“Things are happening at a very low cost,” she said.
After an introduction at “Start Talking Before They Start Drinking,” Matthews engaged the students in activities while Bonnie Black, director of employee assistance services at Behavioral Health Services North, gave a drug-and-alcohol presentation to the parents.
In one game, youths worked in groups to find the answers to drug- and alcohol-related questions.
Students correctly identified 2:1 as the ratio of sober drivers to drunk drivers on the road at midnight.
Then the students each had a chance to don intoxication goggles and try to walk in a straight line.
After the experience, they said they felt dizzy, unbalanced and “weird.”
“Everything was off,” one middle-schooler said.
The brain doesn’t stop developing until age 25, Matthews told the students.
“You’re impeding your own success” if you use alcohol, she said.
Down the hall in a classroom, Black detailed the effects of drugs that have gained popularity with young people.
Young people may not know how a drug will affect them and the affiliation of some drugs can be misleading, she said.
For example, K-2, sometimes known as synthetic marijuana, has entirely different effects on the body than marijuana.
Often these days, she said, young people take medications from their parents’ medicine cabinets for recreational use.
But “it may not be your kids — it may be their friends,” Black said.
A trend called “farming” where a mishmash of drugs are placed in a bowl at a party and randomly consumed has become popular, Black said.
Remember, she told the adults, kids think they are immortal.
“They have no concept that a handful of drugs could kill them.”
Parent Margarita Garcia-Notario said she hadn’t even heard about many of the drugs Black spoke about.