Addiction is a real problem in our nation and in many schools across the country. Gone are the days when you could simply tell students to Just Say No. That is not enough and does not make drugs and other addictions go away. Drug awareness programs must be incorporated in the curriculum starting as early as in elementary school.
In many school districts, school nurses are responsible for teaching some components of drug awareness and prevention. They work with the classroom or health teacher to introduce the topic and share it in a safe manner. At the elementary level, classes work with the school nurses to obtain information about different types of drugs, what addiction can do, and how to help others. In addition to this, they must broach some other subjects that go along with it. Kids may not be aware of what peer pressure it. Acting out scenarios and brainstorming ways to get away help younger children. In addition to this, school nurses become a trusted individual that kids may go to if they see someone struggling with an addition.
Of course, drugs are only part of the addiction cycle. Many teenage students begin to develop eating disorders, which are similar to addictive conditions. Many involved in research believe that these are a type of addiction. The increase in teen eating disorders has had a major impact in schools. Students are unable to concentrate, they are getting sick, and it can lead to depression and dependency on other substances. Thanks to this, it is especially necessary to talk about this tough topic so all preteens and teens understand how to identify it and get help for themselves, a friend, or family member.
Schools also need to have a plan to help those students that have been identified with addictions. There could be lunch groups for students to meet with school therapists and others that are working through this tough time in their lives. Being able to have a safe place and space to decompress about their struggles and worries will make them more comfortable. If this happens, they will be more willing to talk to other individuals within the school if they fear going back to drugs, alcohol, or another addiction. Prepare a list of community resources that may be utilized within schools and to give students and parents. Many times the open communication is needed to make sure that the addiction cycle is easier for teens to understand and work through.