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So, that being said, let me return to our discussion of Prevention. By Prevention, I mean the ways we educate ourselves and inspire others to avoid self-destructive acts.
Late in 2018, I spent a large part of my day with a young person who is headed the wrong way. I will call this person Z.
At one point in our conversation, I asked Z, “Have you been to jail yet?”
Z was startled, perhaps offended. I had just met Z through a third party. Z had managed to offend enough family and friends that they had all ostracized him. Z was not welcome on anyone’s sofa for an evening, let alone to spend the night. Z had trouble focusing during our conversation. He was obviously under the influence of some powerful drug. During our hour long talk, Z eventually admitted that during the last week, several illegal drugs and a lot of alcohol had come into Z’s system.
“Have you been to jail yet?’ I asked Z.
Z was startled, perhaps offended.
“What do you mean yet?” Z asked.
It was my turn to be startled.
“You have managed to run every positive person out of your life, in less than 25 years. You are high right now. You have no job and could not pas.s a drug test to get a job. You are about down to your last dime. Your personal social media is filthy. I thought you would know you are headed for jail. Where do you think you are going?” i asked Z.
Z now went from aggressive to passive, seeking to manipulate me with soothing words.
“I just need to get right with God.” Z said. ‘Then I can get my family back.”
“Are you telling me you want me to pray with you and then tell your family they should let you return?’ I asked.
Z did not answer.
“You need to be in a meaningful program, today.” I told Z. “You are not even save for yourself, so there is not way you can be safe for your family or friends or anyone else. You have to set yourself on a recovery plan and begin to work hard on that plan. Your recovery must mean more to you than it does to me,” I told Z.
Z agreed to attend a local twelve step program I had researched and recommended. His intent lasted less than a month. Z contacted me from the local jail earlier this month. Z is in jail, headed for prison after trial. I believe Z will get two to four years in prison this first time.
Prevention is the hardest thing we do. We cannot quantify prevention. We may not know if our preventive efforts work for years to come. Perhaps my work with Z planted a seed that will grow while Z sits in a cell, soaking up tax dollars and wasting a young life.
Still, we have to try. Hang out your shingle so troubled persons know you will hear them. Save one life, if you can.