Yesterday we saw the menace of substance use and abuse in the individual, family, community and the society at large. In view of that control and more importantly prevention are of paramount importance.
Control of Drug abuse is being implemented by the authorities in all countries worldwide considering the laws against drug possession and trafficking.
However, the most important aspect in my own understanding remains the impact and influence of the family. Regrettably, most parents and guardians are terribly naive in the matters of substance abuse. I learnt of a young man who admitted to his parents and school authorities that he started abusing drugs at the age of 12 years while in junior secondary school in Nigeria. The mother collapsed when she heard that her ‘innocent’ son had become drug dependent under her very nose. Please do not think that it cannot be your children; IT IS NOT YOUR PORTION!!
I honestly do not want it to be your portion but please take all the necessary precautions.
Prevention of substance abuse (including drugs and alcohol) therefore should start at home. Bonding is the bedrock of all relationships including in the family. In recent times, a lot of parents are busy in the rat race. They provide good food, clothes, good schools and expensive toys. However they do not provide one of the most important ingredients in child rearing: Enough Time. ALL CHILDREN NEED TIME AND ATTENTION.
In addition the use of smart phones, IPADs and laptops have worsened the unavailability of parents. Most parents are bent over one device or another when they finally get home. This further reduces the time they have to talk and LISTEN to their children.
All parents should make time to talk to their children and explain the dire consequences of substance to them. It is better to start talking to young children. The parents are able to influence their children as they teach their children the boundaries.
Create a healthy environment for the children. Components of the environment include humans, the school environment, social network, television ETC. CHILDREN SHOULD BE CONSTANTLY UNDER SUPERVISION. This includes in schools. There should be adult chaperones in school parties and outings.
Parents are role models for their children and should please ensure that they do it RIGHT at all times. Actions speak louder than words. The parents should be accountable to the children thereby teaching them to also be accountable to them. In this way, the parents always know where the children are and what they are up to. They are therefore able to foresee, guide and correct early misdemeanours. Many teenagers experiment on drugs without knowing the dire consequences. Such children and adolescents can be identified and stopped very early.
All children should be guided in making wise decisions, in their habits, choice of friends and interests. However, this emanates from having trusts in their parents very early in life. This two-way communication should continue for years. In this way the children should be able to trust their parents such that even when they are outside the home, they remain accountable to them as a matter of habit.
It is wise to involve children to developing and enforcing policies/values in the home against substance abuse. There should be praise and rewards for appropriate behaviours.
All parents, guardians, teachers and in fact all adults should be educated on substance use, abuse and the horrific consequences. Pharmacist should endeavour to insist on drug prescription for prescription drugs that are commonly abused.
In essence, all hands should be on DECK
Finally, we should all keep praying.
Thanks for reading.