Let's Start At the Very Beginning
When did I decide to become a professional writer?
The year? 1989, when the following essay snagged a top ten spot in the Providence Journal Reading Week Editorial Contest. At the awards ceremony at the Biltmore Hotel, I received a Cross pen, a cheesy wood grained plaque with my name engraved on it (that still hangs over my desk) and a belief that I had indeed found my passion in life.
So, without further adieu, I present one from the archives:
Substance Abuse: A Growing Problem?
Substance abuse has risen in recent years, the result of the overall increased use of controlled substances. Not all, but much of the problem lies in the sporting world, where the problem is publicized the most. Many athletes use drugs to enhance their performance. What these athletes fail to recognize is the strain that they are putting on their bodies by using these 'high-performance' drugs.
Some of the most exploited drugs of our times are anabolic steroids, composed mainly of synthetic testosterone, the chief male hormone. These drugs are banned in the United States, although they may be used by a qualified person in the medical field to treat a select number of patients. Yet, signs of steroid use appear again and again during athletic competition, most recently at the Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea, bringing the downfall of Canadian superstar Ben Johnson.
The case of Johnson should set an example for other steroid users, by showing the negative aspect of taking the drugs. But these athletes seem to ignore the warning signs, instead constantly making rationalizations for their use of steroids. They frequently argue that because everyone else is taking steroids, they must too, just to compete.
No longer is athletic competition based solely on natural ability. Some athletes believe that they cannot win without the aid of drugs. True, there appears to be positive aspects from the user's point of view. The increased strength, speed, endurance and self-esteem may initially improve their performance, but the dangerous side effects far outweigh the beneficial results of the drug. Severe health problems face the drug users, problems which normally would not occur until much later in their lives. These athletes give little or no concern to the ill effects of the drugs on their bodies, instead only focusing on victory.
Another problem which occurs when the sporting world is plagued by drugs is one that affects the general public, the fans of the athletic personalities. Children especially admire sporting superstars. They idolize athletes and give them heroic-like qualities. How can a mother explain to her young child that taking drugs is wrong when the child's role model is physically contradicting the mother's words?
Yes, drug abuse is a growing problem in today's society. To address this issue, we must first recognize the fact that drugs are not glamorous and neither are the drug users. Secondly, we must enforce harsh penalties on the offenders, setting examples for prospective drug abusers. An action directed specifically towards athletes is unannounced drug testing, given periodically throughout the year, not just immediately before competition. Offenders should be suspended indefinitely from their respective sports.
Regretfully our society will probably never be fortunate enough to be totally drug-free, but with immediate action and cooperation among the people of our civilization, maybe future generations will live in a brighter world.