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Let’s Double Down and Help Our Kids

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Recently Kevin Price, Host of the nationally syndicated Price of Business Show, welcomed Paul Vecchione to provide another commentary in a series.

The Paul Vecchione Commentaries

For millennia, substance abuse and addiction, as well as mental illness has plagued humanity, but it’s really not a secret why. People use drugs because they work. Be it up or down, a step outside of reality, or the ancient Latin fact that in vino veritas, the powerful psychosocial efficacy of a drug of choice has served as humanity’s long-lost pal, leaned on for generations for its ability to provide a myriad of escapes from the human condition. Simply said, it doesn’t seem today that the mere existence of drugs and alcohol can be the sole reason that in the United States, and throughout the world, there is an ongoing crisis contributing to thousands of deaths each year due to overdose. Sure, the ease through which they can be accessed, particularly by kids, is a major contributing factor to today’s crisis. But drugs have always been here, and they will probably always be here. So perhaps it’s time to change the conversation about them. Supply side enforcement is complicated, represents extraordinary challenges, and has yet to provide the unmistakable evidence that it is effective. We are still in a mess, and it’s getting worse.


With the increasingly complex world continually changing, a deteriorating mental health paradigm is calling on all of us to shift our focus from solely depleting the supply of drugs (though this need not be diminished but increased as well) to treating the causes of substance use from where they begin. We’ve seen the results of the past “War on Drugs”, and they aren’t pretty. Experts will argue that we will not law enforce our way out of this crisis.  Instead, a forward-thinking approach is emerging, one that focuses on treating the root causes of substance use. By addressing the underlying factors such as poverty, mental health disparities, and social inequality, we can create a society where individuals are less inclined to turn to drugs as a means of escape or self-medication. This paradigm shift recognizes that compassion, education, and access to healthcare are the most powerful tools in reducing substance abuse, ultimately offering a more humane and effective solution to a longstanding problem.

Inevitably, immediate challenges come with this approach. Mental health issues have long been subject to stigmatization, resulting in shame, silence and a collective push to marginalize those suffering from them. However, as suicide rates continue to rise and as the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, the ramifications of ignoring mental health as we have in the past has finally come into focus, and it’s getting the attention it needs. 

The link between mental health and substance abuse is undeniable. Many individuals facing mental health challenges often turn to substances like drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate or cope with their emotional pain. However, this can exacerbate their mental health issues, leading to a dangerous cycle of dependency. Recognizing and addressing this complex interplay is essential. By prioritizing mental health support and treatment, we can not only help individuals on their path to recovery but also prevent substance abuse from taking hold in the first place. It’s a reminder that a holistic approach to well-being, encompassing both mental health and substance use, is key to achieving healthier and happier lives.


So the answer seems clear enough. We need to utilize the tools available to us, and it starts with a change in our overall attitude when it comes to mental health. Destigmatizing mental health is a crucial step in addressing the pervasive issue of substance abuse. Society’s lingering stigma around mental health struggles often pushes individuals into silence, making them more susceptible to self-medication through drugs or alcohol. By openly acknowledging and supporting mental health, we can create an environment where seeking help is encouraged, not shamed. This shift in perspective allows those grappling with mental health challenges to access the care and resources they need, reducing the likelihood of turning to substances as a coping mechanism. Embracing mental health as an integral part of overall well-being is a vital step towards breaking the cycle of addiction and fostering a more compassionate and inclusive society.

While we process the opportunity presented to us to finally address mental health, we can’t let it slip by. The experts are screaming from roof tops, it starts with the evolution of sentiment, combined with sustained efforts to educate for prevention, treat rather than incarcerate and encourage those suffering from reasons to turn to drugs to seek a different path through mental health help. The complexities of substance abuse and addiction speak facts to a candid world; this is not going to be easy, but it’s time we give it a try. 


Paul was born and raised in Suffolk County Long Island and has called it home for the past 40 years where he and his wife are raising their two children. Paul has been an educator on Long Island since 2004 and holds two master’s degrees from Long Island colleges. With so much vested in this region, Paul has taken a keen interest in what has become one of Long Island’s most devastating realities; substance abuse and addiction. Having worked with teenagers his entire professional career, Paul offers a unique perspective into the mitigating factors that drive adolescent behaviors, particularly those which can lead to destructive decisions. Substance abuse and its ensuing crippling effects on the lives of people and their families has Paul’s attention and it is for these reasons Paul is the CEO of Long Island P.R.E.P. and Mission Z Podcast.

Connect with him through social media:

Twitter/X: @PLongislandprep

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