(demand reduction is the key to culture change)
The Dalgarno Institute has long advocated for an anthropological approach to the cultural ‘symptom’ of substance use. Drug use invariably causes (at the very least) some level of harm to both the drug user (their health and well-being) or that of their family and community. On an ever-growing number of occasions, drug use creates a veritable maelstrom of disturbing outcomes and harms – most of which cannot be ‘reduced’, despite the claims of pro-drug advocates. Prevention (denying and/or delaying substance uptake) is the only best-practice for the developing brain demographic.
This is one of the core reasons why our long standing (but relatively small grass-roots movement) has always sought to look ‘behind’ the noise of drug use and its outcomes to origins, motivators and initiates. Anthropologically sound proactive and protective elements have always been part of our community education mechanisms, very much including the understanding of a consistent culture shaping Journey of resiliency building principles, values and relationships with young people and their immediate socialisation contexts.
Engaging All of community – All of the family – with one focus, one message and one voice of deny and/or delaying uptake. Our perception of reality is constructed socially, and that is done through recency, frequency, proximity and intensity. What the young person is immersed in familial and culturally will shape the development of the emerging citizen. So, it is imperative that what focus, message and voice our young people are exposed to on drug use does not create cognitive dissonance or deliver contradictory messaging and modelling in the public square. Any confusion in this space only diminishes the protective factors of the message. We do not have such cognitive dissonance around tobacco use on our culture, and subsequently demand for cigarettes has plummeted. All messaging must enable, equip and empower the emerging generation to have greater capacity to develop their humanity, agency and dignity without the drug use, that only undermines these imperatives.
Iceland too understood much of this, and not only the value of the preventative ‘all of community’ approach, but the need for a disciplined, sustained and uncompromised implementation of strategies be bought to bear. (Again much like our successful ‘war on tobacco’) The outcomes, as we already understand from other historical models of ‘all of community’ shaping mechanisms; works.
The following is a link to the overview of this model, which is based in sound anthropological, not merely sociological principles – including Sustainable worldview, meaning, purpose, values and relationships – All things that keep Humpty Dumpty from and unnecessary fragility and self-sabotaging risks.
UNDERSTANDING ADDICTION: US based Online Resource helping communities move toward exiting drug use: “Our goal is to make helpful and verifiable information available on substance abuse and addiction rehab and recovery as well as direct you to the best sources of help, including The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”
Hangover! As amusing as the movie of the same name may have attempted to be, anyone who has hit the booze knows hangover’s are never fun...I mean people don’t go out on the grog and say.. “I can’t wait till tomorrow to wake up with a pounding headache, a stomach that won’t stop churning and a fuzzy blurrr that just won’t quit – bring it on!” That never happens, unless one is a masochist, or worse on the edge of giving life completely away!
What about ‘track marks’? I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a user with track marks...you know what I'm talking about, the residual damage on the body, the result of over using needles to inject ‘junk’... it aint pretty, but the ‘scary ugly’ goes a lot deeper. You see, as nasty as these 'marks' are, the tracks are a sign (much like a hangover), a sign of a very real and deep problem. Track marks show you a destination and whilst they may not give you the full story, you know one thing for certain this precious inidividual is on the very edge of existence. For this ‘end game’ user it is the glaring indicator of the mess they are in.
Hey, but what about you? What about ‘us’ as a society, where are our ‘track marks’, can you see our hangover? I’m sure you get the analogy, but for those of us with maybe a few less brain cells or underdeveloped or damaged synaptic pathways, I am really asking, what indicators are there in our lives that things aren’t quite as we reckon they should be.
Well the answer to that at the moment is a ‘no brainer’... we have street violence, suicide, domestic violence, hopelessness, anger, carnage on our roads... man we are in a mess – and that's no hype!
Sure, you may not have the needle marks or you may not be ‘hurling’ right now, but what other ‘marks’ are indicators of deeper issues in our lives? Sadness, loneliness, hopelessness, pain or you think you just don’t count or fit!
When you actually stop, unplug, get quiet and think about it, it doesn't take a lot of smarts to realise we need to take stock and do an inventory of where we are heading, not just as individuals, but more so as a society. We need to make some obvious changes, are you will ing to be part of that? For anyone who actually gives a damn, the answer to that is at least a 'NO brainer!'