Published: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 @ 3:47 PM
By: Lisa Knodel – Contributing Writer
While Ohio is dealing with a growing opioid epidemic, Warren County leaders are making a difference by educating youth about the dangers of substance abuse.
“An adolescent’s perception of risks associated with substance use is an important determinant in whether or not he or she engages in a substance. This is why prevention and education efforts are so important,” said Kim Sellers, Warren County Educational Service Center coordinated care program director, who oversees the county’s school programs. “Additionally, many of our young people will say it’s ‘just marijuana,’ and because of legalization in some states as well as medical marijuana, many feel the risk is low. What adolescents don’t realize is that the adolescent brain is not fully developed until their early twenties, and marijuana has a tremendous impact on the developing brain.”
Sellers said youth are at high risk for disruption to healthy brain development when using substances, which can have “a seriously negative impact on a student’s learning and ability to be successful in a learning environment.”
Students become disengaged when they are under the influence, recovering from use or are craving to use again.
“Other possible effects, whether a student is using substances themselves or growing up in a substance abusing home, are: fatigue, irritability, anxiety, health problems, tardiness and truancy. These problems contribute to poor work completion, interpersonal problems with peers or teachers, poor attention and poor follow through in school,” she said.
Every two years, a student drug use survey, known as the PRIDE survey, is given to seventh through twelfth graders in Warren County. Results of the survey provide data on the self-reported drug use patterns of area youth in addition to descriptions of behaviors and attitudes known to be related