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The Truth About Drugs Education Package is available at no charge to teachers, school administrators, mentors, school counselors, law enforcement officers and juvenile correctional officers—anyone in a position to educate youth groups and classes on the subject of substance abuse. Cocaine is made from the dried leaves of the coca plant, and is a white, crystalline powder. When cocaine is heated over a flame and combined with other substances like water and baking soda, the result is crack, named for the crackle the heat causes. It's a powerful stimulant that shocks the central nervous system for 15-30 minutes if snorted, and 10-15 minutes if smoked. Injecting cocaine or any other drug increases risk of infection of hepatitis or HIV through shared, dirty needles. A euphoric burst of high feelings, followed by drowsiness, nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting.
If injected with a needle, users are susceptible to collapsed veins and exposure to infections through shared needles.
Safety First is a realistic approach to Drug Education which entails knowledge, communication, listening on our part, honesty on their part as well as ours, and safety where drugs and alcohol are concerned.
The number of users has gone up and down since the government began collecting data in the mid-1970s, but persists. Most youthful drug use is experimental, and fortunately the vast majority get through adolescence unscathed.
As a parent, I urgently wanted to know the answer to these questions, so I looked at drug education, its history, curricula, and evaluations. Post-World War II drug education portrayed alcohol in a way more consistent with the beliefs and practices of most Americans, making distinctions between use and abuse, and characterizing the majority of users as moderate.
By the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was clear that exaggerations of danger had failed to prevent a generation of young people (the Baby Boomers) from experimenting with marijuana and other drugs. Today’s drug education is extremely variable in content as well as quality and price. Of 49 programs reviewed in Making the Grade: A Guide to School Drug Prevention Programs only 10 had been subjected to rigorous evaluations. Some researchers question our ability to determine the effectiveness of drug education programs, because the evaluations themselves are too simplistic. Education researcher Joel Brown and his colleagues conclude that flaws in the way programs are evaluated lead us to believe that drug education is effective although in reality it is an enormous taxpayer drain with precious few positive effects.
Alternative explanations, not based on the idea that experimentation with drugs is pathological, acknowledge the importance of culture. A common belief among many educators, policy makers, and parents is that if teenagers simply understood the dangers of drug experimentation they would abstain. Marijuana, the drug second only to alcohol in popularity among teens, has been routinely demonized in drug education today. The consistent mischaracterization of marijuana may be the Achilles Heel of conventional approaches to drug education because these false messages are inconsistent with students’ actual observations and experience. Ultimately the problem with delivering unbelievable messages, particularly about marijuana, is that students define the entire drug education exercise as a joke.
Another problem with government-funded drug education programs is that they are mandated simply to prevent drug use. Increasing numbers of educators are becoming frustrated by the abstinence-only mandate of federally funded drug education. We must approach alcohol and other drugs as we approach other potentially dangerous substances and activities.
The first assumption of safety-first drug education is that teenagers can make responsible decisions if given honest, science-based drug education. A second assumption of a safety-first drug education program is that total abstinence may not be a realistic alternative for all teenagers. A third assumption of safety-first drug education is that the use of mind-altering substances does not necessarily constitute drug abuse. Students who, despite our strong admonitions to abstain, use marijuana, need to understand that there is a huge difference between use and abuse, between occasional and daily use. Safety-first drug education should be age-specific, and begin in middle-school, when teens are actually confronted with drugs. Safety-first drug education affords us the opportunity to engage students in the broad study of how drugs affect the body and mind. As the demand for reality-based drug education grows, programs are being developed in the United States and abroad. This fall you will be entering high school, and like most American teenagers, you’ll have to navigate drugs. Johnny, as your father and I have always told you about a range of activities (including sex), think about the consequences of your actions before you act.
Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Listed below, in alphabetical order, are the twenty-two PDF files (including black and white and color options) noted as downloadable in your Educator’s Guide. As hard as law enforcement tries to prevent this from happening, bad people still manage to sell illegal drugs to kids.
Chronic constipation, dry skin, scarred veins and breathing problems are just a few of the long-term symptoms. It’s our job as parents and educators to keep our children safe by teaching Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention. Still, I worry about those teenagers whose experimentation gets out of hand, who fall into abusive patterns with drugs and put themselves in harm’s way. Marijuana, however, continued to be described as causing crime and insanity, leaving its users exceedingly vulnerable to heroin addiction. Of these, a handful of programs developed in university settings have shown favorable results in delaying or reducing some drug use.


