Any topic (writer’s choice)

Colleague 1
Post a description of the prevention program that you selected and explain why it was not successful in preventing addiction:

The program I selected was introduced in 1982 by the First Lady, Nancy Reagan. It was started because a student asked what response would suffice if drugs were ever brought up. There was a large movement for drug prevention in the 1980’s and, “Just Say No,” was part of that movement. Many schools initiated programs following the First Lady’s ideas, educating school children on the dangers of using drugs and alcohol. It is believed that the program failed because it was focused on educating children, rather than promoting other socially acceptable activities (Toynbee, 2003). Surprisingly to me, studies showed that the program even elevated the numbers of children who experimented with drugs and alcohol, rather than decreasing instances.

Then based on this information, what two recommendations would you make for this program to be successful in reducing addiction today?

Because studies showed an increase in experimentation versus a decrease, I think the best plan to make the program successful would be to promote other social activities that students would be proud to be part of. Instead of simply educating students on the drugs and their dangers, suggesting alternative means of social interaction could provide a safer alternative without leaving children feeling left out. I remember doing the D.A.R.E program in middle school and being told by some of my peers that they had already drank alcohol or smoked cigarettes. I was astonished. The conversations left me feeling left out because I had not tried alcohol or smoked a cigarette yet, so I can see where the program had the opposite effect it was attempting. I think if the program would have focused more on promoting and providing ideas of acceptable activities, and educating on the long-term results of drug use it may have been more successful. Sharing images of people who have used drugs long-term, the lungs of a smoker, what alcohol does to the liver, versus those of healthy adults, would likely leave a lasting impression on young minds. Essentially, show the absolute negative results of drug or alcohol abuse and provide ideas of acceptable activities. I remember going on a field trip with the after-school program I was a part of where people who had suffered addiction shared their stories. One lady was a long-term smoker. She showed up to the podium with a hole in her throat, where she had to use a machine to talk out of. She was also missing half of her jaw. I will never forget the story she told and how she looked. That had a lasting impact on me and I have never been a smoker after seeing her.

Capuzzi & Stauffer (2016), state that a survey in 2012 showed that approximately 23.9 million Americans, aged 12 and older, had used illicit drugs within the past month. This is an astronomical number! I think another tactic for reducing addiction today would be to reduce the social stigma that comes with abstaining from drug or alcohol use in adolescence. If we as a society could impress on our children that experimenting with drugs and alcohol would not make them, “cooler,” or more accepted by their peers, things could improve. Essentially, we need to make a social change that removes the stigma associated with drug experimentation as, “part of growing up.” I believe that a lot of children/adolescents get this idea from their parents, but the parents were likely not exposed to the same kinds of illicit drugs that adolescents/teens today are. Alcohol and smoking cigarettes were a part of growing up when I was a kid. The drugs that kids are experimenting with today are much harder than the ones I ever remember being exposed to. I work in a public school as a counselor intern and I am being told by school-aged children as young as 10 or 11 that they have already smoked marijuana, drank alcohol, and smoked cigarettes. I also work with junior high and high schoolers who have admitted to using Molly, ecstasy, coke, inhalants, methanphetamines, etc. Most of them tell me that they did it, or tried it, because their friends had done it. Even worse, some of them are saying that they get these drugs from their parents! I think we all know a lot of parents that say they allow the drugs and alcohol because they know that the kids are going to do it, so they may as well allow them to do it in their home, where they are safe. This should not be an acceptable thought process. The only thing I can think is that we desperately need a social change that focuses on how experimenting is unacceptable and dangerous, versus something that is just accepted as a part of growing up.

Finally, describe two challenges to those recommendations:

The challenge that comes with educating children/adolescents on the long-term effects of drug or alcohol abuse is that, if they don’t see it, they do not believe it. As I stated previously, I attended a seminar where long-term addicts were invited to come and share their stories. This seminar had a lasting effect on me, but only a small portion of our school attended. Most of the rest of my friends and peers had not seen the damage that drugs or alcohol caused these people in recovery. Additionally, it would likely be challenging to find people in recovery willing to share their stories. Recovering addicts are in recovery for the remainder of their lives and it can be a struggle. Drug addiction often comes with traumas. Ultimately, recovering addicts are survivors of drug abuse and asking them to share their story could re-traumatize them, making finding candidates challenging, both ethically and personally.

A change of societal beliefs and social acceptance comes with many challenges. It would likely take years to change people’s beliefs and behaviors. As stated by Capuzzi & Stauffer (2016), many substance abusers initiated use during childhood or adolescence which can have lasting effects on the rest of their lives. As stated by Toynbee (2003), many drug prevention programs last only a short time, between weeks and months. To combat drug abuse and how society views experimentation would take decades. Essentially, people would need to be educated, and re-educated throughout their lifetimes, making it not only challenging in terms of longevity, but financially as well.

References:

Capuzzi, D., & Stauffer, M. D. (2016). Foundations of addictions counseling (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Pearson Education, Inc.

Toynbee, P. (2003). Just say no to a drugs policy that doesn’t work: UN and American attempts to enforce total prohibition are sheer folly. The Guardian, 23.

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Colleague 2

COLLAPSE
The catch phrase Just Say No movement was part of the United Stated government efforts to expand the war on drugs. This message had been intended to help resolve the drug crisis in our communities. This message was used as to remind people that it was morally wrong to use illicit drugs and it was considered to destroy lives. Although, it was thought this message was to be used to paint a picture this to be criminal and morally wrong and it was destroying lives (Mackey-Kallis & Hahn, 1991) .

The two recommendations as to Just Say No, I would support the addict and would end the negative messages of criminalizing people who are suffering from an addiction. I would also end the message of using this message to say that using drugs destroy lives. People become addicts for many reasons, we as a community and society have to engage with people and understand their usage. Next, I will involve social interaction, instead of use the negative message of treating people as criminals and include educational tools to help people understand the consequences of continuing to use substances. Parents may model behavior and not smoke or drink in front of their children, explain the right and wrong in using illicit substances (Mackey-Kallis & Hahn, 1991).

Two challenges to these recommendations is trying to convince our community and society to come together to help this vulnerable population. Also, find a way to be outspoken about the intolerance of substances and fight against drugs use, instead of terrorizing the addicts.

Mackey-Kallis, S., & Hahn, D. F. (1991). Questions of Public Will and  Private Action: The Power of the Negative in the Reagans. Just Say No Morality Campaign. Retrieved  from www.waldenu.edulibrary.org.

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