We all understand how important teenage alcohol and substance use prevention education programs and resources are to any parent challenged with an addicted child or knows someone with a substance abuse disorder. But did you know that nine out of 10 adults with substance use disorders started using before age 18?
In surveys, Tigard High School (THS) 11th graders have self-reported substance use from 2012-17. The data shows significant teenage substance use with significant increases over that five-year period. The most current study in 2017 revealed the following substance use percentages: 25% used alcohol; 22.8% used marijuana (these numbers are rising quickly since use of recreation marijuana for adults has been legalized); 15.1% used electronic cigarettes/vaping (these numbers are rapidly increasing among teens); 9.7% used prescription drugs (without a prescription), and 7.6% used tobacco
Tigard’s population has an estimated 1.4% growth rate over the next few years and these numbers will no doubt increase without continued substance abuse prevention education and family resource(s) support.
At THS, Tigard Turns the Tide (TTT) has been instrumental in working with our youth to prevent substance use disorder since 1994. This was the year the organization was incorporated by Connie Ramaekers (a lifelong Tigard resident and teenage substance abuse advocate and educator).
Through THS, the Stop Tigard Underage Drinking and Drug Use (STUDD) club, many of our youth can remain alcohol and drug free in a positive environment.
Why should we all care about reversing the current trends?
Because our children are our future. And just like good stewards of land, water and air, we need to nurture our children. It is they who will take care of our grandchildren and environment when we no longer can.
In my opinion, there is no other organization throughout Washington County that works harder to prevent teenage substance use disorder than TTT in partnership with our schools.
Lilian and Jack sum up a future of hope for a teen free substance abuse society through partnered prevention programs “where one person can make a difference in changing hearts, minds and lives of the many” and they do!
My freshman year I decided to join a club called STUDD. We had a school assembly with Chris Herren, a former NBA Basketball star. It was eye opening to see and hear someone who had everything and lost it all because of substance use disorder. Hearing Chris’s story told me there was hope. That is why TTT and STUDD are so important. They offer hope for the future and a platform to help and talk to my peers. Lilian, 11th grade
STUDD is more than a club It is a support system and a safe place for students to be actively involved and the opportunity to make a difference. STUDD provides positive peer pressure and peer pressure is huge at this time in our lives. Jack, 12th grade.
How do I identify the common signs of at-risk teenage substance abuse?
If theres a family history of substance use disorder; a mental or behavioral health condition, such as depression, anxiety or attention-deficit, hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); impulsive or risk-taking behavior; a history of adverse childhood events, such as bullying, a history of abuse, low self-esteem or feelings of social rejection, please talk to your primary care provider about your concerns. Your child’s mental health is as important as their physical health.
How can I help my child to be drug and alcohol-free?
You can learn more at the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids https://drugfree.org/article/prevention-tips-for-every-age/. If you have concerns that your child might be using alcohol or drugs, a good place to start is your child’s primary care physician. Your child’s mental health is as important as their physical health.
Learn how to help prevent unhealthy substance use disorders and other behaviors. And you can learn more about volunteer opportunities at: www.tigardturnsthetide.org
Good health to you and your family!
Marc Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET., is a Fit Healthy Lifestyle Consultant with MirrorAthlete Corp., and former Tigard City Councilor. A strong proponent of City involvement in expanding recreational opportunities for everyone. 2020 copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., To learn more about MirrorAthlete and free monthly newsletter, visit: www.mirrorathlete.org