Expand Positive Recreation Opportunities

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There are several ways that improving positive recreational activities can lead to reducing misuse of drugs and addiction. Some people use drugs because they are bored and don't have other positive things to enjoy. Providing positive recreational opportunities (that don't involve substance use) can help fill the void and reduce pursuit of substance use or other potentially negative activities. Positive recreation can also reduce social isolation, and there is growing evidence that social isolation makes the brain "hungry" for the type of feeling that opioids can provide as shared by Rachel Wurzman in her compelling TED Talk.

Background

Recreational community activities are important in preventing drug misuse of all kinds. Adults and children alike can benefit from recreational activities by learning new skills, creating social bonds, helping the community, and even just preventing boredom. Prevention strategies should include a variety of ways to provide additional sources of positive recreation for youth (as well as adults) and then strive to connect youth with those opportunities.

Recreational activities are extremely important to creating a strong healthy support system for adults and children alike. Exercise along with the social bonding that occurs is a powerful ally in the prevention effort. The national institute on drug abuse found that “teens who exercise regularly are less likely than less active peers to have smoked cigarettes daily or have abuse marijuana during the past month.” [1] This is mostly due to the strong connections that they create with their peers. Many substance abuse issues stem from mental health problems which can have their impacts lessened by healthy support systems.

Tools and Resources

Research on the Value of Parks & Rec Programs

There are a variety of studies that show the value of programs to engage youth in positive recreation.[2]

youth.gov 

A resource that allows you to search for federally funded after school programs to help foster positive recreational experiences for children. [3]

 

TR - Expand Positive Recreation Opportunities

 

Promising Practices and Programs

Youth in Iceland

In the latter decades of the 20th Century, Iceland had one of the highest rates of underage drug and alcohol abuse in Europe. Almost a quarter of teens were smoking cigarettes daily, and nearly half reported getting drunk sometime in the past month. Drug resistance education was having little effect on actual rates of teen use, and the nation recognized that it needed to investigate new approaches.

 Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15-and 16-year olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 percent in 1998 to 5 percent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 percent to 7 percent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 percent to just 3 percent.[4]

 Based on the idea that people were addicted to changes in brain chemistry, not the drug itself, this program focuses on finding non-substance or behavioral ways to alter that brain chemistry in healthy ways. Youth in Iceland's goal is to create a social movement around people getting high on their own brain chemistry without the deleterious effects of drugs.

 This model is predicated upon three pillars of success:

  1. Focusing on Prevention (not law enforcement)
  2. Using a community-based approach
  3. Creating a dialogue among research, policy, and practice[5]


This is a multi-pronged national program. First, it became illegal to buy tobacco under the age of 18 and alcohol under the age of 20, and tobacco and alcohol advertising was banned. In addition, a curfew was imposed for children between the ages of 13 and 16; after 10 p.m in the winter and midnight in the summer, 13 through 16 year-olds must be indoors. But instead of just banning things, Youth in Iceland focuses on providing alternatives. State funding was heavily increased for sport, music, art, dance, and other clubs.
Between 1997 and 2012, the percentage of kids aged 15 and 16 who reported often or almost always spending time with their parents on weekdays doubled-- from 23 percent to 46 percent -- and the percentage who participated in organized sports at least four times a week increased from 24 percent to 42 percent. Meanwhile, cigarette smoking, drinking, and cannabis use in this age group plummeted.[6]

The problems with developing a successful approach to prevention in the U.S. similar to Youth in Iceland are 4-fold:

  1. Federal, State, and local governments prioritize law enforcement and treatment over prevention. Most of the funding is allocated to crisis-oriented law enforcement, treatment, or punishment for attempted suicide, overdose, burglary, robbery, and assault.
  2. Youth service agencies vigorously compete for limited funds provided through federal, state, and local governments, interfering with beneficial inter-agency alliances.
  3. There is an absence of consensus among youth advocates and prevention/intervention specialists on "what works" in substance abuse prevention.
  4. Communities differ greatly in terms of types of substance abuse problems and kinds of available prevention resources, making it unrealistic to transpose "what works" in one community to another.[7]


Suggestions for applying Iceland's success locally:

  • Minimize unsupervised adolescent time periods
  • Create more activity, frequently and in structure ways
  • Delay 'first drink' onset
  • Base your efforts at a community level - where things can get done practically and quickly
  • Get your elected leaders to campaign for this venture[8]

Makerspaces

A makerspace, also popularly called a hackerspace, is a collaborative work space inside a school, library or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses high tech to no tech tools.[9]  Makerspaces give kids, and adults, a place to create, learn, explore, and create long lasting social bonds.   Every makerspace is unique and the projects that are worked on inside of them are also very diverse. Here are just some of the things you can do in a makerspace :[10]

  • Coding
  • 3d printing
  • Laser cutting
  • Soldering
  • Electronics / Arduino
  • Robot building / Robotics
  • Learn Circuits and Electricity with paper circuits
  • Sewing
  • Wood working
  • Take-a-part sessions
  • Inventing

This video discusses the benefits of a makerspace and how a new makerspace was started in a Colorado community.
 

Chess Clubs and Leagues

Many schools or communities have learned the power of the game of chess to build relationships, strategic thinking skills and other valuable skills in youth. (Do some Google searching and fill out more details here).

 

Carpetball Leagues

Carpetball is a game that appeals to people of all ages, and it is simple, low-cost form of recreation that could be added to many places around the community--both indoors and outdoors to give youth a fun activity to do.
 


PAGE MANAGER: [insert name here]
SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT: [fill out table below]

Reviewer Date Comments
     

Sources


  1. ^ NIDA. (2009, October 1). Lower Rates of Cigarette and Marijuana Smoking Among Exercising Teens. Retrieved from https://archives.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2009/10/lower-rates-cigarette-marijuana-smoking-among-exercising-teens on 2020, January 13
  2. ^ Witt, P(2010), The Rationale for Recreation Services for Youth: An Evidenced Based Approach, National Recreation and Park Association, Retrieved from nrpa.org/globalassets/research/witt-caldwell-full-research-paper.pdf
  3. ^ “Map My Community.” Map My Community | Youth.gov, youth.gov/map-my-community.
  4. ^ Young, E. (2017, January 19). How Iceland Got Teens to Say No to Drugs. Retrieved December 3, 2019, from The Atlantic website: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/01/teens-drugs-iceland/513668/
  5. ^ Iceland Succeeds at Reversing Teenage Substance Abuse The U.S. Should Follow Suit | HuffPost. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2019, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/iceland-succeeds-at-rever_b_9892758
  6. ^ How Iceland Got Teens to Say No to Drugs—The Atlantic. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2019, from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/01/teens-drugs-iceland/513668/
  7. ^ Iceland Succeeds at Reversing Teenage Substance Abuse The U.S. Should Follow Suit | HuffPost. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2019, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/iceland-succeeds-at-rever_b_9892758
  8. ^ Iceland Succeeds at Reversing Teenage Substance Abuse The U.S. Should Follow Suit | HuffPost. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2019, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/iceland-succeeds-at-rever_b_9892758
  9. ^ What is a Makerspace? Is it a Hackerspace or a Makerspace? (2015, November 27). Retrieved December 3, 2019, from Makerspaces.com website: https://www.makerspaces.com/what-is-a-makerspace/
  10. ^ What is a Makerspace? Is it a Hackerspace or a Makerspace? (2015, November 27). Retrieved December 3, 2019, from Makerspaces.com website: https://www.makerspaces.com/what-is-a-makerspace/