There are many ways to create the lifestyle and conditions to make sure that our Muslim youth are not falling into those dependency problems. First off, our communities need to create social networks which provide healthy relationships for our youth, starting from very early ages.
“Relaxation.” “Just for fun.” “It’s a phase.” “New experience.” These are the common reasons that have recently become popular in reply to why many Muslim youth are turning to drugs of all kinds. The reasons may not sound too bad, even kind of understandable in today’s world, but does that make it justifiable for Muslims, or anyone for that matter?
Let’s face it, it is a tough world. Life is not fair, problems are many, and solutions are hard to find sometimes. So what are we doing about it? According to mentalhealth.org, there are many reasons that lead to substance abuse. The main one for youth is curiosity or wanting to feel rebellious. This usually comes from the influence of peers and friends. Usually because of the “feeling of enjoyment”, the pattern begins, and this leads to a slight addiction. The dependency continues due to stress, inability to cope with problems, and for the temporary “escape” that one gets from this experience. Unfortunately, many youth do not realize that the problem is still there, high or not.
There are many signs of how to tell if one is becoming dependent on drugs. There are two forms of addiction: physical and psychological. Physical addiction occurs when one takes drugs to achieve certain physical effects, or when one cannot stand the physical feeling of not having the drugs. This one is less common in the new “Muslim youth” trend. The more common addiction is the psychological one – using drugs to feel less nervous, to change your mood, or, the most popular, to block emotional pains due to loneliness, family or relationship problems, or low self-esteem.
There are many ways to create the lifestyle and conditions to make sure that our Muslim youth are not falling into those dependency problems. First off, our communities need to create social networks which provide healthy relationships for our youth, starting from very early ages. That way they build strong friendships, and more importantly, friendships with the right people. Islam has taught us to be careful of who your friends are, and usually the number one reason why youth get involved in drugs is because their friends are doing it.
Aside from creating healthy social circles, community centers and parents can join together to plan creative programs and program topics that will attract the youth. Maybe holding a roundtable discussion on the use of medical marijuana may cause a breakthrough in understanding why some youth may turn to marijuana for temporary relief of physical and emotional pain. Instead of keeping taboo issues under the table, sometimes discussing them can help to understand the problem and even create solutions.
Another reason that many youth use their spare time to do drugs is because they have too much spare time. Keeping youth occupied in positive activities and projects will keep their minds focused on the bigger pictures of life.
Parents play a huge role in this situation as well. Paying close attention to your kids’ lives, what is going on, what makes them upset, sad, and how their self-esteem is, is very important. A person needs to feel loved and wanted. If (s)he is not given that love and attention, (s)he will go looking for it. Unfortunately, youth do not have as much wisdom as some experienced elders, so making sure those lines of communication are open, and making sure your kids’ emotional and psychological needs are being fulfilled, is a key point in keeping your kids away from substance abuse.
As communities, parents, and humanitarians, it is imperative for us to realize that we must take fast and meaningful steps towards bringing our future leaders toward brighter perspectives and smarter choices.