Current policy has limited the research available on the effects of drugs, and drug use. I integrate the "objective," neurological understanding of brain development & functioning, with the "subjective," experiential knowledge of the user, to make sense of drug benefits and risks.
We need to acknowledge and value the voices of young people in these conversations. Their authenticity detectors have tested the information I share as accurate, understandable, and relevant to our culture and concerns.
The effects of drugs vary based on biochemistry, mindset, setting, and history. Our relationship to drugs is what becomes problematic. Environmental conditions and social policies shape the development of our brain, and thereby, the nature of our relationship to drugs.
“Rhana’s presentations have educated students about drugs without shaming them for using them, allowing them to make their own decision using the knowledge that they have gained.”
"At first I was skeptical of receiving support since drugs were such a negative topic, especially with Adults. But as I heard more about Rhana's approach from my friends who would see her, I became interested because it sounded so different than what I was accustomed to. She was accepting of us and was non-judgemental. She taught me how drugs affect brain chemistry and who you are as a person, never once with the agenda of changing us. I started to understand myself more, I started to become more aware of my behavior, and through that, I decided to cut back, and eventually go completely sober. I realized I was happier sober."
-Anonymous Youth (OUSD)
"I am one of many students that Rhana has inspired to reduce their drug use and question themselves.”
-Anonymous Youth (OUSD)
“Understanding the science of addiction was eye-opening, and removed a lot of the stigma and shame associated with drug addiction/use. Rhana's weekly peer group discussions helped my son reconnect with his peers, and rebuilt his self-worth by opening his eyes to the power he has over his choices and future. A traditional punishment based program does not provide this growth. Our son has benefited and grown tremendously thru his interactions with Rhana, and sees a future of opportunity ahead where there was only shame and struggle before.”
- Parent of OUSD High School Youth
Rhana's presentation on "How to talk to Your Kids about Drugs" was so helpful and insightful. She did an excellent job of pairing the hard-science with the soft skills necessary to equip us [parents]with the tools to start conversations about drugs with our kids."
- Parent of Nueva School 9th Grader
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