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Friday, November 4, 2016

Teaching Teens the Science of Addiction

There is still much to learn about the disease of addiction, a complex mental illness that affects millions of Americans each year. Researchers continue to make breakthroughs regarding the complex nature of addiction, with the hope that it will lead to better, more effective methods of treatment. Addiction is a science, and failure to understand it or at least have a grasp on its nature, could lead to deadly outcomes for some.

Opioid addiction has been in the national spotlight for nearly two decades, with no real indication that the epidemic is diminishing. In the field of addiction medicine, it is well understood that addiction does not discriminate. While opioid use disorder affects primarily adults, teenagers are eligible too.

The “Just Say No” and subsequent D.A.R.E. campaigns over the years have shown that teenagers rarely respond to those types of adult directives. And, in fact, they may actually make teens more interested in trying drugs after learning about how they make you feel. It is no secret that adolescents hate being told what to do, even if such advice could save their life.

With that in mind, the acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Chuck Rosenburg launched a new drug-education program that goes about teaching teens with science rather than scare tactics, The Washington Post reports. The DEA funded Discovery Education, a subsidiary of Discovery Communications, to develop a “virtual field trip,” which included a panel made up of a:
  • Scientist
  • Recovering Addict
  • Assistant Principal
  • DEA Agent
The group discussed addiction with high school biology students, according to the article. It was then broadcast to 200,000 students nationwide. The program also includes:
  • Free Videos
  • Classroom Materials
  • A Student Video Contest
“We’re focusing on the science behind addiction and what it can do to your brain and your behavior,” said Bill Goodwyn, president and chief executive of Discovery Education. “It’s not a one-off assembly where you’ll have a speaker come in once a quarter or once a semester. It’s actually part of the core curriculum.”

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