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Drug Education Program Led Essential

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(Editor's Note: Following is the sexondinsLajmen,t of the Citizens' Blue IRbDonCommiuee for the Study of Drug Abuse report. This starts the series of recommendations adopted by the coinmittee in the area of drug abuse education and prevention, and what the conimunity must do to combat the ever-increasing problem). A clear recognitlon of the appropriate or acceptable use of drugs, as well as of the dangers, is perhaps a first step in a drug abuse program. The search for novelty and variety, the wish to explore the inner world of experience through drugs, is not in itself undesirable. But the danger to health and welfare cannot be overlQoked, and the human suffering, waste, and even death growing from irresponsible drug usage demands a program of control, education, prevention and treatment. In a drug-taking society such as ours, it is unlikely that legal control and complete elimination of drug use can be achieved. Indeed, we can view the whole drug issue as ah issue of individual freedom versus social, legal and governmental control. We may need to reconcile ourselves to t he idea that increasing freedom brings increasing hazards to life. While drug abuse is not limited to any age group, our greatest efforts should be directed toward young people. They are still in their growing years and can be most seriously harmed by drug usage and drug abuse. DRUG EDUCATION. An effective drug education program is an essential element of a comprehensive approach to the drug abuse problem in our community. Of parallel importance are programs aimed at the prevention of drug abuse. However, the educational approach to public health problems is of only limited value- we need only reflect upon the continuing evidence of cigarette usage despite extensive efforts to communicate the hazards therein. Drug education in the community up to this time is largely a hodge-podge of self-education whether wtih respect to individuals or community groups. It would begin to appear that an "expert" in drug education may only be a well-intentioned individual who has read a few parents are of major importance to programs for students. Adults need to be well informed about drugs and the issues involved in use and misuse in order to intelligently supplement a formal educational program. The adult response to the drug-taking young person is a crucial issue requiring sensitivity, tact and open communication. The adult needs to bear in mind that experimentation with drugs appears to be a part of growing up now, just as experimentation with alcohol, tobáceo and sexuality has been for many years. In itself, experimentation with adult forms of behavior is a healthy urge for independence and maturity. Adults must learn to differentiate between experimentation and drug abuse. (3) Local PTO's, the PTO Council, churches, unions, adult education and university extensión services are urged to address themselves to drug education, as independent efforts and in cooperation with the schoolsThese groups are perhaps most appropriate for parent education programs. Hopefully, such programs will focus specifically on the confusión and anxiety of the parents who are concerned about drugs. Families who have within the family unit a drug user, whether or not the use may constitute a genuine problem at the sis stage, are in need of special education. Too often the reaction of the user's family is that of panic, fear, embarrassment or rejection, any of which responses is likely to be harmful to the situation and at best will do no positive good. Teams of service consultants should be easily available from such organizations as the Community Mental Health Center, the Family and Child Service agencies, the University, and from para-medical drug services such as Drug Help. Another very large segment of the community in need of education with a somewhat different approach to drug abuse is that which one might cali simply concerned citizens. The community at large stands desperately in need of an improved understanding of the drug scène, the street people, the "hippies" and "freaks" who are among us and very much a part of our societ quote again and in part from a leader, "There is before us . . . a task in educating the adult comr as to the new realities of the drug and youth situation." (4) The Ann Arbor community i ed to support the educational anc munity services of new "grass groups such as Drug Help, Ozone and the Free Medical Clinic. A co of individuals and organizatios of that serve the youth communit Tribal Council, is making specif delibérate efforts to attack the drug problem among this city's The work should be given wholeh support. Drug users themselves stand in need of education wi altogether unique approach, includ course the availability and potenti; ue of various treatment proj Young people with drug probleir more likely to approach one of the medical "peer group" organií than the traditional medical ones. DRUG ABUSE PREVENTION, prevention measures are more co and difficult in scope than drug i tion, such an approach may ultii be the more effective way to atta drug problem. As yet, there are any efforts being directed at prev Blue Ribbon Drug Report Part 2 rams except for the educational lires already described. In August, Governor appointed a manager for ention projects" who will work various agancies throughout the . We do not know if any programs being developed as yet, nor do we what might constitute "prevention vention." ;re are various approaehes to the ;ion of prevention programs. The and more difficult one, is to identiinditions or situations which lead to abuse. Then appropriate actions, ;dures, interventions can be introd into the lives of the target group. is a typical public health procedure our early infant DPT innoculation s is a familiar example. Unfortuy, the precipitating conditions for abuse are infinitely more complex those which lead to the developof diphtheria, tetanus and whoopcough. The method of attack is, ver, the same. ; us look at an example of possible 3iition work. Dick Stuart in his with the courts in Ann Arbor finds incidence rates of heroin use in two ds: white middle-class junior high 1 girls and black young adult s. With