Many programs are based on the conviction that any use of illegal drugs is inherently pathological, dangerous behavior, an indication that something is wrong.
The American people and their children are perpetually bombarded with messages that encourage them to imbibe and medicate with a variety of substances. Some programs use the terms interchangeably; others utilize an exaggerated definition of use that in effect defines anything other than one-time experimentation and any use of illegal drugs as abuse. According to the government’s own General Accounting Office, the expectation that teenagers, at a time in their lives when they are most amenable to risk-taking, will be inoculated from experimentation with consciousness alteration, is unrealistic at best.
For instance, instead of banning automobiles, which kill far more teenagers than drugs do, we enforce traffic laws, prohibit driving while intoxicated, and insist that drivers wear seat belts. The majority of drug use (with the possible exception of nicotine, which is the most addictive of all substances) does not lead to addiction or abuse. If they persist, students need to know that they can and must control their use by using moderation and limiting use. We must keep the channels of communication open, find ways to keep the conversation going, and listen, listen, listen.
Courses should run continuously through high school, when most experimentation occurs, utilizing both student engagement and participation (which conventional drug education acknowledges as crucial) and reality- and science-based educational materials.
Teenagers often know more than we (want to) think about drugs through experience, family, and the media. Quality drug education may provide an introduction to physiology, including the psychopharmacology of drugs (how they work), as well as their health and psychological risks (and benefits). With such an education, students will more deeply understand the concrete risks inherent in the use of drugs.
It has utilized a variety of methods, from scare tactics to resistance techniques, in the effort to prevent young people from using drugs. Programs should differentiate between use and abuse, and stress the importance of moderation and context. Instead, having spent the past 25 years researching drug use, abuse and policy, I will tell you a little about what I have learned, hoping this will lead you to make wise choices. I choose not to try to scare you by distorting information because I want you to have confidence in what I tell you.
It is difficult to retain information while high, so using it, especially daily, affects your ability to learn. I will say again that this is not a good idea, but if you do, I urge you to learn as much as you can, and use common sense.
Watch how people behave, but understand that everyone responds differently even to the same substance. It is impossible to know what is contained in illegal drugs because they are not regulated. Select the form or document by clicking on the title and then viewing or saving the item following your Adobe Reader directions. We have learned that our children and youth of the world are inquisitive, that many will experiment with alcohol and drugs, and that they are not necessarily naive. Hasn’t this cohort of adolescents been exposed, since elementary school, to the most intensive and expensive anti-drug campaign in history? The purpose of these programs was to frighten young people out of using illegal drugs, utilizing scare tactics reminiscent of the movie, Reefer Madness, a 1936 propaganda film now universally regarded as factually incorrect. Whereas abstinence continued to be promoted as the wisest choice, the idea was to give students all available information about drugs so they might use their education to make responsible decisions.
Yet they tend to be rather expensive, hence less available than those programs which are cheaper to administer, aggressively marketed, and of questionable value. Unfortunately, attitudes formed about drugs during childhood or early adolescence seem to have little bearing on later decisions, and high school students may rhetorically state reasons for avoiding drugs, yet use them anyway.
Some psychologists define drug use as deviant, aberrant behavior caused by a personality problem. We routinely alter our states of consciousness through conventional means such as alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and prescription drugs.
For example, several researchers, as well as the federal government, have found that the vast majority of marijuana smokers do not progress to the use of more dangerous drugs. In their 1997 book, Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts: A Review of the Scientific Evidence, Professors Zimmer and Morgan examined the scientific evidence relevant to each of these alleged dangers.
A frightening ramification of imparting misinformation to them is that teenagers, like the heroin addict I interviewed over two decades ago, will ignore our warnings completely and put themselves in real danger. In fact, more than half of all American teenagers have tried marijuana by the time they graduate from high school, and four out of five have used alcohol. But for him to admit that they might use it at all would violate the abstinence-only school policy dictated by federal funding regulations. In fact, studies conducted to discover the reasons why students quit using marijuana found they were motivated by health reasons and negative drug effects, which they themselves experienced.
It is never appropriate to use marijuana at school, at work, while participating in sports, or while driving.
We must include them, incorporating their observations and experience in any drug education curriculum if we want it to be credible.53, 54 There must be no negative repercussions for their input and honesty.
But if we are to capture and retain students’ confidence, we must separate the real from the imagined dangers of substance use. Curricula should be age-specific, stress student participation and provide science-based, objective educational materials.
