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Red Ribbon Week: Tips for teachers to prevent drug abuse among youth

Drug and alcohol addiction is becoming increasingly prevalent in the U.S. costing the nation a significant amount due to lost productivity, health care services and high rates of crime. Drug addiction can take complete control of a person’s life but it is possible to break free and live sober.

Numerous initiatives are being taken to prevent drug use among youth, which is the most vulnerable and affected section. One such initiative is Red Ribbon Week, which is observed in the United States in the last week of October. The nation’s largest drug prevention program is undertaken every year in response to the gruesome murder of Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), by the Mexican drug traffickers in 1985. Camarena fought the battle against illegal drugs until his last breath. As a mark of respect and support for drug-free America, red ribbons are worn by Americans during the entire week.

The rationale behind observing this week is to disseminate knowledge in the community, families and youth about the negative outcomes of using addiction-forming substances. Teachers and parents have an extremely important role to play in a child’s life; hence, they must undertake a few crucial steps in preventing young minds from falling into the trap of drug abuse.

Some of these steps are listed below:

1. Talking about science and not moral values

Teachers and parents should not talk about the moral and legal consequences of abusing drugs because it will not resonate with the young minds. The emphasis should be given to the harmful effects of substances on the physical and psychological health. Teachers should discuss about the impact of these substances on the learning abilities and potential future.

2. Talking early about prevention measures

According to a public health analyst at Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Robert Vincent, by the age of nine, children start associating with drugs and alcohol positively and some of them might be even at the brink of trying a substance secretively. It is extremely important that parents and teachers start addressing these topics at a relatively young age. Schools, in particular, should hold discussion programs frequently such as during science or health classes and invite health experts from the industry to address the young minds and provide necessary guidance.

3. Disseminating knowledge about potent drugs

To ensure that the information shared with the young generation is correct, parents and teachers must read extensively and share the statistics from reviews and research articles. This is important because, in comparison to last few decades, the drugs available today are much higher in potency. Besides using marijuana and alcohol, students have also started using e-cigarettes extensively, and the fact that these are available in different flavors makes them believe that these are highly benign.

4. Talking about brain chemistry and suggesting alternatives

Teens get addicted to drugs or alcohol fast because the use leads to the production of a feel-good hormone, dopamine. This leads to more and more usage, which leads to dependence and addiction. Teens should be encouraged to engage in other activities like regular physical activity, spending quality time with friends, taking part in extracurricular activities and indulging in hobbies they love.

5. Watching for red flags

Sometimes, parents and teachers choose to live in a state of denial by telling themselves that their kids could never indulge in arbitrary activities. It is important for them to be watchful of abnormal symptoms in a child like mood fluctuations, lack of appetite, daytime drowsiness, unexplained cuts and wounds, etc. If something appears to be wrong, one must try to speak to the kids or seek help from a therapist.

Drug addiction is treated with timely intervention

It is important for the school authorities, teachers, counselors, addiction specialists and parents to put in collective efforts in distancing young children from the clutches of addiction. But it is not possible to be with children all the time and monitor their activities. They can encourage their children to go for routine screening tests and develop friendly relationship so that the child can share his or her problems. Little bit of awareness and action can save the lives of many.

If you know someone who is addicted to drugs, the Florida Drug Addiction Helpline can connect you to some of the finest addiction treatment centers in Florida that specialize in delivering evidence-based intervention plans. Call at our 24/7 helpline 855-982-2401 or chat online with an expert to know more about the drug rehabilitation centers in Florida.