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FIRST-PERSON: Tools of prevention

DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–With every desperate attempt to rescue another victim from a senseless drug tragedy, the truth emerges more clearly: An ounce of prevention is certainly worth far more than a pound of cure.

So many addicted individuals have failed to find recovery. And even if they do eventually achieve release from their harmful habits, the consequences resulting from years of neglected responsibility and reckless actions often affect the drug abusers and other innocent persons long after the ride is over. The initial good feelings experienced by the drug abuser are minimal when compared to the terrifying consequences that may follow.

Therefore, we must encourage our young people to never begin the deceitful walk down the dark path of drug abuse; instead, we must lead them to embrace sobriety and self-control as the best road to happiness, success and inner peace.

We believe that the guidelines shared in today’s column and our columns for August and September will offer a significant contribution to anyone desiring to make a positive difference in the lives of those who have not yet solidified their decisions about whether to begin down the dark and dangerous road of drug abuse.

Realistic education

Today’s teenagers are thrust into the adult world much earlier than in previous generations. Hopefully, drug education for our children will begin early in the home. Parents and older siblings should keep the doors open to inquisitive minds. Whenever those questioned do not possess the knowledge requested, they should readily admit ignorance of the subject and agree to accompany the questioner to a ready source for a truthful answer.

A key ingredient of any drug abuse education program should, of course, be the inclusion of possible consequences. There are many potential hazards to the drug abuser and it is essential that a graphic warning be shared with our young people.

Well-meaning parents and teachers often present the dangers of drug abuse to their young audiences. They successfully present an accurate depiction of the hazards but fail to include in their sermons an adequate overview of the deceptively good feelings that entrap so many.

Unfortunately drugs may make people feel good, temporarily. However, the warmth of their touch is deceptive. We must prepare our young people for this snare. If they know of the often-pleasant initial feelings, they will be less easily deceived by them.

We must never over-exaggerate, but we must be honest with young people when explaining the effects of these drugs. A successful strategy for prevention must include all aspects of the subject of drug abuse.

A good appreciation for self

Those who possess poor self-concepts are wide-open candidates for enrollment in the school of drug abuse, while those with a healthy appreciation for self will likely adopt lifestyles that produce clean living habits. If a person likes himself, others will be more likely to hold him in high esteem. Acceptance by those who surround us is important to a positive feeling of belonging. Those who lack such emotional support often wander into drug abuse in an effort to win the applause of those who frequent that world and to numb the intense feelings of low self-worth.

As with education, acceptance also must begin in the home. We must never fail to encourage and inspire those in our immediate circles to reach through the maze of this hurried life for happiness, success and inner peace. This should include a healthy measure of attention, approval and affirmation. We also must provide sufficient direction and discipline for our young people to appreciate the merits of industriousness and to expect consequences for improper actions.

Look for more tools of prevention in next month’s column.

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  • Ted G. Stone & Philip D. Barber