What to Say When You Want to Say "No"
Most young people start out in life wanting to stay off drugs. It's a no-brainer. Drugs are terrible for your physical and mental health, they're expensive, and they're illegal! Parents, teachers, and health care workers all warn you against drugs, and everything they say on the subject seems right.
In fact, they are right, and young people know it. So small kids go out in the world ready to "just say no." The problem is, as they get older, young people encounter lots of confusing messages.
For example, the two drugs that kill the most people are legal! They are tobacco and alcohol. These two deadly substances are advertised everywhere, and used all around us. The wide use of alcohol and tobacco chips away a little piece of a kid's "just say no" armor. He might ask himself: If alcohol and tobacco are okay, why isn't marijuana okay?
Speaking of marijuana, it sends another confusing message. It's obviously illegal. It's obviously one of the very drugs to which kids should "say no." No question. And yet, it can seem like "everyone" has tried it. Has "everyone" tried it? Not even close! The fact is that 80% of people aged 12-18 don't use marijuana and don't think it's okay to use marijuana.
In fact, 72% of youth aged 12-17 have never used any illicit drugs in their lifetimes. What gets confusing is it seems like the drug users have the biggest mouths. They like to talk a lot about their drug use - as if it were something to brag about! Drug users seem to want to drag others into their mess. They spend a lot of time offering the junk to everyone else. Maybe they're just trying to be sociable. Maybe. Or maybe they just can't stand to see their stronger peers holding their ground against drugs.
Staying clean and healthy and off drugs can be tricky with all of the advertising, the alcohol, the clouds of tobacco smoke, and the big talk about illegal drug use. The peer pressure can be intense. Young people want to stay cool, and they want to stay off drugs. It can be a challenge to think of what to say besides just "no" that will save your image as well as saving your health and life.
Take some time and check out this site on refusal skills. It's packed full of information and images that can help you make informed, healthy decisions. When you're finished surfing, you can see how much you've learned by taking our interactive quiz.. You might be surprised at how well you do.
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