It only takes a mixture of cough syrup and a fizzy drink to create a substance that can have serious effects on the brain. It makes people lose their ability to stand up straight – they always need to be leaning on something, which gives sense to the name of the monster concoction: Lean.
Marching on the road to building awareness and education about teenage Substance Use Disorder, the #LeanOnMe campaign has already started raising the alarm against the monster that seeks to devour the future of our teenagers. Our youth is blindly socialising with a substance that has the potential to destroy their lives and that of their families. To them, Lean is nothing more than just a recreational drug, while to some it’s a form of escapism from their reality. Whatever the case may be, the underlying problem is that the youth does not yet perceive this substance as a monster.
“The youth take drugs because they want to feel different, but when they come down from euphoria they fall into a depression that entices them to take more. Taking more then leads them to get stuck in a vicious cycle.” – David Bayever, Substance Abuse Expert.
For the initial stage of the campaign with the Norwood Community, #LeanOnMe has started engaging at a school level to look for individuals from the school community who the learners look up to, to become ambassadors who will carry the campaign messaging as per the influencer strategy. Moreover, the campaign chooses an approach that makes the ownership of the campaign one for the learners, by the learners. Ideally, this will start natural engagements, allowing the learners to open up to suggestions made by their peers who are within the school, as opposed to being dictated to by professionals who might find it difficult to connect with the school community.
#LeanOnMe also extended its initial efforts into the residents of the community with the primary aim to educate parents about the ‘Lean’ monster to ensure that they are aware of and can spot the symptoms of substance abuse and can identify them in their children. These efforts include door-to-door codeine misuse education and awareness drive and mall activations.
“Every parent should be able to pick up on the tell-tale signs and be aware of other typical things that show signs of drug abuse, instead of being in denial and thinking that it’s only a growing phase that their child is going through,” says Beyever.
At the heart of this initiative is ensuring that the students believe in themselves, and love themselves enough to lean on their abilities, talents, and all that they can achieve with a sober mind, as opposed to relying on drugs. The campaign’s approach to communities, media platforms and social media, will teach the youth about the consequences they will have to live with when abusing drugs, in order for them to make informed decisions. Ideally it will discourage the use of drugs and promote leaning on their talents and other avenues that they should aspire towards through a sober mind.