Kids Experimenting with Drugs and Alcohol - What's the Big Deal

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By Melissa Ford

Coach - Personal & Business

It’s not “hot-off-the-press” news that amongst teenagers, drinking and experimenting with marijuana and other drugs is higher in Oak Park than the national average.  You’ve heard or read about intervention/prevention options such as drug-sniffing dogs, random drug testing and closed campus.  But, what about prevention at an earlier age? 

Whether you are a parent, student, teacher, community member or anyone else that has influence over pre-teens and teens, please come to the Middle School Alcohol and Substance Use Forum:

When:  Monday, March 21, 2011, 7 - 8:30 p.m.

Where:  Brooks Middle School Auditorium, 325 S Kenilworth, Oak Park

Sponsored by:  District 97 & Middle School Action Committee

Is Middle School really the time to discuss drug and alcohol use?  Kristine Raino-Ogden, a member of the Community Coalition on Teen Alcohol and Substances Abuse says, “Instead of trying to turn things around once a kid is involved with drugs and alcohol, we can begin talking to pre-teens and teens at the Middle School level if we want to make a difference. Middle School is about the time when kids start making decisions about whether or not, at some future date, they are going to try alcohol and/or drugs.” 

Does it really make a difference if I attend?  Education for parents, kids and our community is key for preventing future substance abuse.  As parents, we need to understand that our attitudes and behaviors toward drugs and alcohol convey powerful messages to our children.  What we do and say makes a tremendous difference in our children’s choices around drinking, smoking and drug-use.  Raino-Ogden offers a startling statistic, “ A child, who has a father that thinks it’s okay for his child to drink, is 2.5 times more likely to binge drink than a child who has a father that tells him that drinking is not acceptable.  And, a child that does not have a father in his life is only 1.5 times more likely to binge drink.”    

What’s the Forum lineup?   District #97 Superintendent Albert Roberts is framing this issue and discussing how parents are part of the solution. In addition, Oak Park Police Commander Keenan Williams will speak on teen substance use.  A parent, who has a child that became involved with drugs in Middle School, and a teen with prior substance abuse issues, will speak about their personal experiences.  And, discover the myths and realities around teen behavior and alcohol/drug abuse; plus, bring your concerns and questions for a moderated Q&A session. 


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Reader Comments

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Ellen Cutter from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2011 12:50 PM

I am glad to see the recognition that this needs to be addressed in middle school. Please, talk to your kids early, attend the meeting, and be part of a critical shift in our community culture. Yes, your teen is crazy! : loving your kid without losing your mind by Michael Bradley

Melissa from Parent Blog  

Posted: March 13th, 2011 1:47 PM

Glad you can attend and thanks for your candor. It can be hard to start those conversations with our kids, but it's a lot easier in Middle School or earlier than in High School.

Will definitely be there.   

Posted: March 13th, 2011 12:01 PM

Thank you for posting this information. It is troubling when your child comes home very excited to tell you about an 8th grade party where kids are drinking and smoking marijuana. At first you don't want to believe it and then you starting talking to other parents only to find out that it's true. I think Ms. Raino-Ogden is correct they are starting to make these decision now and after my my conversation with my daughter she may not be saying she interested but her interest was certainly piqued.

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