PTAs meet to discuss teen narcotics use


Trevor Kanter, Staff Writer

    The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) met with the principals from Walt Whitman, B-CC and WJ High Schools and has begun its campaign against drug use and binge drinking. The squadron of schools organized multiple meetings to inform the community about various legal and health issues involved with illegal substance abuse.

    The PTA wants to ensure that a trend of increased drug use among students does not continue in the high schools of MCPS and has started by providing useful information to students all across the county. The association held another meeting on Tuesday, October 18, where guest speaker Joshua Wayne, who specializes in youth behavior, spoke about the understanding and prevention of risky behavior in teenagers and how parents can do better to prevent their teens from using and abusing these drugs.

    “What parents need to know is why teens are making decisions to engage in risky behavior, what the potential emotional or psychological reasons for that decision making are and most importantly, what they can do about it,”  Wayne said.

    Wayne also specified how parents should react when they recognize that their son or daughter is in a downward spiral.

    “If a teenager’s engagement in drugs and alcohol is starting to eclipse other areas of their life and they begin to isolate themselves, then it is necessary for parents to intervene,” Wayne said.

    In addition to the behavior meeting, the PTA held a communal meeting on October 26 to inform the public about the dangers of opioid and heroin usage in teenagers.

    WJ PTA president Angie Melton explained the reasoning for the third meeting in an email to the WJ Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) and parent listserv.

    “An alarming number of people in Montgomery County and across the nation are dying from fatal overdoses of heroin and opioids,” she said.

    Opioid addiction is becoming an epidemic, causing 18,893 deaths related to prescription pain reliever drugs and 10,574 heroin deaths in 2014. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) reported that from 1999 to 2008, overdose death rates and substance use treatment admissions increased in parallel. The overdose death rate in 2008 was nearly four times the rate in 1999.

    WJ principal Jennifer Baker, who helped to organize the first meeting, elaborated on the plans that they have created to combat unsafe substance abuse.

    “We want to send a clear message to students that we are here for them to get the correct information so that they can make good decisions when offered drugs or alcohol,” Baker said.

    Baker also mentioned that she will be taking steps to send that message to students here at WJ.

    “We’re doing one event with students through math classes on November 9 that will be geared towards informing students about the many dangers of opioid use,” Baker said.

    All of these efforts that have been made by the PTA and high school clusters are for the purpose of informing the students. Students in the school will not be impacted any more than they have been already, but the underlying hope is that when teens are faced with the decision to either engage or not engage in risky behaviors, they will be able to make a justified decision based on the new information.