Lake County High Schools Target Parents With Substance Abuse Message Yahoo! News | 09/05/2006 Two Lake County high school districts and an adolescent substance abuse treatment center are partnering to combat the abuse of alcohol, marijuana, heroin and other drugs among high school students. But the target is not the kids. The target is the parents. "Kids are bored with the 'stay away from drugs' message. They believe they have heard it too many times," said Cathy Cratty, director of student and employee assistance programs at District 113. "More importantly, research shows that parents are the number one influence on a teen's decision regarding risk-taking behaviors such as the abuse of alcohol and other drugs. So we decided to educate parents with a DVD that updates their knowledge and understanding of illegal substance abuse." Combining the expertise of two school student assistance program directors and Rosecrance Treatment Centers, District 113's Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools, and District 117's Antioch Community and Lakes Community High Schools are distributing to the parents of all incoming freshmen a 14-minute DVD called Take the Time that encourages parents to actively influence their teenagers' decisions about alcohol and drug use. "Parents don't realize the influence they have on their kids' decision to use drugs or alcohol, but in fact parents are the single biggest factor in a teenager's life," said Thomas E. Wright, M.D., adolescent medical director for Rosecrance. "Teenagers may say their family doesn't matter, but parents, siblings, and extended family do matter to them." Consider these facts from Keeping Your Kids Drug Free - A How-to Guide for Parents and Caregivers which says teens are: 35% less likely to smoke pot if they have learned about marijuana from their parents. 50% less likely to use inhalants if they have learned about it from their parents. 56% less likely to use cocaine if they have learned about it from their parents. The story of addiction is told through Tim -- a recovering teenager -- who recounts how his marijuana use plunged him into addiction that included cocaine and heroin use. His mother had believed that their lovely suburban life was untouched by the seamy and sordid world of drugs. "I was in complete denial about my son's drug use, although he displayed all the classic symptoms, including a total change of friends," she said. "I thought it was 'just pot.' But now that I know how serious marijuana is I would have been more aggressive." Take the Time persuades parents to be aware and educated about teen alcohol and drug abuse -- to understand that teen use has changed significantly since the 1960s and 1970s. Much more is known today about the effects of substances on the developing bodies and brains of adolescents. "Parents have the important job of communicating this information to their children," Dr. Wright said. "But it's not a one-time conversation. Parents should develop a relationship with their children that is nurturing and built on trust. Ideally children will talk to their parents about the everyday things that are going on in their lives so that it is natural for them to have the difficult conversation about drugs and alcohol." Echoing the recent back-to-school survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, Take the Time addresses the fact that parents often know little about how drugs and alcohol have infested their teenagers' worlds. Too often, the DVD asserts, parents are failing to provide limits needed around illegal alcohol and other drugs. But the message is clear: Parents need to have good communication with their kids, set expectations of no use of alcohol and other drugs and remember to be a parent, not their friend. "Hopefully the DVD will help correct some false ideas," Cratty said. "With this educational tool we want parents to understand that ultimately they have the greatest influence over their children's decision regarding the use of illegal substances. So we are getting to the parents when they are the most likely to listen -- when the kids are entering high school." About the Production of this DVD The production of Take the Time was a collaborative effort by organizations that are concerned about the use and abuse of illegal substances by adolescents, including Township High School District 113 and Community High School District 117 in Lake County; Rosecrance Health Network, a non-profit provider of substance abuse treatment for adolescents and their families in the Greater Chicago area; and SolidLine Media in Chicago.