The fact is that the war on drugs is still raging. And it is raging right in our own schools. The unfortunate problem is that the drugs being used are getting stronger and stronger. The latest to run through the schools – Xanax. Why Xanax? Because it is super easy to get a script for and has great effects on the young minds.
I left Orchard Farm high school (middle of corn fields) in 1989 and back then the high school and middle school were filled with dangerous drugs. Cocaine, ludes, PCP and weed. There wasn’t much in the way of prescription drugs at that time. Now your probably wondering, how many of these did he take. I didn’t take any and that is the point of this article. How in the middle of a bunch of drug users, did I stay away from using? How was I able to say no?
We will be hard pressed to keep drugs out of our schools if we focus only on finding the drugs and disposing of them. We need to do much more in the way of education, boundaries and consequences. There will always be someone looking to improve drugs, make money on the sale of drugs and essentially escape reality. And that appeals to our kids. Especially those with weak boundaries.
The first issue is education. Young minds don’t fully understand the consequences of their actions. Specifically, they are told many myths about drugs and drug use. Side effects and long term effects are rarely discussed among their friends. In many ways, the educational component is highly related to gun education and suicide education. Many people feel that if they discuss the issues, it will drive people to it. Meaning that if you talk about suicide, you will cause the person to think about it or to do it. Nothing could be further from the truth. We know from countless research studies that people who are thinking about suicide are already thinking about suicide.
What we need to focus on is our educational programs. Getting real with the kids and telling them the truth. Explaining the real effects of drug use. Then hit them hard with what happens when drug use gets out of hand. What happens to families, money, significant others, their kids, and their life. This leads into our second issue – boundaries.
The second issue is boundaries. One thing is for sure, America and the last couple of generations has lost track of boundaries and consequences. It is seen in just about every aspect of our culture. Kids talking back to their parents, credit spending, cursing and sex on TV, and parents swooping in and covering up every mistake their kids make, parents afraid to discipline their kids and the list goes on.
Boundaries are what give kids and adults the strength to say no, to choose what is good for them. Let’s face it, peer pressure is large in adolescence and those kids who have good boundaries are able to resist ill peer pressure. They know that they are loved and safe even if people who reject their boundaries react badly. Their strength in boundaries also allows them to complete homework, get to work and school on time, and spend money wisely. All admirable traits among our youth. But boundaries are nothing without consequences.
The third issue is consequences. And this is really where staff training and accountability come into play. We must all get on the same page. I have had many discussions with school staff over the years and it always amazes me the varied opinions that staff hold on drug use. While this may be acceptable from an academic standpoint, what we teach our youth and how we enforce boundaries and use consequences must be a unified message. The consequences must be upheld all the way up the line and when we do that, we establish great boundaries for students. It is this combination that gave me the strength to hold out against drug use. It was this combination that set me up to make my own way and find people who support me in life. This combination will also help your students.
What to do next
Re-evaluate your drug policies and your staff training on drugs. Get everyone on the same page and make sure that your consequences are in the right amount and force to hold people to boundaries and encourage to make good decisions for themselves.