Power to the Reader

December 17th, 2008

A website can be many things for many people. For me it’s a way to explain myself; to help my patients and their families; and to share with a broader readership things that are creative, new, or inspiring. There is a quote thought to be from the 12th century physician, Moses Maimonides, which has animated me for some time. He is said to have seen all of the forces of good in the world in perfect balance with all of the forces of evil, and that each day brings us a chance to shift the balance. I have never met anyone who claimed to do this every day. But the person who doesn’t want to try is suffering from what Maimonides called the evil against the self. In the 20th century we called this evil mental illness. But if we have learned anything, it’s that illness is not only something we bring on ourselves, but something our environment and genes bring on us willy-nilly. No one wishes for cancer, but millions of people have fallen into the environmental trap of smoking, for example, and died nonetheless.

Although I am a specialist in drug abuse, thirty years ago I didn’t plan this career path. I began my medical career as a pediatrician, hoping that I could help kids grow up to be healthy, effective adults. I still feel that way, and in large measure it’s why I wrote “What’s A Parent To Do?- Straight Talk About Drugs and Drug Abuse.” Since my days as a pediatrician I’ve seen drugs and drug abuse work their way into the lives of our kids to an extent that doesn’t seem to budge. I see the leaders of our country driven to do something about the problem. But results so far of this “war on drugs” are prisons and crop poisoning programs in foreign countries. There is little effort on prevention of drug abuse, and virtually no commitment to treatment. Yet addiction is a disease. What’s wrong with this picture?

My answer is that we need to wake up as a society. The answer to our drug problem comes in many packages, but it doesn’t come from buying more helicopters to police the coca growers in Columbia. The keys to success are in what I call Heads-Up parenting. Moms and Dads don’t hold all of the keys, but they hold a lot of them. Treatment is good, but prevention is best. That’s where parents come in. I hope my book tips the balance of the lives of the folks who read it.

Henry David Abraham, M.D.’s recent book is “What’s a Parent to Do? Straight Talk about Drugs and Alcohol.”

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