Columnist: What does it mean to be ‘high’?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 31, 2015

By Glenn Dowell

Contributing columnist

Can you tell me what a “high” really is?

I can actually say that I have no idea what a person feels when they say that they are “high.” As I have said in a previous column, my daddy in conjunction with several men — white and black — and supported by a lawman and judge, was in the moonshine business. Growing up, I probably saw enough whiskey to fill the shelves of several liquor stores.

The fact of the matter is that I never saw my daddy drink too much of the stuff to get a so-called high or to become drunk. I did see my share of people, however, who others said were, in fact, drunk.

I have seen very introverted individuals after becoming drunk or high transformed into a kind of Socrates, knowing everything about fixing the problems of the world. After becoming sober, they remember very little of their actions or making a fool of themselves.

I am not a teetotaler. In my life time I have indulged in a lot alcohol but never to the extent of not remembering the next day what I did while drinking.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism puts everything, however, in proper perspective. The agency reports that annually, nearly 88, 000 people die from alcohol-related causes, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. In 2013, alcohol was responsible for 10,076 deaths on our highways. The cost of alcoholism misuse and related problems is also very expensive costing more $223.5 billion. Almost three-quarters of the total cost of alcohol misuse is related to binge drinking.

Alcoholism can be a family affair

Parents, be careful.

More than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems, which can lead to the prevalence of underage alcohol use. The sad reality is that according to a 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 35 .1 percent of 15 year olds report that they have had at least one drink in their lives.

This is a dangerous trend. Research indicates that alcohol use during the teen years possibly interferes with normal adolescent brain development. Concomitant with this are a range of acute consequences, including injuries, sexual assaults and even deaths, normally from automobile crashes.

Binge drinking and college students

It is not a surprise that when our kids leave home for college, they tend to engage often times in binge drinking. In 2013, 39 percent of college students ages 18 to 22 engaged in heavy drinking to the extent of becoming intoxicated.

The consequences of their actions can be catastrophic. Each year it is estimated that 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 to 24 die from alcohol-related injuries, which includes automobile crashes. College students truly do get into a lot of trouble while drinking, and nearly 97,000 of them report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.

What Americans are getting “high” on

In a 2012 NSDUH report it was revealed that the following is used by Americans to get high:

• Alcohol, 86 million.

• Marijuana, 18.9 million and growing.

• Prescription painkillers, 4.9 million and growing.

• Prescription depressants, 2.4 million.

• Cocaine, 1.6 million.

• Prescription stimulants, 1.2 million.

• Hallucinogens, 1.1 million.

• Heroin, 669,000 — growing in popularity among teens and college students.

Methamphetamine, 440,000 — very popular among teens.

Test Yourself!

1. Have you ever felt like you should cut down on your drinking or drug use?

2. Have you ever felt irritated by criticism of your drinking and drug use?

3. Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking, drug use or your behavior during its use?

4. Do you ever take a drink or use drugs in the morning?

5. Do you feel that you just perform better when you take drugs or use alcohol?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, you are probably a likely candidate for treatment. Drug and alcohol addiction can destroy an individual and their family without professional intervention. For the life of me, however, I still do not know what a “high” is.

Do you know what a “high” is?

Glenn Dowell is an author and LaGrange native who currently lives in Jonesboro. He may be reached at