FACE-IT vs AVOID-IT (if you suspect your child is using)

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By Melissa Ford

Coach - Personal & Business

Over the past year, I’ve attended events, forums, Q&A’s and Parent Cafes discussing our children's substance abuse problems in Oak Park/River Forest. I’m astounded by the number of caring, committed people actively involved in educating parents and kids about the effects of alcohol, drugs and tobacco AND encouraging parents to start talking to their children about substance use. 

When I was raising my kids, there were no forums or Parent Cafes educating parents about the importance of preventative measures to protect their kids. I knew it was important to talk - but I really didn’t know what to say other than, “Don’t do drugs,” “Drinking is for adults not children,” and for my teens behind the wheel, “Please, please do not drink and drive - EVER!”

My main method of prevention was keeping my fingers crossed and praying - not a good parenting plan since it didn’t involve education or communication. I was fortunate; my kids got past those teenage years unscathed, but I handled the education/prevention piece poorly. 

Yes, I avoided it rather than faced it! But, you don’t have to . . . 

If you know your child is using drugs, tobacco and/or alcohol or you suspect s/he is - then FACE-IT by contacting the Oak Park Township Youth Services to inquire about FACE-IT (Families Acting Collaboratively to Educate and Involve Teens), an educational program for adults and their kids (ages 12 - 18). Bert Patania, Intervention Team Supervisor and FACE-IT Administrator, says, “This is an educational program, NOT counseling. We provide basic prevention, early intervention work. Don’t wait until your child has severe addictions or referred by the courts, contact us before the problem gets worse.” 

Instead of worrying, wondering, ignoring and avoiding - you and your child can receive education and support. Staff will facilitate conversations between you and your child as well as group interactions within a confidential setting. This program makes a difference because it involves parents not just kids.

A parent’s participation is key because you can not guide your child to avoid alcohol, tobacco and other drugs unless you are fully informed and active in your child’s life. FACE-IT isn’t about “fixing your kid;” it’s about learning along side your child so you’ll both be empowered! 

FACE-IT provides family members, youth and parents/caregivers with the following support:

Family Members:

  • Learn about the consequences and effects of using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs
  • Learn, practice and apply healthy life skills
  • Improve family communication and relationships


  • Reduce incidents of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use and possession at school and in the community

Parents and Caregivers:

  • Enhance parenting skills and tools
  • Develop and provide clear family rules and consequences regarding the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs

For more information and to get the support you need - contact Bert Patania at 708.445.2727 (x119) or bpatania@oakparktownship.org


Email: melissa@empoweredcoachingsolutions.com

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Beth Ryan from Riverside  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 5:56 PM

FACE-IT is the first program that includes the family in the discussion and the solution to drug/alcohol use and abuse. Young people continue to need guidance and everyone benefits from the life skills that are practiced in the sessions. Kudos to the community for implementing FACE-IT!

Kristine from River Forest  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 9:21 AM

FACE-IT is just what Oak Park and River Forest needs! So often parents suspect their child is using, but don't know where to turn. This program is an excellent way to intervene early and avoid larger problems down the road. Thanks to Oak Park Township Youth Service for bringing this to our communities!

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