuana. Others mix prescription drugs with cocaine and heroin. Crack, Molly, cocaine and meth can do you in in a hurry.

Can you really, I mean really, have “fun” messing with drugs that are taking you into a nightmare that can eventually take your life?

Once hooked, your loving family will try to help you, but if you yourself do not help yourself, then no one else can clean up your mess. It is up to you. We read about a lot of addicted people. Maybe your story is identical to some of them. You grow up in a loving middle-class family. Your parents protect you, provide for you and sacrifice to give you an education.

Eventually you graduate, earn a professional degree, obtain a state license and become an educator. All is well until you fall in with a party crowd and they dare you to get high with them. You suddenly stop thinking, join the party night after night, weekend after weekend. Suddenly you are hooked and slowly becoming addicted to drugs you have no business fooling with. Soon you lose your job and your license and develop family and health problems. You are soon unable to meet your financial responsibilities. You feel ashamed and isolated … and helpless. You have problems and they are piling up on you. The struggle has begun!

The longer you wait to address your addiction, the more ill effects you will suffer. Are you listening? Or, do you still think you can continue getting high and can manage your addiction?

My advice is never to start. If you have started, then quit before it is too late. Look at Robin Williams. You do not have to suffer his depression and travel down his tragic route. He would not want you to do so. It is not going to be easy, but if you truly want to change your life, you can do it and only you can shake addiction. Admit you have a problem. Accept all the help offered and take command of your life. Stay away from drugs and those who peddle and use them. Develop new habits and new associates. Clean up your act. Seize every opportunity to confront and overcome your demons. Consider the ramblings of an old timer who from years of experience in law enforcement has watched too many wonderful lives wasted by addiction. Please do not be one of them.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.