Every day there are young people turning to substances to get high. Either to experiment, for recreational use or it has developed into dependence. Billions of dollars are spent each year attempting to deter young people from making the decision to use some form of illegal drug. Kids have crazy pressure to use. Whether it be from peers, social media or the music they listen to the message often conveyed is, “everyone’s doing it.” But the reality is that everyone isn’t doing it and although there’s no chance in eradicating substance abuse and addiction, we can approach it from different angles.
The majority of young people will have to make a choice about what they choose to and choose not to put in their bodies. It would be awesome if it was as simple as sticking a little red button on our shirts proclaiming that we “Just Say No,” but that just doesn’t jive past the age of 9. There are so many factors involved in whether a young person decides to experiment as well as others that contribute to use transitioning into dependence. I could list 1.4 thousand ways that lead to a road of crazy, life altering havoc…but I’m going to pass on that and roll with just one. Natural highs.
Boredom. Down time. There’s the lack of involvement in school, community and family. These are just a few of the red flags that light my brain on fire when listening to a young person’s journey towards not super great decision making. After chatting about them floating and not being part of anything I transition to what gets them HIGH or STOKED in a substance free sense. What gets them excited about life? It’s funny how crazy kids think I am when using these terms, but they should be part of our vocabulary in a way that defies the norm. We need stoke! The serious bummer is that I’ve had so many respond to my question with, “nothing.” My heart hurts and I sympathize with them for about 5.3 seconds. But then the real soul searching begins and it’s nothing short of awesome; the journey begins is finding their stoke!
The truth is that when we are constantly bored and lacking outside interests there is a void in what would typically provide a source of joy and excitement. When interests and stoke are lacking, there is a greater inclination in seeking comfort and joy in all the wrong places. This may include finding comfort in alcohol, release through self harm, unhealthy relationships, popping pills or a heap of other unhealthy outlets. Now this doesn’t mean that if you have a natural high you’re immune from addiction as well as if you don’t have a natural high that your bound for drug use. What I am saying is that finding a passion and interest keeps your mind moving and free time minimized. These two combinations are pretty powerful forces in the likelihood of making better decisions.
Personal natural highs are a critical spoke in the wheel of battling addiction. Finding that stoke takes time, trying different things as well as a willingness to venture to the unknown. What happens when the stuff hits the fan, stress is resonating through their inner core or life just feels boring? Young and old need a release, a zen that is positive, healthy and of interest. Maybe that’s cooking, reading, running, sewing, the theater, golfing, surfing, playing an instrument, martial arts or painting. Natural highs come in all different shapes, sizes and options.
It’s never too late to take the challenge of finding your stoke. Yesterday after work I grabbed my surfboard and paddled out into the Atlantic. The sun was shining, the spray of the waves hit my face and I dropped in on some very fun small sets of waves. My wetsuit isn’t even dry and I’m already pondering the next time I’m able to get wet and drop in. Surfing is one of my stokes in life. It’s my therapy, chill and re-connection to learning to be still. I started surfing when I was seventeen years old. In the past twenty two years I’ve surfed in Costa Rica, New Zealand, Fiji, Portugal, Israel, Columbia and heaps of other places. I am a better person because of my natural high.
If we have any intention of providing our young people with a legitimate chance in the fight against addiction, helping them find their own natural high must be a priority. If there’s nothing in life that interests you, gets you stoked you’re set up for disaster. Life is way too short to roll with cruise control. Get out there, try new things and get your stoke on!
Peace, Love & Goodness!