Why is it difficult to get people to discuss strategies for swaying our children from the temptations caused by substance and alcohol abuse?
Can we blame the highly profitable advertising blitzes that clearly define the benefits from social drinking and even legalizing marijuana for medical purposes? Are their really victims suffering in "dark alleys" with needles inserted into various arteries of an addict?
No one actually volunteers to become an addict or alcoholic, so why is the use of "drugs" — especially at an early age — really a problem? There are many and varied reasons why someone becomes a victim of drugs and alcohol consumption.
Children and young adults are often exposed to drugs and alcohol without even understanding the possible affects from using these types of substances. Our current culture embraces the hedonistic appeal of feeling good.
Yes, there is a demonstrative realization that a child may enjoy the sought after "high" from certain substances and/or alcohol. The "high" is short lived, but the barriers for not repeating the experiences have been lowered or entirely removed. The feeling that I can get high, not get caught and even be recognized by peers as being more mature is extremely appealing to our youth.
No one is perfect. Experimentation will occur. However, it is wrong and unacceptable. A child does not have the mental reasoning or maturity to understand the concept that a short-term "feel-good" is not permanent.
The level of invincibility by our youth when discussing the damages that may be developed from excessive substance abuse and alcohol is "not me; I am too smart – I am in control of my body and mind".
Addiction destroys. Addiction may cause divorce, physical violence and the loss of employment, suicide and the destruction of the family's core values.
Education regarding substance and alcohol usage at an early age is an investment that will continue to grow in time. No one desires to discuss this sensitive topic.
It has not worked in 30 years so why will it change today?
The social implications are one of the major contributors for "covering up" what children really need. Interacting with our children is as important as making sure that they attend school. Children want and generally relish the thought that they have the power to satisfy and please their parents or guardians.
When all else seems to be not working, ask your children what is really going on in their lives, at school, and most importantly in their dreams. Sharing thoughts surrounded by a sincere interest from their role model (parent, guardian or grand parent), may prove to be the most effective deterrent against substance addiction for a young boy or girl.
One of the best gifts available to a child, who may be in the midst of making important decisions such as "experimentation" with drugs including underage drinking, is the parent's ability to provide quality time with the intent to discuss social challenges without fear of retributions.
A parent's responsibility includes the preparation of their children for making safe choices regarding substance abuse. Sooner or later your child or children will be exposed to this social challenge. It takes time and determination to adequately prepare your child for that time.
Salley is chief of corrections for the Collier County Sheriff's Office. Drug Free Collier's mission statement: "To prevent and reduce juvenile substance abuse in Collier County through increased education, promotion of services and support in our community.'' It is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization.