New school programs to warn teens of drug abuse


Drug abuse among teenagers continues to be a significant and ongoing social issue worldwide. Though curiosity is often normal at this age, it is important to employ effective drug prevention programs in schools. Over the years, new programs have been introduced that are intended to be more effective than past efforts. For instance, there are teens who are saying that Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education, or NOPE, has played a pivotal role in giving them a better understanding of drugs’ side effects.

History of drug prevention programs

In the past, drug prevention programs have often focused on scare tactics. However, this was not shown to be effective in stopping many from using drugs. For instance, the Reagan era included programs such as D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) and the expression, “Just say no.” D.A.R.E. was first established in Los Angeles in 1983 and some considered it to be too oversimplified. The United States Surgeon General eventually declared D.A.R.E. as ineffective in 2001.

Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education (NOPE)

Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education, or NOPE, is a program currently in use in the eastern United States and is intended for teens specifically at the middle school and high school levels. One of the primary focuses is the possibility of death by overdose. There is specific concern regarding the rising amount of deaths among young people misusing prescription medication, especially when it’s combined with other controlled substances or alcohol. The fact that breathing difficulties and brain damage are possible is a legitimate concern.

Teens could be obtaining prescription medication from friends or family, whether they have knowledge of it or not. Adolescents could also be attempting to receive more pills than they should via “doctor shopping”. NOPE also calls attention to teens who turn to heroin for euphoric effects, seeing it as a cheaper alternative than prescription meds. A survey demonstrated that almost 50 percent of teens who crush or snort painkillers will eventually move on to heroin. This program also teaches students about the signs of a prescription drug overdose so they will be better prepared for how to appropriately respond in an emergency. There is also evidence that implementing the program starting in middle school as opposed to high school can improve long-term effectiveness.

Raising marijuana danger awareness

Today, teens tend to view marijuana as a safe alternative to other substances, such as alcohol or tobacco. Therefore, it will be necessary to present accurate information on how marijuana can affect physical and mental health. Adolescents who are seeking their driver’s license will need to be aware of the dangers that can come with driving under the influence, for instance. While teens could argue that a physical overdose of marijuana is impossible, there are still second-hand dangers from driving under its influence that young people need to be aware of.

How schools can take action

It is important to remember that there are differences in gender and race related to substance abuse. It has been shown that males are more likely to begin taking drugs sooner than females. African American youth are more prone to abuse inhalants more often than Caucasian youth. By acknowledging these statistics and looking at the demographics within a school, a program can be more effective by emphasizing certain points. Students can also choose to fill out a survey that illustrates their own experiences, whether anonymous or not. This can allow schools to have a better understanding of the drug problems occurring in schools, since some students could be reluctant to admit anything drug related.

If a teen is struggling with an addiction and receives the right kind of drug treatment, he could go on to become a positive influence for peers. It could be as simple as being able to offer advice about how to handle situations in which drugs are offered. White River Academy provides holistic treatment plans for alcohol dependence, substance abuse, cases of dual diagnosis and more. For more information on how we can help treat your teen today, please contact our admissions team at 866-520-0905.

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