IN AMERICA Organisations like D.A.R.E that spread awareness among school students in the US help in keeping curious youth away from drugs. SRIMATHI SRIDHAR
In today’s growing society like today’s, drug addiction and abuse is not all that unheard of. A general curiosity to experiment can sometimes lead to a dangerous path of addiction that poses difficulties for those wishing to stop. On its DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) website for parents, titled “Get Smart About Drugs,” a press release by the National Security Council in 2007 stated that poisoning, from drug overdose of “over-the-counter, prescription and illicit drugs” was becoming the most popular cause of “accidental death, with a 5 per cent increase last year alone.”
The same website showed a 2007 statistic from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which had marijuana as the most popular drug used by teens with “more than 60 per cent” of users. But in 2008, according to a “2008 Successes in the Fight Against Drugs” fact sheet produced by the DEA, there was a “25 per cent decline” in illicit drug usage by teens.A TEDS (Treatment Episode Data Set) Report published in March 2009 on SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) website said that in terms of outpatient treatment in 2005, “35 per cent completed treatment” while “28 per ecnt dropped out.”
Where abuse and addiction are concerned, how one can cope in such a situation is perhaps crucial to getting on the road to recovery. For alcoholics for example, groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) exist; therapeutic sessions that help those fighting alcohol abuse and addiction deal with their difficulties and situations while showing them that they are not alone in this fight to sobriety and improvement. That there are other individuals who are going through the same, if not similar, situation as them.As far as drugs go, one of the popular programmes in the U.S. that exist to educate individuals on drug abuse and addiction is called D.A.R.E, or Drug Abuse Resistance Education. This educational program first started off as a national venture, but is now known internationally.
On the programme’s official website (www.dare.com), D.A.R.E states its primary mission, among other goals, as that to “provide children with the information and skills they need to live drug-and-violence-free lives.” By working closely with students, D.A.R.E does just that, imparting on the young the knowledge about drugs and violence that they can have and take with them for the future. D.A.R.E works and executes its lessons in collaboration with the police. In school, I remember our class getting a visit from D.A.R.E. I believe a smiley sticker was also involved…if memory serves me correctly!Programmes such as D.A.R.E are popular methods by which the fight against drug abuse can be highlighted and be made aware to growing individuals. As D.A.R.E gives lessons to students even in their senior year of high school (12th grade), students at some point can hope to be properly educated in the area of drugs (and violence as well).
What individuals know and learn about drugs is very important, as it is quite a prevalent issue. Especially For the youth, growing up and heading off to college and beyond means entering new and unfamiliar environments where the opportunities to gain exposure to drugs may exist. Peers back in the U.S. gave me their insights on what they thought about drugs. One friend back home made a connection between drugs and culture, tying it to experimentation: “It’s getting easier and easier for kids to get drugs because there’s so much exposure to that culture, like from media and peers. At that age (teenage), you’re curious and very impressionable and if your friends are trying it or you see it in the movies or on TV, you’re going to want to see it for yourself.”
Another peer shared similar views, saying “I’m sure a lot of kids do drugs to be “cool” but I think more than that it’s about experimentation. We only get so much time where we are allowed to mess up and try new stuff before we are forced into the adult world.” But aside from the curiosity, peers also pointed out that not all drugs are used with dangerous consequences. One friend said, “I think people do drugs for many different reasons, some of which are harmful and some of which are not. For example, taking Aderol (a well known drug that improves one’s attention span) to study for a big test probably isn’t a big problem, but getting addicted to harder drugs can obviously mess up somebody’s life.”
A few other agencies and institutions that deal with drug abuse/addiction in the US include…
- UNODC Agency: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (http://www.unodc.org/unodc/index.html)
- NIDA research institute: National Institute on Drug Abuse (http://www.nida.nih.gov/)
- DEA: Drug Enforcement Administration (http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/index.htm )
- ACDE: American Council for Drug Education (http://www.acde.org/)
Signs to look out for
According to the American Council for Drug Education, some of the signs and symptoms of drug abuse include:
- Fluctuation in hunger and weight
- Dilation of pupils
- Odour (of the drug)
- Poor academic performance
- Mysterious about his/her new group of friends
- Inability to concentrate
For a complete list of signs and symptoms, as well as a detailed description of the signs and symptoms associated with specific drugs, visit http://www.acde.org/parent/signs.htm
Sources: www.dare.com http://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com/prevent/did_you_know.html http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/cngrtest/success_in_fight_against_drugs.pdf http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k9/outptTX/outptTX.htm http://www.acde.org/parent/signs.htm http://www.unodc.org/unodc/index.html http://www.nida.nih.gov/ http://www.acde.org/
Srimathi is a student of Journalism and English Literature double major from Miami University of Ohio, USA.
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