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Narconon Drug Education, Monday Dec 18th

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Peter Stoker

Drugs - Giving Youth A Chance

Peter Stoker is the Chairman of the National Drug Prevention Alliance and has worked in drug prevention in the UK for almost 22 years.

HOW IMPORTANT IS EFFECTIVE DRUG EDUCATION TODAY?

More important than ever. We've been in a drug-prone society for a long time, as you know, but now we’re operating against increasing pressure for the liberalisation of many damaging behaviours, of which drug-abuse is only one; we have a government which seems more interested in placating the noisy few who are drug abusers than listening to the majority who are not - all this worsened by greatly increased supplies of drugs at cheaper cost in real terms. Drug education has a vital task in countering this, but it will only succeed if it has the goal of abstinence - rather than leaving choices about illegal activities to young people.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CURRENT "HARM MINIMISATION" MOVEMENT?

It is a cleverly presented hijacking of what historically was (and remains) a valid attempt – on a one-to-one basis with people known to be using - to limit harms already happening. The current scam - for that's what it is - suggests that it is philosophically undesirable to discourage use (and ineffective anyway); that education should therefore instruct about drugs but not against them, and should include a "Users Manual" for all pupils, on the assumption that more and more will elect to use. The underlying notion, that use is increasing and we can therefore only collaborate rather than prevent, is a self-fulfilling prophecy - as use rises, the notion is allegedly "validated". We know the people who concocted this subversive philosophy in the Liverpool-Manchester area in the late 80s, and we know the contacts they had with legalisers in America, Europe and Australia. That any government, let alone a Labour government, cannot recognise the neo-Marxist mechanisms which are being applied, is quite astonishing.

HOW DO YOU FEEL THE GENERAL AWARENESS IS OUT THERE WITH REGARD TO THE SCALE AND NATURE OF THE DRUG PROBLEM?

Awareness is something which you either seek out actively or receive passively; sadly, too many of us are in the passive mode, and thus rely heavily on what the media tells us. A large-scale study in America five or six years ago was at first encouraged when it found that a large majority of young people ranked parents as one of their sources of guidance on drugs, but when they asked the parents where they got their information from, they said "TV." There is no doubt that there is a bias towards liberalism in the media, though several writers are starting to challenge this. Meanwhile, many adults probably think that all young people do drugs, that you can't stop it, that its "Pot today and Heroin tomorrow," and that "somebody definitely ought to do something" - where "somebody'" equals anybody but them.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE WAY FORWARD?

A desert island is not the way forward for me; I love this country and want to see it at its best. In the drug context, that means introducing community-wide prevention, involving every sector of the community - each in their own appropriate way. Preventive education is a part of this, but it needs to not stop at the school gate, there should be much more integration between schools and community when it comes to learning about social issues. Enforcement on the street needs to be of the "zero tolerance" variety, but this does not mean being intolerant; it means "I like you but I don't like your behaviour." Where policing and justice systems have to come into play, these should be a balanced mix of commitment, retribution, corrective education (Restorative Justice) and rehabilitation. Treatment needs to be proven, evaluated, updated and quickly available. The faith communities should get better at giving an unequivocal moral lead, and rediscovering their relevance to the community. Sports, leisure and entertainment can and should be more than just the alternatives to drugs; they should be sources of rich enjoyment - full of natural highs. And above us mere mortals, our government should look at the countries which have succeeded instead of listening to siren voices from those who have not - maybe we should remember the adage "Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it."

AND THE CANNABIS DEBATE?

When you deconstruct it all, there is nothing new in any of the arguments being advanced today. They have all been advanced and demolished before, but what the pot protagonists have learnt is that "A lie told 10 times becomes the truth" - so they keep plugging away, with the active support of many in the media. "Medical use"’ or "medical excuse," as some call it, remains unproven 30 years on. Hemp will not save the planet. Legalisation will never work, even if every country in the world subscribes – which they won’t, and decriminalisation is a discredited subterfuge. Science now shows that cannabis is much more damaging than previously thought, a condition worsened by the higher strengths now available. When the physical and mental damage now finally being appreciated is added to by the social, emotional and spiritual damages which have not even started to be measured yet, the case against cannabis will be proved completely and irrevocably - as sensible people have always known it to be.

WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO TO WIN THE DRUG WAR IN BRITAIN?

Start fighting it - which we haven't yet. And as we start, enlist "soldiers"’ who are prepared to fight for victory, rather than collaborate with the enemy. For example, teachers should be helped to teach why society doesn't want drug abuse; chief constables should be upholding the law instead of dismantling it; social workers and drug workers should have more to talk to their clients about than what drugs they, the workers, scored at the weekend. Work places should recognise they too have a role to play; not only in Health and Safety aspects but in helping their workers live healthier lives, to the benefit of workplace and home. Treatment should be abstinence-oriented. Harm reduction belongs only as part of treatment, not as part of backdoor liberalization. Above all, we should each recognise that we each have a part to play. As Michael Pritchard, a noted writer on drugs issues put it:

"It is easy to say that we, as ordinary people, cannot effect the changes necessary to ensure that all our children have full and healthy lives. That is the choice we make. We can either choose to ignore the issue, lamenting that it is too big for us to solve, or we can do what we can to make the world a better place. We can either decide it is someone else’s problem or we can choose to face the problem as our own. As parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbours and educators, we make these choices every time we decide what we teach our children, who we vote for, what jobs we take, and what we do with our time."

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"Drug education has a vital task in countering this, but it will only succeed if it has the goal of abstinence - rather than leaving choices about illegal activities to young people."
Peter Stoker
Giving Youth A Chance