Former Addict Belittles Liberty's 'War On Drugs'

March 01, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

ELDERSBURG — The pictures up on the screen showed hordes of people enjoying themselves in a tie-dye fantasy world where licking little pictures of Woodstock or inhaling balloons full of laughing gas are merely part of the fun.

"There's a real sense of togetherness at one of these Grateful Dead concerts," said Michael College, a state police narcotics officer.

"It's real nostalgic. It's almost like you expect to see Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix come out and play a song."

College was showing slides of concerts to the more than 500 parents, school officials and students who virtually filled a Liberty High auditorium Wednesdaynight for a drug-use forum.

But, to at least one former addict, College was showing the side of drug use that is glamorous, and, the addict said, most appealing to teen-agers.

"The only thing I see onthose slides is fun," Robert Burdette, a 35-year-old graduate of South Carroll High School, shouted to the crowd. "You all aren't showingus anything."

After seeing those pictures, he said, he was thinking to himself, "Wow, that looks like a lot of fun."

Burdette, who said he was addicted to drugs and alcohol -- mainly marijuana, beer and whiskey -- for more than 20 years has been sober for almost 900 days.

He recalls how he got hooked, and, he said, showing young people the glamour and seemingly enjoyable side of drug use is the wrong way to go.

"The very first time I was drunk was when I was 10 years old," he said in an interview Thursday. "After that, it led to more.

"I would get off work, go to a bar, drink until 1 a.m. and then take a six-pack back home."

The drug summit was called after sheets of LSD were seized recently from three Liberty High School students.

The LSD -- a drug that can alter perception for more than 12 hours -- came in dried drops on a sheet of paper. Each "hit" was concealed by a number 8 with a circle around it.

Principal Robert Bastress said he wanted to make parents aware of drug use in schools and enlist them in his own war on drugs at Liberty.

"You need to help us solve this problem," Bastress said. "If you think this is just a school problem, you're dead wrong."

He encouraged parents to call him if they have any information on suspected drug use. He also announcedthat the school would allow students to report suspicion of drug useanonymously.

"Call me when you know about it, call me right away," Bastress said. "I can use the information."

He also did not ruleout the presence of undercover narcotics officers in the schools, but said that no one except he, the school superintendent and police officials would know.

Drug and alcohol use by teen-agers is not confined to Liberty High. For example, almost two dozen teens were arrested recently at a home in Manchester and charged with underage drinking and drug use after a raid by the county's Drug Task Force.

"If this problem is left undealt with, we might just destroy our society,"said the Barton F. Walker III, an assistant state's attorney who is involved with the task force.

A panel of 22 Liberty juniors and seniors told the audience of pervasive drug and alcohol abuse among their peers. One of the students said that more than 75 percent of the people he knows have either used drugs or taken a drink.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.