The issues of drug use and addiction can be very complex. Countless millions of dollars in research money has gone into analysing the causes and potential cures and treatments for addiction. And countless millions of dollars continue to go into research – because the addictions field is an evolving field.
Even at IMPACT, we keep careful statistics and institute evaluation processes on all of our services and programs. We keep abreast of the latest research and are constantly updating our approaches to fit, not the latest opinions, but the latest evidence-based research. We are looking for approaches that show results.
If you are a parent or guardian of a potentially drug-involved youth, what you need to know is that there is, as yet, no sure-fire way to stop problematic drug use among youth – let alone among adults.
There are approaches that focus on brain chemistry, on treating potential underlying mental illness, on addressing environmental influences (family, friends, media, laws), on developing personal skills (refusal skills, communication skills, employment skills, etc.), on building up self-esteem, on ethics and decision-making, on spirituality. The list goes on and on, and each approach has shown some promise – with some people.
What we know for certain, however, is that (and this may seem obvious) those people who continue to seek services in an attempt to address the problems they are having as a direct or indirect result of their drug use, tend to get better results than those that don’t.
We also know that youth, and people in general, are resilient. The addictions landscape, while littered with many bad endings, also holds many seemingly miraculous turnarounds – from drug use, jails, hospitals and other institutions, back into meaningful, positive lives in the community.
So, while we understand it is natural for a sense of panic or hopelessness to develop when a youth seems to be going off the rails, we encourage parents and guardians to step back and to continue to believe they can be a positive influence in a youth’s life. Often the way to be this positive influence is precisely by not panicking and not losing hope, but instead keeping calm and hopeful.
Often this can be a tall order, but IMPACT counsellors and our other services for parents and guardians are always here to help.