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Community Forum for parents, students Oct 21

Rockwall ISD, Grace Center & Blue Ribbon News partner to keep kids safe from drugs and alcohol

ROCKWALL, TX (October 15, 2014) As a minister and a mom, there is nothing more heart-wrenching than sitting in a living room with a young teen addicted to drugs – and his parents, tearfully wondering what they did wrong.

The officer who accompanied us to an intervention (it was my first) asked the young man, “Why?” He asked him to look at his parents and see the pain he was causing them. He did. His only response was, “I cannot handle the pressure.” I quickly tried to process his response.

No family is perfect; yet to my knowledge, this family loved, cared and supported their son. Furthermore, there were no financial or family issues. My mind went into troubleshooting mode, “What kind of pressures would push this young man to drugs?” On the other hand, I soon learned that the parents were not able to detect the problem until it was too late—an overdose episode.

As parents, we strive to raise our children to live healthy and productive lives, never thinking think that this kind of situation will hit our home. Nevertheless, it happens.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse reported that Illicit drug use among teenagers remains high, largely due to increasing popularity of marijuana. In 2013, 7.0 percent of 8th graders, 18.0 percent of 10th graders, and 22.7 percent of 12th graders used marijuana in the past month, up from 5.8 percent, 13.8 percent, and 19.4 percent in 2008.” (http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/high-school-youth-trends)

When presenting parenting workshops, I constantly encourage parents to be proactive—to learn about issues such as drug and alcohol abuse and talk to their kids about it. Sometimes fear deters parents from having these kinds of conversations.

The Child and FamilyCenterat Universityof Oregondeveloped five questions that highlight practical parenting skills in preventing drug use among teens: (http://www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup)

  • Are you able to communicate calmly and clearly with your teenager regarding relationship problems?
  • Do you encourage positive behaviors in your teenager on a daily basis?
  • Are you able to negotiate emotional conflicts with your teenager and work toward a solution?
  • Are you able to calmly set limits when your teenager is defiant or disrespectful?
  • Are you able to set limits on more serious problem behavior such as drug use, if or when it occurs?
  • Do you monitor your teenager to assure that s/he does not spend too much unsupervised time with peers?

After my intervention experience, I became more determined to provide educational forums where knowledge was imparted, practical advice was given and resources were provided for the entire family. I will serve as moderator to an upcoming Community Forum open to all parents and students in Rockwall ISD.

Community Forum Oct. 21 

The Community Forum is a collaborative effort between the Rockwall ISD and Grace Center for Family & Community Development, with Blue Ribbon News serving as the media sponsor. The Forum, entitled Keeping Our Kids Safe From Drugs & Alcohol, will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 21 at the Rockwall-Heath High School Performing Arts Center,801 Laurence Drive. The program is part of Red Ribbon Week, an alcohol, tobacco and other drug and violence prevention awareness campaign observed annually in October in the United States.

Panelists include representatives fromRockwallCounty, Rockwall ISD, The Concilio, Rockwall Police Department; and a special guest, Dr. Harold Urschel III, MD who specializes in Addiction Psychiatry. We look forward to seeing everyone there for this informative and interactive program that will address topics including: recognizing risky behaviors and gateway drugs, understanding the teen brain and addiction, deterring substance abuse and use, accessing community resources, and communicating with your teen.

Enid Reyes

Blue Ribbon News guest columnist Enid Reyes is a Certified Relationship Skills & Marriage Coach, founder of Rockwall Grace Center for Family & Community Development and a local minister. Contact Enid at enidmariereyes@gmail.com.