At the Drug Czar’s “blog,” the ONDCP’s Ben Tucker gives advice to students heading off to college.
Much of the advice is fine and appropriate: “Get to class on time, get to know your professors, be respectful of your peers and professors, read your course syllabus, know what is expected of you, complete assignments in a timely fashion, study for exams and show up to take exams as scheduled, make time to exercise…”
But you know that’s not why he’s writing this. And sure enough, he gets to it. And blows it.
And while many students adjust and learn to navigate the higher education terrain quite well, without the help of drugs or alcohol–and thatâ€™s as it should be– there are many who do not fare as well. And while this message is a cautionary tale for all students, it is the students in the latter category to whom I now speak.
Do not assume that the solution to your stress lies in the abuse of drugs and alcohol. The inherent dangers of drug abuse and underage drinking are real. At best they can derail your education and force you to squander your dreams, at worse they canâ€¦? Think about It!
Notice the existence of only two categories.
- Those who never use drugs or alcohol.
- Those who abuse drugs and alcohol, squandering their dreams or worse.
Pretty pathetic advice.
I work at a university, and while there are some students who will abstain from most drugs (including tobacco and alcohol), most students will experiment at the very least. Despite the lack of useful information given to them, many of these will go on to have productive educational careers. The abstinence-or-loser advice from the ONDCP is the absolute worst possible advice you can give to these students.
If you have a youngster heading to High School or College and want to communicate in a realistic way that respects them while emphasizing safety and offering your help, then I urge you to read a letter written in 1998 by Marsha Rosenbaum to her son Johnny, then entering High School.
Amazingly, we also have an unsolicited letter to her from her son, written 8 years later.
These have been around for awhile, but even if you read them years ago, I think they’re worth reading again: Mother and Son.