SIDNEY — A local group, Families of Addicts (FOA), sponsored a meeting to educate the public on how to deal with drug abuse among teens. Speaking at the meeting were Ian Ridgeway, Prevention and Wellness coordinator for Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services, and Hank Harned.
Ridgeway presented a program called Hidden in Plain Sight. In this exercise participants were invited to go through the mock teenager’s bedroom and write down all the signs of drug use they could find. There were close to 50 instances, but no one found more than 13.
“Teenager are at risk for all kinds of behaviors, particularly drug use, alcohol use, and tobacco. What this is what to look for if behavior changes through up a flag in your head. This kind of gives you an idea of how it’s hidden and some things to look for,” said Ridgeway.
Ridgeway explained there are red lights and yellow lights. Some things depend on the context in which they are found.
After the exercise, Ridgeway showed the participants all the warning signs and hiding places that had been placed in the mock bedroom.
A program called Start Talking Ohio was presented by Harned. This program assists parents with ways to discuss drug abuse with their children.
“With this epidemic, we’re moving out of ‘Not in my school.’ ‘Not in my neighborhood.’ Now just about everybody knows someone that this has affected. Research shows that when a child has a parent, or a trusted adult have a conversation with them about drugs, they are 50 percent less likely to use drugs,” said Harned.
Harned discussed how important it is to talk with your child and not at them. It is important to have a meaningful conversation and to really listen to your child.
Some of the tips shared were to show interest, be respectful and genuine, and to take advantage of teachable moments. A list of 10 tips can be found on their website at starttalking.ohio.gov. on the website parents can also sign up to have tips for engaging their children sent to their email.
The Start Talking initiative also has a program called The Hope Curriculum that is available for use in schools.
“It’s a curriculum that you can walk in and sit it on your desk and start it that day. It has everything you need. It’s K-12, and the great thing about it is it’s a skills-based approach instead of a knowledge-based approach. It’s developed to help students know how to react, so they can apply it to something new,” said Harned.
A representative of Job and Family Services shared that all students in Sidney will be given a flyer about Start Talking along with their grade cards.
According to their website, “FOA is a grass-roots recovery support initiative founded in Dayton, Ohio working to reduce the stigma of addiction, ensure availability of adequate treatment/recovery support services and to influence public opinion and policy regarding the value of recovery. This vision has people from all over the U.S. asking if FOA is available in their town.
“We hold weekly support meetings where families and individuals affected by addiction can come for support, friendship and education. The sharing of our experiences, strength and hope offer a pathway to peace.
“FOA welcomes those seeking recovery and those in long-term recovery to attend, as they can help us, and we can help them, no matter where they are in the journey. All are welcome to attend with an attitude of willingness, open-mindedness and honesty.”
The local chapter of FOA meets every Thursday evening from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Mount Zion Church, 324 Grove St., Sidney.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.