Is substance abuse education really important?
Drugs are bad, haven't you heard?
Substance abuse education is an integral part of fighting the problem. As Sir Francis Baconstates, "Scientia ponentia est", or as we say it these days, "Knowledge is Power." Without understanding what we're up against, we have no way of knowing anything about our enemy.
Envision a child of the age of seven going to a friend's house. When she gets there, her friend pulls out a can of air and shows the child how fun it is to get high by inhaling the air when it comes out of the can. Had we given this child education on what the outcome of abusing this particular substance could be, she could make an educated decision not to inhale the can of air. Visions of death or life as a vegetable would be like weight on a the decision side of the scale with the 'NO' on it. Without education, it's just a can of air, harmless, and fun.
Crystal Meth, or methamphetamine hydrochloride, is another prime example of the need for education. Ten years ago, we didn't see the effects of crystal meth plastered on billboards, or broadcast all over the television. Why would anyone in their right minds pick up a drug that they knew was so addicting, that they knew would make their teeth fall out, make them peel their own skin off, and would make them end up looking like zombies? According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, methamphetamine use has more than quadrupled over the last ten years. The answer, they say, is not only prevention, but education. The average person in this country who tries meth for the first time is 16-19 years of age, because it's associated with energy. Do you think the number would quadruple if meth use was associated with ugliness? The next in line to try it is middle-aged women, because it's associated with weight loss. Would that same woman touch it if they knew it was going to be responsible for her husband leaving, and her kids getting taken away? Quite doubtful.
Social status is another factor in drug use. We tend to see more problems in poverished areas, or in the super rich. Drugs can be a way of life for a person who lives in poverty, to escape the harsh realities of life, or as a way to make extra money. Alcohol abuse is more prevalent in these areas as well. For the super rich, high profile life can be overwhelming, and drugs are readily available to anyone who wants to be the life of the party. We're starting to see the effects of substance abuse in the super rich. Not a day goes by when we don't see Brittany's face splashed on the cover of magazines, or headlining a news show because she's out of control. Lindsay Lohan is another prime example of the super rich being tied to substance abuse.
Substance abuse education teaches that drugs are not the norm. It teaches the social skills needed to rationalize decisions, and how to stay strong and say no. Education informs not only that substance abuse is a bad choice, but of the consequences from using them, such as cancer, brain damage, loss of teeth, ugliness, jail, and death. Along with consequences, it educates people on the impact to others from their decisions. People need to learn that no matter who their friends are and what they may be doing, no matter what their social status is, or what is happening in their own lives, they can be strong enough to make educated decisions. Substance abuse education is an integral part of winning the battle.