Whilst touching on the harmful affects of drugs and alcohol, this assembly examines the different ways in which people seek to feel a ‘buzz’ in life – some in healthy ways and others more harmfully

Summary

This week’s assembly examines our apparent need for a ‘buzz’ in life, and how some people achieve this in a positive way, and others in a much less positive way. It challenges listeners to consider the rejection of harmful lifestyle choices and replace them with the idea of getting high on life. It uses a number of recent news items about the drugs and alcohol culture, which seems to have Britain in its grip, from the alleged drug-taking of high-profile musicians to the plan to reclassify cannabis as a class B drug.

Resources

Six readers and a leader.

Sound effects, appropriate to each reader, would enhance the experience, as would any appropriate props and stage effects, costumes, etc.

Engagement

Reader 1: What gives me a buzz? Climbing. The challenge of a sheer rock face − the more vertical the better! The union between me and nature, something which gives me real satisfaction. It’s not about conquest − it’s about me and the rock. When I get to the top − what a rush − a sense of real achievement!

Reader 2: There’s nothing better than my music − making it or listening to it. That feeling of sheer pleasure at turning metal strings into sounds which shake you right through to the core − decibels galore! Making music with others is great, too − that sense of everyone keeping the beat, holding back and then, ‘bam!’ the build-up to the crashing final chords and riffs − keeping in step with the others, then a solo moment and back to the jamming. Nothing to beat it!

Reader 3: My swimming gets me going. Standing on that block, waiting for the starter, then off! − into the air and then into my other world − powering through the water, head down, straight and streamlined. Tucked in and pushing off the wall, with force, into a powerful glide. When I see the swimmer in the next lane and I know the sprint finish is on. Who’ll be first to the touch? Just a brilliant thing to do. Talk about high?!

Reader 4: Much less dramatic for me, but equally amazing. Just being with my friends, laughing and talking − texting those who aren’t there and keeping up with all that’s going on. Days out shopping, nights just hanging out, or watching a movie together − with lots of cake! Knowing that my friends are always there for me and that they appreciate me always being there for them, what could be better than that?

Reader 5: Let me tell you. Saturday, at three o’clock, the crowd’s ready − the players come on, the referee blows the whistle and we’re ready for ninety minutes of pure heaven. Long passes of stunning accuracy, clever footwork, which wrong-foots the opposition − set pieces, which work like they’re charmed, the occasional free-kick which bends and curls itself towards the goalmouth. And then the ball in the net and the crowd’s on fire. Cheering, clapping, shouting and jumping up and down like kids − even the old boys! Football, who could ask for anything more?

Reader 6: The lights dim and the music begins, the curtain is raised, and the stage is brought to life. It transports you far away − maybe back in time − into the lives of people you could never have known. The music gets right to you, lifting you to heights of joy or, perhaps, touching your emotions at some deep level, which makes you look at everything in a new way. It’s like another world, and it takes you there – far away from your everyday life to a place where anything’s possible!

Reflection

Leader: But let me take you away from all of this for a moment to some darker places… This week we have seen some news items about the less celebrated side of human life. The singer, Amy Winehouse, has been arrested for alleged drug-related offences. It is claimed that a video shows her taking drugs at a party held at her home. Amy is regarded by many in the music business as a truly talented artist, someone who has brought a fresh style to the world of contemporary music. And yet, she seems to be dogged by issues related to drugs.

Dr Bill Morrison, an accident and emergency doctor in a large hospital, recently went public about his fears for the young people he so often has to treat. He reports that more and more young people are admitted to hospital emergency units with alcohol-related problems − some as young as eight years old, who are so drunk that they are in danger of choking on their own vomit. However, it’s not only alcohol which is the problem, but illegal drugs, too.

Another recent report tells the shocking stories of the well-off parents, who leave their children to fend for themselves in the mornings, while they sleep off their hangovers from the night before. This is to be tackled by a TV advertising campaign, which shows a lonely young child, staring through the curtains, as his parents sleep off their hangovers.

A current series of adverts on TV covers two possible scenarios in the life of a young person − one where they have got drunk and the others where they haven’t. The TV adverts are entitled: ‘A night to remember or a night to forget?’, and the idea is simple. The events without becoming drunk are far better for you than the events where you become drunk.

What could be added to all of this is the whole issue of the relationship our society seems to have with alcohol and drugs, the under-age drinking, the social problems related to drugs, and so it could go on. Now, of course, the reasons why people take drugs, or drink excessively, are sometimes very complicated, indeed − so let’s turn the whole issue on its head and explore something different instead − something disarmingly simple: Why can’t we just get a buzz from things which don’t involve us taking drugs or alcohol? Can’t we just get high on the sheer joy of life?

In the film, The Cross and the Switchblade, about the life of the famous Christian, Nicky Cruz, David Wilkerson, the minister who helped Nicky to change his life, says to a group of teens: ‘You want to get high? God’ll get you high, but he won’t let you down again.’ Not too long ago, a researcher found that the brains of Buddhist monks seemed to be affected by meditation, in ways which made them calmer and more serene − in short they become more contented because of the effect of their meditation practice on the structure of their brains!

Now, of course, it doesn’t have to be religion which gives you a buzz − there are many ways of reaching a ‘high’ which don’t involve drugs, alcohol or, in fact, anything else which isn’t good for you in the long run. Sometimes you might look around you, and think that the only way to have a good time is to follow the herd down a mind-blown road to nowhere. Think again. Look around you. You’ll see people having a great time in their lives, and not a drug or a drop of alcohol in sight. You’ll see people whose lives are fulfilled, who are happy and contented, and who don’t get that sinking feeling the next day. You’ll see people who are in control of what they’re doing, not people who are being controlled by it.

It’s quite possible to get a high from the sheer joy of living, and living life in all its fullness. Why don’t you give it a try today − live life without artificial stimulation −
keep it real and keep it clear. You’ll be glad you did.

Response

Let us think about those whose lives are blighted by alcohol And promise ourselves not to join them Let us think about those whose lives have been taken over by drugs And promise ourselves not to be enslaved in that way Let us enjoy life in all its fullness And get a buzz from the simple things.

Amen.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in May 2008

About the author: Joe Walker

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