Ask the Chief
As a society, we focus so much on "the drug", "the alcohol" or whatever "item" is associated with our troubles. Most recently, there has been a lot of focus on opioids and the rising death rates of those who overdose.
Does the approach of focusing on the "substance" actually improve lives and decrease deaths? I don't believe it does. For over 40 years, we have been fighting a losing war on drugs. For over 100 years, (if not much more) we have been fighting alcoholism.
I suggest that it is time to change the way we look at and approach these dangers. Alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling, pornography are the physical representations of poor choices.
If we truly want to see a change, then we need to determine why we make poor choices, to begin with. By starting with our childhood we can identify many factors that put people on a dangerous path to self-destruction.
The family unit and home life have been repeatedly identified as one of the most influential factors that determine the future success and failures of children. Children emulate the example set for them by their parents.
Many forms of addiction can be traced through families with alcoholics and drug users having higher rates of children who themselves become alcoholics and drug users.
As children enter their teenage years many are negatively impacted by their peers and society. The young people who have already begun making poor choices often lead others to make those same choices.
Peer pressure, the desire to fit in and curiosity all work against teens when they are faced with making difficult choices.
This is made even more difficult when we look at the culture that is directed to our children. Everything from music, movies, commercials, clothing, and advertising work to control the behaviors of teens.
The hyper-sexualization of our daughter, lack of ethical behavior of our sons, normalizing substance abuse and much more are all traceable to "culture messaging".
This evidence can be seen all around you. "Vaping" (electronic cigarettes) are becoming a growing fad with some as young as 8 years old.
"Sexting" is so widespread that it doesn't even shock people when they hear of it. Once our children move from their teen years to early adulthood the seeds planted in their youth begin to bear fruit.
Many colleges report students who have serious gambling problems. Alcohol abuse and sexual assault are a very real danger on some college campuses.
The cultural messages of "if it feels good do it", "life is about experimenting and trying new things" or "I can handle it, that won't happen to me", lead young adults to make choices that will impact the rest of their lives. If we really want to stop drug and alcohol abuse, sexual assault, and more then we need to find a way to teach better decision making.
We can't predict what new dangers that we will face in the future but we can develop better ways of making decisions so that no matter what comes, we will be ready.