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Culture Change to Prevent Drug Abuse: Where Does It Begin?

Since the release of my book over two years ago, increased awareness of the national epidemic of drug use, overdose and death has opened the eyes and minds of almost every American to this growing crisis. Parents, police departments, communities, government agencies and schools are trying very hard to combat every aspect of this epidemic using their limited budgets and resources. Every day numerous organizations host presentations, rallies, petitions, walks, etc. Still many parents keep the “not my kid” mentality and kids continue to buy and use drugs.

At this time, almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by this epidemic.

 

Many teens and young adults have lost siblings, relatives, friends, classmates and some, even a parent. My college spies tell me that cocaine and Xanax are rampant on college campuses.  Maybe a few learned to stay away from Opioids, but many are using other classifications of illegal drugs.  The information is out there. It’s not just heroin that kills.  Despite all the facts and statistics available now, young people continue to risk their lives.

Why is the message not getting through? You do not know what you are smoking, snorting, ingesting or injecting.  Maybe more kids should read my book—I was recently told by a reader that “it stays with you.” We have a monumental problem that will take cooperation and assistance from everyone everywhere. No one entity can do this alone.

Telling kids not to drink or do drugs does not work. We all know that. Over the past two years, I have observed that anyone who cares or has been affected is trying to do their part to help. But it is still not working. Who isn’t trying or helping?  Most of the kids!

Not all teens or young adults make bad choices, but most still look the other way when they see their friends and classmates at a party snorting drugs or drinking to the point of blacking out. It is still acceptable, tolerated or envied behavior.  It just might be your kid.

In order for this to stop or slow down, what needs to change?  A CULTURE CHANGE  is what is needed. It has to become “not cool” to get wasted.  Making that happen is an incredible challenge, one that all young people have to initiate and run with.

Back in our day, the drunken or high guy or girl was gross. No one wanted to be with them, no one except maybe other wasted people thought it was funny. Somehow over the years it became cool to throw up and pass out!

How and why did that happen?  How do we make a culture shift?

I don’t know the answer but I can tell you what isn’t making it happen—crying mothers going to schools to tell their stories of how they lost their child to drugs; police officers going to schools to tell kids about the dangers of drugs; parent organizations trying to educate other parents; drug education in health class; or presentations from individuals who are in recovery.  Every effort to help is commended and should be applauded, however, the problem persists.

All of these wonderful people are taking time out of their lives to try to help. Maybe the messages reached a few kids, but maybe the majority were impacted for just a few hours, and for most that feeling was fleeting.

A culture change has to come from young people who will help stop this epidemic by never starting and help their peers realize it is ok to pursue their own interests and encourage others to engage in a passion. They need to help anyone they see going down the wrong path by crossing the line. Let them know it’s not cool or funny.

What made me take this position?  While writing my book Life after You, I had teens read chapters to assess the impact of my words. They all said the same thing: “We don’t listen to parents, teachers or police. We only listen to each other.” Well, it’s time to get the next generation to step up to help end this epidemic by never starting.

The only group that can truly make a shift in American culture is the kids themselves.

They will be the ones to influence our culture by realizing that getting wasted, getting into trouble with the law, making drug dealers rich and ruining their lives is—not cool.

Our mission will be to help that culture shift happen by kids for kids.  It should be yours too. Teens, you need to make it happen.

Be the generation to end this epidemic by never starting. Don’t cross the line.    

Don’t ruin your lives by making bad choices. Share this with your friends.

And get ready to answer: “Hey, what are you doing—to prevent drug abuse —to have fun with your friends without getting wasted?”

Stay connected for more on “Hey, what are you doing?” #HWAYD

 

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17 Comments
  1. Brilliant!

  2. “What can I say…I had the pleasure of meeting Linda through FB where I then purchased her book. Incredible writing by an amazing woman. Her courage, strength and determination to be able to even get the words down on paper is one I truely admire. This book is going to SAVE lives of many young people. It’s written with all intentions to reach young people in order for them to see, hear and feel the anguish of what is left behind from using drugs. I had the opportunity to meet her when she spoke at a town meeting here in New Jersey. What courage! The point of the book is to STOP the senseless killing of young people this way. I have become an advocate and activist in this war on drugs, and fight against this epidemic. My son has come out alive from his addiction from opiates and heroin. He and I want to thank her from the bottom of our hearts for writing this book. You must buy one, read it, have your kids read it and pass it on to as many as you can. Get it into the hands of your town officials. It needs to circulate throughout the country. This is a devastating epidemic and one that hurts so many people involved”

  3. Unfortunately, the “not my kid” mentality doesn’t work. It never did. Anyone can (at a certain point in their life) consume drugs. It doesn’t matter if you say it won’t happen to me or my kid. We should all have serious discussions with our children about this and the dangers it poses.

