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.
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.
The answer is to equip the people on the front line, who are courageously fighting this battle, with the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to kick the addiction/overdose crisis to the curb!
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 battlefield. Your youth pastors, counselors, and their staffs, work tirelessly, 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 by day!
What if we could educate your, youth pastors, counselors, 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 make their jobs easier and help them achieve greater success? You bet!
Mentoring Teens and Young Adults
I’ll bet your faculty has worked extremely hard to keep teens and young adults on a positive path and prevent drug abuse in the community. I applaud and commend their efforts. What if, though, by understanding just one component of “The Addiction-Free Kid Blueprint,” they could exponentially increase their rate of success? Permit me to explain.
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, by mentoring a child to build his or her own unique brand, 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. Direct influence fights 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.
How many parents approach your faculty because they want to prevent their child from abusing drugs, or they’ve discovered they already are? The strategy for dealing with each situation is very different. What if your youth pastors, counselors, and staff had those strategies in their tool kits and used them to coach parents? Would that have a dramatic impact on the rate of success? Yes it would! Here’s why:
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 and prevent drug or alcohol abuse.
Without guidance or coaching, 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, and I have no doubt that it makes your faculty’s job more difficult. Parents 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.
These examples merely scratch the surface regarding what your people will learn and the skills and tools they will acquire. To facilitate their success, I can work directly with youth pastors, counselors, and staff, either in a single workshop or through group coaching.
Learn and Lead
The halo in the Addiction-Free Kids Project has divine meaning, but it is also an acronym use in business – Help And Lead Others. We can lead when it comes to defeating the addiction/overdose crisis. We can take the fight directly to the cause and eliminate the demand. If we work together, we can make a difference.
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 parents can be part of the solution. Together, we can stem, reverse, and, eventually, eliminate the addiction/overdose crisis.
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.