Talking Prevention: Addressing Drug Problems in the Younger Population

Drug addiction is not something that is restricted to any one portion of the population. It knows no race, class, gender, or age. While we should treat each case of addiction with the same amount of care and concern, we must also look to the younger generation with special attention. Biologically speaking, their decision-making abilities are not yet fully developed, and bad choices are sure to happen, which is why it is on the older generations to educate and prevent them from making the wrong decision when it comes to using drugs. The fact still remains that drugs can harm anyone’s life, but getting through to kids of all ages is arguably the best way to cut down on the rate of drug addiction.

This isn’t just an American problem. People all over the world are trying to figure out the best way to approach this very serious topic in a way that young people can understand.

The first step that seems to be agreed upon is for parents to engage with their children’s lives. The more connected parents and kids are, the better. This means understanding who their children are interacting with, how their children are feeling, and providing the necessary structured environment that allows them to grow, while recognizing that there are consequences for bad or harmful behavior. Conversations about drugs and addiction should start at an early age, as young as before middle school. When combining all of these things, parents should be able to address potential warning signs early on, while also being aware of any underlying problems that might draw kids to use drugs in the first place. If parents can manage to keep their children from using any substances before they turn 18, they stand a better chance of avoiding addiction altogether.

Outside of the home, some believe further education is required. Exposing teenagers to real-life stories about addiction, from those who have been through it, can help remove any attractive aura drugs might have for some kids. It can also aid in helping teens who may be struggling with addiction come forward and get help. Both fronts must be addressed in order to properly take care of this problem. Schools need to keep a closer eye on their students, as well, looking for signs of mental health issues as well as drug usage. Their response should be one that invokes consequences but also seeks treatment options for the person in question.

When it comes to college campuses, the risk of drug use is arguably greater. Many kids are on their own and living independently for the first time, which can make them more susceptible to experimenting with drugs. Universities must foster open and honest discussion about these issues, potentially through student-run peer groups. Each university will have to develop a custom plan of action tailored to the needs of the student body, and it will take a concerted effort to make both prevention and treatment more effective.

Anyone who is in need of treatment for addiction has a difficult path ahead of them. But, by taking the lessons we can learn from this, along with other resources available, drug addiction can be prevented in today’s youth. It will take a conscious, coordinated, and sympathetic effort on the part of parents and schools to ensure that children understand the dangers of drugs from a very young age; this effort will have to continue through adolescence and early adulthood, as well. But if lives can be saved, it will all be so much more than worth it; it could signal a major change in drug usage.