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Youth Substance Abuse Prevention: Connection is Key

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You are your child’s strongest influence.

I’m going to be honest with you. I am dreading the day that my kids start to feel pressure or get curious about substances like drugs, alcohol and nicotine products. Right now, they are only 4 and 7 and their biggest crisis is eating their veggies at dinner. Yet, I know the day will come when they have to make difficult decisions and choose a path to take. My hope is when they are in that situation, they have a solid foundation, make positive choices and feel like they can come to me for guidance.  

As a nurse, I have seen the effects of substance abuse on the body, mind and soul. The physical side effects range from mild to long-term damage, and the emotional toll on families, friends and the community is severe. Relationships, productivity, and job-performance are all compromised when dependence on substances develops into addiction.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of adults who have a substance abuse disorder started using substances when they were teens or young adults, so a major component of creating a healthier community is helping young people avoid drugs and other harmful substances.

Clark County Youth Substance Use

A 2018 Healthy Youth Survey of 10th graders in Clark County found that 17% use marijuana, 17% drink alcohol, 9% binge drink and 4% misuse prescription pain killers. Since 2008, these numbers have actually been trending down, while the use of vapor products is emerging as a problem. 

According to the Clark County Health Department, “Use of vapor products is considered unsafe for teens. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which can cause addiction and can harm adolescent brain development. Vapor products are now the most common nicotine containing product used by youth.”

Anyone who takes care of youth, whether it is a parent, guardian, grandparent, teacher or coach, has a responsibility to guide them in making the right decisions around substance use. But, how do we do that exactly?

To read the rest of this article, pick up a copy of the February 2020 issue at any of these locations, or view the digital archive copy below.

Clark County Drug Abuse Prevention Resources for Parents and Teens

STASHA

The Clark County STASHA (Strong Teens Against Substance Hazards and Abuse) Peer Education Program is a group made up of youth ages 12-19. Their mission is to help prevent substance use and encourage Clark County youth to make healthy decisions through nonjudgmental, youth-to-youth advice and/or suggestions.

Prevent Coalition

Prevent Coalition is a youth substance abuse prevention coalition working for healthy, thriving, and substance-free communities in Clark, Klickitat and Skamania counties. Prevent implements initiatives for rural communities across Washington State. Parents can find resources on what they should and shouldn’t say when talking with teens about the risks of substances.

West Van for Youth

This organization was established in 2011 as a part of the Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative. They are focused on reducing alcohol and marijuana use among youth in west Vancouver. They host community meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at Discovery Middle School from 4:00-5:30 pm. All are welcome to attend.

Connect Evergreen

Connect Evergreen exists to increase community collaboration and awareness to prevent youth substance abuse in the community served by Evergreen Public Schools. Led by adults and youth alike, Connect Evergreen focuses on youth substance prevention through connection and resilience.

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About Author

Sara Halcumb is a registered nurse with more than 10 years of experience in healthcare. She also writes for the Southwest Washington blog Literally Simple. Sara was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and currently lives in Battle Ground with her husband and their two children. Most days you can find her enjoying the beautiful outdoors with her family and their dog Bandit.

One Comment

  1. “As a nurse, I have seen the effects of substance abuse on the body, mind and soul. The physical side effects range from mild to long-term damage, and the emotional toll on families, friends and the community is severe. Relationships, productivity, and job-performance are all compromised when dependence on substances develops into addiction.” It’s so important to view this as a community issue. It doesn’t just affect the immediate family, but our schools, our health, and our future. Great read!

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