Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Social Conditions Create Positive View of Drug and Alcohol Use Among Youth

Last month, youth in Tippecanoe County went around the community to observe what social conditions might be present which influence youth toward drug and alcohol use. What they discovered was staggering even to them. 

The potential danger of social norms is that they are subtle, and we often don't stop to consider what message is being sent to our youth by the environment around us. What the youth of Tippecanoe County discovered was alcohol products placed next to children's items and candy in the stores, which in a subtle but natural way draws the attention of children to alcohol products. They also found an abundance of drug paraphernalia in the youth based stores throughout the community, where they found marijuana cookbooks, drug party items, an endless supply of marijuana clothing, and even hats and shoes with hidden stash compartments for drugs. They also looked into current movie and music trends which reference drugs and alcohol, as well as how social media influence youth to see the drug culture as normal and acceptable. 

Youth are given many mixed messages today. Schools, parents, law enforcement, and prevention specialists tell youth that alcohol, tobacco, and drugs are bad and not to use them, while movies, music, retailers, and all kinds of social media tell youth that alcohol, tobacco, and drug use is normal, acceptable, and even required to fit in. Youth must decide who to listen to at a time when they are under many pressures to "fit in" and "discover who they are." If they do listen to the side of society proclaiming that drugs and alcohol are acceptable norms they are slammed with detention, probation, fines, or expelled from school from the other side of society. 

What can we, as community members who care about the decisions our community youth are making, do to help youth face the divided message of society?:

  • Ask retailers to move alcohol away from youth-related products
  • Talk to youth at an early age and on a frequent bases about the dangers of drugs and alcohol
  • Explain WHY drugs are bad (on an appropriate level for the age of the child)

  • Monitor their social media
  • Get to know their friends

For further information on how to talk to youth about the dangers of drugs and alcohol visit our website or contact us at 765-471-9916 for brochures with detailed information. 

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