In Haddonfield there has recently been a lot of talk about drugs and underage alcohol usage. With Recovery Centers of America wanting to have a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic in Haddonfield, the topic of it affecting children was brought about. Also, the schools recently gave a presentation on what they do to teach students about drugs and alcohol as well as changing trends.
To help prevent underage alcohol and drug abuse, the Haddonfield Municipal Alliance was formed. Its mission is “to promote a culture of wellness in Haddonfield by sponsoring and supporting activities and events that promote healthy behaviors, foster enlightened attitudes, warn of the perils of addiction, and condemn irresponsible practices.”
As part of its mission, the HMA will have William J. Lynch Jr., a pharmacist at Kennedy Memorial Hospital and Camden County Heroin Task Force, will present “Prescription Drug Abuse: Heroin. Pills. It All Kills: Our National Epidemic with America’s Youth” on May 27 at 7 p.m. in the HMHS auditorium.
The HMA is a community-based organization composed of volunteers dedicated to the prevention of underage alcohol and drug abuse. It was founded in 1989 in conjunction with the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. But Haddonfield had an organization implemented as early as 1956. The current iteration of the HMA was formed in 2006 to foster greater input from a broad variety of community groups, organizations and interested constituents.
As part of the HMA mission, the organization hosts a number of programs where it has informative talks, presentations or events about underage drinking and drug abuse. With students, it has a lot of programs that occur frequently throughout the year, while it will have parent programs about one to three times a year.
This presentation had been planned in advance and had nothing to do with what students had to say at the Bancroft meeting or the schools.
“It was not prompted by that. We’ve been scoping this out a long time ago. Coincidentally it came around the same time,” HMA Chair John Connell said.
At the presentation, Lynch will discuss what motivates teens to engage in prescription drug abuse. According to a press release, one in four teens abuses prescription drugs and it is done more frequently over drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine.
At the Haddonfield Board of Education meeting on May 14, school officials confirmed this, talking about drug diversion, the use of prescription drugs for non-prescription use, and how it is a new drug trend in high schools. Students are using attention deficit drugs and narcotics not prescribed to them to help with school performance.
However, Connell as well as the Haddonfield School District, doesn’t feel there has been an increasing problem in Haddonfield. In Haddonfield, since the 2010–2011 school year, there have been only 15 reports of substance abuse at the schools while so far there has been zero for this school year. Also, according to a Haddonfield Police report there was one underage drinking party held in Haddonfield in March.
“Every generation in every community has an ‘issue’ with underage drinking and substance abuse. Whether or not that issue rises to the level of a ‘social problem’ is unique to the relative conditions in that locality. Either way, every community has an obligation to address underage drinking and substance abuse if only for the sake of the health, safety and future of our children,” Connell said.
“I believe this is an ongoing problem for all school districts at different levels. The amount, however, that these incidents occur can be helped by way of educational problems, community support, intervention programs, and awareness efforts. In regard to our school district, I believe that these issues have significantly decreased and gotten better…. All of our events at the high school, for example, are very well managed in this regard by utilizing various student-related supportive strategies,” Superintendent Richard Perry said.
With underage drinking as well as drug abuse, there are many legal consequences. Although dependent on age and the situation, consequences can include loss of license, community service and jail time. Social and health consequences are involved as well ranging from loss of friends, negative changes in physical appearance and even death.
The HMA wants the community to know it is important to realize it is a community effort, not just parents, schools and students. Everyone needs to get involved and informed about underage alcohol and drug abuse. From a release on the HMA website, experts recommend the following tips to discourage underage drinking and other risky behavior: stay involved, communicate, set rules, supervise, monitor, engage and team up.
“Do not consider underage drinking and substance abuse as simply a youthful ‘rite of passage.’ It is illegal and can be deadly and destructive. Talk to your kids, openly and honestly, and strongly affirm and support their positive choices and responsible decisions,” Connell said.
“Go with the attitude that it is illegal. It can also cause problems in the future, in school and with jobs, and in your legal records. Parents should take the attitude that it is not acceptable and not a rite of passage. Community members should be aware that youngsters are going to be curious. If they run into a situation, teach them right so they know the right thing to do in that sort of situation,” Lt. Ed Wiley of the Haddonfield Police Department said.
“Continue to support organizations such as the Haddonfield Municipal Alliance that has been doing an outstanding job by utilizing social media, extracurricular events, intervention programs and awareness campaigns for students and parents to utilize effectively,” Perry said.
To find out more about prescription drug abuse come to the Haddonfield Municipal Alliance presentation on May 27 at 7 p.m. in the HMHS auditorium.
For more information on drugs, alcohol and the HMA go to their website: www.haddonfieldnj.org/borough_boards-alliance-mission.php, Facebook Haddonfield Municipal Alliance and Twitter at twitter.com/hdnfldma.