NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse
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Are You Good to Go?

Dr. John Ohab
October 19, 2009

In the U.S. military, servicemembers ask each other this question to make sure that they're ready and able to accomplish the mission at hand. If someone is "good to go," then they are alert, accountable, and prepared to do their job. Someone who is "good to go" will avoid mistakes and make better decisions.

One thing is for sure: you can't be "good to go" when you're taking drugs.

For you, the workplace might be school or your summer job. If you're not "good to go," it could mean a bad grade on your chemistry test or getting benched on your football team. But for our men and women in uniform, drug use threatens their ability to protect one another and defend our Nation. A lack of concentration or a wrong decision could put everyone in danger. It could even cost someone their life.

That's why the Department of Defense is taking steps to create the largest drug-free workplace in the world. Its zero-tolerance policy (PDF, 51.27KB) on drugs means that servicemembers will have the best mental and physical health necessary to do their jobs.

At the same time, many of our servicemen and women are young and need as much support as they can get. Just like when you had to move to a new school or find a new group of friends, life in the military can be stressful. The day-to-day grind of combat, the effects of injury, or being apart from family can cause people to be depressed. And depression can lead to drug use. Just like you, service men and women sometimes need help getting through those tough periods - using healthy ways to cope without turning to drugs.

The Real Warriors Program is aimed at wiping out the stigma associated with getting mental health care in the military. The campaign uses the stories of servicemembers who admitted they needed help and now are pursuing successful military careers. From October 23-31, the Defense Department will honor these real warriors during Red Ribbon Week, an event to raise public awareness about the negative effects of drugs on military personnel, civilians, and their families.

Now, more than ever, we need good role models. Whether you are serving in the military, working at a desk job, or going to school, don't hesitate to offer help to someone in need. When's the last time you asked someone, "Are you good to go?"

Do you have a personal story about the importance of role models and encouraging one another to overcome life's challenges? If so, please comment on this blog post - we'd love to hear your story! This is a guest post from Dr. John Ohab, host of the Defense Department's weekly science radio show, "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military."

Comments

The "good to go" slogan is good one. In follow up articles, why not have pictures of vets or families of vets that have good thru this drug battle and gone on to succeed in military or civilian lives?
Are the National Guard and Reserves members getting the same support when they return to their civilian lives?

WELL DONE! It's difficult to find just the right tone and context when speaking to Teens so that you will actually be heard. I think you nailed both with this very timely message. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future!

I agree with your story. However when you come back from combat and the Gov. does not provide the proper help you need then yes depression sets in. Then some use cocaine. I did it once and pissed hot, my 18 years meant nothing to the board and i was kicked out with nothing to show...period. Its a shame to be treated like that after all those good years. I believe a soldier should be subject to the exceptions to policies. Not zero tolerance.

Excellent post. I'm going through some of these issues as well..
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