One day, Barack’s mother, Ann Dunham marched into his room, wanting to know the details of Pablo’s arrest. “Don’t you think you are a little casual about your future?” she asked. “What do you mean? he responded. “Bar, you know exactly what I mean. Your friend Pablo was just arrested for drug possession, and your grades are slipping. You haven’t even started on your college application.”
Barack Obama was a serious and brilliant student before he gained admission into Punahou School, Honolulu. In this school, he joined the “Choom gang”. It was a self-named gang that spent time together drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana and sniffing cocaine. Drugs made the choom gang popular in school. His relationship with the choom gang prospered, but his academics suffered. Drugs and alcohol made him lose focus. All he thought about was how to get high. He and his friends Ray, Pablo, Mark and others exhausted their time devising simply ways of doing drugs, which include total absorption (TA), the antithesis and the choomwagon. Reading was difficult because he was always high and confused. Indeed, he was heading towards becoming a junkie.
His performance in school was a mess. Barack’s mother was right. His grades were going down every term. He was not even bothered about admission to college. All he thought was drugs because it was part of him. Truly, his friend Pablo was arrested by the police for drug possession.
When pressure from his mum and his poor performance became unbearable, he thought about not going to college. Nevertheless, Barack’s mother kept encouraging him. She always told him that he could get into any school in the country if he just put in a little effort. Within him, he knew that the “effort” he needed was to quit drugs.
He managed to graduate without mishap and was admitted into Occidental College in Los Angeles. Even without the choom gang around, Barack continued his drug escapade. To continue his education, Barack was transferred to Columbia University, New York.
In New York, he decided to stop getting high. For the first time in years, Barack applied himself to his studies. He regained his love and strength for reading. Reading and understanding became easy because he was focused and at alert always. Barack began to trace out his future. It became clear that he had been wasting his precious time on drugs. He attended class regularly and soon graduated with good grades.
“Using drugs and alcohol was a seriously misguided mistake. It was my greatest moral failure that could have destroyed my future. Maybe if I had not stopped doing drugs, I might have dropped out of school and wouldn’t have become the 44th President of the United States”, he once said.
Drug and alcohol use on campus is universal. Students articulate many reasons why they do it, but most neglect to consider the academic and long-time consequences of their actions. Some are compelled to use drugs at social gatherings either because everyone else seems to be doing it or they believe it’s the cool thing to do. Others feel that drug and alcohol abuse offers an escape away from school or work-related stress, financial worries or relationship problems. Some feel that alcohol and drug abuse provide a way to compensate for feelings of shyness or low esteem.
According to one study, 90% of teens said they have used alcohol; 50% have used marijuana; 17% have used cocaine, and 13% have used some form of hallucinogenic drugs. Drug use has been classified as a major problem of students as early as in primary 4. A recent report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration suggests that adolescents who receive grades of D or below are more likely than those in good academic standing to have recently used cigarettes, alcohol and/or other illicit drugs.
The new research is part of a large-scale study of health and development conducted in New Zealand. Researchers administered IQ tests to over 1,000 individuals at age 13 (born in 1972 and 1973) and assessed their patterns of cannabis use at several points as they aged. Participants were again tested for IQ at age 38, and their two scores were compared as a function of their marijuana use. The results were striking: Participants who used cannabis heavily in their teens and continued through adulthood showed a significant drop in IQ between the ages of 13 and 38-an average of 8 points for those who met criteria for cannabis dependence. (For context, a loss of 8 IQ points could drop a person of average intelligence into the lowest third of the intelligence range.) Those who started using marijuana regularly or heavily after age 18 showed minor declines. By comparison, those who never used marijuana showed no declines in IQ.
Researchers studying the effects of alcohol use on the brain are aided by advanced technology such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), position emission tomography (PET) and electrophysiological brain mapping (EBM) showed that long-term heavy drinking lead to shrinking of the brain which impairs learning, memory formation and retrieval. That is why most times we read and forget within a short period.
The process of generating new brain cells (i.e., neurons) is called neurogenesis. High level of alcohol leads to a disruption in the growth of brain cells. The decline of the number of brain cells leads to problems in learning and behaviour. The number of brain cell a student possesses determines his level of understanding. A student who has a higher amount of brain cells will do better academically.
Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, is an essential nutrient required by the brain. Up to 80% of alcoholics have a deficiency in thiamine, which may lead to memory loss and mental confusion. It might also affect your attention and concentration. Substance abusers easily get distracted; misplace things, forgetting to keep appointments and so on. As the brain continues to adapt to the presence of the drug, regions outside of the reward pathway are also affected. Brain regions responsible for judgment, learning, and memory begin to physically change or become “hardwired.” Learning, reading, and comprehension becomes difficult because the brain had been wired to focus on alcohol.
Alcohol can produce detectable impairment in memory after only a few drinks and as the amount of alcohol increases so does the degree of impairment. Large quantity of alcohol can produce a blackout or an interval of time for which the intoxicated person cannot recall key details of events or even an entire event. Think about how much study time you have lost because you were too hung-over the next day to go to class. Drug abusers oversleep and are always tired.
Severe Hallucination is another problem faced by drug users. Most times they lose touch with realities during lectures or examination. Physically they are in class but mentally they are somewhere else. Academics requires both physical and mental alertness. Therefore, a “high” students can attend lecture but will derive nothing because he was busy building castles in the air. Hallucination leads to academic failure.
Everyone who became a drug or alcohol addict started with “let me taste or try it.” Smoking cigarette or Indian hemp or drinking alcohol is not a sign of “big boy or big girl”. It is not a sign of maturity but immaturity. You should not please your company by abusing drugs or alcohol. Drugs and alcohol are slow poisons. It solves no problem, if you get high because of financial stress, relationship problems, shyness or peer pressure, after some minute, you will get low and the problem will still be there.