by Carson M.
As youth become older, they are exposed to an increasing number of factors that can negatively affect their development through sport and leisure. One of the main factors that influenced drop out in older youth’s participation in sport in my community was the use and exposure to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Growing up, I experienced a large number of my friends drop out of sports that they once found so much enjoyment and overall benefit from because they made the choice to go out drinking on the weekends instead. As early teenagers, my friends had very little knowledge on the long-term effects that these choices would have on them and I feel as though they changed for the worse because of it. Aside from the negative health effects that can be caused from substance abuse, they were also putting themselves at a disadvantage in development of social skills, self-worth as well as meaningful relationship development with peers and adult figures that come with the participation in sports.
In a study completed by Wade-Mdivanian (2016), it was found that after youth attended a summer conference that focused on substance prevention, a significant change was found in relation to improved knowledge of alcohol, tobacco and other drug, risks, attitudes toward use, self-efficacy, perceptions of leadership and future participation and involvement. Although some of the facts show a decline in youth usage (such as cigarette smoking) it has also been identified that the use of drugs and alcohol has been consistently rising. A study completed in the US reported that over a third (35.8%) of all youth surveyed reported having used an illicit drug during their lifetime and nearly half (48.4%) of the youth participants identified as having used alcohol. With these staggering numbers being found I believe that it is necessary to address this problem early within youth and educate them on the risks associated with these substances before they can stumble upon them on their own.
By teaching youth at a young age that drugs and alcohol are bad for their health, it could give them a reason to say no and provide them with knowledge on why this is the right choice to be making. I remember as a kid being offered various drugs and alcohol at sporting events, and I always felt confident in declining in response because I was educated by my parents as to why these things were bad for me and the negative effect that they could impose on the rest of my life. By implementing programs to educate youth on the effects of substance abuse, youth will feel empowered as they will be educated on the matter and have the ability to influence the outcome of their own life and events through the choice of making good decisions.
Wade-Mdivanian, R., Anderson-Butcher, D., Newman, T. J., Ruderman, D. E., Smock, J., & Christie, S. (2016). Exploring the long-term impact of a positive youth development-based alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention program. Journal Of Alcohol & Drug Education, 60(3), 67-90.