Dear Dr. Bradley -
I'm wondering if you can help me.
As a mother of a drug using 19 year son, I am more passionate than ever to get the message out to middle school parents the need to educate themselves about the risks of drug experimentation, abuse, and addiction. I've long since stopped being frustrated by the complacency and lack of concern in our society (schools, media, government) to campaign and get the word out as to how devastating effects drugs can have on a young person and what to look for if they suspect something. This should be common knowledge throughout our communities ~ especially since drug usage is not improving but no one wants to talk about it!
One of the many things I'm doing to try and share the message is to present drug awareness programs at our local middle school. My husband and I present two programs - one called "NOT MY CHILD" for parents only in the fall, and then one called "Can We Talk"? for both parents and their children in the spring. Last year was the first time we presented these programs.
For the spring one - I have a question - last year we had two young adults give their drug and recovery stories to both parents and students and then we split them up - leaving both groups to learn and discuss the appropriate material following the talks. When I came up with this idea of drug and recovery stories, I learned that other prevention programs were having young adults share their stories and thought that that would be a good spring board for inspiring discussions. Well, a friend of mine told me recently that there's been some evidence-based studies that indicate that this isn't the best approach - having youth listen to these personal stories. I commented that perhaps it's because the adolescents might interpret these recovery stories as an excuse -thinking if these young people can try drugs and then go into recovery - then it's okay.
I've tried looking on-line for some data that supports this thought but I can't find anything.
Dear Parent, My husband and I are trying to get something started for our middle and high school as well. Have you devised your "Not My Child" program yourself or can you recommend specific resources for such a program? It seems prudent not to try and reinvent the wheel. I, too, am interested in finding out about evidence-based studies regarding programs that work. I'll let you know if I find any.
Parent, This program might be promising: High School Alcohol Education and Marijuana Education Course: 3rd ...
Also, we wanted to develop online alcohol & drug education courses that could ... Private High School using prevention programs - "I was concerned about the ...
3rdmilclassrooms.com/website/hshome.aspx - C
Dear Michele2 -
When my son was 16 and out of control using drugs, a kind drug counselor invited us to attend the drug education classes her outpatient clients' parents were receiving. It was extremely helpful to us and eye opening. Later we received more education when our son finally was ordered into inpatient at another facility. As I sat through those classes I thought - WOW ~ I could have really used a lot of this information and much sooner. So I looked and looked and couldn't find any on-line programs that we could use so I thought I'd create my own. In fact, I now have two different programs a year. One in the fall for parents only and then one for both parents and 7th and 8th grade students in the spring. Ironically, an executive from the very inpatient center our son was treated, told me (after our very first program) that our program was "masterful". He's been in the treatment arena for 30 + years. Maybe the content was great but the presenters - well - I wouldn't call that by a long shot.
We do this for free with all the advertising and yard signs to boot. I feel that strongly about it. One day we will post them on-line.
Sorry - but I cannot give personal or other sites on here but NOW there is a PowerPoint program you can find on-line.
Parent P.S. Not only do these programs help others but they help me too - since my now 19 year old is still struggling.
The research does not support these "war story" programs likely primarily because most teens simply can't conceive of becoming an addict, although some non-users can see the recovering addicts as having a "cool" status that they might want to copy. Most kids don't benefit much since they are all so sure that they will be able to control their use. Better options are to share data and research showing that kids who start using addictive substances at age 14 have a 500% increased risk of addiction (than folks who wait to approx age 21), that 10% of regular weed users and 15% of alcohol users become dependent, and to link that with softer approaches such as "Russian Roulette." This involves asking them to define their odds of becoming an addict (which are higher if there is a family history). Then ask, "If your odds are 1 in 10, should you use? Would you pull the trigger on a gun to your head if the odds of it going off were 1 in 10?" Following that, I believe that the "war stories" can help by painting a realistic picture of the hell of addiction.
Please keep up your efforts. We need that more now than ever.
Dr. Mike Bradley
Dr Bradley -
Have you ever come across a child with a problem with inhalant abuse? If so, do you know of any who've been sent to treatment for this specific issue?
For my program I was given the latest results of a risky behavior study done on our local middle school students and I see that inhalant abuse is more prevalent here than marijuana! According to national studies they're about even - so this alarming.
So needless to say, I plan on spending a bit more time on this one - especially since parents know very little about this.
I knew very little about it myself until I read the latest survey results and...... strangely enough, while researching this problem, I discovered some evidence that my own 19 year old has been using inhalants right in the middle of me working on our parents presentation! Computer spray under the bed, and then a few days later - he emptied more chemicals into his body using a brand new can of whipped cream I just bought. Whipped cream? How many parents know about this? This one is rarely talked about!