Over 40 million people in the United States have a harmful addiction to alcohol, nicotine, or drugs. 90% of them started using drugs before the age of 21, and the choices we make and the habits we form in our youth, heavily influence who we become later in life.
It is because of statistics like these that the Portage Health Foundation and Dial Help are teaming up to provide this event that focuses on creating healthy habits, awareness to oneself and ability to utilize positive coping mechanisms to combat addiction. Middle School is a critical time for young people. According to the Monitoring the Future Survey, nationally, less than 5% of 6th graders have started using any type of drugs, but by their senior year approximately 40% have tried marijuana and nicotine, nearly 70% have tried alcohol. Research indicates that starting to use alcohol or other drugs at an early age greatly increases the risk a child will develop a drug problem.
In addition to the student Crave 21 challenge presentations that will be held today, there is a Parent Presentation this evening to be held at the Rosza Center on the campus of Michigan Technological University. The program will begin at 5:30p.m. EST. The parent presentation is free of charge and designed to provide a parents with an introduction to the Crave 21 Challenge to the parents, and feature a panel discussion covering the risks of adolescent drug use, early warning signs, and “difficult questions.” There will be an opportunity for parents to ask questions and gain more information.
“We know this is a touchy subject for most parents.” Said Kevin Store, Executive Director of the Portage Health Foundation, “Just because it is an uncomfortable thing to talk about doesn’t mean that we can ignore the reality. Our kids need help and we hope this will be a relevant way for us to help them and reach some of the kids that may already be falling through the cracks.”
Rebecca Crane, Dial Help Executive Director, emphasized the importance for parents to attend the evening meeting. “We want our parents informed on what the children participated in during the day presentations so they can be engaged and part of the Crave 21 challenge, too.” Crane emphasized that this is a prevention-focused program and it is a critically important piece in making sure area children are equipped to make good choices and understand the consequences of these addictive behaviors.