Let’s face it, teen drug abuse is a global issue that seems to be growing every day. Parents struggle with gaining control and schools are a joke in disciplining them. So how do we combat a problem this large?
Just ask Dr. Harvey Milkman! Dr. Milkman is a psychology professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver but teaches part-time at Reykjavik University in Iceland.
Dr. Milkman was an essential part of a group that formed to solve the ever-growing issue of teen drug and alcohol abuse. His solution? To merely give kids something better to do.
Dr. Milkman theorized that teens aren’t addicted to drugs themselves, instead, they are addicted to the chemical changes in the brain.
In an article written by science journalist Emma Young, she was able to speak closely with Dr. Milkman. She explains this chemical reaction. “Kids who were “active confronters” were after a rush – they’d get it by stealing hubcaps and radios and later cars, or through stimulant drugs. Alcohol also alters brain chemistry, of course. It’s a sedative, but it sedates the brain’s control first, which can remove inhibitions and, in limited doses, reduce anxiety.”
Dr. Milkman and his team brainstormed ideas on how to effectively change the way teens think about and use drugs.
What they came up with was brilliant. The idea was to engage that addictive change in brain chemistry and recreate it. Not through drugs, however, but “natural highs”.
According to teens.drugabuse.gov, “A natural high comes from any activity that makes you feel good—but doesn’t involve drugs.”
Dr. Milkman planned to provide an assortment of activities available for the teens.”We didn’t say to them – you’re coming in for treatment. We said – we’ll teach you anything you want to learn: music, dance, hip hop, art, martial arts,” he says.
Learning, practicing, and perfecting these crafts takes hard work and dedication, but most importantly, it makes time. The time that is less spent experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
If a student is passionate about a productive hobby, he or she is less likely to fall victim to the teen drug craze. These natural highs give students the chemical change that they are looking for, without the harmful side effects.
In 1998, 42% of 15 to 16-year-olds reported having been drunk the month before. His percentage dropped to a remarkable 5% in 2016. The daily consumption of cigarettes dipped dramatically from 23% to only 3%.
Now, Iceland is one of the cleanest countries in Europe, thanks to Dr. Milkman and his team.
All we need now is for the rest of the world to do the same.