For many years now, our school counselors have arranged for prevention specialists from Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD) to visit the Downtown and Goshen Campuses to speak with our High School and Middle School students about the dangers and pitfalls of addiction. One of the reasons the program is so effective is that the educators who visit have achieved long-term recovery themselves, whether it be from alcohol and/or drug addictions. In these sessions, students get to hear firsthand the adults’ experiences, which often started during their teen years. They are free to ask any questions they want, and come away with accurate information from an expert in the field, as well as a better understanding of addiction related to someone’s real-life choices and problematic experiences.
This year, Glenn Hall visited our campuses and was a big hit! “Mr. G” made a fun splash at Morning Meeting on Monday, and the students could see this wouldn’t be a dry, boring speaker right from the beginning! I talked to our Student Council on Tuesday, and they dubbed him the “best FCD guy we’ve had!” That’s high praise in my book. He also gave a talk to the parent community on Tuesday morning at Goshen (click here to watch the presentation) and this morning Downtown, as well as addressing the Middle and High School faculty during Wednesday’s after-school faculty meeting. Here are some of the most important points he made:
- The average age of first experimentation in the US is 13. This underscores how important it is to begin talking to your kids during and even before the middle school years.
- Students need to know and understand that the majority of adolescents are not using alcohol and other substances!
- High school students in particular often think that “everyone is doing it.” Estimates show that 12th graders think 75-80% of their peers are vaping. The actual figure is around 27%. Again, they need accurate information and not exaggerated figures.
- Glenn talked a good deal about vaping. It has gotten the reputation as being “safer” than smoking cigarettes. He pointed out that the percentage of people smoking cigarettes is at the lowest point in our country in a long, long time. However, vaping is taking its place among our youth. To that end, he shared some sobering facts about vaping.
- A “Juul” pod holds a great deal of nicotine. One Juul pod, in fact, is equal in nicotine content to two packs of cigarettes!
- Many chemicals in the pods are carcinogens.
- Vaping also produces dangerous second-hand smoke similar to cigarette smoking.
- The adolescent brain is “under construction” and the frontal lobe needs to develop fully to better withstand any exposure to substances.
- As for parents, Glenn suggested the following:
- Tell your children you expect them not to use drugs. That message is OK!
- Give your children the real information and statistics on alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (FCD is a valuable resource in that regard).
- Know who your children’s friends are and with whom they are spending their time.
As you can see, there is a wealth of invaluable information in these presentations. Big thanks are in order to school counselors Julie Marks and Terri White for making the arrangements and scheduling details for Glenn’s visit. We hope our students took these facts and stories to heart and will be open to talking with you about their questions, pressures, and fears. It is too critical an area and one in which we simply cannot fail our children.