Teenagers barely tune in during any lecture on driving under the influence and parents may relinquish – leaving the teen with a simple warning: not to mess up the car. A hesitant relief sweeps over parents – they finally have a night out, without needing to pick up their boy from the movies. The night is interrupted however, as dad’s cell rings with a call from the police that their child was just in a car accident.
10,000 people died from alcohol-impaired driving accidents in 2013. Drivers, passengers and pedestrians – gone. Parents might need to push through sounding corny to being proactive in a way teens will actually listen.
Attempting to reach understanding
The statistic above comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on the reality and deadly price of driving under the influence. The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found 9.9 million people, aged 12 and older drove under the influence of illicit drugs. Among those people, close to 11 percent were young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.
To help parents get the message across, a new product known as “Fatal Vision: Marijuana Simulation Experience,” attempts to show teens the true dangers and effects of marijuana-impaired driving.
The goggles venture to simulate, “the distorted processing of visual information, loss of motor coordination, and slowed decision making and reaction time resulting from recreational marijuana use,” according to the website. But at $975 per kit, this safe-sounding and visual way to teach teens the effects of marijuana, may not quite hit the mark.
Blind side to drug use
Joseph Palamar, Ph.D., is assistant professor in New York University’s Department of Population Health’s section on tobacco, alcohol and drug use. He is not in favor of the temporary color-blindness these goggles seem to provide. In an interview with the Washington Post, Palamar expressed doubts removing the color red from vision, “is supposed to translate into impairment from using marijuana? Misinformation about drug effects has been used as a scare tactic for decades, and this doesn’t seem to be that different.”
Palamar brings up a strong point as the effects of marijuana include much more than an altercation in vision. However, the product is only an echo of a line of Fatal Vision products mimicking the effects of alcohol. This other product stimulates mental impairment when drunk, having teens, “experience how alcohol impairs a person’s balance, vision, reaction time, and judgment.” The company can accurately mimic the effects of alcohol use on the brain, but some argue it may be underwhelming in this attempt to mimic marijuana use.
There’s got to be a better way
Being scared straight is not always the best answer to teenage drug abuse. Give the teenager a voice in the matter and listen to his or her view on drug use. Instead of trying to cover up the teen’s view of the substance, explore the effects of drug use together and come up with alternatives. Teenagers can see through gimmicks and fear tactics.
For teenagers who are constantly struggling with a substance abuse problem, a change of scenery may benefit their treatment. White River Academy is a boarding school for troubled boys from ages 12 to 17, struggling with issues at school and interpersonal problems. The academy provides treatment and care for the boys through disciplined guidance, continuing a strong education program and instills character values with service projects promoting positive growth.
Written by Nick Adams.