As I sit here at my house watching Beyond Scared Straight, a few questions come to mind. I’m watching parents beg their kids to get their lives together. I’m watching parents plead for their children not to waste their lives committing crimes and doing drugs. I’m watching parents going on and on about their kids’ potential and how much they can get out of life, if they’d only change.
Were They Even Scared At All?
Watching these emotional families visit their kids in jail, I see the pain in their eyes. I see these families hoping, with all their strength, that their loved one will be…scared straight.
At the end of the show, there’s an update on the kids. I eagerly wait for these updates to see the success stories. I sit there, puffing on my electronic cigarette, watching the screen intently. Guess what? These poor kids are still doing the same thing! They’re still making the same mistakes, hurting the same people, telling the same lies, and making the same empty promises. This is the definition of insanity! Since the show, some kids have gone to jail, some have died, some have gone missing. There are a few success stories, but these are few and far between.
My Personal Experience
As a recovered addict, I started thinking about these scare tactics. Do they work? Can we scare our kids, our family members, our coworkers, or our friends away from a life of drugs?
I remember being an adolescent and a participant in the D.A.R.E Program. D.A.R.E stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. It’s used to educate today’s youth about the danger of drugs and gang membership. At the time, I thought I’d never smoke pot, let alone become a daily user of opiates and crack! Some people in my class used the D.A.R.E program as a shopping guide for which drugs they should try out first. Some kids even thought the “dangers” didn’t sound much like dangers at all, in fact, they sounded like a good time. Even when armed with facts about the dangers of drug use, and the potential harsh consequences, I wasn’t detoured from using illicit substances.
Availability of the Product
In a time when there’s a heroin epidemic raging in the Northeast and legal drugs (kratom, bath-salts, etc.) being sold in convenience stores everywhere, it’s no wonder many young people are developing drug problems!
With delicious sounding alcoholic beverages like Smirnoff Mango, passion fruit shots, and whipped cream flavored vodka, how can we expect our kids to “just say no?” These drinks are basically advertised as candy. Not to mention, the half naked models enjoying and glorifying these poisons!
With more and more treatment centers all over the country, and more adolescent facilities than ever before, what’s the solution? How do we, as a society, combat the drug epidemic in this country? Do we continue to try to “scare our children straight,” or do we try to educate them?
Drugs Are Bad, We Know
Everyone and their mother knows that drugs are bad. We get it. Don’t do drugs. But what if I have a problem? How do I even know if I have a problem? What should parents do if their kids are using drugs? That’s the conversation we need to be having.
I’d have gotten help a lot sooner if I knew there was help available! If I’d known that twenty year olds can get sober, you bet you a*s that I’d have gotten sober! Now, after being sober several years, I know that anyone can get better. I walk into a young peoples’ twelve-step meeting and more than half the room has over a year of sobriety. Remember, that’s sobriety from ALL drugs and alcohol.
Finding Help Doesn’t Have To Be Scary
There are a ton of resources available for individuals suffering from addiction. There are women’s only treatment centers, male treatment centers, adolescent treatment centers, and a variety of other facilities available for anyone in need of help.
We need to spend more time educating parents and teens! We need to let them know that not only are drugs bad, but what resources are available if they do end up with an addiction. We need to explain there is a solution and how to find it!