#parents | #teensvaping | Another View: Stigma is the right way to control addiction

In your recent editorial “Maine’s opioid epidemic is far from over,” (Jan. 26), you point out that overdose deaths appear to be on the rise for 2019, after a decline in 2018. This rise should, you argue, spur yet more efforts of the kind currently being used, including access to medication-assisted treatment, the use of Narcan, and needle-exchange programs.

Just for the sake of argument, suppose you were trying to persuade your young teen to avoid drugs. How would you go about it?

One approach would involve telling the teen that addiction is a disease. Addiction chooses us, never the reverse . Stigmatizing people with addiction only makes recovery worse. People who are addicted require treatment and community connection.

A second approach would involve telling the teen that although addiction is difficult to escape, actions leading to addiction can easily be avoided. Choose your friends carefully; some potential friends will encourage drug use, while others will not. Among addicts diseases such as syphilis are common . If you happen to become addicted, beware that your life will likely be, in Hobbes’ words, nasty, brutish, and short.

Which of these two approaches is more likely to deter drug use? Which, in other words, would you employ with your own children? And which is our public policy?

 

 


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