Teen substance abuse is a serious problem that can claim the lives and futures of young people. My hometown of Northport is one of the many communities here on Long Island that is battling the drug abuse epidemic.
As a mother of a son in recovery, I’ve experienced firsthand the impact that substance abuse can have on a family and a local community. After seeing too many drug-related tragedies take place in my community, I decided to take action and became actively involved with the Northport/East Northport Community Drug and Alcohol Task Force, which works to educate and protect youth from drugs and alcohol. Because I am a high school math teacher, I have had opportunities to talk to my students and their parents about these issues, but I wanted to do more to prevent drug and alcohol abuse from taking the lives of teens in my community. I founded the Northport Community Book Club to start the conversation between parents and teens about the risks of substance abuse through reading and discussing books on drug addiction and recovery.
I’ve made it my personal mission to reach parents and teens in Northport with the tools to prevent teen substance abuse. We talk about the dangers of substance abuse in a variety of forms – from illegal drugs to prescription medicines, to
over-the-counter (OTC) medicines found in the average household medicine
cabinet. By reading and discussing books on drug addiction and recovery, I have
found the book club tremendously empowering for my community.
My passion for educating teens and parents through my book club stems from my personal experience with my family and my community, but teen substance abuse is an issue that should be important to all. Drug addiction can happen anywhere, anytime, in any family. As members of a community, we all need to do our own part to protect our teens, and we must work together to help prevent abuse. That’s why it’s so important that parents join forces and share information
with one another.
I recently began to share my message nationally as part of the Five Moms campaign, which is working to increase awareness of teen abuse of OTC cough medicines to get high. As a part of the Five Moms campaign, I am working to reach even more parents and teens on the national level to educate them on the dangers of teen medicine abuse and provide them with the right tools to make a positive change in their hometowns.
Preventing teen substance abuse is a community effort. Here are 5 simple tips for how you can help:
1. Get involved in the community. Get your teen involved in sports or other community activities that will help keep them away from the temptations of drugs and alcohol. Drug and alcohol free community events and activities are great ways to spend time together during evenings and weekends.
2. Get to know your neighbors, community members, and your children’s friends’ families.
3. Take the time to talk to your teen about drugs and medicine abuse. Teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50% less likely to use drugs. You can download these conversation ideas to get you started.
4. Take an inventory of medicines in your home that could be abused, including both prescription and OTC medicines.
5. Discard any unwanted or expired medicines. If you have no use for old or unwanted medicines, there’s no need to keep them in the home. Make sure you dispose of unused medicines properly.
I believe we can each do our part, however small, to make a difference. I ask you to share what you’ve read here today with neighbors, friends, and peers across the Levittown community.
I invite you to join me at the next Northport Community Book Club meeting – check out our Facebook page for updates on meetings and upcoming activities like our 2nd Annual Community BBQ on July 17 at Crab Meadow Beach. I’d love to meet you and have community members from surrounding areas join our book club and attend our drug and alcohol free community events. It is so important for each individual community to start a dialog amongst its members as well as
conversations between surrounding communities. Together we can and will make a difference.