On the other side of the equation is the availability and cost of the product being consumed and the economic pressures on the supply side of the equation. Just like any transaction, the lower the price or available the product the more likely a transaction will occur. Factors affecting price and availability includes not just law enforcement interdiction but market factors in the legal and illegal drug trade, the strength of a profit motive for individual dealers, the pain management and prescribing practices of doctors, the economic pressures of small business owners selling cigarettes or alcohol to minors, the amount of peer pressure being applied to sell or give drugs to others, the vigilance of parents in keeping products in the home out of the reach of their children, etc.
[The need to belong and feel accepted and valued is a powerful and universal human need that is denied to children who are marginalized, bullied or made to feel incompetent in their social environment. This leads youth to seek acceptance in alternative and sometimes more socially maladaptive peer groups where they are more at risk for substance abuse. Making sure our youth feel connected, engaged and valued within their families and the community is a protective factor that reduces the risk of substance abuse. Anti-bullying efforts in schools, identifying and intervening children who are being marginalized by their peers and teaching teachers how to be more effective manages the social milieu in their classrooms are other step that should be taken.]
To escape or relax
[The ever growing competitive trends in education and youth sports programs has placed unprecedented pressure on today's youth beginning at an early age. This places youth at ever increasing risk of turning to drugs to relieve their stress. Little league sports programs once focused on the social development that helped children learn how to work together and support each other as a team. Today there are increasing focuses on developing the individual talents of star players and on winning as the major objectives. We may need to rethink our whole approach to both academic achievements and youth sports programs. A protective factor in preventing substance abuse might be to find ways to reduce the stress we place on children in school and in organized sports.]
To relieve boredom
To rebel [I believe that most youth rebellion has an origin in family life. Dysfunctional families, overly lacks or severe discipline, weak parent/child bonding, unreasonable expectations, parental hypocrisy, cultural clashes between immigrant parents and children raised in American culture, extreme economic or social stress are among the many factors that can lead to rebellious youth. Children who can't relate appropriately to family or social norms, can't respond positively to adult supervision and guidance or who reject cultural norms are a great risk for substance abuse. Every social policy and community based support system that strengthens parents and families, prevents or ameliorates child abuse and strengthens family functioning help to protect children from substance abuse as well.]
To experiment [For kicks! This is no small reason. Researchers have discovered that the human brain is not fully developed until a person is in his or her early to mid-twenties. The last area of the brain to develop is the area responsible for evaluating risky behavior and modulating impulsive behavior. Yes, there is a reason why youth are impetuous. It is part of natures plan that young adults should be risk takers. It is suggested that this help facilitate sexual exploration and the necessary social separation that must take place for people to become fully autonomous adults. Unfortunately it also promotes many other risk-taking behaviors that never existed in our distant past. This now includes experimenting with dangerous substances that can produce physical addictions before people even realize they are addicted. Recognizing this, and providing youth with developmentally appropriate information about the risks associated with substance abuse is a protective factor. Enhancing risk awareness through public education increases the chances that youth will not engage in such risk taking behaviors.]
The following are selected excerpts from the Office of National Drug Control Policy - Preventing Drug AbusePrevention is most promising when it is directed at impressionable youngsters. Adolescents are most susceptible to the allure of illicit drugs. Delaying or preventing the first use of illegal drugs, alcohol, and tobacco is essential. Evidence from controlled studies, national cross-site evaluations, and CSAP grantee evaluations demonstrates that prevention programs work. Prevention programs are not vaccinations that inoculate children against substance abuse. Sadly, significant numbers of young people who participate in the best programs will go on to use drugs. The "no-use" message must be reinforced consistently by parents, teachers, clergy, coaches, mentors, and other care givers.
While all parents are critical influencers of children, parents of children aged eight to twelve are especially influential. Children in this age group normally condemn drug use. Such attitudes and attendant behavior are easily reinforced by involved parents. Parents who wait to guide their children away from drugs until older ages when youngsters are more readily influenced by peers or may have started using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, decrease their ability to positively influence children.
[This suggests that a comprehensive community drug abuse prevention program should include a parent education and guidance component for parents who have children between the ages of seven and eight years old. The idea would be to provide parents with the knowledge and guidance they need to strengthen their child's ability to refrain from initial use of harmful substances such as tobacco, alcohol, prescription or illegal drugs.]
Children whose parents abuse alcohol or other drugs face heightened risks of developing substance-abuse problems themselves. [Perhaps school based prevention programs should be routinely sending substance abuse educational materials and community treatment resource information home to the parents.]
There is significant evidence that carefully planned mass media campaigns can reduce substance abuse by countering false perceptions that drug use is normative. For all their power to inform and persuade, the media alone are unlikely to bring about large, sustained changes in drug use. https://www.ncjrs.gov/ondcppubs/publications/policy/99ndcs/iv-b.html
[Identifying specific individuals at risk for substance abuse and engaging them in a specific prevention effort is an effective component in a comprehensive community prevention plan. It requires the training and equipping of parents, teachers, physicians, coaches and others who have regular contact with young people in the community.]
[Some evidence] .. suggests that the most promising route to effective strategies for the prevention of adolescent alcohol and other drug problems is through a risk-focused approach. This approach requires the identification of risk factors for drug abuse, identification of methods by which risk factors have been effectively addressed, and application of these methods to appropriate high-risk and general population. http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/bul/112/1/64/
A general consensus in the literature on drug abuse prevention suggests certain school-based prevention programs can achieve at least modest reductions in adolescent drug use. http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwche/drug%20curriculum.pdf
[School based substance abuse prevention programs can be an effective component of an overall community strategy for the early prevention of substance abuse. Research has identified eleven factors that contribute to successful school based programs. This information is helpful in selecting curriculum and evaluating school based treatment programs.]
Once a drug addiction problem become an epidemic in the community the pressure to act become overwhelming. The most immediate attention usually focuses on law enforcement interdiction of drugs and treatment for the addicted. These are expensive, complex and time consuming community actions that take time to ramp up and bear fruit. The pressure for law enforcement and treatment actions stretches local budgets and quickly overshadows our underfunded, under appreciated primary prevention efforts. Yet primary prevention efforts are the most cost efficient and effective methods to reduce our drug abuse problems. Arresting drug addicts doesn't reduce the availability or cost of the products. It is also ineffective if it doesn't involve treatment on demand for drug users. Treatment on demand requires more of a financial and social commitment than most communities can make. Interdicting drugs and arresting drug dealers can raise the cost and reduce availability of drugs, but if addicts go untreated this raises crime rates as they turn to criminal activity to pay for their habits. Unless there is a holistic, comprehensive and community wide approach to substance abuse prevention, where primary prevention efforts receive some priority, the problem of drugs will continue to a plague on our culture.
Please feel free to comment.