Parents, grandparents offered seminar to deal with teen drug/alcohol use
By Pam Horne, Managing Editor
The ripple effect of teen drug and/or alcohol use can be devastating for the student and the family, according to local experts speaking to parents recently at Summit High School.
In one of a series of educational seminars sponsored by Williamson County Juvenile Services, teens, parents and grandparents gathered to hear an overview of how law enforcement, the judiciary and professional counselors are responding to an age-old problem that remains to threaten another generation of future adults.
Sponsored by Trinity Church of Spring Hill, which is affiliated with Brentwood United Methodist, the seminar included a presentation by Joey Kimble, who has been involved with drug interdiction locally for more than two decades.
He was formerly with the Brentwood Police Department.
Kimble is currently head of the 21st Judicial District, which is charged with the interdiction and eradication of illegal drugs in Williamson, Lewis, Hickman and Perry Counties.
The perception among teens, Kimble said, is that marijuana is safer than alcohol.
But once acted upon by a young student, sometimes as young as sixth grade, Kimble said, that relaxed mindset can lead to more experimentation and drug use.
He also noted that prescription drug abuse, especially stimulants intended only for patients with diagnosed ADHD, continues to be an issue locally.
“One-third of people believe stimulants can improve academic performance, even for teens who do not have ADHD,” Kimble explained.
“Almost one in four teens say their parents don’t care as much if they are caught using prescription drugs,” he added.
With training props in hand, Kimble demonstrated the many ways teens and adults try to conceal drug use with plastic water bottles. He shared a device made to look like a beer that actually had a concealed compartment for storage of an illegal drug. The props, which he shared with parents and students, were meant to alert adults that what might seem innocent at first glance, may be worth examining more closely.
Inhalants are also a popular method for teens trying to induce a high, Kimble explained showing household products that can be huffed.
Kimble and his staff offer a Citizen’s Drug Academy for communities interested in holding the series of educational classes over several weeks.
“We’ve had a lot of teachers in Williamson County who have gone through (the academy). Judge Guffee is one of the graduates of our drug academy,” Kimble said of Juvenile Court Judge Sharon Guffee.
Guffee followed on Kimble’s presentation with an overview of how juvenile court responds when a student finds themselves in trouble with drugs and/or alcohol.
She noted that, rather than the punitive system that is used with adults, juvenile court tries to emphasize a rehabilitative strategy.
But that does not mean the consequences are not difficult for all involved, she added.
“We know that even smart teenagers make bad decisions, and if your child is arrested it puts into a motion a whole host of things that is going to put your home in crisis.”
Probation, public service work, positive activities to boost self-esteem and even an educational class on drugs and alcohol are all the tools used with juveniles.
The education piece, administered in the form of a series of evening classes called Insight is offered to parents and teens.
“When I read hundreds and hundreds of essays the single most important theme I hear is how they feel they have disappointed their parents and how badly they feel about that,” Guffee explained.
To address the emotional and psychological side of the issue Dr. James Wellborn gave point-by-point suggestions to parents.
Teen substance abuse has become so dominate in his practice that he published a book called Raising Teens in the 21st Century.
Before his presentation, Wellborn noted that his assessment of Williamson County’s juvenile system is that “it is remarkably parent-oriented” compared to neighboring county’s where he has worked with kids.
“There’s just been this tradition that is held in being a judicial system for the parents.”
For more information about setting up an citizens drug academy in your community or neighborhood, contact Kimble at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact him by calling 790-2691.
Posted on: 11/14/2013