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  • Robert Schwebel, Ph.D.

Why Saying No to Drugs is Not Enough

Posted April 8, 2015 on

Empowering teens to consider their own path to recovery.

Whether driven by parental concern, school intervention or the criminal justice system, our response to teen substance misuse continues to be dominated by punitive and coercive measures, zero-tolerance strategies and enforced abstinence. For decades, Dr. Robert Schwebel has disseminated the evidence base behind another approach—working with teens to consider the choices they make about substance use. Here he relates an early clinical example that highlights the underlying wisdom and value of helping young people create their own approach to recovery…Richard Juman

Parents can’t make kids quit using drugs and neither can the courts. It’s time that counselors face the truth and realize that they, too, can’t make kids quit. We have no magical powers. Furthermore, it’s not the job of counselors to dictate or control behavior. Our responsibility is to help the people we serve become aware of their options, expand their options, consider their own values, and make their own informed choices. So, in 1990 I began writing The Seven Challenges program to help adolescents and young adults make their own decisions about drugs, and for that matter, the rest of their lives. Over the years, we have found that, ironically, this is the most powerful way to influence the behavior of young people—far more effective than pushing an agenda that the youth will resist.

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