HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html 'Just Say No' Just Doesn't Work
Pubdate: Mon, 16 Feb 2004
Source: The North Thompson Star/Journal (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 The North Thompson Star/Journal
Author: Ann Piper
Bookmark: (Drug Education)
Bookmark: (Youth)


The anti-drug use campaigns of the 1980s - the "Just say 'No'" campaign, 
advocacy of zero tolerance to drug use and scare tactics- clearly were 
ineffective, says Angela Lawrence.

School District 73's new-this-year Alcohol and Drug Reduction Coordinator 
was in Barriere Feb. 7, talking to parents and interested community members 
at Barriere Secondary. She outlined current thinking by experts in her 
field, and offered continuing assistance in discussions of such issues at 

Marijuana use is almost as prevalent in rural communities as in urban 
centers, Lawrence told an audience of approximately 25.

Lawrence said while popular thinking has concentrated on prevention of use 
of illegal drugs, the most common 'gateway' drug continues to be alcohol, 
and alcohol and tobacco do far more damage to society than the illegal 
drugs society is accustomed to viewing separately.

Lawrence reviewed a long list of psychoactive drugs - "those which alter 
the way we think, feel and behave" - before addressing how best to talk 
about them with youngsters.

She said discussions need to begin, like explanations of reproduction, when 
children become curious. As youngsters approach adolescence, they need to 
know more, in order to make informed decisions.

Lawrence said young people explore drug use for many reasons and with many 
expectations - as rites of passage, out of curiosity, to feel better or 
different, to have fun and be social, to cope, and as a response to peer 

As many as 80 per cent of B.C. youth have at least experimented with 
alcohol by Grade 12, she says; 40 - 50 per cent have tried marijuana while 
25 per cent are smoking and 10 per cent have tried ecstasy or acid. The 
list goes on. Access, Lawrence says, only gets easier.

Binge drinking is a particular concern, especially in rural areas, she states.

The good news, she notes, is that "most youth will not become addicted, 
that while kids from all different backgrounds are experimenting with a 
whole range of drugs, youth are resilient.

"Youth want open discussion, access to information. Young people are very 
cynical about drug prevention education."

So what's a parent to do? Be informed, says Lawrence. Be honest.

Stay calm.

Conduct discussions that invite offspring to 'process' information - ask 
rather than telling.

Be consistent, be open, and listen, "something that's very hard for 
parents, teachers and counselors."

Lawrence says help and information is available through the school 
district, that resources such as videos may be accessed through the 
schools, and that she will be implementing curriculum in the schools 
beginning at the Grade 4 level.
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