Because the final set of best practices apply to life as a whole, it isn’t necessarily useful to ask yourself every day if you did them. Rather, the question would be, are you mindful, perhaps every second of the day, of your commitment to live this way. So, the question is whether or not you were mindful of your best practices for life.
Drugs play a major role in medicine, but they have also become a leading cause of death. Being mindful of their effect is an important best practice in modern life. “Just say No to drugs” is a simple, useful catch phrase. It applied originally to harmful, addictive drugs taken by youth, but it can really apply to any drug taken by anybody, at any age, for any reason. Bu, when one considers all the drugs that are available and all the effects that they cayuse, perhaps a better way to look at it is to just ask WHY to drugs.
A 2014 Scientific American article by Scott O. Lilienfeld and Hal Arkowitz traces the concept of saying No to drugs to 1982, when First Lady Nancy Reagan “uttered those three words in response to a schoolgirl who wanted to know what she should say if someone offered her drugs.”
They describe how “the first lady's suggestion soon became the clarion call for the adolescent drug prevention movement in the 1980s and beyond.” Lilienfeld and Arkowitz argue that the programs have disappointing results, although a review of the research literature did indicate “that the most effective ones involve substantial amounts of interaction between instructors and students.” “Rehearsing refusal” can be particularly useful “by asking students to play roles on both sides of a conversation about drugs, while instructors coach them about what to say and do.”
The legal and medical definition of drugs and their effects is complex. In the United States at least, whether a drug is illegal or banned (for example, by the NCAA) does not necessarily tell you how bad it could be for you.
If you picture yourself as a physician prescribing medication for yourself, then ask why you ingest psychoactive substances, be they stimulants (ranging from everyday nicotine and caffeine to amphetamines, cocaine, and crack), depressants (cannabis, alcohol or more precisely ethanol, and opioids such as Heroin, Morphine and Codeine), or hallucinogens that results in unpredictable distortions of your perception of reality.
Addictive drugs can confuse your brain by flooding it with dopamine, the neurotransmitter that helps regulate movement, emotion, and feelings of pleasure. When activated at normal levels, dopamine rewards eating, sex, and other natural behaviors. Overstimulation by drugs produces euphoria, reinforcing the addictive behavior of drug use. So, be sure to ask why when doing highly addictive drugs.
Being aware of how much we use the drugs in our daily lives is useful. Caffeine is a drug. Having a cup of coffee is routine for most people. As a drug, caffeine has its place, otherwise we’d be left to wonder why God invented Starbucks. According to Mayoclinic.org, “up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That's roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two ‘energy shot’ drinks.”
Somewhere near that purveyor of caffeine, depending on whether you are on campus, in a hotel, or at the office, there will be a purveyor of wine, beer and spirits. Quite possibly, they will be advertising a Happy Hour. Although ingesting ethanol increases the depressive effects of inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, drinks in a social setting have their place.
Nicotine is a drug. Depending on where you are, it may be legal to have a smoke to go with that coffee or cappuccino. It depends on where you are because smoking is banned in many public places. For more than half a century, since the 1964 U.S. Surgeon General's report, the health risks of tobacco have been known. So, before lighting up, ask why. Indeed, ask why to every drug. If there is no good reason, just say no.