Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Parents: the anti-drug? Two recent news stories reflect the mixed messages kids are getting about drugs. A long story in Monday's LA Times is headlined "Anti-drug programs get mixed grades." The story focuses on DARE, the best known elementary age drug education program and questions whether it works. A key part of the debate focuses on what age to begin drug education. The story notes:
"The harm is that kids don't need these messages yet, and by making them too simplistic, they will dismiss them when they're older and do need this message," Robertson says. She adds that these programs make kids who have never considered using drugs see themselves as potential drug users. "We know that making kids more aware can be dangerous, especially if these are high-sensation-seeking kids," she says. "When kids are ready, they really will ask the right questions. Don't give them more information than they ask for. I don't understand people who give third-graders all the street names for drugs. Why would anyone do that?" Others strongly disagree: "Early and often. That's our cardinal rule," says Judy Cushing, past president of the National Family Partnership, the organization that founded and oversees Red Ribbon Week. "It's never too early to tell kids what's healthy and what isn't to put in their bodies."
A separate story on CNN today reports on a new teen drug survey. The survey found:
1 in 5 teens -- or about 4.5 million -- tried prescription painkillers to get high. Drugs include Vicodin or OxyContin. 40 percent say prescription meds "much safer" than illegal drugs. 31 percent say "nothing wrong" with prescription drug use. 29 percent think prescription painkillers non-addictive. 22 percent smoked, down from 23 percent last year and 42 percent in 1998. 31 percent drank in the last month, down from 33 percent last year and 48 percent in 1998.
Drug and alcohol abuse is a serious problem and one that parents can have a direct and measurable impact upon. A closing paragraph in the LA Times article sums it up well,
The overwhelming evidence supports that the modeling that happens at home will still have the greatest effect on how kids ultimately behave.


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