Coalitions unite to combat teen substance abuse

5:52 PM, Apr 29, 2013   |    comments
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SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- "Parents are the most important factor in a teen's decision making," stated Jo Morrissey, a member of 21 Reasons, an organization dedicated to preventing underage drinking.  "We want parents to know that they are not alone and they are not the only parent who feels that way."

With prom and graduation season fast approaching, several substance abuse prevention coalitions in Cumberland County have joined forces to help parents keep their kids safe and sober.

"Our five substance abuse prevention coalitions have had to develop a campaign centered on one simple goal, to increase parents' comfort to reach out and talk to each other about what can be sensitive and awkward - teen substance abuse," Morrissey explained.

The Back Each Other Up campaign is designed to provide parents with advice to help them not only talk to their teens about drinking and substance abuse, but also encourages them to contact the parents of their kids' friends to make sure they are all on the same page.

"There is a lot of peer pressure, obviously," said Cumberland County Manager, Peter Crichton.  "[These programs highlight] the importance of trying to be involved, and to not just step back and say 'there is nothing that I can do', because people can do something."

Their tips for parents include calling the house your child is visiting to check on their well-being, welcoming other parents to call you to check on their children, and reaching out to other parents to get the conversation going about potential problems.

"None of us can escape the impact of substances," said Dean Auriemma.  "As a parent, sometimes the best thing you may have to do is tell your child that you are willing to risk them disliking you or being angry at you and holding them accountable, because that risk is far less than the risk of losing them."

Joining 21 Reasons to develop the Back Each Other Up campaign are; Communities Against Substance Abuse, Communities Promoting Health Coalition, SHIFT G.N.G. and Casco Bay C.A.N.


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