Parents in Dayton’s southern suburbs must realize the dangers that their children are facing in the area from the drug scourge that has permeated the Miami Valley and the country.
That is what Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer and Chief Deputy Rob Streck told schools of South Suburban Coalition during a presentation Tuesday night. The program at Oakwood High School was called “Trends in Teenage Substance Abuse.”
The discussion was aimed at parents and geared toward the dangerous trends in teenage substance abuse.
“We have to stop the drug supply that is coming to our communities,” Plummer said. “We have to work on the demand and treat these addicts. We have to keep the next generation and our kids out of this cycle.”
Streck and Plummer stressed that E-cigarette and vaping pen use are rising for teenagers, but the dangers of marijuana and alcohol are still something to be concerned about.
“People who drink before the age of 14 are up to eight times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who start drinking after 21,” Streck said. “We lose thousands of lives each year because of drinking and driving.”
He added that social media has portrayed marijuana as a “safe drug,” but in reality health risks ranging from irritability to anxiety and depression — plus for teens, a lack of brain development — are factors that law enforcement are dealing with as a result of the increase in marijuana use.
The opioid crisis has caused 276 accidental overdose deaths in Montgomery County so far in 2018 according to Streck. There were 566 last year, 349 in 2016 and 259 in 2015.
Plummer said that meth and Adderall are making comebacks, which has presented a challenge for law enforcement when it comes to getting drugs off the streets and away from youth.
“It’s a cat-and-mouse game, a whack-a-mole game. Once you figure something out something else pops up,” he said.
Several concerned parents asked the assembled panel what they can do to better watch over their kids or how they can notice signs they may be involved in drug activity.
Police Chief Alan Hill with the Oakwood Public Safety Department said it is important for parents to keep an open and effective line of communications with their kids and watch closely who they associate with.
“And you have to watch for changes in behavior,” Hill said. “Grades, tardiness and sleeping habits and a sudden change in friends. When you see those changes, it goes back to having a conversation with your kid and saying, ‘hey what’s going on?’”
He added that parents like to trust their kids, but sometimes it gets hard for parents to confront their kids.
“There is an intervention part in the communications piece that doesn’t always take place,” Hill said. “When you see something that is not right, then you confront them on it.”
Oakwood High School BOLD (Building Our Lives Drug-Free), along with the other members of the high school coalition sponsored Tuesday’s meeting.
The South Suburban Coalition, formed a decade ago, is an eight-community coalition advocating for youth by promoting healthy choices and positive alternatives to reduce underage drinking and other drug use.
The coalition is made up of youth, parents, businesses, professionals and other community or school volunteers from Centerville, Kettering, Miami Township, Miamisburg, Moraine, Oakwood, Washington Township and West Carrollton.
Centerville School Board President David Roer chairs the South Suburban Coalition and said the BOLD students have taken ownership of tackling the drug and alcohol awareness message.
“They are working on developing programs and have ideas coming through everyday,” Roer said. “The program tonight was a presentation for the parents, so we can explain to them what is going on in the communities.”
He said many people are under the misconception that drug and alcohol problems are only a city of Dayton issue.
“It is in the suburbs and it is everywhere,” Roer said. “Every school district faces the problems of drug and alcohol abuse, and the only way to deal with it and combat it is to talk about it.”