this knowledge, what can is a community do to prevent the unfortunate outcome in these classes of individuals? Without further data at our disposal, we can only speculate. The girl may use heroin in her efforts to act mature, to gain status and acceptance, and perhaps to quell the anxieties which arise out of her efforts to compete with and act like an older girl. The young man of the ghetto is out of high school and on the job market, awaiting his opportunity to assume the adult role of wage earner, job holder and the prestige and status that goes with it. We might ask if he is vocationally prepared with a marketable skill, if he has the social and emotional skills to acquire and hold a job. Without them, and a job opportunity, he suffers loss of status, feels depressed, superfluous, and anxious about himself. In addition he has nothing to occupy his time. He mayturn to heroin to assuage his despair and to gain a sense of importance as well as possibly a source of income. What prevention interventions are appropriate? For the girl, opportunities for natural associations with older adolescents, meaningful opportunities to utilize her maturing abilities, and a range of alternative recreational activities may be the answer. In addition, her family and parents need to be sensitized to her needs with the goal of bringing about positive and gratifying personal inter-relationships. For the young man, we need to plan for greatly improved vocational training in the high school, increased counseling services; an effective employment services program, and more jobs in the labor market. The more basic need for a positive sense of black identity in a white society must also be met both in school, and in the wider society. Anothër" approach to drug prevention programs is entirely . speculative f nature. When we look at the age at which drug usage becomes an issue, it is clear that the adolescents from junior high through high school are the vulnerable group. Young people in this age group are rapidly changing from a family-oriented to a peer-oriented person for whom the school, the commumty and the non-parent adults are ïmporiaiu socializing aik Perhaps wBId to look closely at the failure of the instituitons which are significant in the adolescent's life. Drug abuse is only one of the many symptoms of disillusion and alienation which afflict our young. A problem which is rooted in the social structure needs to be viewed from that standpoint. We cannot change the world, but we can pay attention to our schools and our community and ask searching questions. Are we, as a community, doing enough to provide a healthy environment in which young people grow to adulthood? Space and facilities for adolescents are grossly inadequate - crowded schools from junior high through university, limited recreational facilities and meeting places, and few opportunities for meaningful social contributions and remunerative work confront all of our young people. We should not be surprised that students turn on, drop out or run away when schools and the community fail to meet their needs. We should not be surprised when young people develop their own recreational activities and devise their own meeting places. Young people confront drug usage during the secondary school years. Since these years are crucial in the growth and development of every individual, the quality of the school environment deserves our special attention. During the past year, the Secondary Schools' Improvement Association addressed itself to this question. They recommend structural reorganization of the schools in terms of children's developmental needs; smaller units to foster stable personal interrelationships between peers and ' between children and adults ; innovation and diversity within and between schools and in the curriculum in order to gratify a wider range of student intellectual and achievement needs; the concept of the neighborhood school as a recreational and social center for children. A joint project of the schools and the Washtenaw County Community Mental Health Center to establish and evalúate a broad-scale drug prevention project is urged. A meeting with the . manager of prevention projects from the Governor's Office of Drug Abuse is the first step in a drug prevention program. pamphlets, learned the lingo and 1 viewed one or two long-haired youths. This is not intended so much to be a criticism as an illustration of the confusión in community drug education. The lists of available movies, pamphlets, I books and available speakers are almot I endless. In each case, there are good I ones and bad ones. Unfortunately, whether they are good I or bad too often depends upon one's I sonal and emotional judgment rather I than empirical fact. Despite the limitations of education I with respect to drugs, a good program I with appropriate goals should be I olped in our community. It should be I aimed primarily at the young people I who are coming into contact with drugs I and at the adults who are most I ly involved with them, namely teachers I and parents. All sources agree that I effective programs for young people I must involve the young people I selves in all stages of planning and I implementation. In addition, an effective I program should be quite diversified to I meet the needs of various age-levels, I varying degrees of sophistication, and I the various racial and socio-economic I groups in the city. Therefore, the I ing recommendations are made: (1) The public schools are strongly I encouraged to develop innovative drug I education programs appropriate for I each grade K-12. There are numerous I formats available for an effective drug I education program. Our community is I rich in resources, and the Michigan I Governor's Drug Abuse Office has a I member team available to schools and I communities for the purpose of I ing programs which stress the I tance of cooperative efforts of I catión between adults and youth and I understanding issues, values and I tudes. (2) The Board of Education is urged I to budget money for underwriting the cost of a drug education program. We I wish to stress, however, that the I tiveness of the educational program will I come laregly from efforts to work jointly with students in planning. Seminars and workshops on drug education for teachers, administrators and