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How Skateboarding Combats Drug Addiction, Crime and Other Destructive Behaviors  

Millions of Americans are staying healthy and active through music, sports, and the creation of media projects — so more should be done to partner the activities with developmental programs, schools, and art centers; as well as with drug treatment facilities and crime prevention initiatives.

Clinical research now shows that physically active youth are less likely to use illicit drugs, and they are less likely to be involved with serious crimes overall. As would be expected, those who avoid drugs in their youth also have a greater tendency to stay away from drugs later in life.

Nevertheless, too many other drug use trends are moving in the wrong direction. The U.S. is still seeing a widespread resurgence of
illicit drug use, such as heroin and methamphetamines; addiction levels have reached epidemic proportions; and overdose deaths are at rates much higher than with previous generations. Here are a few statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources:   

The medical community and drug addiction prevention advocates have responded, and for the first time in over a decade, reports are starting to show a slight decrease in overdose related fatalities. Nevertheless, the crisis still leaves much more to be done. As states across the nation relax their rules and enforcement of recreational and medical marijuana use, it's becoming more obvious that people will need more definitive guidance to help them stay away from the gateway into destructive drug addictions. 

Some organizations are turning specifically to music, skateboarding, and media projects as a way to keep adolescents and young adults from becoming dependent on illicit drugs. Physical and mental activity has many positive benefits, and it should continue to be explored as a way to keep people away from self-destructive behaviors, such as drug addiction. 

So What Can be Done?
Here are two recent examples of publicly funded programs that blend skateboarding and counseling intervention: 

Fun Without Drugs Skateboarding Program
Skateboarders and city officials in Hopatcong, NJ created an unlikely partnership when they launched a drug education initiative designed to prevent addiction. The Fun Without Drugs Skateboarding Program paired a local skateboard company with municipal resources to help riders develop their self-esteem and use the sport as a positive outlet.  

Skateboarders contributed their knowledge of the sport and helped program participants better understand the benefits of staying drug free.  

More Information:

Board of Child Care Skatepark
The Board of Child Care in Baltimore, MD went even further and built a skatepark on its campus to give program participants a safe place to go skateboarding. The non-profit provides residential services to children who are referred to them by the state. It added a skatepark for its many therapeutic benefits.  

More Information:

How Many People Ride Skateboards?
Market research companies estimate that there are around 10 million skateboarders in the U.S. contributing to a $4.8 billion dollar industry. The X-Games, Mountain Dew Tour, and ESPN2’s Street League competitions are giving the sport significant mainstream exposure, while core industry companies continue to attract participants. Today’s skateboard industry is well established with publicly traded companies and multinational organizations sustaining professional teams. 

Notably, skateboarding is not just for teens. Only 45% of skateboarders are between the ages of 12 and 17. Some skateboard enthusiasts and professionals are riding well past the age of 40, giving them a lifelong connection to the sport's benefits.        

More Information:


References: Clinical Research and Articles

Peer-reviewed studies published in research journals suggests that physically active youth are less likely to use illicit drugs — and continue to be less prone to drug use as adults. They also commit fewer serious crimes.

Physically Active Youth are Less Likely to use Illicit Drugs as Adults
Clinical research published in Twin Research and Human Genetics found that people who exercised less than three times a month may have an increased risk of problems later in life due to excessive alcohol use. The study also found that adolescents who lived sedentary lifestyles were more likely to use illicit drugs as adults. 

Physically Active Youth are Less Likely to be Involved in Serious Crimes
A journal of Pediatrics study on adolescent physical activity found that people associated with higher crime levels were less likely to participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity.  

Skateboarding is Correlated with High Self-Esteem
A University of North Carolina Health Care and School of Medicine press release specifically identified skateboarders as faring particularly well regarding their self-esteem, despite a lack of wide public support for the sport.

Skateboarding is a Good Source of Physical Activity
In a New York Times article, Auburn University at Montgomery Professor Michele Olson listed a variety of muscles that are engaged during skateboarding, including abs, back, glutes, hamstring, quads, calves, hips and foot arches.  

Modern Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment

Drug abuse prevention and treatment programs are now moving toward treating addiction as a clinical brain disease with education and treatment options offered in-person and online.

Addiction is Considered a Brain Disease
Modern medical research has found that addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior. It is a disease because drugs change the structure of the brain and how it functions. Imaging studies of people with addiction have found physical changes to the areas of the brain responsible for judgment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control.

Supplementing Drug Resistance Education with Online Services
Recent research has found that computer-based training for cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT4CBT) can help cocaine dependent patients who are enrolled in methadone maintenance and weekly group sessions. The CBT4CBT has been found to be an affective adjunct to addiction treatment.

The Current Drug Epidemic

Addiction and drug overdose rates have reached record levels in the U.S. 

Overdose Deaths have Reached Record Numbers
America’s 15-year increase in prescription opioid and illegal heroin overdose deaths has reached epidemic proportions, killing half-a-million people from 2000 to 2014. These prescription opioid and heroin deaths increased a staggering 14 percent from 2013 to 2014, but when looking at heroin overdose deaths alone, they increased an overwhelming 26 percent.

Heroin Addiction in the U.S. has Reached Epidemic Proportions
The U.S. News and World Report published nine U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention graphs about the nation’s opioid crisis. The article notes a 286 percent increase in heroin-related overdose deaths from 2002 to 2013.  

City governments and private businesses across the U.S. are managing efforts to build skateboard parks, but few have taken the steps to offer structured, supervised programs. Even fewer are using skateboarding for drug addiction and prevention education.

The long-term health benefits of physical activity and counseling offer hope to those fighting against the destructive power of drug addiction. Skateboarding against the wave of hard drugs may be one of the only ways some youth find their way through our increasingly complex society.

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