Forum opens community conversation about drug use and children

April 24, 2012

By Lillian O'Rorke

Ever wonder what makes someone an addict and how to prevent your child from becoming one? The Issaquah Drug Free Community Coalition has and it is hosting a community forum to discuss the answers.

“Drug Use and Our Kids,” will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. May 2 at Clark Elementary School where a presentation about the neurological and developmental aspects of drug use and abuse will be followed by a community discussion about the perceptions and realities of local youths’ alcohol and drug use.

“We want to really raise awareness. A lot of the time parents are unaware of the extent of youth drug use,” said Jerry Blackburn, a chemical dependency professional and faculty member in the Chemical Dependency Counseling program at Bellevue College, who will give the presentation.

Blackburn, a recovering addict himself, has been a chemical dependency counselor for 16 years.

“We want to reduce myths and provide information,” he said.

The event is part of the coalition’s efforts to combat alcohol and drug use in Issaquah. Created by the Issaquah Community Network, the coalition has been meeting bimonthly since September. Executive Director Barbara de Michele said she was shocked when the state’s 2010 Healthy Youth Survey found that 17 percent of Issaquah twelfth graders polled admitted to heavy drinking, which was defined has drinking six or more days in the last month or binge drinking two or more days in the last two weeks. The state’s average was 16 percent.

“We are significantly above the state’s average,” she said. “Heavy drinking means we have some kids drinking every day.”

But the event is not just for parents of teens, organizers said. The event is free and open to anyone interested in joining the discussion. Free child care will be available on site. Learn more at www.issaquahcommunitynetwork.com.

Lillian Tucker: 392-6434, ext. 242, or ltucker@sammamishreview.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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