ALTERNATIVES TO DRUGS:
Alternativs to the reasons for taking drugs, Part 1
rather than intoxicated
To offer the best alternatives
to meet the same needs
that make people turn to drugs,
is the best prevention of drug-taking in the first place.
Alternatives for pleasure, adventure,
excitement, new experiences, rebellion, consolation, escape, peer acceptance, satisfying goals...
It is charitable and necessary to spend $millions to help those
who are hooked.
Politically this charity may be driven by a need to prevent addicts
committing crimes against property to feed their habits.
But to do nothing to prevent others starting on drugs
is like trying to contain bush fires while the arson continues
All the motives for
taking drugs could be met in alternative ways:
- Adventure & risk
- Boredom and desire for sensation
- Bullied or persuaded into it
- Credulousness and gullibility
- Desensitisation to abnormal sensation
- Peer pressure
- Showing off
- Temptation through easy access
1 Desire for adventure
Warnings of dangers can make them
Alternativs can better satisfy the desire
for adventure and danger. Wider opportunities to meet challenges of
skill with some element of risk. Sports, outward bound
adventures and camps, social reform activism, citizenship and
politics (now there is a thrill for you!).
Thrills in surfing,trekking, photographing wild-life, inventing,
discovering, business innovations, and vicarious excitement and
adventure are always close to hand in imagination-expanding books.
2 Boredom and desire
Alternativs to prevent boredom and
- The culture can stop encouraging needs for constant and
increasingly intense stimulation. Alternativs start in
infancy: Give children opportunities to discover
their own directions and develop great interests, activities and
Encouragement from media, books, homes,and schools, for love of
thinking and knowledge, discovery,construction, everyday fun,
persistence, a passion for reading, and cheap and pleasant social
and outdoor activities.
- The Australian Centre for Social Innovations
encourages young and old, to enjoy problem-solving to improve
quality of life - inventing anything from fun in holidays to
making the world go round more safely. People can discover that
they can find solutions to problems - including boredom.
- Opportunities to learn to love tranquility and peace as
well as excitement and stimulation. Children exposed to too
much disturbance and excitement can have raised thresholds that
need more intense experiences to avoid boredom.
- Life- goals. Other priorities and pleasures beyond just
physical sensation. Sensuality is by no means the chief goal or
the chief pleasure to be sought. The dedication of our sports
stars in withstanding fatigue and pain shows how important other
goals can be.
3 Bullied, persuaded and tempted
- Teach 'How to say NO' without
giving offence and still standing ground. This may now sound old
hat, and you need personal alternatives too, but it helps others
to say NO too.
"If they want you to take drugs,
they are not a true friend."
"If you press someone to take drugs, you are not a true
They may be one of the 15% who come
Everyone needs loyal friends and adults to turn to for
Most people conform whatever culture they
are in without questioning. "Everyone does it".
Independent-minded young people reckon that acquaintances most likely
to become drug addicts are the "nice
kids who couldn't say No. But we're not nice and we can say Get
lost - leave us alone!" These
young people find they still have good friends.
Alternativs to blind
- Films and pictures that show drug taking should not be
recommended for teenage viewing, because they give models, however
unintentionally. Pictures can enter the mind without
thinking. Because film is
artificial it can make self-destruction appear morbidly
- Prevent censorship of the good (and let whoever likes fight
over definitions of 'bad' and 'good').
- Young people need to have as much as possible of the goodness
as well as nastiness of the world.
- Reclassify entertainment. 'For Adults' means very best
intellectual and aesthetic entertainment our civilisation can
produce for thinking and responsible adults.
- Sleazy violent stuff is for IMMATURE ADULTS.
- Balance. More entertainment and reading showing positive,
constructive, cheerful models of fulfilling life-styles, at levels
for a wide variety of people to enjoy. Often what critics
say is 'sentimental', is only honest stuff but not well
done. 'Sentimental' means artificial feeling. Morbid
and horrible 'artificial feeling' should be identified as callous
- Language. Drugs publicity must avoid
implications that 'everyone does it' - as in
phrases like 'when you inject'. For undesirable and unsafe
actions the phrases should be rather 'if you', and sources of help
to stop addiction should always be added.
