‘YOU CAN’T SAY NO TO DRUGS!’ What The??
NO! is one of the most empowering protective factors in the toolkit of well-being. We aggressively – and rightly so – promote campaigns that are unashamedly protective and at the centre of these messages is always a prohibition – a ‘NO.’
But there seems to be one exception that is trumpeted from a small but increasingly influential group.
The pro-drug protagonists in our culture continue to wage a War FOR Drugs, and a key tool in their kit is that you, ‘CAN’T SAY NO TO DRUGS!’
Why? Because they say, “it’s a ridiculous expectation on a ‘freedom’ focused culture!” or the other fallacious meme “Kids are rebellious, they’re always going to try stuff, and saying NO, is just pointless.”
All behaviour is learned, and the above toxic postures are not protective. All they are doing is teaching a generation to self-harm, not self-actualize.
What an individual says ‘NO’ to is one of the most profound indicators of what they value.
It is not a prohibition posture; it is a protective one. As ‘fences’ can be used at times to keep things in or out – as if ‘restrictive’, most often fences are used to ‘keep people from’ danger.
A person’s NO does not just point at what they put down, but more, it directs us to what they want to pick up instead.
The formative years of both Brain and Body development from birth to around 28 years of age, are the time when protective factors are most needed, not denied.
What is concerning is that this War FOR Drugs – this ‘You Can’t Say NO to Drugs’ ridicule – means that the developing person has only two choices left; to say ‘Yes’ or ‘Maybe’ to drug use. From this now manipulated place of being disempowered to walk away from substance use, we create a likelihood of engagement. What is most disturbing about this, is that it is the use of substances that contributes to, or exacerbates, almost all the things we are trying to say NO to in our culture
On this World Day Against Drugs, let us focus on empowering, enabling, and equipping our children and their families to enact the protective power of NO!
The not so ‘clueless’ Nancy Regan!The mocking line of “you can’t just say ‘NO’ to drugs!” was an attempt to malign First Lady Nancy Reagan’s Anti-drug programs when in office. However, the facts, not the pejorative meme, tell a different story…
When the Reagans moved into the White House on Jan. 20, 1981, drug use, particularly among teenagers, was hovering near the highest rates ever measured. Of that year’s graduating class, 65 % had used drugs in their lifetimes and a remarkable 37 % were regular drug users.
Eight years later, when the Reagans left Washington, only 19.7 % of 1989’s graduating class were regular drugusers, a 47 % reduction. And the trend that began under their leadership persisted until it reached an all-time low of 14.4 % in 1992, 61 % lower than 1981.
While it is too simplistic to credit Nancy Reagan alone with this downturn, it is impossible to ignore her leadership and the massive shift she led against the drug culture. Her off-the-cuff response to a young Oakland girl who asked her what to do if confronted with drugs became a clarion call: “Just say no”.
But this powerful protective option in best-health and well-being practice is being aggressively eroded by small but vociferous pro-drug actors in the public square. Actors who are being aided and abetted, not so much by ‘pushers’, but more disturbingly, promotors in the political and policy making space.
The capacity to exercise NO particularly in the incredibly self-harming drug use space should be bolstered not diminished. The Dalgarno Institute continues to work tirelessly with its very limited resources to put up relevant, contemporary, engageable and evidence-based resources to empower the ‘NO’ for our vulnerable young.
This World Day Against Drugs, take the time to exercise, and help others exercise, best practice health and well-being around #toxic #drugs
“Don’t Drug Yourself Down!”