Students participating in an anti-drug conference in the Salt Palace Saturday attended workshops giving them all kinds of hints on how to prevent drug abuse among themselves and their peers.
Tom Russell, director of The Gathering Place, a drug-prevention program in Utah County, said youths with drug problems don't seek professional help because they often don't recognize they have a problem and even if they do, they rarely know where to go for help.His program has tried to take therapists to the schools and make them accessible to students. Half of the people in the Gathering Place's program are adolescents compared with a nationwide average of 8 percent.
Russell, who has worked with the Boy Scouts of America in preparing training material, said drug prevention includes four phases. The first step is to make the public aware of the problem, followed closely by informing people about drugs and what happens when people abuse them. The third step is training people how to deal with drug abuse, and the final step is providing help to individuals with drug problems, he said.
Most anti-drug campaigns focus on only the first two steps, Russell said. A lot of prevention programs "send the kids who are on drugs right out the door."
Young people use drugs for various reasons, Russell said. Recreation, chaotic home life, learning disabilities and sexual abuse are all major causes of drug abuse, he added.
In another workshop, Austin Chiles told students how they can become better friends. He told them by learning how to really listen they could become therapists to their friends.
He also instructed the conference participants to "be the kind of person that people will want to talk to." Attributes of warmth, empathy and genuineness are important, Chiles said.
A workshop on music by Jack R. Christiansen drew a large student crowd.
"Will music in and of itself affect you in negative ways?" Christiansen asked students. He then answered by illustrating how influential music can be.
He hummed the tunes from several TV commercials and had the audience fill in the words. Music becomes a part of people and its something they think about, Christiansen said.
Filmmakers use musical scores to create a certain atmosphere in a movie and to cue people when to be romantic or scared, he said.
He urged the students to consider carefully the lyrics, music, album covers and videos they listen to and look at. "You better make some wise decisions," he added.