5 Credulity and gullibility
Personal acquaintances may say that the dangers of drugs are lies
put out by 'the authorities' who want to deprive everyone of great
pleasures, aroused consciousness, sophistication etc. They may
say there are thousands of happy heroin-users keeping good jobs
and excellent physical and mental health. They do not tell about the
financial drain, impaired higher mental faculties and judgment, and
greater numbers of unhappy people. Other countries are more aware
that being stoned can have more permanent low-key effects than
Alternativs to credulity and
- Documented information from trustworthy sources on the
drawbacks of developing drug-dependence or altered mind-states, to
set against apparent temporary pleasures. Multiple school
lessons and library books can arouse more interest by the very
emphasis. Only one page on, e.g. marijuana is needed, as a poster
or single page in a book, permanently available.
- 'Don't be a sucker.' Concise information about the financial
and psychological reasons why people may try to push them into
taking drugs. Unscrupulous groups get profits from drugs, and
people may dislike being naive fools for letting them profit.
Adolescents naturally want to explore, as their horizons widen.
There is a cultural myth, that to know the good it is necessary to
taste evil (André Gide, exploiter of others, set this
notion around.) Teen culture is stimulated by commercial pressures
and perceptions of what is adult, so that they will
want to enter into the forbidden pleasures and risks of adulthood
rather than the responsibilities, skills, nurturing and
Some young people will try almost any toxic substance that may
give them a changed sensation - sniffing benzene, any sort
of aerosols of almost any sort, petrol, boot-polish, fermented
banana-skins - They may interpret any physical reaction
they may get as a buzz, whereas if it were not for the
socially-supplied interpretation they would think they felt
Alternativs to uncritical
- Encourage from infancy curiosity
of the mind, seeking
knowledge, and exploring the real world - ideas, places,
activities, sports, cultures, how other people live, etc. that
can challenge and stimulate, so that they do not have a need to
test what others have tested before them with unfortunate
results. Even exploring religious experience can extend
knowledge of how other people tick , plus awareness of the
numinous that does not need drugs to exalt the spirit and truly
expands consciousness rather than distorts it.
- Awareness of the nature of
psychedelic experiences can make them less personally
attractive. Most of them have a psychotic
quality. A longitudinal
sequence of artistic productions by addicts can show what
happens to their inspiration and talent.
- Curiosity about one of the greatest puzzles of all
- what we know about how the brain works, and what we
still do not know. How to make the most of our precious
clear consciousness and awareness, unpolluted. What 'expanding
consciousness' really means as distinct from distorting and
confusing it. What a precious thing we have in our brains, and
how to make the most of all that we have.
7 Desensitisation to
the abnormality of delusional sensations
This is important. Much screen and leisure entertainment
desensitises people to abnormal visual and auditory experiences,
so that they more easily accept the surrealism of drug experience
rather than reject its lack of meaning or positive feeling: e.g.
Teenage discos with chaotic noise and darkness cut by
strobe lighting, and books and comics full of discontinuities and
lacking sequential thinking or narrative. TV is increasingly
influential in preventing sequential thought and presenting visual
sensations without meaning - which is introductory to the effects
of drugs that affect the power to think. It is done because the
producers include computer buffs who delight in their technology
of animated clip-art and millisecond cutting and
Meaningless collages can take up time as
introductions to programs, and can make up the whole of video-clip
programs. This numbing of intellectual faculties may prove more
serious than film violence.
Alternativs to desensitisation by
artificial sounds and images
- Teenagers are most at risk who have a great deal of this
entertainment without enough counterbalancing 'everyday
life'. All young people need to have opportunities for full
lives that include interests and pleasures in the broad light
of day, in a natural environment that is beautiful, not ugly and
depressing, with relationships that are life-giving, not rejecting
- Research is needed into the short- and long-term
intellectual effects of fast-cut meaningless sequences of visual
sensations on television, particularly for children and
Alternatives to Drugs, Part