To help keep parents aware of the dangers of drug abuse by young people, professional representatives from two prevention organizations recently held an informational session at Emerson Middle School for a group of some 20 parent liaisons from the school.
Anthony Jenkins of the Union City Prevention Coalition, a licensed drug and alcohol counselor for the community non-profit organization, outlined the dangers of early use of a wide range of drugs, including alcohol and tobacco.
Lisa Centeno, also a licensed drug and alcohol counselor, of Evergreen Adolescent Outpatient Group at Bergen Regional Medical Center presented the latest information on synthetic marijuana, a very dangerous new drug.
These presentations, part of a series of informational sessions addressing the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, are sponsored by the Board of Education through the Office of Community Relations and the City of Union City.
Mr. Jenkins warned the parent liaisons about the dangers of binge drinking and its effects on school performance and overall health. He noted that underage drinking plays a critical role in developmental deficiencies, risky sexual activity and motor vehicle crashes.
Ms. Centeno warned the parent liaisons that synthetic marijuana is hundreds of times stronger than regular marijuana, can contain nearly 100 chemicals, and can be bought legally at stores or online for as little as $5.
“Working in cooperation with Mayor Brian P. Stack and the City Administration, we have developed a comprehensive series of informational sessions aimed at educating and informing our parents about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse among young people,” explains Superintendent of Schools Silvia Abbato. “I want to thank Mayor/State Senator Stack and Police Chief Richard Molinari for all their support, as we as the prevention and treatment organizations that have committed to holding these sessions throughout the City,” she adds.
The School District earlier this year increased its support services in this area through the hiring of two new Student Assistance Coordinators (SACs), who help to identify students with problems and direct them to the proper program for help.
The Union City Prevention Coalition is a non-profit, community-based organization dedicated to preventing drug and alcohol abuse among youth.
Evergreen Adolescent Outpatient Group, which provides services to the Board of Education, runs Teen THRIVE Recovery, an adolescent group for teens 13 to 17 with a focus on recovery from alcohol/drugs and abuse/addiction.