Adolescence is a risky stage where young people are naturally seeking independence, adventure, excitement, and some risks. It is also a time when adolescents feel dramatic changes in their bodies, emotions, and perspective. During this period, drug and alcohol use seems very appealing for some for many different reasons. Unfortunately, this is also the time when they are more vulnerable and are not fully prepared to anticipate the consequences of substance abuse.
Despite strict school drug policies, drug education, and prevention programs, the problem of drug and alcohol use among youth has been growing continuously. There seems no solution to this problem. Therefore, we asked the help of professionals in the field of Drug Education and Addiction Coaching regarding other options to effectively prevent substance abuse among our youth, and here’s what they have to say:
Jacqueline Fallon | President of NDDC
“As to what should be implemented that is the million dollar question. Aside from educating and awareness programs there is really not much we can do to help stop the spread of drug use among our teens. We have to change the whole culture that is thriving within our communities. With the legalization of marijuana and the use of prescription drugs, there is a whole new subculture of teens and parents that use drugs with the attitude of “if it’s legal then it can't be bad for you." The biggest one is "the doctor wrote it! It's what they want me to have or they wouldn't have written the prescription."
We have become a Society of if it feels good just do it, far beyond what we saw in the 60's and 70's with the rise of illegal drug and prescription drug use. We are committed to our community to help stop this horrible disease from spreading. As well as stopping the people that foster the sales and distribution of drugs.”
Colby Sutter | Drug Educator
“This topic happens to be just what I do. I run my own nonprofit organization and I go into schools and do drug interventions in the inner city. This year I am happy to announce that an inner city school contacted me after seeing such positive results last year with a weekly small groups program that I ran. The administration contacted me and said they want me in the school full time running a drug intervention program that I created.
I agree that a lot of stuff is not working and drugs are increasing in our schools and society. My program is this, basically: I meet with kids who are known drug users, most come to school high or I meet with kids that are at risk of becoming addicts. I do a 3 step evaluation with them, including a drug tracking card. (I reward them when they bring the drug tracking card back.) After the 3 step intervention I decide if they need to be on my case load or not. During our meetings I most importantly build a connection/relationship with them. We set goals, do drug education, form a vision for life and for the end of the year.
Everything is based on a harm reduction model. This has been working, I actually had two students yesterday come up to me and ask for my help, exact words. "hey you’re the drug guy, can you help me stop smoking weed, I do it every day and I want to cut back, maybe even stop." My organization is being proactive. We are offering hope for a better life and setting high expectations for our students. I have done prevention work for years, and I still do school assemblies and speak at different places, but most of the time that stuff does not work. What works is building a trusted relationship with a student (it takes time) and setting high expectations for them, then telling them why you are setting those expectations.”
Dave Cooke | Addiction Coach and Speaker
“Without disrespecting the greatest of intentions of drug education programs as a preventative, educating the students is not working. It is because the parents aren’t being educated.
They go to an awareness class, usually the Moms, and are told what signs to look for, etc. There isn’t a parent in the world who believes their kid is going to do drugs. Despite being told what the warning signs are, they are in hopeful, blind denial. They don’t believe it is possible. And, a child breaking any rule, including drugs, knows how to spin a tale on Mom and Dad. Typical educational programs, as a preventative action, don’t work.
The problem is that parents are not learning together. They are not going into these educational sessions embracing the reality that their child could be “the one” that uses, abuses, and gets addicted to drugs. Finally, the education prevention programs do not challenge these parents to step up their proactive efforts.
We need to teach parents how kids find drugs (the medicine cabinet). We need to teach parents that doctors don’t always prescribe medications correctly, i.e. opiates as pain killers. We need parents to understand that a loving, close, Christian family still has addicted people in them. We need parents to understand that addiction is genetic. Those kids take drugs to feel better, just like bullying, sexual activity, drinking, and sports. That it is normal for teen aged children to feel bad – it is part of the adolescent process. We need parents to understand that all boundaries, rules, and corresponding punishments are appropriate and necessary and essential. We need to teach parents that when your child gets caught drinking, smoking pot, and taking pills – a lawyer doesn’t help them learn from their choices. It teaches them that all rules, when broken, have exceptions.
Parents are not responsible for the rise in addiction in our country. But, if we want to do something to bring about a reduction in the number of people abusing drugs, parents have a lot to learn and a lot of work to do to get caught up. Being in the know at a high level and implementing a strategy of hope won’t get the job done.”
In almost every country, drug and alcohol abuse is a public health issue. In some ways, it seems like everybody is affected, directly or indirectly; at home, at school, at work, in the community, and in society, in general. Plain and simple, there’s no way to escape the issue of drug and alcohol use. This information, however, from highly experienced professionals, gives hope that there are still possible ways to effectively prevent this problem from occurring.
Let us know your thoughts. Is there any solution you could think of in preventing this widespread problem among our youth?