Drug education in the school system is poor. Teachers often teach drug prevention but the message is usually something inadequate like, “Don’t do drugs or you’re done for!” That is wrong. What about the students who are already knee-deep in addiction? You’ve just alienated them. What about the students who get addicted in the future? They will think they have no other option. Nobody in my public education has ever talked about the next step. Nobody in my education has properly nor effectively emphasized the options that are available to the student if they are already struggling with addiction. Contrary to the common belief: teaching how to deal with addiction will not make addiction “okay.” It will make recovery believable.
You want kids to say no to drugs? Educate them. Then, educate them on addiction so they have the chance to recognize it when they’re in it and have the power to make the choice to do something about it. Educate them so they know they have people they can turn to. Educate them so that they are not alienated, and educate them in a way that does not crush them with blame, so that shame does not prevent them from reaching out for recovery.
And even after all that: be there for your students when they need you. Give them somebody to turn to.
Educators are role models, and sometimes we are a student’s last resort. Be careful of the language you use, the attitudes you portray, and the way you respond to a student when they bring up drugs in the classroom. Even a passing comment that seems meaningless to you can portray to a student that you are not somebody they can talk to about addiction. If you portray those who are struggling as the ones to blame, or in any negative manner, your students will internalize that. For those who are addicted: they may never feel safe or comfortable enough to reach out to you. For those who are not addicted: they will continue to spread their now-internalized, negative, inaccurate portrayal of addiction.
You never know who might be struggling, so keep the discourse in your classroom open, and safe. Help your students see it this way, so that they too can be there for those in their lives who may also struggle with addiction.
You, as an educator, as a parent, as a friend, and as family, can empower those around you.
I don’t like asking people to share my posts because I’m always worried that maybe I’ve missed the point, that I’ll offend someone, and so on.. but if sharing this helps you let people know that you support recovery in a shame-free environment, and that you want drug education in our school systems to improve, then share this. Or write your own (potentially shorter) post. Or, show your support in your own way.
If I’ve missed the point, or failed to mention something, or if this post upsets you, please feel free to ask me to remove, add, change, or adjust this post. I mean no harm, I only mean to show love and support.