“For those kids that are being violently abused at home and are turning to addictions as a form of relief (a relief that may even be preventing them from killing themselves), and then you teach these kids that drugs and alcohol are bad and you should stop because if you don’t you will die, what impact could that have on those kids? Or that cigarettes and drugs are a gateway drug and will lead to greater addictions. What about the kid that is engaged in this thing we are calling a gateway drug?
What if it’s actually the belief that it could be a gateway drug that is the greatest determining factor on whether it becomes one or not; but, I don’t have scientific evidence for this. (I’ve actually gotten advice from a number of medical addiction doctors on how to get funding for my school program and have learned that the program is not ideal for funding because it utilizes the “power of belief,” which in the scientific and medical community has no value because it is considered part of the “placebo” effect.
People like Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief as well as my previous ADHD psychiatrist, Umesh Jain agree. Dr. Jain has encouraged me to find ways to scientifically measure the “placebo” as being an asset rather than an element that has no value. He said “what you are doing is using the placebo effect” to your benefit.
I don’t deny the potential positive impact of educating some kids with the potential dangers of various behaviors, but when we give all of our youth the anti-whatever scare tactic message, and don’t preface it by saying that ultimately the greatest power lies not in the drugs (or whatever behavior you are engaged in) but in your thoughts and beliefs, is it not possible that our good intentions might be actually killing some of them? I don’t know, but personally I’m not willing to risk the possibility. What’s the risk of teaching our youth that substances and behaviors are more powerful than them? What if these fear-based, controlling approaches are actually causing more damage and perpetuating the weaknesses, rather than empowering the greatness of our kids?
Dr. Jeffrey Schaler, author of Addiction is a Choice, says this;
“Teaching people in treatment for addiction problems that they ‘don’t know they have a problem’ may create a problem for them. Teaching them that they cannot control themselves may convince them that they cannot control themselves. Teaching them to believe that ‘treatment’ is the only solution to their problem may persuade them that they cannot solve problems on their own. It reinforces dependency. Teaching them that addiction is all-or-nothing may influence them to believe they can never be anything other than sick. Teaching them they’re powerless encourages them to act powerless. Teaching them that abstinence is the only way to control their addiction may make them think that whenever they are not totally abstinent, they are out of control. Then, when they do take the drug, they make themselves feel as if they are out of control.”
From the book Addiction & Choice, by Scott Gallagher