Above the Influence? Which One?

Molly Cahill

A well known anti-drug campaign, above the influence, urges the youth of our country to step outside the hazy, THC laden air of peer pressure and be an individual. Be above the conformist group telling you drugs are the way to go. Because of course, the peddlers, pushers and druggies of the world are all about conforming to society’s ideals.

One of their more recent commercials presents us with the image of the supposed ideal youth, one who is either ahead of trends or marches to the beat of her own drum. They say be your own person. But do they really mean be true to yourself or be true to the ideal they’ve presented you with? It’s a conflicting message. Be true to yourself, but only as long as it’s a self that we approve of.

To quote the infamous South Park Elementary school counselor, Mr. Mackey, ‘M’kay, kids, you shouldn’t do drugs, m’kay, drugs are bad. I don’t think anyone who does drugs really believes narcotics are good for you or that PCP is going to make you strong the way spinach does for Popeye. Risking jail time to get a hit and seeing the kind of dental bills meth heads rack up makes that fairly clear.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column saying that I don‘t like pot, so don’t call me a hypocrite for what I’m writing. I agree with the idea that people should say no to doing drugs, though there are medically relevant exceptions.

But the Above the Influence campaign is addressing the wrong issue, or rather doing it in the wrong way. There is a lot more to why people choose to do drugs than just peer pressure. Trouble at home and a genetic pre-disposition are high up on the list.

One of the main reasons kids choose to do drugs is because they’re looking for an escape. They feel isolated or there’s some aspect of their lives they want to forget and their substance of choice allows that to happen for a while.

People at the age the Above the Influence messages are targeting already have enough of an issue with self esteem and are going through a stage in life when they are constantly reevaluating who they are. Not to mention the fact that reverse-psychology was practically invented with the teenager in mind.

Their message would be much more effective and much less likely to be scoffed at if they focused less on telling people to set themselves apart from their friends and more on how to recognize the ones who need help. Nobody gets past an addiction on their own.

Molly Cahill is a senior pre-journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].