  4. I was incredibly moved not only by Linda’s story, but by her willingness to share her pain to try to prevent others from going through the same thing. Her book made such an impression on me that I made my 13 year old son read it as well. It’s my hope that, through her story, both parents and kids will be more aware that no one is immune to this terrible epidemic.

  5. Kids are very entourage driven so if some of their friends are using drugs, chances are, sooner or later, they will at least give it a try. So, we should make sure they have the right kind of entourage.

  6. I think more and more known personalities should talk about drugs. They have a big impact on kids and they should stress how dangerous drugs are. If this is done well, kids will get the idea and maybe communicate better with their parents when they are in trouble or thinking about using.

  7. I talked to my kid about drug ever since he was 12. I told him how I feel and that he should always trust me and talk to me when he has questions. I think he trusts me and know I won’t punish him or scream at him if he does something bad. I always try to remain calm and try to help him.

  8. I am in my 20’s. In high school, many of the people I hung around with were in to drugs. I remember sitting down at a lunch table with a group who invited me over because I was sitting alone. They were all very nice and kind to me. A few days sitting with them, and they asked me if I was 20 dollars to buy some x and do it with them after school. I lied and said I was broke. I stopped sitting with them after that. My parents never taught me to stay away from drugs nor did they ever talk to me about it. I tried weed and did not like it, I drank and did not like it… So I thankfully stopped there. My parents were lucky.

  9. I am 14 and all my friends seem to care about is getting high or stealing their parent’s alcohol. I am sick of it. I will join anything that is for putting an end to this. I never thought I would see such a generation so willing to throw their lives away. All of them make fun of me for not joining in.

  10. I am 17 and already lost 2 friends to drugs. They lost their lives and are no longer with me. It almost feels fake, like I am in a bad movie. It was a wake up call for me. There is a huge problem with drugs and it needs to end. I am glad to see people fighting for change like this.

  11. It is so hard to be growing up in a world with so much pressure. Pressure to drink, use drugs, have sex. My parents never taught me about any of this and I am too embarrassed to ask. I am 15 and I don’t even like going to school anymore. That is all anyone seems to care about there. I hope people begin to wake up.

  12. I live in a small suburb area. I am 19 and have 2 friends in rehab for heroin addictions. Another friend went to juvenile prison for selling drugs when he was 16. This is a HUGE problem right now and it is up to us, our generation to take a stand. I hope everyone sees the problem here.

  13. My friend showed me this post. We are both 13. It seems like almost everyone we go to school with is in to the party scene. They all are acting like they are in their 20’s. There is sex, drugs, and drinking everywhere. I am pressured on a weekly basic to do something I don’t want to do. I tried talking with my counselor but he doesn’t even listen. Me and my friend both want to help change this by staying out of it. I know it will be hard but we will do whatever it takes.

  14. Glad to see something like this taking place. We need people trying to unite teens against drugs and alcohol. I lost my younger brother to drugs when I was 19. His age? Well, he was only 15. I am now in my 20’s. I fully support anything that will keep kids away from this lifestyle. It is not worth it. The pain of the loss.. It isn’t worth it.

  15. At the age of 10, I smoked my first cigarette. Age 12, I had already had sex and smoked weed. By the age of 14, I already had a drinking problem. Now I am 17 and in rehab with a child who lost his father to drugs. This is not a lifestyle. This is hell. I am sharing this to encourage all you kids out there to make better choices than I made for the sake of the people who love you. I broke my mother’s heart so badly, she barely ever speaks to me and I am her only kid.

  16. I want to help this cause. There are too many people my age (16) who are throwing their lives away. I do my best to avoid it but I am not going to lie and say I was never pressured. It is hard but I was able to pull myself out of it. I blame society and Hollywood for making this lifestyle seem glamorous and cool.

  17. I am 15 and have lost most of my friends to drugs or drinking. That is all they care about and all they do. Three of them dropped out of school already. I am here willing to take the stand. I am going to be straight edge from now on and show other teens you don’t have to be high or drunk to enjoy life.

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