Although I won’t lie to you about their effects, there are many reasons for a person your age to not use drugs or alcohol. Here in the United States, the number of arrests for possession of marijuana has more than doubled in the past six years.
There are many excellent books and references, including the Internet, that give you credible information about drugs.


The majority of fatal overdoses occur because young people do not know the strength of the drugs they consume, or how they combine with other drugs. The last thing you want is for someone to try to get them to try something they haven't heard about from you.
Genuinely intrigued by the different turns our lives had taken, I asked how she had ended up addicted to heroin and in jail. But as a drug abuse expert whose research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as a resident of a large U.S.
Some are designed to stand alone; others to be integrated into health or science curricula.
Furthermore, such evaluations tend to report positive findings, while ignoring or even covering up those that show no effectiveness.
Most have observed their parents and other adults who use alcohol, itself a drug, without abusing it.
Based on the National Institute on Drug Abuse Household Survey, Professor Lynn Zimmer and Dr.
They found, in essentially every case, that the claims of marijuana’s dangerousness did not hold up. She did not find the negative claims about marijuana credible, discounted the entire message, and tried heroin. The insistence on complete abstinence has meant the inevitable failure of programs that make this their primary goal. At the same time we stress abstinence, we should also provide a fallback strategy for risk reduction, providing students with information and resources so they do the least possible harm to themselves and those around them. Thus, any form of drug education should respect and build upon teenagers’ abilities to reason and to learn from their own experiences.
There are real, lasting consequences of using drugs and being caught, including expulsion from school, denial of college loans, a criminal record, and lasting stigma. Just as drugs can be dangerous, they can also provide users with psychological and medical benefits, which explains why use has persisted around the world since civilization began. In simple terms, it is our responsibility as parents and teachers to engage students and provide them with credible information so they can make responsible decisions, avoid drug abuse, and stay safe. Marijuana does not often lead to physical dependence or overdose, but it does alter the way people think, behave and react. Plan your transportation and under no circumstances drive or get into a car with anyone else who has been using alcohol or other drugs. Some hand out T-shirts and certificates when students complete the program; others have graduation ceremonies at which students are encouraged to take a pledge to remain drug-free. Even in the context of school, today’s teenagers have witnessed the Ritalinization of difficult-to-manage students.
Virtually all studies have found that the vast majority of students who try drugs do not become abusers.
Over the years, the same conclusions have been reached by numerous official commissions, including the La Guardia Commission in 1944, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse in 1972, the National Academy of Sciences in 1982, and, in 1999, the Institute of Medicine.
Instead, a realistic perspective emphasizes safety and a reduction in drug problems rather than abstinence as the key measure of success of any program.
Norman Zinberg stressed, users must recognize the complex interaction between the drug they are ingesting, their own mind-set, and the setting in which they use substances, which combine to form the context of drug use.52 As with sexual activity and alcohol use, teenagers need to understand the importance of context in order to make wise decisions, control their use, and stay safe and healthy.
Reality-based drug education will equip students with information they trust, the basis for making responsible decisions. Call us or any of our close friends any time, day or night, and we will pick you up, no questions asked and no consequences. Whereas marijuana by itself is not fatal, too much can cause you to become disoriented and sometimes paranoid. A wide range of substances are cheap, potent, and readily available to adults and teenagers alike, with 90% of high school seniors reporting that marijuana is easy to obtain.
Programs that blur the distinctions between use and abuse are ineffective because students’ own experiences tell them the information presented to them is not believable. Morgan calculated that for every 100 people who have tried marijuana, only one is a current user of cocaine.
Drug education courses provide an opportunity to teach history, sociology, anthropology, and political science.
On the contrary, I wanted to understand what might be missing from their content, and how we might accomplish the prevention of drug problems more productively. The majority teach students that most people do not use drugs, that abstinence is the societal norm, and that it is acceptable not to use drugs.
In this context, some psychologists argue, experimentation with mind-altering substances, legal or illegal, might instead be defined as normal, given the nature of our culture. Teenagers know from their own experience and observation that marijuana use does not inevitably, or even usually, lead to the use of harder drugs.
I wrote this pamphlet with other parents in mind, as well as teachers and school administrators.
In fact, the majority of teens who try marijuana do not even use marijuana itself on a regular basis.
I know that they, like me, are interested first and foremost in the safety of our children. Therefore, when such information is given, students discount both the message and the messenger.
This mini-module can be linked to other lessons on drugs and alcohol abuse, see our PSHE teaching resources.



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