It’s 2011 and in the United States laws and beliefs have shifted and changed to a point that allows us a unique platform from which to view the teenage drug issues in our country. Specifically when relating to teenagers, as drug use remains prominent in high school despite forty years of drug war turmoil.
Reality never was as simple as “Just Say No” and this is as true now as ever. Methods of information control utilized by parents, teachers, and law enforcement such as propaganda, false studies, and dull, dumb campaigns have led teenagers who have been fed only this garbage to realize once they taste the forbidden fruit that everything they have learned up to this point is false. This leads to a possibly dangerous lifestyle in which curiosity may lead them to experiment with harder and harder drugs based on the idea that the last drug wasn’t nearly as bad as their parents said so why would the next one be any different?
Harm Reduction has become a serious tool in which to combat teenage drug issues. Rather than feed them the same tired black hole of stretched and bent information, this newer method relies on honest reliable truth. Instead of being told that taking a hit of marijuana will send you off the deep end into a schizophrenic episode you’ll never come back from, teenagers are told that,” yes marijuana might make you feel good but here are the drawbacks…”.
Schools around the country have already adopted a more liberal policy when it comes to discussing both the positive and negative side effects of drugs and results have looked promising. Teenage drug use hasn’t declined, but a tendency towards softer less-harmful drugs has heavily increased while the use of harder drugs has begun to dissipate. This knowledge transcends the average drug trends that follow each generation's youth and looks to be the pathway to a brighter tomorrow for teenagers today.
For parents it may be harder than school faculty to have an honest discussion with their kids about responsible drug use. It’s easy to get angry and tell them that they absolutely cannot try drugs. For parents it’s about protection and let’s be honest, drugs are dangerous. From Tylenol to Heroin there’s always a risk when taking anything that alters your body’s perception. However simply saying drugs are bad has never worked in the past and the representation of drugs as unknown desires leads to pursuit by teenagers all the time.
Instead, a more honest approach may require soul searching of your own, and remembrance of your own past as a teenager. Talk to your children about drugs, inform them of the dangers, the upsides and the downsides. Remind them of the consequences of both illicit and non-illicit (prescription drugs are some of the most highly abused within the 8th-12th grades) drug use, but do it without making it a threat. You are their parent, not their high school friend, so don’t condone drug use but presentation of knowledge can win their respect and after such a conversation they may see you less as a dangerous authority figure and more as someone they can trust with the confusion and curiosity of being a teenager.