Just saying NO to drugs and alcohol doesn’t cut it anymore, the statistics are there to prove it, and what I see in my office and in our community support that we have a massive problem when it comes to alcohol, drugs and our children. The current approach in drug education is just not working.
A better and more supportive approach when it comes to drug education is to just say: “KNOW” that is;
Our children need to “KNOW”
- What drugs and alcohol can do to them.
- What drugs are made from.
- What’s in the drugs they may take; what they are cut with.
- What they can do if things go horribly wrong and they or a mate end up in a drug and alcohol emergency.
So it makes good sense to give our children the message that their safety and wellbeing is the most important thing to us as their parents.
We need to talk to our children about alcohol and drugs honestly, caringly and without any preconceived ideas as to how our children will react and what they will do if they come in contact with illicit drugs.
Recently I came across a letter that a mother working in drug and alcohol wrote to her son in an effort to explain the ins and outs of illicit drugs and alcohol to him. It is a great blue print on how we might want to broach the subject with our children when it comes to alcohol and illicit drugs.
After telling her son Johnny who was a freshman in High school the truth about various drugs, discussing their dangers and explaining why she felt that he would be smart to abstain from them completely she ended her letter as follows:
“Despite the advice to abstain, you may one day choose to experiment. I will say again that this is not a good idea, but if you do I urge to learn as much as you can and use common sense. There are many excellent books and references including the internet that give you credible information about drugs, you can of course always talk to me. If I don’t know the answers, I will try to help you find them.
If you are offered drugs, be cautious.
Watch how people behave, but understand that everyone responds differently-even to the same substance.
If you decide to experiment, be sure you are surrounded by people you can count upon.
Plan your transportation and under no circumstances drive or get into a car with anyone else who has been using alcohol or other drugs.
Call us or any of our close friends at any time, day or night and we will pick you up –No questions asked and no consequences.
And Johnny please use moderation. It is impossible to know what is contained illegal drugs, because they are not regulated.
The majority of fatal overdoses occur because young people do not know the strength of the drugs they consume or how they combine with other drugs.
Please do not participate in drinking contests which have killed too many people, whereas marijuana by itself may not be fatal, but too much can cause you to become disorientated and sometimes paranoid and of course smoking can hurt you latter in life and now.
Johnny as your father and I have always told you about a range of activities (including sex) think about the consequences of your actions before you act. Drugs are no different.
Be sceptical and most of all be safe.” Marsha Rosenbaum of the Lindsmith Center San Francisco.
Leaving the lines of communication open and offering support and knowledge to our children is the key to drug education.
Our children will experiment what they must not do is become dependant on these substances or worse yet die in the process.
As a drug educator my approach is that of teaching; saying KNOW to drugs- knowing about drugs and alcohol and arming our children and you as their parents with life saving information and skills that are essential in making a difference to our children and to our families.
By Doctor Themi Garagounis: founder of the 3 minutes all it takes to save your mate drug education program.