Health education about substance abuse usually starts in schools. Not that all our children are addicted to alcohol or drugs, however they will likely be exposed to temptation and the more information they are furnished with, the more likely they are to make sensible decisions. Healthcare professionals will come into schools to give presentations on the different substances, the health problems they can cause and maybe even offering advice on how to resist peer pressure.
Most children will sit through three or four of these presentations through their school life, so it is important that the person delivering the health education can grab their attention and hammer home the message. Often, with older children, graphic pictures can achieve that shock values, such as a picture of the black and tarry lungs of a smoker.
Support for addicts
There are countless health programs for people who are already addicted to drugs or alcohol, most offering support as well as practical help. Many doctors and even pharmacies run classes or sessions to help people quit smoking, inviting people to speak as well as selling helpful products like nicotine gum or patches. These people all know the dangers of smoking and want to quit, but it is important that the health education messages are delivered correctly to keep them on the right path.
One of the most famous support groups in the world is Alcoholics Anonymous. Counsellors at these sessions usually only invite people to speak without offering their own advice, but they can direct people to seek further help if they think it would benefit them. There are even support groups for the families of alcoholics, where nurses and counsellors can educate people about the physical and mental symptoms and consequences of alcoholism, so they are prepared to help their friend or relative.
Drug support programs
Helping someone with drug addictions can sometimes be more difficult. There are plenty of support groups, both for addicts and their families, and some people do manage to quit “cold turkey”. However, health education programs will warn that this can often be a difficult and unpleasant experience. There are programs for heroin addicts which allow them to replace their illegal drug with a legally prescribed one, or sometimes the addict will need to go into rehab. Though this can be expensive, it can be effective, as the addict receives 24-hour support, physical therapy and advice.
Importance of health education
It is always easier for the healthcare industry as a whole if addicts never get addicted in the first place, which is why health education programs in school are so important. Parents also have a responsibility to back up what children are told in these sessions. Healthcare programs can only go so far with addicts themselves, as the person must really want to change or no amount of physical and mental support will help them.