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Community drug and alcohol meeting provides a reality check for local parents

Ballard has higher averages than compared to the state, parents are warned to be cautious

Nancy MacGeorge, Staff Reporter
Originally published October 25, 2013

Drug and alcohol abuse by high school students in the community is consistently higher in comparison to state averages.

“Parents are the number one influencers [of this problem],” Frank Couch, Executive Director of the SAMA (Science and Medicine of Addictions) Organization, said. Couch was one of two experts leading the drug and alcohol prevention meeting for parents in the library on the night of October 9.

Alongside Couch was Lisa Sharp, the head manager of Seattle Public Schools prevention and intervention. Together, the two presented the results of the Washington State Healthy Youth Survey, which is given to students every two years.

To ensure that the state receives accurate results from the surveys, “trick” questions are installed in order for the state to determine which students were answering the survey honestly, and which surveys should be invalidated.

As reflected in the student survey, a big issue within the community recently has been accessibility to drugs and alcohol, especially with marijuana. Sixty eight percent of student think that marijuana is easier to get than alcohol.

“[This is because of] the density of dispensary outlets, and lack of police intervention in the area,” Couch said.

Dispensary outlets in the neighborhood include all ”businesses” where students are able to get marijuana from, usually being run illegally. As reported in the Talisman last year, a nearby drug house was busted just blocks away from the high school on 15th Ave NW, a site that students often visited to buy the drug.

“We need to come at [our kids] with an open mind and an open heart,” Couch said.

Eighty two percent of students answered that their parents know exactly where they are at night, but 36 percent of them said their parents wouldn’t know if they drank alcohol.

Meg Wakeman, the school nurse, often deals with parents during the homecoming dance, where some students are found intoxicated before entering.“I’ve had to call parents to come get their kids, and the parents think it’s a right of passage,” she said.

Couch emphasized the term “shared responsibility” to parents who attended the meeting. He pointed out how long the six hour school day can be for kids, and how exhausted they must be when they get home in the evening.

“Put yourself in their shoes. Take more time to make them feel the same way their friends do; we cannot always be the punishers,” he said.

Couch also advised parents not to bring up issues of the past, but instead provide their kids with words of encouragement.”

Don’t dig up old stuff! There shouldn’t be archeology of situations; as parents, we need to stay in the present,” Couch said.

The mission of both Sharp and Campbell is to “keep kids on track to put them towards a good future,” which they hope to install in the community.

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Community drug and alcohol meeting provides a reality check for local parents