As parents, caregivers and other important adults in the lives of young people, we know talking with our teenagers about drugs is an important responsibility. However, many of us question the wisdom of the black-and white pronouncements of “just say no” anti-drug messages that oversimplify the complex lives our teenagers lead. We worry that exaggerations and inaccuracies will lead to cynicism.
No parent wants his or her teenager to use drugs. Although we urge young people to abstain from alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, our national surveys show that many do not heed our warnings. To prevent adolescents who do experiment from falling into abusive patterns, we need to create fallback strategies that focus on safety.
Putting safety first requires that we provide our young people with credible information and resources. We also need to teach our teenagers how to identify and handle problems with alcohol and other drugs—if and when they occur—and how to get help and support.
Families and Privacy
We support policies that treat drug use as a health issue, not a criminal justice issue, and we believe that families should have privacy and autonomy when dealing with drug issues.