In a world that seems to be increasingly burdened with anxiety and depression, with an apparent failure of the extended war on drug abuse and addiction, building resilience in children is essential if we hope to enable young kids to achieve their dreams and aspirations.
Many despair and see in conditions of poverty, a deep hole from which escape is impossible. With few opportunities, a lack of life skills, and little self esteem, there is almost an expectation that children who lack the security of a stable upbringing, will inevitably experiment with drugs, and possibly become drug addicted.
A recent story in the news is about a young science student, with a brother and twin sisters who due to her talents in the field of science – is in line to win the nationally famous Intel science prize of $100,000.
Samantha Garvey is one of 61 Long Island finalists in the competition. Maintaining high grades at school, while playing the violin and studying Italian, Samantha has made mussels and crabs another focus of her attention. Writing up a study on the effects of predators in the life of the ribbed mollusc is what has earned her recognition and a place in the competition.
A senior student at Brentwood High School it would be easy to think of Samantha as just another well off kid whose parents can afford to give her the advantage of a good education and the benefits of extra tuition.
In fact, although Samantha lives with her family, she has been homeless for most of the 17 years of her life - currently living in a Bay Shore shelter. Ten years ago the family first obtained a home, only to lose it in early 2010 when both parents were involved in a car accident, forcing them to leave.
Samantha has an attitude of resilience towards the misfortunes of her family and lack of a place to call home – saying that she studies hard because she wants a better life.
In today’s climate of financial stress and widespread unemployment, Samantha has a message for those kids in a similar situation at home – “I’m right there with you – I hope things get better – because they do”.
Samantha’s guidance officer is justifiably proud – saying that Samantha takes up every opportunity that she is offered. It would seem that Sam has got what it takes to achieve success, regardless of whether or not she becomes the winner in the competition.
Studies have shown that families who stay together despite adversity, and doing well at school are protective factors against children giving up on life, and lapsing into drug use and self defeating behavior.
The Canadian Resilience Research Center provides a summary of factors considered to be relevant to the development of resilience in children against dropping out, and drug abuse. Factors include the personality of the child, conditions in the family of origin, opportunity and the child’s relationship with the community.
CAMH – the Canadian Center for Addiction and Mental Health in a section on resilience from a paper on Youth & Drugs and Mental Health provides an over view of drug resilience. Mental health problems are seen as being an impediment to drug resilience, rather than being simply regarded as part of a wider spectrum of emotional issues that children will need to resolve, in order to develop resilience to stress and drug use.
The single most important factor in the enhancement of drug resilience in “at risk” children is that they encounter and relate to an adult or adults, or peer role models who can provide a good example of healthy, constructive living, and be a mentor to the child.
CAMH quotes Masten, 2001, in saying that resiliency is not a special set of charcteristics or traits, that you either have or you do not. Everyone is capable of developing drug resiliency, given appropriate help and support.
The more abusive and troubled a person’s early life has been, the more likely it is that this will translate into emotional and personal difficulties in adolescence and into adult life. People subjected to early abuse, in absence of having discovered a positive role model, will lack innate resiliency to drugs, and need professional counseling.
Samantha seems to have received adequate support to offset apparent deficiencies in her homelife, enough to encourage and enable her to persevere with her studies.
Other children are not so fortunate. Facts provided by Covenant House,Toronto, a provider of support services for runaway and homeless youth paints a picture of a total environment on the street, in which practically all protective factors are absent. The majority of street kids want an education, want a better life but don’t know how to go about it.
Comprehensive alcohol and drug addiction recovery programs in Canada offer help to kids, adolescents and adults who are drug dependent or addicted.
Comprehensive programs provide drug free, complete addiction recovery – and provide life skills courses, that enable former addicts to become respected – and effective – in the wider community.
Using a comprehensive drug program to build resilience to drug use and addictive behavior, means that you will become a student – and given the methods and tools to create a new, more positive lifestyle.
Comprehensive drug addiction recovery programs provide
positive role models,
an effective sauna detoxification protocol – that gets you completely drug free and clean.
Building resilience in people who are drug addicted requires a whole new approach to life.
Take the opportunity offered by comprehensive drug recovery programs – to become drug free – and fit for life.