As drugs and drug use becomes more commonplace, pervading every strata of society and every nation on earth, it becomes all the more vital to ensure that our children and youth are well informed on drugs and alcohol and their dangers and liabilities. Communities must address the needs of their children and adolescents who have a right to know the facts about drugs and substance abuse, as it is certain each and every one of them will be faced with the reality of drugs in our current culture, and the decisions to be made regarding them.
An Overview of Substance Abuse Prevention
Substance abuse prevention programs are community-based projects with the purpose of educating youth on the dangers of drug and alcohol use. These different projects may be privately owned, or may be subsidized with either state or federal funds. The programs seek to teach young people how to live a healthy lifestyle, and to teach life skills enabling them to handle life problems they are likely to encounter. Implementing these educational measures is meant to reduce the chances that a young person will seek drugs or alcohol as a solution to the problems of life. These community-based prevention programs also serve the dual purpose of continuing to assist addicts in recovery.
In a 1995 paper published by the Department of Public Health of Cornell University Medical College of New York, reporting on school-based drug prevention programs, some key elements of favorable and encouraging prevention educational programs were identified. In general terms, it was noted that the information needed to be appropriate to the age group, provide information about drugs themselves, teach social skills enabling a young person to deal with peer pressure, and “normative education”—establishing the actual norm of drug use, rather than rumor or hearsay. Overall education in personal and social skills was found to be an effective influence on the benefits of the drug prevention program itself. Another interesting aspect which influenced the benefits of the prevention programs was the training of the teachers, and their teaching techniques. “Interactive teaching techniques”, basically meaning the students were allowed to participate and contribute, were the most effective. Another common sense factor identified was the fact that the drug prevention is most beneficial when addressed specifically to the needs and realities of the group being taught.
With this overview in mind, let’s take a look at 5 things that would make a good community substance abuse program.
It Provides Factual Information
The world of drugs abounds with a lack of useful information, and too much misinformation and false information. Most individuals don’t even have a good definition of what a drug really is. For a child or youth or adult to make an informed decision about whether to use a drug or not, and to use good judgment when making that decision, it is absolutely vital he or she base it on factual data.
It Provides Age Appropriate Information
Different age groups of children and young people will have different realities, different pressures, and will be confronted with different aspects of peer pressure, drug availability, and potential drug use. Effective substance abuse education will be tailored to the targeted age group.
It is Real to the Group
Different age groups, different geographic locations, different races and different cultures are all factors that need to be taken into account in a good community substance abuse program. Children and youth in an inner city setting, for example, deal with a different lifestyle and reality than children in rural areas or small towns.
The materials and curriculum must be real if it is to be accepted and understood.
It is Useful to the Group
Children and young people continue to experience the ongoing unraveling of our strong moral guidelines and deteriorating quality of education and literacy. Life is demanding, and it requires adequate and workable social skills and tools that our young people can use to deal with the realities of their lives, including but not limited to how to deal with drug related peer pressure and opportunities to experiment with drugs. A good community substance abuse program would provide training in useful skill sets, tools for life.
Keep an Eye on the Future
Children and youth have their life before them, with all its opportunity to achieve individual goals and purposes, and acquire the wherewithal of survival for themselves and the families they will have. Study skills training, social skills training, job training/mentoring for the teenagers, all keep the hope alive for a better future, and one without substance abuse.
For more information on workable community-based drug prevention education, call Narconon Arrowhead at 800-468-6933 or see our Facebook page.