Rock Bridge High School Hosts Substance Abuse Discussion

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COLUMBIA - Rock Bridge High School guidance counselors are inviting parents to discuss teen drug and alcohol use at a forum Thursday night.

Jeremy Duke, a Columbia based counselor who specializes in tackling substance abuse and working with young adults, is scheduled to lead the discussion.

Duke said his goal of Thursday night's talk is to help parents develop strategies in talking about abusing substances, like marijuana and alcohol, with their kids. 

"When you mix parental anxiety in with the conversation, it's a hard talk to have with your children and being able to feel confident and comfortable and to really trust yourself when you talk to your kids about it - that's a lot, it's really helpful," Duke said.

Duke planned to share newly released data from the National Institute of Drug Abuse at the forum, which indicates a changes in teens' attitudes about substances over the last couple of years. Duke said marijuana rates are increasing as the conversations surrounding the substance changes nationally. 

"With decriminalization and legalization of marijunana in other states, it's just not seen as having as big of a stigma as it used to," Duke said.

Duke said most students will have tried or known someone who has tried a substance like marijuana before they graduate high school. He said having strategies in place ahead of time to talk about this can make all the difference.

"Kids have a lot of stress in their life. They worry about their grades and they're worried about their futures and their friends and this is just another thing to add on to that." Duke said. "It's usually in context of everything else that's going on in their life."

Rock Bridge High School outreach counselor Kelly Anderson spoke with KOMU 8 Thursday afternoon. He said while the hour-long presentation will only scratch the surface of an ongoing conversation, he hopes parents come.

"I hope they attend, but the main thing is keep an open line of communication with your kids and make them a priority," he said. "Stay in their business."

In addition to helping the parents become support systems for their own kids, Duke said that relationship can also help kids help each other as well.

"They know when one of their friends is having a problem and they're often time the best people to step in to help each other," Duke said. "If you can help them find resources to do that and that they can find some adults that they trust to help them do that they will. Kids can be really good friends to each other."

Thursday night's presentation is free and is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in the Rock Bridge High School Media Center. More information about the event is available here.

This is the second parent resource fair of the school year at Rock Bridge.