Concerned parents gathered Nov. 8 inside Renfroe Middle School’s library to learn how drugs and alcohol may affect their children.
With the opioid crisis making recent headlines, approximately 75 local parents brainstormed with the Decatur Prevention Initiative (DPI) to understand possible underage drug and alcohol use in the City Schools of Decatur community during an “Alcohol, Drugs, and Tweens” event.
According to February 2018 DPI survey results, 40 percent of Decatur High School seniors and 21 percent of Decatur High School sophomores had at least one alcoholic drink prior to the survey. This number was compared to 13 percent of DeKalb County School District seniors and 10 percent of DeKalb County School District sophomores who had one alcoholic drink prior to the survey.
Decatur High School’s results were also higher than students in all of Georgia. With 17 percent of seniors and 12 percent of sophomores reporting to have had at least one alcoholic drink 30 days prior to the survey.
Approximately, 23 percent of Decatur High School seniors admitted to participating in binge drinking having five or more drinks in a row. DCSD reported seven percent and the statewide reported average was 10 percent of seniors binge drinking.
“Let’s go to the good news,” DPI representative Terrie Moore said. “There are kids that may try this once and we’ll hit them on those 30 days. We surveyed them after the New Years.”
According to an official at Decatur High School, students feel that the results of the survey are “spot on or low.”
In the same survey, 30 percent of Decatur High School seniors and 19 percent of sophomores smoked marijuana 30 days prior to the survey, compared to DCSD’s 15 percent of seniors and 10 percent of sophomores. In all of Georgia, 13 percent of seniors and 9 percent of sophomores admitted to smoking marijuana in the same 30 days.
The top three substances local students are using are alcohol, vape pens and marijuana, according to Moore.
During the event, parents also learned meaning of the terms “farm party,” “jeweling” and edibles.
A farm party happens when people bring assorted pills to share together at a party. Jeweling is another word for vaping and edibles are snacks laced with THC oil.
Some audience members admitted that they have a hand in their children’s possible substance use and noted that Decatur is a “drinking city” with various festivals, special events and restaurants.
Parents also learned that their students get pills and alcohol from the home, possibly, without parental knowledge. Students can also buy pills and alcohol though friends with allowances. However, youth share substances rather than sell.
Another topic discussed was a negative effect of the affluent community. With parents being away at work often, the students may have more independence to abuse substances.
Moore shared a secret with parents onto a secret about how to drop the percent of substance abuse.
“When perceived parental disapproval goes up,” Moore said. “Drug use goes down. They don’t want to disappoint you. ”
“Thank you for being here tonight,” Moore said to the parents. “Just by you leaving the house and walking in here, you’re child knows you’re thinking about this. It says something to them.”
Cemeteries, Oakhurst Park, McKoy Park, Winnona Park and others’ home are among places local students go to abuse substances according to Decatur Parents.
Signs and symptoms of substance usually include a change in friends, declining grades, loss of interest in hobbies, unusual smells and unexplained disappearances of household money.
Moore suggests getting involved in students’ lives as a community to create a safe place to talk about possible substance abuse.