Drug Prevention Made Simple
Some people are surprised to learn that the concepts of drug prevention are actually surprisingly simple and potently effective.
What would you pay for an anti-drug pill that offered your kids immunity from peer pressure, curiosity, commercial marketing and pop-culture influence? How much would this miracle substance be worth to you, in terms of peace of mind alone? If asked poignantly on the spot, most parents would offer their life savings for this type of guarantee. But we can give it to you for free.
Decades of research have provided us with tremendous insight into the prevention of substance abuse. If you believe its important, and if you’re willing to work for it, you really can give your child a virtual inoculation against drug abuse. The catch?…Yes, there is a catch, and this is unfortunately where many parents will begin to lose interest. The catch is that you can’t buy this gift for your family, you have to earn it.
The single known anecdote, the only secret weapon that has consistently proven capable of disarming all known triggers of substance abuse, is the artful application of parenting. We use the word ‘artful’, because parenting is not a science. All kids are different, as are all parents, but there is one identical masterpiece that every family should seek to paint together before their child reaches the age of 15. The secret masterpiece is a child who truly believes that substance abuse is wrong, and “believes” that it is a threat to their future. When you read that word “believe“, take a moment to distinguish it from the word “understand”. This simple yet critical distinction holds the prospect of saving your child’s life, and preserving your family’s happiness.
“Before unveiling how substance abuse is prevented, parents need to know why these techniques work and what they’re designed to achieve.”
For several straight decades, approximately 45% of the U.S. adult population has described themselves as non-drinkers. And for several straight decades, that number has been nearly identical to the population of high school seniors that describe themselves as non-drinkers. It’s not a coincidence. The trends formed during our teenage years persist much longer than most people realize. We use alcohol here, because it is the litmus test by which we can measure a person’s proclivity for recreational intoxication. When a person learns to embrace getting high or drunk as means of gratification, they immediately become vulnerable to the excesses and diversifications of substance abuse. Those who “believe“, never cross this critical threshold. Just how critical is this recreational intoxication thing?
For most kids, alcohol is their first “high”, and their first step down the road of tragedy. Kids who drink, or hang out with drinkers, are 18 times more likely to try marijuana. (4) Kids who try marijuana are 15 times more likely to try cocaine. (2) And so goes the cycle. 75% of teens who drink or smoke tobacco prior to the age of 18 will be given the opportunity to try marijuana by one of their friends…and 85% of them will do it. Comparatively speaking, only 25% of teens who don’t drink will even be offered marijuana, and only 25% of that small portion will do it. (3) Unbeknown to many, a child’s story has been written before their sophomore year in high school. The battle is won or lost on drinking. The war is won or lost on “belief”.
So how bulletproof is this “belief” thing? Well for one, we now know that if a person reaches their 21st birthday without having engaged in any form of substance abuse, they are virtually guaranteed never to do so. (1) Once sobriety has been internalized as a value, there is little that can cause a person to abandon it. There is little that a parent needs to fear. To the contrary, teenagers who merely “understand” the potential consequences of substance abuse are profoundly vulnerable to failure due to curiosity, temptation or pressure. Likewise, parents of these “understanders” are destined for frustration, as their traditional techniques are proven ineffective at influencing their teen’s behavior. A parent’s words are hollow if they are incongruent with a teenager’s values. A parent’s punishments are futile once a child realizes that they can get away with it most of the time. So, about fifteen years after their first born, many parents are left with the understanding that “kids are going to drink and parents are powerless to stop them.” Sadly, just a few months later, some of those same kids will be smoking pot, popping pills, snorting lines and shooting up.
It’s proven extraordinarily difficult to determine why some kids progress beyond their first brush with substance abuse, and others seem not to. Oftentimes, there are profound differences even between siblings. But we do know for a fact, that those kids who become intrinsically motivated to pursue sober healthy choices, almost never experience the pain of substance abuse. And that is where the art or parenting comes in. Parents need to find how it is that this believe can be constructed within each child. Fortunately, we can help with that too. Read on for more…
(1) Califano, Joseph A., Jr. How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid. NY, NY; Simon & Shulster, 2009.
(2)Wagner, F.A., and Anthony, J.C. Into the world of illegal drug use: Exposure opportunity and other mechanisms linking the use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and cocaine. American Journal of Epidemiology 155(10):918-925, 2001.
(3)Wilcox, H.C.; Wagner, F.A.; and Anthony, J.C. Exposure opportunity as a mechanism linking youth marijuana use to hallucinogen use. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 66(2):127-135, 2002.
(4) Wagner, F.A., and Anthony, J.C. Into the world of illegal drug use: Exposure opportunity and other mechanisms linking the use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and cocaine. American Journal of Epidemiology 155(10):918-925, 2001.