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Drug and alcohol abuse can destroy the lives of children

Drug and alcohol abuse can destroy the lives of children.

I don’t know how much more frank I can be. All too often as a teacher I have seen young people’s physical health and mental health changed forever because of the effects of substance abuse on young, developing brains.

Yet, many parents feel overwhelmed. They don’t know what to do if their child is using.

Some parents think it’s no big deal. Others live in denial.

But the problem is too common and too dangerous to be ignored.

“Too many students are impacted by drug and alcohol use at Ashland High School. We believe that information is power. We want parents and students to be as informed as possible so that we can work together to support our young people in making healthy choices,” said Erika Bare, Ashland High School principal.

That’s why the Ashland High School Drug Awareness and Education Night will be held from to 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, at the Ashland High School Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Organizers hope that the forum will help families and the community-at-large learn about the scope of teen-age drug and alcohol use from experimentation to addiction that exists in our community.

“Our presenters are sharing a wealth of knowledge and experience that should result in participants feeling empowered with information and helpful resources for their children,” said Andria Sherrow, assistant to the dean of students at the high school.

Some of the challenges the school faces when attempting to convince parents of the realities of drug abuse not only include denial but also fighting stereotypes about who is using, as well as parents not following through with appropriate measures that help the child stop his or her substance abuse, she said.

Understanding the developmental implications of drug and alcohol abuse is critical in tackling this issue together for the health of our community. I can’t recommend the forum enough.

Presenters will share current research about the teen brain and how substance abuse permanently alters neurological development for the rest of a teen’s life. Participation will result in better-educated parents and community members regarding the effects teen drug and alcohol use.

It’s an impressive panel, and each member not only has a story to tell about how drug and alcohol abuse can destroy a young person’s life but what parents can do to do provide hope.

The panelists are Dr. Jim Shames, medical director for Jackson County Health and Human Services, specialist in opioid addiction (prescription pills and heroin), and co-founder of the Oregon Pain Guidance group; Julia Pinsky , a parent; Robin Stroh, a representative from ONTRACK; Officer Bon Stewart, Ashland Police Department; and Abram Katz with ONTASC, which provides alternative outlets for drug use through personal digital storytelling.

The forum will be worth your time. Whether you are a parent, a concerned Ashland citizen, or simply wondering what you can do to help the young people in our community, you should be there.

Nothing less than the health and well-being of our city’s students is at stake.

A former reporter who covered politics and government for newspapers in California and Oregon, Paul R. Huard teaches social studies and English courses at Ashland High School. The opinions he expresses are his own.