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From the moderator Kelli Rumpza, Human Service Agency: As parents, we need to continually educate ourselves to help prevent substance misuse in our homes. But where do you go for the right information? We read the headlines, we see social media posts, we hear stories from friends and families, but what are the truths? And how do we keep our kids safe?We live in a culture where alcohol and drugs are prevalent. We have seen too many stories of how alcohol and drugs can change a young person’s life for the worse. Sometimes it is difficult to know how to talk to our kids about alcohol and drugs because of our own experiences. But we need to keep in mind the safety and well-being our children. We need to send the message that we are aware of the pressures around them, and that it’s ok for them to talk to mom and/or dad about it.So what’s going on in our community of Watertown? A panel of local experts convened to discuss drug and alcohol use among youth and young adults. Panel members included Wendy Olson, Project SUCCESS; Craig Boyens, WHS Athletic Director; Troy Terronez, WHS; Lisa Johnson, Dept. of Labor; Stef Roby, PA-C with Prairie Lakes Nephrology, and Judge Carmen Means.
What could be “hidden in plain sight” in your teen’s bedroom or vehicle? The Watertown Healthy Youth Coalition encourage parents to explore an interactive resource from Rhode Island Regional Coalitions. Hidden in Plain Sight is a unique opportunity to look into a teen's mock bedroom virtually. The room is full of common household items that could be used to hide or disguise drug, alcohol, tobacco use or other "risky" behaviors. When you go to the web-page, simply click on the picture of the bedroom to enter the tool. Move your mouse around the room to "find" the items hidden in the room.Please take the time to talk to your teen about the items you see - use this as a way to launch a conversation about substance use among their friends or classmates. Now keep in mind, the room is full of common items that may be in your teen’s room. However, that does not necessarily indicate your teen has an issue with risky behaviors. This demonstration is purely to bring awareness of what is out there and to give parents and adults an opportunity to encourage meaningful conversations with their child.
Parents, you are the number one tool against substance use! We encourage you to talk about boundaries and expectations. It’s important to trust our kids, but we also need to verify– our ultimate goal is keeping our kids safe! We need to communicate the risks of substance use such as alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
Enter Hidden in Plain Sight’s Virtual Teen Bedroom
· Talk to your child about the dangers of drinking and using drugs, including abusing prescription drugs not prescribed to him or her.
· Remind him or her that it’s okay to ask for help – whether for academics, stress or mental health.
· Ensure your teen or young adult knows that they are valued for who they are, not what they achieve.
· Prepare him or her with alternative coping skills such as breathing techniques, mindfulness and other tools to help him or her relax and redirect their thoughts when they are feeling anxious.
o Local resources and help: Watertown’s Family Resource Directory
o Get information to help you talk with your teens about drugs and their effects: NIDA
Alcohol: What Families Need to Know to Help Protect Young People https://drugfree.org/.../Alcohol-Guide_Families_030821.pdf
o Learn how to keep teens safe from alcohol and other drugs: Power to the Parent
This educational page is made possible by a partnership between Human Service Agency, Prairie Lakes Healthcare System, and the City of Watertown. Special thanks to members of the Watertown Healthy Youth Coalition, Tobacco-Free Community Coalition, and Glacial Lakes SAFE (Suicide Awareness of Everyone) Coalition for their guidance and informational support.