Chemical Health Initiative Fighting Teen Drug and Alcohol Use
September 29, 2015 Anoka County Press Release
A program designed to fight drug and alcohol use among teens in middle school and high school is yielding positive results in the St. Francis and Centennial School Districts.
The Chemical Health Initiative, funded by an Anoka County Children and Family Council School District Partnership Grant, focuses on preventing the use of gateway drugs, such as alcohol and marijuana, and urges parents to talk to their children early, and on a consistent basis, about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.
The actual extent of student drug and alcohol use versus the perception among students about the level of drug and alcohol use among their peers was measured by holding listening sessions and conducting student, parent, and staff surveys. Among the key findings:
Students overestimate the use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs by their peers.
The use of alcohol and marijuana substantially increases from 8th grade to 9th grade.
The earlier students use chemicals, the more they are at risk for long-terms problems.
Along with alcohol and marijuana, an area of concern is the use of non-prescribed prescription drugs, which also increases in high school.
“Even though teens may believe drug use among their peers is higher than reality, parents and guardians should be aware this is a real issue for their child,” said Anoka County Board Chair Rhonda Sivarajah. “In addition to the risk of addiction and other negative outcomes, research points to the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol on the developing adolescent brain.”
As part of the Chemical Health Initiative, students and school staff produced series of a videos that feature prevention messages. District students shared their real life experiences with alcohol and drug addiction. The video will be used along with other chemical awareness resources throughout the school year in St. Francis and Centennial schools, including the Pines School, which is located at the Anoka County Juvenile Center.
“Keeping kids safe is a team effort that includes family, school, and the community,” said Steph Sianko, a consulting licensed alcohol and drug counselor at Centennial Middle School. “Parents can use messages they hear in the video to begin the important conversation about drugs and alcohol with their kids. Sianko will speak about adolescent drug and alcohol use at a special event on Thursday, October 8, at 6:30 p.m. at Centennial Middle School. Both parents and students are encouraged to attend.
“The Chemical Health Initiative was a good refresher for both school staff and the community,” said Centennial Middle School Principal Bob Stevens. “This was a wonderful supplementary tool that provided us with a rich opportunity to check in with the community, to check in with our students, and to enhance our commitment as a school to the chemical health and awareness in the community.”
Below are links to the videos produced by the Chemical Health Initiative.