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Outreach: Making Good Choices

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Dr. Tracy Scanlon, Director of Professional & Program Services

Stories of teens—in fact younger teens and ‘tweens’—experimenting with chemical substances are, sadly, far too common. Drinking and drug use at an early age, binge drinking and compulsive vaping are reaching alarming levels. Teens who use or abuse these types of chemicals are statistically more likely to experience legal issues and social and school problems; are at greater risk for physical and sexual assaults and further drug abuse; and have a higher potential for alcohol-related automobile accidents and death.

Throughout 2018 and into 2019, Outreach has received calls from concerned parents and educators who are especially alarmed at the increase in vaping. One problem with vaping is that teens hear it’s not as bad for their health as smoking cigarettes and falsely believe there is no harm. A similar phenomenon is occurring with the use of marijuana. With legalization and widespread socially acceptable usage on the rise, teenagers operate under the false assumption that marijuana is without dangers as well.

A recent study of high school seniors found that kids who vaped (but were not previously smokers) were four times less likely to see cigarettes as harmful. This study and others like it have shown that teens who vape are much more likely to start smoking cigarettes.

Jamie*, a mom of two from a nearby school district, was shocked to get a phone call recently from her son’s middle school principal, requiring her to come get him immediately for “emergency removal and suspension.” He and two friends had been caught vaping on school grounds after school, and a passing parent took photos and sent them to the administration. Parents need to become familiar with their school district’s disciplinary policies for these infractions, and discuss them with their children.

Outreach’s Choices course is designed to help families deal with the pressures of alcohol and other drug use, including vaping, to support better decision-making skills. Our aim is to reduce use among adolescents by supporting families and educating teens.

The Choices course does not assume that every teen entering is firmly set upon the road to addiction. The goal is to help prevent reccurrence of the previous behavior, helping teens make better decisions.

The class is held on the third Saturday of each month, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Parents are invited to join for the final hour of the class. You can register by calling 412-561-5405 or at info@outreachteen.org [1]. Payment is due at registration. Find out more here [2].

*Name has been changed to protect confidentiality

Outreach Teen & Family Services [3] in a nonprofit, confidential counseling service. We offer counseling and educational programs to children and parents that are affordable, accessible and discreet; all within a welcoming, supportive environment.