Club promotes education over strict enforcementDhani Srinivasan, Staff ReporterOriginally published May 18, 2019
Although it may not appear like it, teen substance abuse is down nationwide. According to the National Institutes of Health, there has been a dramatic decrease in usage of alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs and cocaine over the last twenty years.
The new Substance Abuse Prevention club seeks to bring these numbers down further within the school by educating students about substance abuse as objectively as possible.
Sophomore President Rosabella Nelson founded the club with the arrival of Eduardo Medina, the new Substance Abuse Prevention Counselor at the Teen Health Center.
Nelson has seen substance abuse within her family which has led her to advocate for education around drugs and alcohol.
“My sister has been struggling with heroin and she just spent 83 days in the hospital,” Nelson said.
”Nelson said. “It’s been very emotional because the drugs make her act like a different person.”
It’s all preventable and I hope I can help others make the right decisions,Nelson’s experiences have shaped the club’s main goals, one of which is to help those that are facing substance abuse and prevent them from getting into harder drugs.
“High school is all about experimenting with things and I really want kids to know what they are doing before getting into it because it could potentially lead to things like hardcore opioids,” Nelson said. “It’s not necessarily ‘don’t do drugs,’ but more of I want to you to make the right choice.”
This thought is echoed by Medina who also hopes to create a safe place for students.
“We try to be objective as possible and not have any labels, you don’t have to be clean and sober,” Medina said. “We are not a club that is all about trying to demonize drug abuse. It’s about learning about all the things that come with it.”
Another one of the club’s goals is to educate the school’s population on the prevalence of substance use. Much of the pervasive thought that others are constantly drinking or doing drugs can be attributed to social media.
“People aren’t posting when it’s Saturday night and they’re doing homework, even if that’s what the majority are actually doing,” said Medina. “They are posting when they’re out partying.”
If perhaps students only come into contact with 100 to 200 people in our everyday lives, they aren’t getting the big picture. But if given facts and figures about our general population then students can see the trend of substance use declining.
“Your generation has a lot more access to information and it shows that when properly educated, they [teens] make their own proper decisions,” Medina said.
Although nationwide it is opioids that are at the forefront of a drug epidemic, the club is planning to do some education campaigns around the more common substances being used by teens: alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine.
Right now, the club is focused on expanding and finding a permanent room to hold meeting in. Then, they are going to get to work on educational posters and activities for lunches after Spring Break.
Meetings are currently on Wednesdays from 2:30 to 3:30. For more information go to the Teen Health Center or email Nelson at [email protected]