The Role of Drug Education Programs
Anyone who watches, reads or listens to the news at all is inundated with information about the use of drugs--licit and illicit--by young people. The fact is, if we accept that we are engaged in a "war on drugs" one of the primary battlefields of that war is that involving our youth. It would be difficult to conclude anything other than that we are, in fact, losing that war. As of 2009, more high school seniors are smoking marijuana than are smoking cigarettes. In the junior high school age group, use of marijuana, heroin, Ecstacy and OxyContin are rising steadily despite the war that is being fought to bring this under control.
In this particular universe nothing stays the same. Things either get better or they get worse. In the case of protecting our young people against the ravages of drug addiction and abuse, things are simply getting worse. As the "war on drugs" is demonstrably NOT being effective, we have to look for those programs and activities which ARE being effective and ramp up their participation in this war. One of the programs that has proven its effectiveness is the one that has been developed over the last four decades - the Narconon program. Narconon is an internationally based non-profit drug prevention and rehabilitation organization.
If we are to contain and eliminate the scourge of drugs from our young population we must educate them as to the real risks they are facing in their use of drugs and, beyond that, we must give them REAL tools to use to fight this battle. They ARE going to be exposed to drugs. We CAN do an effective job of keeping them from succumbing to thae exposure and becoming users--and abusers--of them.
How Does the Narconon Curriculum Educate People?
With any discipline, but particularly in presenting a subject like drugs, an educator must present information in such a way as to make it easy for the student to relate to the it in such a way as to make him willing to absorb, understand and apply it. Willingness is the key to effectiveness. In order for this to happen, what is presented to the student must be clearly and easily demonstrable in life.
Narconon program educators are trained to present information to the student in such a way as to make him WANT to hear it and absorb it. The presentation must be absorbing and entertaining if it is to catch, and keep, the student's attention. If the instructor can gain the willingness and the enthusiasm of the student, he has won the first part of the battle--the battle for the student's heart and mind. Narconon educators are specifically trained to present the information in such as way that the audiences are willing to receive it.
A key point is that, if the student is to learn about this subject and then to use what he has learned to better his life, the facts must be presented in such a manner as to allow him and to encourage him to arrive at his own conclusions. No amount of pounding the student with other peoples viewpoints or opinions is going to work. Anyone observing a Narconon instructor in action will see immediately that the student is constantly being asked to express his own agreement, or disagreement, with the material being presented.
We, at Narconon, have learned over the years that what is an acceptable, doable solution for one student is not necessarily going to be accepted and used by another student. Keeping that in mind, our program has been designed to provide an opportunity for a variety of students, possessing a variety of viewpoints, to come up with a variety of possible solutions for problems which might otherwise be solved by resorting to drugs and/or alcohol.
The Narconon Drug Education curriculum is global in scope. It has been presented to millions of children of all ages, in every part of the world. It is an ineractive curriculum, which results in the audience being fully tuned in to what is being presented. The program is now available in an audio-visual format, which includes video recordings of our classroom presentations as well as interviews with some of our students and recovered addicts. This presentation tells a real story, a story to which most of those viewing it can truly relate.
As we embarked on the task of designing and building a drug prevention program, the first thing that we did was to do a full review of existing programs, particularly with an eye toward what had been UNSUCCESSFUL in the past. This design methodology, finding and eliminating the INeffective, is an efficient way of strengthening the effectiveness and the value of the final product.
We discovered that the most common approach that had been used was the "scare tactic" approach. It was, apparently, thought that students would shy away from something if they were frightened about it. This NEVER works, and, actually, has a tendency to ATTRACT the attention of young people, causing, in some cases, an actual perpetuation in the use of drugs.
Following on the heels of the "scare tactic" type of program came the "harm reduction" approach. This type of program is based on the belief that drug use will continue, and continue to grow, so it is best to accept that "fact" and to educate young people in the direction of using drugs "safely" and minimizing the harm that they can do to themselves and to society.
Since we know that, presented with the truth about drugs and educated into understanding these truths, most people, whether young or adult, will make sound, rational decisions and will come out of the education cycle making the decision to NOT use drugs, we have developed the Narconon program to take advantage of that and to provide a genuine, truthful and factual educational experience for our young. This program has been used around the world for decades and has seen success upon success upon success in minimizing the use of drugs by those young people who have been exposed to the program.
The results of an outcome study done recently on the Narconon drug education program clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of the evidence-based program on high school students. Drug use amongst those high school students who did the program was reduced considerably (please see the results of this study at www.substanceabusepolicy.com.
The Narconon program is successful as a result of both its content and the method of delivery. This latter point--delivery methodology--is key. The program uses interactive presentation methods combined with content-rich drills and practical demonstrations. The student is involved, truly involved in the delivery of the program. He is not simply an observer. He is a participant, and this keeps him involved and interested so that the actual content of the program is received and used by the student while still in "learning mode." The stress is on HIS life and how the information relates to HIM and his family and friends.
Our program instructors are all experienced professionals who present the student with a truly realistic portrait of what life is like on drugs or living with those who are on drugs. Simply telling a young person to "say no to drugs" may sound wonderfully simple. In fact, it IS simple. But as simple as it is, it is equally ineffective and don't think for a moment that the young people don't know this. So they say "NO!!" but, all to often, do "YES!!"
At the conclusion of the program we ask the young attendees to fill out a detailed questionnaire which gives us information concerning changes in attitude the the student may have had as a result of what he has learned. Ove the years we have found that, in most cases, the young person has:
- Decided to stop using drugs (where they have already been using them);
- Changed from possibly trying drugs to firmly deciding not to use them;
- Strengthened an already made decision to not use drugs.
One of the elements present in the Narconon program which is usually absent from most other programs is humor. We have discovered that there is a direct correlation between the quantity of humor used and the quality of the results. Although it might seem odd, as it turns out, humor goes a log way to getting the young person to understand--and to believe--that drugs are extremely dangerous, and should absolutely be avoided.
In keeping with the fact that drug use and abuse, more often than not, results from a perosn trying to solve a personal problem for which he has thus far found no solution, we place some emphasis on talking about some of the more common problems, such as boredom, difficulty in studies, problems at home, peer pressure, and the like. We find that kids are quite willing to discuss, in personal terms, the problems that they face on an everyday basis and ware more than willing to listen to possible solutions, other than drugs.
Finally, we discuss the "high" that one can get from drugs, how the "high" is truly temporary, becomes harder to obtain with continuing use, and ends up causing "crashes" to depths that the student finds impossible to bear, resulting in increasing dependence on the drugs.
The Narconon Program - Subjects Addressed
The Narconon program is intelligently divided into several subject areas, in such a way as to focus the student's attention on real-life situation, their problems and their solutions. These subjects are:
- The physical effects of drugs on the body
- The effects of drugs on the mind
- The myth of "marijuana safety"
- The truth about Ecstacy
- The dangers of methamphetamine
- How the media affect young peoples' attitudes toward drugs and alcohol
- The actual health effects of tobacco
- The severe dangers on LSD use
- How establishing and achieving goals eliminates the desire for drugs
- Peer pressure - how to resist it to avoid drug use
- How addiction starts and what keeps a person addicted
- The role of emotions in drug use
This is a comprehensive, intelligent and, most importantly, effective program. It is truly the best weapon available in the real war on drugs.
Contact us for more information on the Narconon Program or to arrange for a Narconon Program drug education presentation for your school, community group or other organization.