The Science Behind Natural High

The Problem

Adolescent substance abuse is America’s #1 health problem.

3 out of 4 adolescents have already used addictive substances. Half of these youth have used addictive substances in the past month. Furthermore, 9 out of 10 addictions begin in the teen years.1, 2

Natural High Principles & The Research Behind Them

Watch

A NATURAL HIGH VIDEO

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Discuss

TOGETHER AS A GROUP

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Work It Out

THROUGH QUESTIONS ON A SHEET

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Go Deeper

THROUGH FUN ACTIVITIES

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THROUGH OUR 4 STEP PROCESS THE 6 PRINCIPLES OF NATURAL HIGH ARE TAUGHT.

Here are each of the six principles and the science behind each one.

1

NATURAL HIGH

Research has shown that when youth find a passion (their natural high), they are more likely to be motivated, successful, and to thrive. We inspire youth to find their natural high, which empowers them to decrease risky behavior and say no to alcohol and drugs.

Iceland Study5 • Search Institute4 • Grit – Angela Lee Duckworth, Psychologist At the University of Pennsylvania10

2

PEER INFLUENCE

We know that what our youth believe to be true about their peers influences their behavior. Natural High’s role models encourage youth.

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

3

MENTOR RELATIONSHIPS

Every child wants to feel encouraged. Natural High awakens and strengthens mentor relationships with youth. We know that youth who have caring, supportive relationships with adults and mentors are more likely to develop perseverance and motivation.

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

4

BELIEF

The belief that our abilities and talents can be developed through effort and persistence motivates youth to learn and improve their skills. Youth who believe that they can achieve their goals through hard work are inspired to work harder. Natural High’s videos and lesson plans help teachers move youth to develop a positive mindset.

Growth Mindset works, Carol Dweck9 • Grit – Angela Lee Duckworth, Psychologist At the University of Pennsylvania10

5

GOALS

Youth who set goals learn to avoid poor, short-term actions and develop a more positive outlook in life. Natural High arms teachers with science-based programming to teach goal-setting strategies to our youth.

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health • Grit – Angela Lee Duckworth, Psychologist At the University of Pennsylvania10

6

RESILIENCE

The ability to rebound from a challenge or obstacle is key to youths’ ability to thrive. Natural High’s role models share their personal stories of challenge and triumph that demonstrate the power of resiliency.

Brene Brown8

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Protective Measures That Work

kids playing in a green grass field

We all want our youth to thrive. At Natural High we do this by protecting them on the outside and igniting their passions on the inside. The way to protect them is to delay or prevent drug use. There is no single formula. Instead, we have identified a series of preventative factors, what we call the six principles of Natural High. We teach these in a language our youth understand, through the art of storytelling.

These protective measures include tools for the family, school programs, and community.

Natural High offers easy, effective and fun ways for a community of educators, mentors and parents to deliver these protective measures in a relevant way for today.

kids playing in a green grass field

Why Teaching Natural High Is So Important

teacher showing student a toy car sailing science project

SEARCH INSTITUTE

The Search Institute discovered that youth who have a Spark (what they describe as a specific interest and what we call a natural high) and the support to develop them, do far better than those who don’t discover Sparks at all.4

iceland highest drugs and alcohol use in europe in the 90s
graph showing Iceland substance abuse decrease amongst 15 to 16 year old adolescents

ICELAND STUDY

Dr. Harvey Milkman set out with this hypothesis: “Orchestrate a social movement around natural highs: around people getting high on their own brain chemistry – because it seems obvious to me that people want to change their consciousness – without the deleterious effects of drugs?”

In his case study in Iceland the results were incredible:

  • Protective factors went up.
  • Risk factors went down.
  • Substance use went down – and more consistently in Iceland than in any other European country.

Between 1997 and 2012, the percentage of kids aged 15 and 16 who reported often or almost always spending time with their parents on weekdays doubled – from 23 per cent to 46 per cent – and the percentage who participated in organized sports at least four times a week increased from 24 percent to 42 percent. Meanwhile, cigarette smoking, drinking and cannabis use in this age group plummeted.5

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Why Storytelling?

Through stories, we learn and become inspired. We create a connection with the storytellers and obtain purpose and meaning for our lives. Youth are profoundly influenced for good or bad by those they look up to and the stories they tell. Natural High has chosen over 50 storytellers to share their incredible experiences about growing up, choosing a substance-free life and how they discovered their Natural High. These stories save lives.8

Delayed Usage Matters

infographic showing the brain delay from drugs and alcohol

We know that a youth’s brain is still significantly developing in the adolescent years. To be more specific, the part of the brain that controls judgment (the frontal lobe) is not fully connected yet. They cannot access areas that equip them to make life-changing decisions like whether to experiment with drugs and alcohol as quickly as adults can.

Most importantly we know that if we can delay the first time usage of addictive substances until after age 21, a youths chance of becoming addicted drops significantly. Youth are seven times more likely to become addicted if they try drugs before age 21.6, 7