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Monday, October 24, 2011

Children and Safety

The best approach 
to reducing the tremendous toll 
substance abuse exacts from individuals, families, and communities 
is to 
prevent the damage before it occurs. 

("Drug Abuse is a Preventable Behavior," A Research Update 
from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, March 2007)

Here are some key findings from prevention research:

Addiction is a complex disease. No single factor can predict who will become addicted to drugs. Addiction is influenced by a tangle of factors involving genes, environment, and age of first use. Recent advances in genetic research have enabled researchers to begin to uncover which genes make a person more vulnerable, which protect a person against addiction, and how genes and environment interact.

Addiction is a developmental disease. It usually begins in adolescence or even childhood when the brain continues to undergo changes. The prefrontal cortex– located just behind the forehead– governs judgment and decision-making functions and is the last part of the brain to develop. This may help explain why teens are prone to risk-taking, are particularly vulnerable to drug abuse, and why exposure to drugs at this critical time may affect propensity for future addiction.

Prevention and early intervention work best. The developmental years might also present opportunities for resiliency and for receptivity to intervention that can alter the course of addiction. We already know many of the risk factors that lead to drug abuse and addiction– mental illness, physical or sexual abuse, aggressive behavior, academic problems, poor social skills, and poor parent-child relations. This knowledge, combined with better understanding of the motivational processes at work in the young brain, can be applied to prevent drug abuse from starting or to intervene early to stop it when warning signs emerge.

Effective prevention principles can be applied. Youth prevention programs must be specifically designed to "speak to the audience." Research has demonstrated that research-based drug abuse prevention programs are cost-effective. Each dollar invested in prevention achieves a savings of up to $7 in areas such as substance abuse treatment and criminal justice system costs, not to mention their wider impact on the trajectory of young lives and their families.

Consider just some of the many areas of concern for children:

1. Anabolic steroids,
2. Hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin,
3. Ecstasy (MDMA),
4. Inhalants,
5. Marijuana,
6. Prescription drugs,
7. Stimulants,
8. Tobacco,
9. Alcohol,
10. Meth,
11. Bath salts and other "designer drugs,"
12. HIV, AIDS, and their association with drug abuse,
13. Teen pregnancy related to drug abuse,
14. Depression and other mental illnesses related to drug abuse,
15. Large numbers of co-existing health problems related to drug abuse.
16. Criminal behavior related to drug abuse,
17. Suicide,
18. Addiction.

Consider just some of the tremendous pressures on children:

1. The pressure to be successful,
2. The pressure to fit in,
3. The pressure to be sexually active,
4. The pressure to pick on others.

Think of the amount of concentrated education required for safely operating a motor vehicle. The State and parents emphatically preach the tremendous responsibilities of teens climbing "behind the wheel." They require effective training, up-to-date knowledge, and graduated hands-on experience to ensure the safety of teen drivers. Every parent fears the consequences of too little driving education.

Solo driving by teens is regarded as very serious business because the automobile is a potentially deadly weapon, and parents know their teenagers are prone to make some mistakes. No parent wants a poorly educated son or daughter driving.

Drug abuse is the #1 cause of accidental death among young people.

How about drug education? How much time and effort are currently spent educating youth about the dangers of drug abuse? Not enough -- certainly not as much time and effort as are spent educating teen drivers. Is it any wonder the problem has escalated to epidemic proportions. America must make prevention and early intervention the highest priority in school-age health education. Failure to do so is unacceptable. Citizens all must rise to their duty, make commitments to support prevention, and help protect the safety of all.

Do you expect the children you love to solo in a world of escalating drug abuse with insufficient education?

You Must Invest More 
To Reap Maximum Benefits 
And Prevent Disastrous Consequences!

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