Talk focuses on preventing student substance abuse

— Parents might have to focus on more than just drugs and alcohol to stop children from becoming addicted to harmful habits.

Schenectady County Substance Abuse Prevention presented an event at Draper Middle School in Rotterdam on Monday, April 30, aimed at informing parents on to help steer their children clear of abusing prescription and synthetic drugs, along with other illegal substances and alcohol.

“The teenage brain is not really fully developed until the mid-20s and for the males it is even a little bit later,” said Sheryl Caplan, of Capital Region BOCES. “The part of the brain that develops last is the part of the brain that has to do with making good decisions.”

Caplan said with many things children and teens are exposed to through drugs and other substances they might not be thinking about the consequences of what could happen. Also, she said teen emotions are also more responsive than those of adults and children.

The “Just say no” approach doesn’t really work, she said, so she urged parents to teach kids self-regulation skills to control impulses or to think twice.

“Don’t just give rules, role play or talk about what you would do in a particular situation,” she said. “If kids are practicing doing things and talking about it … they are going to learn it more than just hearing rules.”

Laura Combs, manager of Comprehensive Approaches to Prevention, Intervention and Training of BOCES, said problems don’t usually get addressed until there is a situation or incident raising an issue to the forefront of a community. It is important for a community to notice problem beforehand.

The drugs being used by kids and teens changes over time, she said, with certain things rising in popularity and then fading away with the next fad.

“It is a trend and a fad, so sometimes it spreads quickly and then things quiet down,” she said.

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