More Addiction Reflections


Kids DO experiment  and the effects of opiates, especially, are very seductive.  Once you have had that feeling- you always want it. ALWAYS.

Lesson:  I would encourage you add the root cause (beyond social) of   underage drinking.  Need to add the HOW to your objective.

Many students who go on to full blown chemical addiction are self medicating for mood disorders.  NAME the feelings so the students might recognize simple adolescent anxiety and be able to identify if they feel something beyond those “normal” social awkwardness.

The purpose of mentioning the connection between MI and  addiction at young ages is clear.  IF they are using and have tried to stop but can NOT… it may inform them that they may be suffering from a mood disorder.

Lesson:  Ok… do you have what I call a ” This is your brain on drugs”  lesson.  You need the next step.  Personalize it.  Who do THEY know who smokes-smoked?


Should be in all lessons:
Students will understand that mood disorders are not moral failures.

Students will investigate why parents would rather think their children are addicts, rather than suffering from mood disorders.


I was encouraged to see that there is a general understanding  that bias often equals lack of data.  The challenge is delivering the data so the students can hear it, process it and maybe even recognize symptoms in themselves or family and friends.

I think it is important to consider that making sure students see the statistics between Mental Illness and Addiction may make them a little less likely to see chemical abuse as some kind of “cool” badge or rite of passage.,

Humans have been seeking to alter their perceptions for thousands of years. Did you twirl on a swing until you were dizzy?  Valley Fair makes a fortune off our search for the physical thrill.  How do we teach our students to seek a different kind of cerebral thrill?


Regarding the term “Mental Illness”  .I usually call the kinds of issues most of our students are dealing with as mood disorders… it moves away from the terror people feel when they hear “Mental Illness”.

Teachers DO have an ethical responsibility to put a mental illness and addiction unit in their curriculum!


I am certainly enjoying your voice here in class! I WILL take your stupid quote with a little modification.

You can’t fix stupid but stupid will ALWAYS get YOU in a fix!!! As I said to another student… this false sense of security about letting their kids drink at home astonishes me!! Here are a few stats from the Center of Disease Control ( notice it says DISEASE). IN THE UNITED STATES… There are 1.2 million heroin users. 2000 die each year. There are 150 million alcohol users and 25,000 die each year (NOT COUNTING accidents!!!!!) ONLY alcohol, INDEED!

SUGGESTION: When I know a student is abusing chemicals…I talk to them about the difference between “recreational highs” and self medicating to feel “normal”. This is what I have  heard the users say over and over. “I just want to feel normal.”  I suggest to them that scrounging after the money to pay for self medication makes no sense and will lead to a bad place, eventually.  I suggest to them:

“Why not check out getting legitimate help if you might be suffering from a mood disorder and let insurance pay for the chemical adjustment?   That approach gets everyone off your back, allows you to put your money into fun stuff and will simplify your life in a very real way!”

This has worked for me  many times!  Note: I am a pragmatist.  Mainers are straight up.  No whining allowed.  The cultural attitude is “Fix it or shut up!” so you must filter my reflections through that cultural lens ; . /

Prescription drugs on the rise for abuse. One of you mentioned that the students seem to think these are “safe” because they come from the parents cabinet, after all! Parents are hesitant to report a “theft”.  How  could we raise the awareness without putting the parents on the defensive?

Can addicts “Just quit” using will power? Generally, NO!  This is such a cruel and damaging attitude held by the uninformed public.  If a student is self-medicating for a mood disorder…just quitting will make them feel so dreadful they can not stand it.  Why does  drinking “run in families”?  Do you suppose the moms and dads might have the same mood disorder? On that topic… many parents would rather have their children be addicts because they do not have to look into their own issues… back to the stigma! Why is this chemical imbalance different than diabetes? Thyroid conditions?

__________________________________________________________________________________________Meth is one of the most popular drugs of choice in rural areas. It is cheap to produce and easy to find materials for production.  Students will find this exciting, it supports performance activities, including sex and is the ultimate ego trip.


IDEA: One approach I have found successful with younger students.  Talk to them about spinning until you are dizzy. On a swing. On a round up. On a fair ride? Ask them, “Have you done that?  Why do you like the feeling?  Are grown ups looking for that feeling when they use chemicals?  Why do humans like that feeling? “ THEN  talk about the logical liabilities. Maybe use CALM as a lead in?

Several of you have shared that you are coping with mood disorders.  I really like the idea of bringing successful people in to share with students but I would be careful sharing your personal information. Professional boundaries are really important, from my experience.  The student you tell may get it but others they share with may not.  I am not talking about our circle of learning, of course, because what happens in Dr. B’s HR, STAYS in HR.

Several brought up the important point that teachers are not counselors.  We are in a position to identify symptoms for early intervention.  As several noted… chicken and egg…It does not matter which comes first, drugs use damages the brain, especially meth.


Re: Longitudinal studies over time… make sure to select a subject the students are interested in. For Example: Correlation between alcohol, marihuana and opiate use?  Most of the bi-polars and ADHDers prefer opiates (for obvious reasons).

Re: Emotional vs. chemical.  Careful thinking that talk therapy which delves into the psyche as a stand- alone fix. It is tempting to conclude this may be why some family members are affected and some are not.  Remember that individual chemistry is a genetic roll of the dice.

Re: Families.  This is an important point.  The stigma is very strong here and imagine how well it works if the parent has developed coping mechanisms and the children can not.   VERY  difficult for all.

I really support the idea of  investigating the chemical composition of common drugs, say Adderall, and how it works.  Many people are confused that it is a stimulant but calms the ADHDers down. Brilliant idea.

Re: ADHDers self medicating with marijuana. VERY, VERY common. I can not believe I have come to this place but I am beginning to support the legalization of medical marijuana. Here is why:  Many sufferers of ADHD report that it works better than  Ritalin or Adderall. Currently, these people have to pay out of pocket AND connect themselves with dealers who urge them… heroin is so much better and cheaper!  This is how marijuana becomes a gateway drug!

Re: The pharmaceutical companies.  THEY are not having an economic downturn- you can depend on it!!  My current favorite is the Viagra commercial  that counsels to call a doctor if your erection lasts more than  5 hours.  What marketing genius!  The unknown fact is that the blood supply is cut off for those 5 hours.  If this same blood loss happened to your hand- repeatedly- it would die and fall off.  Yikes ; /

Re: What happens to the mentally ill after age 21 and they are out of  “the system”.  Look on the streets.  It is so tragic.  YOU as teachers have the opportunity to save them from this outcome.

Males and substance abuse. Is it more manly to be an addict than to suffer from a mood disorder?  Why is that?
Why do we stigmatize the chemical imbalance of a mood disorder more than a chemical imbalance of diabetes?

I would like to recommend several books which I have given away many times.   I buy them by the half-dozen now : / “Touched by Fire”is a very dense (but excellent) survey of several famous families who have dealt with mental illness. It is quite an eye opener and certainly deals with mental illness, creativity and success. An easier read is a book called  “An Unquiet Mind”.

A more accessible book for sufferers and/or families  who may not be strong scholars is “An Unquiet Mind”. Both these books are by Kay Johnson.  Dr. Johnson is a bi-polar who is currently a professor at Johns Hopkins.  She has quite a story.

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