Drug prevention and its influence in today’s media

For the fourth year in a row, Norfolk Collegiate welcomed Glenn Hall, Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD) prevention specialist, to campus to talk with our students about living a drug-free life.

On Sept. 12-14, as part of our health education program, Hall hosted small group sessions with our students to discuss how music influences drug use, how to engage conversations with peers and how to prevent the use of drugs.

FCD is a nonprofit organization that provides substance abuse prevention education for schools worldwide. Prevention specialists are highly trained professionals who have achieved long-term recovery from alcohol of other additions.

Hall, who has been drug-free for more than 22 years and best known to our students as Mr. G, uses a personal approach when speaking by relating the issues to what students know, including music and media.

“Media literacy is so important,” said Hall. “This goes hand-and-hand with the Social Norms Approach that my organization uses. This would be that if you think everyone is doing something your mind begins to normalize it, and it makes you more comfortable with the issue,” Hall continued. “We focus on the percentages and also what is the perception of the use within our communities. The truth is that our kids are influenced by what they are exposed to. That is in the music and its lyrics, social media and movies. It is fascinating because when I tell them the numbers are less than what they think; they have a hard time believing it.”

Hall calls this theory Anticipatory Socialization, which is “the process of accepting and incorporating the norms and values of a group that we anticipate joining in the future.” He explained how this may influence the mindset of those students transitioning into college. His goal is to help students understand that binge drinking in a college setting is not the norm.

Hall believes he finds freedom in sharing his journey, and wishes that someone would have had this conversation with him during his youth.

“Listening to Mr. G is cool because he is someone who has experience,” said Jordan Laster ’19. “He isn’t just someone telling you not to do drugs. He knows what he is talking about from his experiences so it brings a different perspective from what we usually hear.”

“Music does have a high influence on how we see drugs,” said Lexi Hirschfeld ’20. “In music, it seems like drugs are all good and fun but in reality they aren’t.”

Hall also helped our students learn how to talk to their peers if they see them struggling with drug use.

“He helped us to understand a few points when talking to friends,” said Jordan. “Things like good timing, the importance of one-on-one conversations and how not to exaggerate the problem. Most importantly, he taught us how to use ‘I’ statements and not ‘you’ statements.”

‘I’ statements make the speaker take responsibility for his emotions, acknowledging and understanding them better while ‘you’ statements tend to place blame and cause for a negative outcome to the situation. For example: you must study or you won’t score well verses I am worried about your scores and I would be happy to see you successful. Maybe we can work at improving study habits.

For more information about the FCD, visit fcd.org.

To learn more about our health education programs at Collegiate, contact Helen Youce, upper school guidance counselor, at hyouce@norfolkcollegiate.org or Val Ortiz, middle school counselor, atvortiz@norfolkcollegiate.org.