addiction prevention brings to mind an analogy: in the film “War Games” the climax of the story centers on a young hero playing “tic-tac-toe” against a computer. The screen flashes bright light as the computer begins to play itself over and over.
Finally after a long sequence the computer stops playing the game, the lights on the screen go dark and the computer says something to the effect,
“Interesting game. The best move is not to play.”
In a perfect world, the best addiction prevention is "not to play". But it isn’t that easy. Not just street drugs
When we think about drug abuse prevention, we usually think about illegal street drugs, but we don’t always think about drugs that are taken initially for legitimate medical purposes, and then later abused.
Physicians prescribe narcotics to control pain, or medications to control emotional swings. Taken as prescribed, under a doctor’s care, these drugs can be effective. However, they are all too often abused. Because the doctor’s prescription calls for a safe dosage, but the user exceeds that safe dosage.
Prevention not always top of mind
Thinking about addiction prevention, we think of those who are already in the throws of addiction, but we don’t necessarily think in terms of prevention. It’s more thinking about how to deal with the problem. If an ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure, addiction prevention programs become very important.
Drug abuse prevention begins early
It’s never too early to start talking to children about the dangers of drug abuse, as the drugs are everywhere. Parents’ needs to have a clear and open dialog with their kids about drugs and listen to what the kids are saying. Adults need to listen carefully to pick up nuggets of information that may lead to a preventative move down the road.
One of the best ways of communicating with children, and other adults, is to be the example. If I don’t want you to use drugs or alcohol, I should not use them in the presence of an impressionable person. It’s like smoking cigarettes. If mom and dad smoke, chances are the kids will smoke.
Parents are encouraged to have an open dialog and to try to be objective about their children. “My little Johnny would never take drugs” is a seriously short-sighted statement when examined from the standpoint that every child is a potential drug abuser and addict. You can see that denial plays a big role in dealing with potential hazards.
Strong Parenting is KEY!
The best prevention measure for children is strong parenting, and addiction prevention initiatives in schools, churches and the community. Prevention programs need to adapt to the environment where the effort is taking place.
In addition to programs in schools, programs can be tailor made to meet the needs in churches or community centers that deal directly with people who live in the area.
As in any form of communication, those who work the programs need to be sensitive to the people they are trying to help. They need to have an awareness of socio-economic conditions, culture, language and be respectful of all the contributing factors. It’s not just a money issue with addiction prevention programs; it’s also an issue of orientation.
Good programs exist for schools
School programs have been implemented, such as the Narcotics Anonymous presentation, which gives kids an open and frank discussion about drugs. Many of the presenters are former addicts, who can speak directly to the terrible side-effects, loss of relationships and the destruction of their lives.
The narcotics anonymous program has also been a valuable research-gathering effort, as they have learned about how children think about drugs, why they use, why they quit and in doing so, how to speak their language and communicate effectively.
The sooner the better
addiction prevention efforts can be successful even after a person has started to use, but the earlier the better. Adults and children alike need to be given the facts and information they can use every day to avoid the pitfalls of abuse and addiction.
Programs need to be real, not sugar coated and the information presented needs to reflect the needs of the community. It is true that some programs can be applied to two or more situations, but the first need is to connect with individuals in specific situations.
Must accept there is a problem
addiction prevention is a difficult issue because in order to prevent something one must first realize that there is a problem, or the potential for a problem.
The first of the 12-Steps is an acknowledgement that “our lives had become unmanageable.” Without awareness, without education, without personal and community involvement, drug abuse and addiction are unmanageable in the community. Look around. Talk to people. What is happening where you live?
Common Question about PreventionI am in recovery, but I am afraid of using again?
Review of the 12-step process can help in addiction prevention click here
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