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Top 10 Myths about Drug Prevention Education

I’ve been talking to school kids as a drug prevention specialist for 8 years. I’ve found kids to be very receptive and interested in getting the truth about drugs. However, I found that other prevention workers have had major failures in steering kids away from drug abuse.

I attended a panel discussion regarding the devastating problem of Drug Use and Crime in Metro-Vancouver. The mediator at this panel’s discussion announced that drug prevention has failed.

Drug and Alcohol education isn’t done in Canada or the USA in significant quantity and quality to make significant differences. Most public schools allocate 2 to 4 hours per year in this Province, far less in other Provinces.

Prevention education isn’t delivered in Canada in a successful way that combines easily understood health and prevention education. The quantity and quality of drug prevention in Canada and the USA is not meeting the challenges of modern society.

Drug Prevention myth #1: Drug prevention doesn’t work.

This is not only misleading, but it is a falsehood, and worse than lying about it, it is also apathetic.

Truth: Drug Prevention Education works.

In Sweden, where drug prevention is a country wide phenomenon, teenage males have a 7% usage rate of marijuana compared to 5% of teenage females. USA’s drug usage rate for marijuana has also been decreasing.

Now should we compare this to BC’s and Vancouver’s teen marijuana usage rate? The numbers are 26% to 33% for this age group.

“Any prevention program to be successful must be credible, well communicated, and reinforced over time. That’s not happening in British Columbia. The resources and the priority devoted to prevention are to be kind, miniscule.” Kaiser report 2000.

Myth #2: Drug Prevention promotes use.

Drug promoters fashioned this idea when their sales slumped. Note: I’m including Pharma’ pushers with street pushers. If prevention educators failed to educate their audiences about the dangers of drugs at the level kids and teens understood, those efforts failed.

Very Important: Currently a major contributor to drug prevention education is not prevention. In fact, permissive drug usage education is now being offered by Health Authorities.

Some of these groups have embraced the idea that Drug Prevention is unrealistic, so they think the best thing is to teach kids how to use drugs without searing their lips on the joint or how to buy pharmaceutical grade speed instead of the dangerous street meth.

However, drug prevention education that is done by trained speakers even peer leaders, work by preventing drug use. I’ve seen 12 and 13 year old peer speakers getting great results.

Truth: Drug Prevention Education works.

Effective Prevention begins by focusing on ways media and vested interests promote and market drugs, alcohol and tobacco to kids and teens. When kids and teens discover that they’ve been tricked and manipulated, they become real enemies of these pushers.

Myth #3: Scare tactics are needed to stop drug experimentation.

The failures of scare tactic efforts reveal the truth of these methods. However, making and taking definite non-tolerance attitudes regarding drug use is the most effective method of keeping your kids away from drugs.

A Dr. Phil show highlighted Dr. Phil and his son who gave testimony on the show: “My dad would kill me if I ever used drugs. We’ve talked about drugs regularly, openly and honestly and I know exactly where my dad stands on this. It’s made it easier for me to say no.” (quote paraphrased only slightly)

Myth #4: Experts are required to deliver drug prevention education.

That is false and misleading. The 1st and best drug prevention education is done by parents at home. Prevention education is best done through example, discussion and consistent communication and actions by parents regarding drug and alcohol use.

Be honest, tell the truth and stop telling the kid it’s OK with you if he uses drugs and alcohol. And stop answering your own questions to your kids. You don’t have to agree with your kid’s false information about drugs. But you do have to listen and ask questions they are permitted to answer.

Myth #5: Teens get their drug education from school.

Pro-drug and alcohol messages flood this society at 100’s of drug-usage images / messages per day. Magazines, TV, movies, radio, product positioning in society, etc. are the major sources of promotions. Drug prevention education is ongoing regularly taken opportunities to talk to your kids about the most significant choices they will make in their lives.

Myth #6: Video drug prevention programs aren’t effective.

Videos are regularly used as supplemental tools of the best drug prevention programs. Videos do two things: videos capture attention while delivering key information to kids and teens. Secondly, videos are edited to get a huge amount of vital information to kids quickly. Warning: Videos need to have consistent messages and interest kids and teens

Myth #7: Teachers are the best drug prevention educators.

Teachers can be given videos and training manuals on how to improve their educational efforts. However, teachers are rarely trained on delivering lots of prevention education.

Myth #8: Drug prevention education is not with the times.

The primary role of drug prevention education is health promotion. Goal setting, peer pressure and basic truths about life go a long way in preventing drug and alcohol use. Involving the audience in exercises to make the data real to the audience is vital.

Knowledge is certainty concerning the information learned. Education fails only when it doesn’t leave the recipient with simple certainties.

Warning: training kids how to test ecstasy, buy drugs from ‘friends’ etc. isn’t drug prevention. That is a perverse mockery of prevention in a decadent society. Teaching kids how to use ‘better’ is passive aggressive covert drug marketing and promotion.

Myth #9: Drugs are here to stay.

It takes people to produce, promote, market, sell and use drugs. Drugs and alcohol are money making industries devoted to the slow or rapid destruction of individuals, families, groups, society and the environment. Values such as integrity, honor, spiritual advancement and religious connection are destroyed by drug and alcohol abuse.

Some drug pushers are just devoted to the decay of the hopes and dreams of others, not money. Drug pushers are dedicated to death, slow or fast. The degrees a drug pusher will go in deceiving others is so low that many won’t believe anyone could be so deceptive. Pushers will even ‘buy’ their own BS. Mark Emery is a great example.

Myth #10: Drug and alcohol prevention has nothing to do with me as drug use doesn’t affect me.

One in four people you talk to will have a close relation who has been seriously harmed by drug or alcohol use. Everyone’s lives have been affected significantly by drugs and alcohol directly or indirectly through close associates.

I believe it is time to take responsibility for our society and get real about drug and alcohol prevention education.

For more information on drug prevention education go to Drug Prevention Education Materials for materials and sponsoring school programs, or to Drug Prevention Education for more info.

Tibor A. Palatinus

Drug Prevention Specialist

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