Medication for the Youth of the Nation!

If the "War on Drugs" was the bad cop confronting
what most Conservatives agreed was the biggest
social evil facing America in 80s, then "Drug Education"
was meant to be the softer, more feminine good cop
that would help eliminate this nemesis once and for all.

Nancy Reagan would personify the campaign - a new way to keep kids off drugs, and billions
of dollars would be spent imprinting this catchy
slogan into young minds and the minds of so many
frightened parents everywhere...

Naturally, there would be t-shirts, bumper stickers
and a host of other merch. This simple solution to
the whole darn problem would be shouted from the
mountain tops, echo down the valleys and reverberate
down the corridors of power.

Like so many of the solutions of the Reagan era-
the Star Wars defense system, trickle-down economics,
etc - "Just Say No" was simple, clear and effectively
useless. Here too, billions would be spent to no great
effect beyond scratching the itch of the aging Puritans
who would back Ronnie come hell or high water.

To this day, no one knows how many kids just said
no, but apparently not enough because in spite of
all the best branding money could buy, more people
were buying more - and better - drugs all the time.

As time went on, and it turned out hugs weren't
making the crucial difference, drug education
took on a nastier edge...

In the tradition of Reefer Madness,
the gloves started coming off....

Yeah. Right.

One of the challenges of addressing young people
about drugs is that kids aren't stupid. The best
one could hope that a campaign of simplistic
slogans might do is start a conversation - ie -
when a parent or other authority figure says
"Just Say No", the child might respond with
"Why Should I?".

At that point, the authority figure needs to have
an intelligent reply. Ideally, it will include scientific
facts and some reasonable qualifications.

The facts should not fly in the face of the kids'
lived experience (marijuana leads to heroin, etc).

The reasonable qualifications need to address
the latent stupidity and/or
intrinsic hypocrisy 
of "Just Say No"- like why so many adults don't,
whether it's cocaine or bourbon or gin.

One might also need to explain why, if Drugs
are for Losers, that anyway they should Just Say
Yes to the Thorazine/Nembutal/Ritalin/etc that
have been prescribed for their depression/anxiety/
other newly diagnosed condition...

There is a growing concern about the incidence
with which kids are being prescribed pharmaceuticals
for a growing number of mental conditions.

Some think that many normal childhood behaviours
are included in ever-expanding medical definitions
of "illness". If I was a parent, I would be concerned.

That said, as these vintage ads show, the idea of
drugs for kids is nothing new...

Is this for the child or the adult?

It's certainly possible that kids are developing
more mental issues these days. They live with
stresses I can't imagine, from metal detectors
at school to social media bullies to the growing
sense that the future is really going to suck.

There won't be enough jobs, and most of them
will be of the "do you want fries with that?" variety.
Just going to a club or even a mall might get you
shot by some wanna-be gangster and then there's
the climate... changing.

It would be more surprising if they didn't have
an issue or two.

The last thing I would think they need is somebody
busting their chops, or even their ass, for smoking
a joint with a friend once in a while. Or dressing
"weird" or listening to "awful" music.

Maybe it's the adults who really have the problems.
Maybe they are giving kids issues.

Maybe instead of talking down,
we should listen up.


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