My whole world of what it means to work towards prevention of underage drinking and other drug use completely shifted when I became a father 3 years ago. For the first 7 years of my career in this field, I worked to solve community-based issues that led to increased risk for substance abuse, delinquency, and other problem behaviors. Now that I have a family of my own, it’s personal!
I am 100% responsible for the health, welfare, and safety for my two young daughters, and I take pride in providing protection for them from whatever might threaten any of that. In this day of ever-changing technology and instant gratification, it is extremely hard to identify those threats, and you can only hope you’ve done everything possible to save them from any harm.
Lately, I’ve been reviewing common principles that some of the brightest researchers have found about strategies to prevent substance abuse in communities. These are just a few:
- Local people can best solve local problems.
- People help support what they help create.
- Alcohol and drugs are a community problem.
- No one single strategy will solve these problems, and a comprehensive sound plan should be the goal.
- Accountability, assessment, and evaluation must be essential components of any plan.
Children are resilient, and that will help them avoid, minimize, or overcome risk factors. If we can provide a space where children develop problem-solving skills, are given opportunities to grow, and are rewarded for their sense of purpose and autonomy, they will ultimately reach that level of resilience, and demonstrate the healthy behaviors we aspire for them. Red Ribbon Week can and does account for all of this.
Prevention and Wellness Services