Community Efforts Needed to Fight Teen Substance Abuse

During a workshop held at the Ionia County Intermediate School District, the issue of teen substance abuse was discussed. Experts said that 90% of adult drug addicts started their drug use in their teenage years.

There were about 70 attendees composed of parents and professionals from schools, hospitals, courts and treatment facilities, and law enforcement. The forum was entitled “Emerging Drug Trends in 2012” with executive director for BASES Teen Center in Charlevoix, Scott Kelly, as the resource person. The program was organized by the County Health Department and the Ionia County Substance Abuse Initiative.

substance abuseKelly said parents still hold the biggest influence when it comes to teen substance abuse. For instance, if parents allow their children to drink even at home, these kids will abuse alcohol up to three times more than kids whose parents restrict alcohol in any form inside or outside their homes.

“When parents open the door to some use, by saying it’s okay on special occasions or it’s okay at home; then kids think it’s okay in Johnny’s basement, it’s okay in the car. It’s important that parents say no,” Kelly said.

Parents were also informed about the greater risks that high school athletes may have when it comes to drugs and alcohol use. Athletes are often more pressured to excel in their field and expectations can be quite high that at times, they (athletes) turn to alcohol and drugs as their coping mechanisms.

It was made clear that teen substance abuse is a problem that should involve everybody’s efforts to solve. Probation officer for the Ionia County Juvenile Court Amy Buckingham also encouraged the whole community to join in the cause against substance abuse. “It isn’t just one drug or one age or one income group so that we can say, ‘It doesn’t affect me.’ This information is helping us to see that addictions affect all of us,” Buckingham said.

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