Still fighting for drug-free kids
The nonprofit Pathway to Prevention hopes to educate teens and parents of the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse. Kim Box became one of the founders after seeing her daughter go through addiction and rehabilitation. Box and her colleagues are producing a documentary, helmed by Emmy-winning producer and director Joyce Mitchell and Ted Ross, which will air on PBS in California soon.
Why do kids start using drugs or alcohol?
There are so many reasons why kids start. Many times, it’s because friends are doing it; they’re curious. Sometimes they start with experimentation, and then they realize they’re not as shy when they drink alcohol. Feelings of awkwardness or depression disappear. A lot of times, it’s just what everyone else is doing, and it seems like they’re the only one [not doing it], and why shouldn’t they do this. They think it’s fun to go out and get drunk and party, and they see people having fun doing that, and they think, “Why shouldn’t I do that, too?” They don’t realize what the steps lead to beyond that. A lot of it is stress. There are a lot of stresses on kids these days; the same reason why adults sometimes abuse alcohol and drugs.
What exactly do you hope to accomplish?
We really hope to turn the table on teens and substance abuse, and educate parents and teens early in their years that recreational drug use can actually lead to addiction, and a lot of people don’t know that. They look at this as some kind of a fun thing; a lot of parents look at it as a phase, but the drugs are different now. The pot is now stronger, and prescription drugs are pervasive. Really, our goal is to take some of the statistics, like 85 percent of kids leaving high school having taken drugs and alcohol, and our goal is to switch that: say, 85 percent of kids leave high school not having experimented with drugs and alcohol.
Tell me a little bit about Pathway to Prevention.
Pathway to Prevention is a nonprofit organization, and the mission is prevention and early intervention of teenage drug and alcohol addiction. What we’re doing is creating a documentary in order to do outreach and get to as many folks as we can to talk about what’s going on in our community with teens and substance abuse. The documentary is one aspect, and then we have community outreach and many other things to get out to the community.
How did the documentary get started?
There are five moms from the Granite Bay/Folsom area, and we had been talking as a group about what we were going through, and we decided we wanted to make a difference and get the word out in the community. …
Our goal of the documentary is to have teens and their parents talk about what happened to them. We’re gonna have the kids in the film talk about why they started using, what they were thinking and what transpired, so that other teens can watch it and learn from their mistakes. We also want professionals. We have a psychologist in the documentary to talk about the physiology of what happens to the brain. We feel that would be very powerful more than just saying, “Don’t do it, it’s bad.” It will be on PBS in California and, eventually, nationwide.
Describe your involvement.
After watching what happened with my daughter and my family, I wanted to make a difference, so that other families would never have to suffer and go through this type of tragedy.
What can parents do?
Parents should be very knowledgeable right now with what’s going on in the community. Parents need to be armed with information. The brain is developing all the way until you’re 22. If you use drug and alcohol during that time, you’re introducing chemicals into a brain that’s not fully developed. It changes your brain chemistry. I think a lot of parents are good at telling their kids not to drink and drive and things like that, but we need to take it way further than that.
We didn’t see the heavy use 30 or 40 years ago of prescription drugs. There are studies now that show that it is easier to get prescription drugs than it is to get beer. Parents need to know they need to lock up their prescriptions, and people need to put their prescription drugs away where they’re not accessible to kids or their friends. If you talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol, they’re more likely to think twice about what they’re doing. So keep the open dialogue going, and be aware and if there is any sign of substance abuse, don’t wait, don’t ignore it, take action.