Nancy Reagan championed her "Just Say No" program in the '80s, drawing praise and criticism. In one way she was right. For an addicted brain, saying no is incredibly difficult. However, for a non-addicted brain, saying no may be the only effective prevention option. Read this excerpt from Healing the Brain.
III. PREVENTING DRUG ABUSE: THE BEST STRATEGY
Why is adolescence a critical time for preventing drug addiction?
As noted previously, early use of drugs increases a person’s chances of developing addiction. Remember, drugs change brains—and this can lead to addiction and other serious problems. So, preventing early use of drugs or alcohol may go a long way in reducing these risks. If we can prevent young people from experimenting with drugs, we can prevent drug addiction.
In high school, teens may encounter greater availability of drugs, drug use by older teens, and social activities where drugs are used.
Risk of drug abuse increases greatly during times of transition. For an adult, a divorce or loss of a job may lead to drug abuse; for a teenager, risky times include moving or changing schools. In early adolescence, when children advance from elementary through middle school, they face new and challenging social and academic situations. Often during this period, children are exposed to abusable substances such as cigarettes and alcohol for the first time. When they enter high school, teens may encounter greater availability of drugs, drug use by older teens, and social activities where drugs are used.
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