by Josh Bashara
If anyone has noticed, there is a new theme in the war against drugs.
Say goodbye to gruesome scare tactics. Throw those old “Just Say No” stickers in the garbage. And try to forget the embarrassment known as the D.A.R.E. program. There’s something new in town, hitting radio and televisions everywhere: “Questions: The Real Anti-Drug.” The campaign is honest and true — with a touch of frankness — and it’s one that just might work.
Before I elaborate, let me ask each one of you a question. Are you, or have you ever been a drug user? I’m not referring to the occasional
mini-thin the night before a test, or smoking a joint once in a while. I’m talking about real (in the current socially accepted sense of the word), life-threatening, addict-forming, future-destroying drugs.
I’m going to take it upon myself to assume that most of us are not, or have never been, a drug user. If that were the case, most of us wouldn’t have made it this far. Of course, there are exceptions. That guy in your philosophy class may very well be addicted to heroin. The girl in sociology could be snorting up a few lines of coke a day. For the most part, though, we are drug-free. Now ask yourself why.
Was it because you were never interested? Why was that? Because you knew that drugs could hurt your body and hinder your life? How’d you know that? The answer to these questions could be the media. Although in some ways it promotes drug use, it condemns it even more so. The real answer for most of us, though, would be our parents — our upbringing.
The manner in which a child is taught and raised is the most influential part of his or her life. Nurturing, loving parents who actually do give a damn what happens to their child are the strongest form of drug prevention in society. And this is what the new campaign is all about.
The premise of “Questions: The Anti-Drug,” revolves around the idea that education and parental involvement are paramount in keeping our kids off drugs. The television ads display a politically correct assortment of young children conveying their frustration with their parents’ inquisitive behavior, but ultimately glad the parents did so. The ads stress involvement, and encourage parents to constantly ask who, what, when, where, and why — despite how pissed off their kids might get.
The campaign’s spirit has potential; its value far exceeds the miserable failure of the late-80’s, early-90’s D.A.R.E. program. The problem with D.A.R.E. was that it attacked drugs only on the surface level, which was the kids using them. It discouraged drug use by educating children about the dangers involved — which in itself is a useful tool for prevention — but even more so, it stressed the cause/effect relationship between using drugs and the law.
Kids in schools across the country were visited by police officers, given little booklets on the dangers of drug use, and so on. The program twisted the concept of drugs; many children began viewing them as forbidden fruit.
And therein laid the problem.
Kids are always going to want something they are not supposed to have.
At the very least, it will pique their curiosity. Just look at today’s subculture. Kids are seen all the time mockingly wearing the very D.A.R.E. T-shirts they were given as kids to keep them off drugs. The program inspired kids all across the country to rebel. The “us versus them” mentality must eventually be purged out of our future generations’ minds before they can progress.
Kudos are definitely in order for whichever group thought up the new anti-drug movement. Finally, we place the responsibility in the hands of the parents. Sure, kids may still try drugs, even dabble a little here and there (I sure as hell did), but with the right amount of love and tutoring from their parents, I predict fewer will actually go off the deep end.
There is a very fine line between experimentation and addiction. Hopefully, now that more and more parents are realizing they must teach their kids about that line — instead of their offspring trying to find it themselves — we will see less and less of our kids falling short of the glory because of something they got into when Mom and Dad said it was okay to spend the night at some kid’s house they didn’t even know.