At IMPACT we recognize that in the communities of Abbotsford, Mission and the Fraser Valley today, it is not so much a matter of whether youth will be presented with the choice to use drugs, but of when. We also recognize that a fair proportion of youth – whether out of simple curiosity, boredom, or a desire to escape from the stresses of growing up – will say yes when given the opportunity to experiment with alcohol and/or other drugs. (See our research page for links to Canadian studies that indicate that 75% of youth in Canada try alcohol before high school graduation, 50% try tobacco, and 30% experiment with marijuana.)
Part of IMPACT’s mission is to make sure that youth know about the effects and risks of drugs. With this information we hope that youth will think twice, and this may help them either to refrain from taking drugs all together, or at least to decide to delay their use until their minds and bodies have fully developed.
We recognize that there are many reasons that youth may start using drugs, and that a good number of these reasons may have nothing to do with the drug or the effect of the drug at all. We believe that in every human being, and in youth as well, there is a strong desire to belong. This desire can be expressed in many ways – dress, slang, music and activities – including activities that involve or are even centred around drug use.
On the other hand, we also believe that people, once having tried drugs, can have a wide range of reactions. For some people the effect drugs have of stimulating the production of the pleasure-inducing hormone dopamine in their brains can create a dramatic or even irresistible result. In other people, however, the result may not be so powerful. Though there are some recognized indicators for risk and preventative factors for drug abuse, responses and behaviours around drug use can be very individual..
We know that a small percentage of students in the school district today willhave serious difficulties that may involve drug use. Through education, we hope to reduce the stigma of drug use and addiction that dooms too many who use drugs to shame and denial about their condition, creating both internal and external barriers to them seeking and receiving the assistance and treatment that could help them achieve healthier outcomes.
The objectives of our prevention programs are to give youth a chance to acknowledge and consider:
- That there is a point where drug use can be problematic.
- That problematic drug use could directly or indirectly affect their lives.
- What information they know about drugs and whether that information is accurate and/or complete.
- What they can do that might allow them to make effective decisions around drug use.
- The various reasons and manners in which people take drugs and what reasons or manners might represent elevated risk.
- What responsible and non-judgemental adult supports might be available to them.
- The benefits of not using drugs and/or of delaying first drug use.