On the Periphery

Things change. Life throws us curves and changeups. It's good to have a place to vent.

Monday, December 21, 2009

With the year coming to an end, I mount my soapbox. Hang on, folks: it's a long tirade, and not a pleasant one.

Studies have recently shown that there is an alarming rise in the number of autistic children. This in itself is a disturbing fact, but it makes one wonder as to the why of the statistic. Some say that there are simply more children, hence higher numbers. Others suggest that diagnostic techniques are just better, so more children are being diagnosed (after all, many autistic children show little outward indications of the condition). Still others say that the percentage of autistic children is simply higher. It does make one wonder as to possible reasons for the spike. Personally, I wonder if the rise has anything to do with the increased use of drugs in our society--both recreational and prescription.

Of course autism can be unrelated to drug use. There has been found to be a genetic factor that has nothing to do with drug use. But the surprising rise in children with autism could be related to drug use by parents and even grandparents. It would be interesting to see tests done to see if there is a correlation.

Although marijuana and other drugs were popular among the more “arty” set as far back as the Roaring 20’s, the increase in drug use really began to grow with the 1960’s. (It’s said that if you remember the 60’s, you really didn’t experience the 60’s.) Drug use continued, and even grew, with such drugs as LSD, ecstasy, cocaine, and even heroin becoming as common as pot. If you think about it, imagine what those drugs—even casual use—did to the users. What do you think those effects were on future generations?

Nowadays drugs are a way of life. Every other TV commercial hawks some pill or other that will cure impotence, reduce urinary urgency, stop dry eye or even eliminate toe fungus. We’re so anxious for the “quick fix” that we have come to rely on the actual chemical fix, and I have to wonder about the effects on our bodies and those of future generations. Of course, most prescription drugs carry the warning “do not take if pregnant or planning to become pregnant,” but what about the drugs taken prior to pregnancy? Reports have shown that the effects of drugs remain in the body and can be passed on to newborns long after use has been discontinued. And the effects come not just from the woman—drug use has been shown to affect sperm as well. Don’t you think that maybe this could account for the rise in birth defects and conditions such as autism?

I have no scientific expertise, of course, and all this is speculation on my part. (I am sure the theory has been advanced by others.) I have no desire to put down anyone for life choices. But I do wish people today could consider the possible consequences before they rush to take drugs to make their lives “better.” They may be affecting the lives of generations years down the line, and also affecting the larger community. Yes, this has become a rant against drug use. It's a personal choice that goes beyond stupidity, all the way to gross negligence that affects us all.

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