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Bexley to present substance abuse program
Dr. Peter Rogers, from Nationwide Children's Hospital, along with two of his teenaged patients, will present a program sponsored by the Bexley City Schools, "Current Trends in Adolescent Drug and Alcohol Use: Facing Today's Realities."
Part of the district's ongoing Parent Education Series, the program will take place on April 13 at 7 p.m. in the Cassingham Theatre at 250 South Cassingham Road in Bexley
According to BHS school counselor Tara Louys, data indicates that students in Bexley are using.
"We know teens in our community use and/or face the pressure the substance abuse," she remarked. "Underage drinking is a serious problem that affects all of us, and some in very tragic ways."
In Franklin County's 2006 PPAAUS (Primary Prevention Awareness, Attitude, and Use Survey), 37 percent of Bexley High School students reported regular use of alcohol; four percent of seventh and eighth graders report drinking alcohol at least once a month. Thirteen percent of HS students smoke marijuana at least once a month.
Students' perceived use of drugs and alcohol is much higher than actual use: a large majority of HS students perceived that at least half of their classmates drank alcohol monthly or more often. Many think that half of their student cohorts are using marijuana regularly, even though statistics show use is much lower.
"Much to the surprise of many students, not all of the teens in our community are using," Louys said. "Students tell us that those who do not use often feel pressure and exclusion from the social network."
Students in focus groups describe being left out of social interactions because they choose not to use. They say the adults in their lives send them mixed messages.
In recent years, the school district has taken several measures to curb substance use, such as employing breathalyzer testing at school events. The Board of Education refined the Student Code of Conduct in 2006 to set out specific consequences for substance use by student athletes and those who participate in extracurricular activities.
Louys confirms that student athletes and students in the general population currently serve time by attending Saturday Family Workshops through Safe and Drug-Free Schools and their participation in the program is tracked.
By bringing in Rogers and his teen panel, Bexley school counselors hope to generate an honest dialogue about substance abuse and teens in the Bexley community.
"Our long-term goal is to raise youth awareness, increase understanding of the risks involved and, eventually, motivate and change thinking in the community," Louys said. "Obviously, the parent component in all of this is critical."
Susan Steinman, a Bexley resident and mental health professional who is assisting the school counselors with programming in this area, noted that Rogers' panel presents information about:
. teens' real life stories
. effects on the brain when students begin using at a young age
. current trends and drugs the doctor is seeing and treating
. warning signs that parents need to know
. what treatment looks like and what to expect
. resources so that parents can help their students
Rogers, certified in Addiction Medicine, has been involved in the treatment of more than 2,500 substance-abusing teenagers over the past 20 years. He serves on the Committee on Substance Abuse of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Franklin County ADAMH Board (Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services).
"We hope that this information will empower students and parents alike on making healthy choices," Louys said. "We can put mechanisms in place at school and perhaps ramp up what we do in terms of prevention, but if the parents don't buy in ..."
For more information about Rogers' presentation on April 13, contact the Bexley High School counselors' office at (614) 231-4591 or Kristen.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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