Preventing Drug and Alcohol Misuse 445
To prevent drug and alcohol misuse successfully, you must
consider the social forces that contribute to drug use.
Try meeting with others to discuss why alcohol or drugs have
become important in community life. How did the problem start?
What makes people use more? Are there new pressures on men
or women that make it harder for them to control their use of
alcohol and drugs? How can the drugs or alcohol be made less
important in your community?
Once you understand the reasons for the problem, your group
might want to work on ways to reduce social pressures to drink or
A group of men and women in Chiapas, Mexico organized against alcoholism
as part of their movement for democracy and social justice. They realized that
people who drink heavily sometimes impose their will on others, in the same way
as the police had used force to control the community. The group gave warnings
to individuals whose misuse of alcohol was hurting other people, and intervened
in cases where drunk men abused their wives. Alcohol played both negative and
positive roles in the community. Shamans often drink rum, a sacred symbol, as part
of their healing rituals. The group found ways to combat alcoholism and keep the
spirit of their tradition by substituting non-alcoholic drinks in these rituals.
Helping young people resist alcohol and drugs
Many people who have drug and alcohol problems as adults
began using them when they were young. Drugs or alcohol can
seem like an easy way to have fun or escape from problems,
especially if others are using them. Young people often feel
confused and powerless about the many changes they must
cope with—their growing bodies and new responsibilities.
Young people are also influenced by many pressures, especially
their friends, older people they admire, and advertising.
One way to reduce drug and alcohol misuse is to help young
people learn to resist harmful pressures. Here are some ideas that
have worked in many communities:
• Encourage the schools in your community to teach young
people about the problems of using drugs and alcohol.
• Make it harder for people to sell drugs to young people.
• Organize to remove advertisements that make cigarettes and
alcohol look glamorous and modern.
• Become a good role model. If you drink a lot or use drugs,
chances are your children will too.
• Teach your own children about the problems drug and alcohol
use can cause. They can then influence their friends.
• Help young people have fun without drugs and alcohol.
• Help your children develop skills and self-esteem to resist
the social pressure to use drugs and alcohol.
Find popular role
models who speak
out against drugs.
Your children may
find the message
more powerful if
it comes from
a person they
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012