What do Halloween and Substance Abuse Have in Common?
Halloween has its own unique relationship with intoxication. After all, Halloween is all about trying on a different identity, seeking thrills, exploring the darker corners of human imagination and experiences. It makes sense, then, that youth and adults may see it as the perfect opportunity to drink or use drugs.
Although conversations can be happening all month (and all year) to help discourage youth from using substances at such times, it may also be helpful to harness the magic of Halloween and help others find thrills inherent to the holiday itself by taking advantage of the many different drug- and alcohol-free activities going on around the state. Or, tap into the imagination and creative talents of others to plan your own spooky event. Proactive approaches to the holiday can keep youth (and adults) so busy and engaged that the temptation to drink or use is weak or even absent.
For a great list of events around the state, check here: http://halloweennewengland.com/vermont/ or check with your local coalition.
Youth Marijuana Prevention
Vermont’s Marijuana Legalization Panel expects to present recommendations by mid-January on several topics, including the need for youth prevention programs (source).With so much information available to youth about the so-called benefits and risks of marijuana, the landscape for prevention programming has changed. Marijuana is in the news more often, likely discussed at home, and talked about in a much different way than a drug such as opiates or cocaine, for example. It’s also different than tobacco which, while legal and still commonly used, is almost unequivocally recognized as having no health benefits.Here is Vermont Department of Health’s recent report on statewide prevention initiatives, including specific school-based programming and other programs targeting youth. Here is SAMHSA’s summary of marijuana prevention approaches for youth and their specific uses. For a great summary of the risks of marijuana use, check out PW!VT’s own presentation, available to use and share.In Colorado, some school professionals have integrated marijuana prevention into something called Whole Child Supports, a holistic and comprehensive health education program (which appears very similar to, but not the same as, the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child approach noted in the VDH report above as guiding Vermont school marijuana prevention programming). Some, feeling that need for effective marijuana education and abuse prevention was urgent, founded the Marijuana Education Initiative, which uses scientific facts (such as those about adolescent brain development) to provide information tailored for youth in order to dispel common beliefs such as “it’s natural and therefore safe.”
Hazing and Alcohol
The recent alcohol-related hazing deaths illustrate, more than ever, that the reasons for substance abuse are complex and that education alone is not sufficient to prevent youth from abusing alcohol.
College–and especially fraternity culture–have a special relationship with alcohol abuse. Why do these horrific initiations happen? What can be done about it?
Revisiting Hazing and Rites of Passage: When & How Students Become Adultdiscusses the importance of initiation processes and group belonging in all cultures. The author, Norm Pollard, asks “how do we develop effective rites of passages that are compelling enough to replace hazing?”
Much work has been done to examine this important issue and reliable prevention strategies are already available to us. Check out HazingPrevention.Org’s resources for both college- and high school-based approaches.
Copyright © 2017 Prevention Works! VT, All rights reserved.