Substance Abuse Prevention is About Education, Not Fear
October is coming to a close, and with it National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Though it should go without saying, the conversation about substance abuse and addiction should not end here; it’s a topic to be discussed and revisited throughout the year. Diligence and earnest investment in your child’s life and future are the best tools for helping them grow into well-rounded adults and avoid the temptations of drugs and alcohol.
In teaching your child about the dangers of substance abuse it is important to ensure you are taking the correct approach to introducing the topic. I wrote a previous post about how to broach the topic of substance abuse. While finding the right opportunities to talk about addiction is important, the proper attitude and demeanor are equally crucial.
Do’s and Don’ts of Substance Abuse Prevention
Though discouragement is the end goal of substance abuse prevention programs, using fear, guilt, or threats to encourage divergence from a potentially dangerous path is not only ineffective, but it can also cause the opposite of the intended effect.
Teaching children and teens that using drugs or drinking will damn them for life, condemn them to Hell, or destroy their future is a feeble, evasive, and vain attempt at substance abuse prevention. While it may be effective as a short-term means of discouragement, children are by nature quite curious.
Children are most vulnerable to suggestion and manipulation during pre-pubescence and early adolescence, a time frame which is also associated with rebellion, self-discovery, and angst. Without proper education about the dangers of substance abuse, these young and impressionable people are left only knowing drugs and alcohol are a taboo but not why. Fear tactics and reproach may work for some children, but others who aren’t quite as susceptible may be more tempted to experiment as a means of discovery.
Parents, guardians, and educators must be careful to provide age-appropriate, accurate information when discussing substance abuse and addiction with children and young teens. Genuine education about the effects of substance abuse on the mind, body, and social implications is the best means of ensuring the message to abstain from drugs and alcohol gets through to the audience.
Presenting the facts and truth will not only strengthen your position as a trusted authority, but spreading verifiable information can help end the stigmas against people suffering from substance abuse disorders which is only perpetuated by fear-mongering and guilt-tripping educational tactics.
Is fear an effective deterrent for substance abuse? Give us your opinion!
Keep Up With Trending Addiction News
About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.