Most people think that ‘Prevention’ equates to stopping something that has already started – but a more accurate meaning is to influence situations so that a particular action never does start . This comes clear when you look at Latin base of the word ‘prevention’ – the Latin term is ‘prae venire’ – which means ‘to come before’.
When related to drugs, ‘prevention’ is usually – and inaccurately – assumed to be interchangeable with ‘education’ – and so drug prevention is presumed to be something which is ‘done’ in schools, and prevention is by this means limited to the transmission of knowledge, instead of the wider range of actions which includes advocacy through all kinds of media, influence by people who are respected, behaviour modification (for example, encouraging and rewarding good behaviour rather than just punishing bad behaviour), legal and social rules to discourage negative actions … and so on.
The assumption that prevention is just education means in practice that most children and young people will, if they are lucky, receive a lesson about drugs perhaps once a term – for 30 minutes. It should be no surprise that this is so far from useful as to be almost a waste of time! Sadly there are still a significant number of young people who do begin to smoke – and of course, as this is a very addictive substance, many of them will become life-long smokers – or will continually be trying to give up. Some internet sites actually show very young children smoking. Parents who smoke can have a great impact in setting a good example by giving up – and this is especially true if we are looking at the use of an addictive substance like nicotine. Although the use of tobacco products has declined , the use of illegal drugs is rife. Why ? Many reasons, but a major contributor to this is that there has been no real drug prevention campaign. No consistent messages about the harms from the use of drugs. Instead our youth are confronted with images of stars and celebrities using; drugs are common place in clubs, many pop songs promote the use of drugs – and the once a term lesson in school has hardly any impact on this.
A glamorous (and wealthy) actor, footballer or singer can be outed with a drug problem – and still retain their jobs – they spend a few weeks in a comfortable rehab and declare themselves to be drug free. Sadly for many this is not so and further trips to rehab follow over the years. The unfortunate message to young people is that you can use drugs and ‘get away with it’. Probably the most significant reason why the use of drugs has escalated is that there has been a concerted campaign to legalise drugs which has been generously funded by certain wealthy individuals, who have their own, different agenda.Many parents, who themselves have had no drug use in their past , are understandably not very knowledgeable about illegal drugs. They are besieged by articles in prominent newspapers which tell them that the use of, for example, cannabis, is not a problem. They are assured that it is fairly harmless, that their children will ‘grow out of it’, that it is ‘better ‘ than alcohol and should be legalised.
A few individuals have put millions (yes, millions) of dollars into campaigns to change drug laws – taking their somewhat deviant philosophy right to the heart of the problem by attempting to get the United Nations to change drug laws. They have paid for voter initiative referendums in the USA – wording their questionnaires in such a way that the public believe they are voting for something very different to what these shadowy figures are after. Some years ago the legalisers decided it would be a great idea to promote the use of marijuana (cannabis) for medical uses – it would give the drug a good name. They have taken the editors of national newspapers away for luxury week-ends and ‘bent their ears’ into hearing that drugs like cannabis are not only good as medicine but ‘not harmful like heroin’. They have published so-called ‘debates’ in national and local newspapers, in magazines, on radio and television . They have paid for huge billboards promoting the legalisation of drugs at large sporting events. They have spread misinformation widely on the internet. These tactics can be seen to have been very successful – and if you want to learn more about the effort to retain and expand sensible health promotion (i.e. prevention) you can log on to any of the following websites to see for yourself:
There is only one sensible conclusion to all this: in order to prevent more and more young people using drugs, more and more families facing severe problems, and more and more communities being ravaged by illegal drugs, we can only change things for the better by good and consistent prevention. Read on to learn what that means.
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