Thornhill, Canada (PressExposure) September 02, 2009 -- When addictions expert Scott Gallagher visited as a school speaker, he asked teens he worked with to list their top âaddictionsâ. They listed 92 different habits, a total of 1,031 times, a startling average of 4 habits per student.
The top 12 addictions teens identified were: 1. Junk Food 2. Internet/Computer Use 3. Marijuana and/or Hash 4. Alcohol 5. Tobacco 6. Sugar/Candy 7. Over Eating 8. Under Eating or Anorexia 9. Self-Harm (primarily cutting or wrist slashing) 10. S-e-x 11. Bullying or abusing others 12. Video Games
Scott Gallagher has spoken to thousands of students across the U.S. and Canada about addictions. After doing general assemblies and workshops for those who were suffering from compulsive and addictive behaviours each participant was asked this question: "What habits(s) do you most want to stop or reduce in your life right now?"
For a relatively small group of students to self-identify this many bad habits and addictions seems incredible. Yet there was nothing unusual about the type of schools these teens came from and the communities they lived in ranged anywhere from low-to-high income.
Often, these weren't your typical "at-risk" students, referred by school officials, guidance counselors or parents. And for school staff, that was an eye opener. Many had been unaware of how many students were suffering in silence, and were stunned to hear of the multitude of addictive behaviors.
When dealing with addiction in youth, a common approach is to use âscare tacticsâ. But, trying to scare students out of experimenting with dangerous or illegal activities is not the most effective approach.
In fact, Dr. Gabor MatÃ©, says in his book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction:
"When it comes to drug education, most governments appear to view prevention largely as a matter of informing people, especially young people, that drugs are bad for them. A worthy objective, certainly, but like all behavioural programs, this form of prevention is highly unlikely to make The reason is that the children who are at greatest risk are the least open to hearing the message...â
Those with addictions are often alienated or angry. Those with serious behaviours and addictions are afraid, and desperate for a way out. But when someone is honest and direct with them, and has practical answers to the problems they're facing, they are ready to listen.
As a school speaker Scott uses his own personal story of addiction to connect with students and encourage them to attend his workshops and learn how to replace their bad habits with healthy ones.
Scott Gallagherâs program The Power of Choice begins with a keynote assembly and is followed by workshops and a 28 day healthy habit program. More information on the program can be found on [http://www.thepowerofchoice.ca]