I speak with thousands of individuals a year about the topic of addiction. Many of these people I speak with are parents who have a son or daughter that is addicted to either prescription pain killers or heroin. These parents are terrified and have no clue what is going on with their child. They research online and look for any help they can find and usually are bombarded with information that is hard for them to digest. Most of the information that they do find is either outdated, confusing, and not helpful in their situation.
It is up to the county governments and school systems to implement an opiate education platform. Holding meetings and seminars on what is going on with their child and their community. Parents need to understand the science behind these drugs, what they do to the brain and body. Early signs of use are extremely important for parents to know so they can confront the issue before it gets out of hand. Meetings need to have recovering addicts who have been in this lifestyle, affected by these drugs, and have first hand knowledge of the terrible consequences these drugs bring.
I have attended a few town meetings about the problems of drug abuse. As a former addict myself, I cringe when a lot of "professionals" talk about the use of drugs. Many of these professionals themselves have never been addicted to drugs, nor have many of them tried the drugs they are talking about. Most of the information they are providing are statistics and reiterating that drugs are "bad". Everyone knows that drugs are bad, and that drugs are a problem in our society. What these programs are lacking is useful information of what can be done to fix this problem. Education is key when it comes to curbing drug abuse, and providing parents with the information they need so that they can educate themselves and their children.
Many people can try to defend the "War On Drugs" but it's been proven that the war has been unsuccessful. The proof is in the statistics. Drugs and drug abuse happen in every city and town across the United States. I'm sure many people remember the old commercial with the egg that says "this is your brain", then they crack the egg open and put it on a stove and follows with the line "this is your brain on drugs. Any questions?"
I can understand the point that they were trying to make, but lets be real. Most people found this commercial to be ineffective at conveying the message. What drugs were they talking about? Marijuana, PCP, Cocaine? Do all drugs turn your head into cooked eggs? I feel parents need to be educated and speak to professionals that understand what is going on in our society. A lot of people feel that prescription medication that is prescribed by a licensed doctor tends to be "safer" than street drugs. Yes opiate painkillers may be "cleaner" as the dose is marked and they are not "cut" with any harmful substances such as heroin. The problem is that painkillers are just as deadly as heroin when abused.
Our youth of today needs to be informed and see what drugs actually do to people, family and communities. With the internet being widely available, information is more readily available than ever before. There are videos on Youtube from addicts and family members who share their store about addiction. Our children need to talk to (local) addicts who have made horrible life decisions in order to get their drugs. They need to visit prisons and hear from convicted criminals about their drug abuse and crimes that led them to prison. They need to hear from people their own age who they can relate to. Parents need to be educated on the harm that prescription drugs can cause to a family. Pictures, and statistics don't solve problems - Action, education, and first hand experience can help our youth.
Being open, honest and showing the results of drug abuse first hand will make a longer lasting impression than a person dressed in a dog suit with the word "DARE" written across their chest. In 1998, the DARE program failed to meet federal guidelines that they be both research-based and effective. To date they have not met those guidelines, thereby disqualifying the organization from receiving further federal grant money. The DARE program was said to be spending over $1 billion a year on educating youth, which has received about the same success as our "War on Drugs" has, which is less than acceptable. Hopefully our communities can form groups to help educate both parents and students with real knowledge on drug abuse along with better laws, prescription tracking, and educating parents on the real harm that opiate abuse can cause.