Pubdate: Wed, 02 Apr 2008
Source: Whitefish Free Press (MT)
Copyright: 2008 Whitefish Free Press
Author: Andy Hudak



My 30 year professional history has focused on destructive thinking
and behavior patterns in sexuality and drugs & alcohol (D&A). I wish
to comment on the proposed Whitefish High School mandatory drug and
alcohol testing policy for all youths in any sanctioned activities.

Though exaggerated in some recent media articles, I agree with the
committee that there is a serious D&A problem.

Be careful, however, when adopting policy in areas where we have
legitimate fear. When afraid, we are at most risk to implement well
intended, emotionally appealing policies that have unintended negative
consequences due to the inherent "blind spots" that exists on the part
of the brain that emotionally reasons and reacts -- usually with
control and fear.

We need to focus on the commonality of ALL loving our kids. I've had
several people say that they were afraid to speak out because they
were concerned that they or their children could suffer social
consequences that would not otherwise have occurred.

The us/they mentality, a characteristic of the threatened brain, needs
to be kept in check in order to adopt policy that will be the best for
the widest cross-section of our kids. We do not need the emotionally
reasoning, judgmental part that produces the kind of polarization we
see in Whitefish around the land-use issues.

Policy should be implemented based on whether it is scientifically
demonstrated to be effective, ENGAGES the highest number of our youth,
and rejects them only as a last resort. The proposed one echoes the
"three strikes you're out" Federal Justice policy on many crimes that
has brought us the distinction of having the world's highest
incarceration rate.

The only good scientific studies on random drug testing show them to
be ineffective. That's a major part of why the president of the
Association for Addiction Professionals, and other professional
organizations are against it.

Evidence-based clinical trials have shown that successful efforts to
modify individual risk factors for drugs, alcohol, and tobacco
incorporate inclusion -- not exclusion and rejection, as the socially
isolated are more likely to engage in risky behaviors.

Our threatened brain fervishly believes in control and punishment to
intervene on "the enemy". When triggered, it is resistant to feedback.
It can't be wrong, so the "war" gets repackaged while justifying, or
not seeing the "collateral & unintentional damage".

The policy is punitive socially-- three strikes you're out --
appropriate for some, but not all.

Let's band together and create a drug & alcohol AND expulsion policy
that helps to bring around the most kids possible.

Undermining the foundation of trust that many of the genuinely caring
and dedicated teachers and administrators work their butts off to
create is a bad idea -- even when it comes with the genuine love and
good intentions that I have grown to trust and admire amongst many of
those professionals.

Let's work together to minimize the "collateral damage" to our kids
from this latest "war".


Whitefish, Mt. 59937
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