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Drug Prevention in the 21st Century

by Dore Frances, IEC, MA, founder of Horizon Family Solutions, LLC
It is unacceptable for educators and parents to think they can ignore the illegal drug problem and it will just go away - or that it is only a problem in the poor, inner-city communities of America.

Jack Lawn, former DEA director used to open his drug-prevention speeches by saying that the three words killing more youth than any other words known to man were, "Not my child." Today's educators and parents cannot afford to ignore this problem or assume it is not going on in their households, their schools, their towns.

We are still a country living in deep denial about illegal drug use by youth.

We have yet to rid our schools of illegal drugs. We have made a positive difference in the lives of many. I am not saying that nothing has been accomplished. Unfortunately we still do not live in a country where prevention is a top priority. Although we may never know who we save by our efforts, the motivation of assisting our youth choose healthy lifestyles is still strong.

When we choose to ignore the drug problem in America, we continue to lose children (and adults), and to me this is unacceptable. It has taken us many years to get to this ongoing drug crisis in America, and there is no quick fix. The only solution for a teen who is abusing or addicted to drugs is through a comprehensive, therapy-based, peer-supported, residential prevention program. "There is no quick fix." In the drug abuse arena, schools have three populations of students and staff: the user, the affected and the nonuser/nonaffected. Ignorance about drug abuse identification and intervention is a serious problem. Chemical dependency is a disease.

Therefore, being strictly punitive does not assist the teen who has the disease. Life is about choices, and the more good ones a person makes, the more freedom and happiness they may have. This is where support must start. Put downs, sarcasm and yelling must be eliminated and replaced with positive reinforcement. Everyday is a new beginning for each person, and an important responsibility of anyone assisting a youth who has drug abuse challenges is to facilitate positive behavior changes, not just prevention of the behavior.

When you learn to expect positive changes over time from the youth you are assisting, you will often see them.

"No use" is the only effective message about drug use. Any suggestion that there is such a thing as responsible use is a mixed message. A mixed message can be worse than no message at all. Homes and schools that provide a healthy climate to talk about drug-abuse concerns are needed.

This means being caring, respectful, supportive and trusting of one another. And when you cannot be a positive role model, please do not get involved in any drug prevention program. It is certain that more harm than good will happen.

We all must look at our own behaviors and ask ourselves if this is the behavior we want our children to follow. Today's youth are in desperate need of positive role models.

It isn't an easy task, and it is going to take more time to accomplish what we need to do for the children of the 21st Century. I believe our children deserve nothing less.

Dore Frances, IEC, MA, is an educcational consultant, childs right advocate, parent coach, specializing in working with troubled teens and their families in the United States, Canda, and abroad. See her site at: or contact her by phone at:(541) 312-4422, or email
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Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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