Stop focusing all of our efforts on climbing out of the swamp, and draining it, and start teaching people how to avoid it altogether!
In short, stop focusing on supply/effect and re-focus on demand/cause!
What We’re Doing is not Working
During the last 4 decades, the U.S. Government has invested billions of dollars in addiction research and treatment. They’ve invested just as much combating the supply side of addiction with “The War on Drugs.” Additionally, we’ve been subjected to negative reinforcement advertising and scare tactics by drug prevention advocates for over 40 years. After it’s all been said and done, sadly, we are worse for the wear. Very little, if any of it at all, has been effective. But, don’t take my word for it. The numbers don’t lie!
After ten years of research, I am thoroughly convinced that we can not treat, scare, or police our way out of the addiction and overdose crisis, which is spiraling, wildly, out of control! Focusing all our resources on treatment is tantamount to preventing a ship, which resembles a screen door, from sinking by plugging one hole at a time. As fast as you plug one leak, ten more spring up. And, if drug awareness and prevention programs were overwhelmingly successful, I don’t think incarceration rates for drug-related crimes would have increased by 1000 percent from 1980 to 2014.
For Faith-Based Organizations
No matter how many treatment options are available and initiatives you introduce to the congregation and community, 90 to 95 percent of drug addicted members continuously fall from grace and back into the clutches of addiction. Regardless how many programs are offered or teens and young adults are mentored, the rate of addiction continues to rise. The arrests keep coming and your greatest fear is that the next overdose is right around the corner.
I feel your pain and understand how frustrated you are. Let me reassure you, though. There is hope, and there is a solution to the addiction/overdose crisis.
As a faith-based leader, you are the first line of defense on the addiction/overdose crisis battlefield. Your youth pastors, and their staffs, work tirelessly on the front lines; guiding and mentoring teens and young adults in the hopes they will remain on a positive course and say no to drugs. Despite those wonderful efforts, the addiction/overdose crisis worsens, day after day!
What if we could educate leaders, youth pastors, and staff on the “Square Root of Addiction” or why teens become addicted to drugs and alcohol? And, what if they had, in their possession, an exact blueprint for mentoring teens and coaching parents with the intended outcome of fostering addiction-free kids? Would that help them achieve greater success? You bet!
For Learning Institutions
You’ve invested in drug awareness education for students. You’ve brought in experts to teach Kids about the risks and dangers of drug abuse. Yet, students are falling prey to the prescription and illicit drug epidemic at an alarming rate. Addiction continues to rise, and the next overdose is looming overhead.
I realize how difficult it is to watch young people step into the pitfall of addiction, especially when it is so very hard to climb out. Prevention is the best approach – just not in a conventional sense.
What if you brought in a new breed of addiction expert – one who could talk to students about why teens actually become addicted to drugs, in the first place, and how to avoid the pitfall of addiction? The surgeon general has been telling people for 40 years that smoking is hazardous to one’s health, yet 36.5 million people still smoke. Negative reinforcement is ineffective. If we want to addiction proof kids, then it’s time to shift from direct, negative influence to indirect, positive influence. If we work together, we can kick the addiction/overdose crisis to the curb.
Mainstream recovery claims that parents have very little influence over a child’s addictive behavior. I believe that claim is factually incorrect. Truth is; parents are always the greatest influence in a child’s life, albeit it good, bad or indifferent. Regardless, parents can learn how to indirectly, and positively, influence a child to just say no to drugs or alcohol.
Without the right information or guidance, though, parents panic when their child is abusing drugs or alcohol, and they attempt to police behavior and fight the effect. That is the wrong strategy. They need to attack and eliminate the cause. Using the correct approach, a parent can positively influence their son or daughter to make the right call.
Re-Focusing our Efforts
If we apply a bit of simple economics, “Supply and Demand,” to the addiction/overdose crisis, I believe we’ll start moving in the right direction. Supply represents how much of a product or service a market can offer. Demand refers to the amount of a product or service which is desired by the consumer. Therefore, the fastest way to reduce the drug supply is to cut the demand.
I’m not alone on this position. At a recent drug symposium, even a U.S. Attorney stated that efforts to stem the supply of drugs have proven unsuccessful. And, as a result, they are now focusing on demand rather than supply. I’m proud to say, “I’ve been taking that approach for the past ten years.” Even so, the larger and more important questions that must be answered are; what is the cause and why is the demand so high?
Here’s Where I Come In:
First, let me be completely upfront and honest; I have never struggled with addiction. However, one of my siblings has. Even though I was surrounded by addiction, I somehow managed to leap over the pitfall and avoid the swamp. Drawing a distinction between the two of us, I became convinced that I discovered the common denominator or direct, fundamental cause of addiction. That’s what encouraged me to conduct further research and undertake the work I have done as a recovery coach. For the past 10 years, I put my hypothesis to the test. While I proved my theory, and helped many people overcome addiction, I realized that I was fighting an uphill battle – just like mainstream recovery. On more than one occasion, I thought, there has to be a more effective solution. Eventually, I realized what it is; helping people avoid the pitfall altogether.
I’d like to be frank, though. Avoiding addiction is not easy. Believe me, it takes work. But, that approach is far easier, and much more successful, than overcoming addiction. Once you’re addicted, it is extremely difficult to recover from it. Mainstream recovery can verify that.
To eliminate the cause and demand, though, we cannot use more of the same. We need an entirely different approach.
A new, Fresh and Bold Approach
Bottom line, eliminating the addiction/overdose crisis requires changing the hearts and minds of those who have yet to step into the addiction pitfall – just not the way you might think. Nancy Reagan was on to something with the “Just say no to drugs,” campaign. Unfortunately, she just didn’t have the necessary tools at her disposal to achieve success. So, the question becomes; how do you get teens and young adults to say no to drugs? Drug abuse awareness is not enough, and negative reinforcement advertising and scare tactics have proven unsuccessful. Additionally, asking teens to sign a pledge to abstain isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
Many addiction specialists say that addicted teens and young adults have an emotional hole inside themselves, which they attempt to fill with drugs. I agree with that assessment. They are referring to personal identity or the lack thereof. The answer, however, is not to fill the hole with something that is deemed to be more positive.
The solution is to close the emotional hole!
If you close the hole, then there’s no need to fill it. Hence, you’ve eliminated the cause and demand. That takes indirect influence. There’s a stark contrast between direct and indirect influence. Drug awareness initiatives attempt to influence directly and fight the effect by suggesting teens and young adults shouldn’t abuse drugs because of the negative consequences. This does not address the cause or fill the hole. The correct approach is indirect influence which attacks the cause and fills the emotional hole.
People all across the nation are hurting. I know. I’ve stood by their side for a decade. What’s most heartbreaking and troubling is; we are losing our greatest and most valuable treasure day after day – KIDS. This prompted me to launch the Addiction-Free Kids Project.
We must stop focusing on climbing out of the swamp, and draining it, and start teaching teens and young adults how to avoid it altogether. Faith-based leaders, youth pastors, and their staffs, as well as educators and parents can all be part of the solution. Together, we can make a difference.
Use the form, top-right, to contact me. I want to hear about your biggest challenges and deepest concerns regarding the addiction/overdose crisis. I would be happy to listen and help. I can also be reached directly at 724-203-4575.