Statistics show many Truckee students have been drunk, high
TRUCKEE – Trevor Schlesinger didn’t need to hear statistics to know underage drinking and drug abuse is a problem within the Tahoe Truckee region. Schlesinger, a 28-year old Truckee High School alumnus, said he experienced it firsthand since being exposed to alcohol and marijuana at the young age of 12. Public education is the best way to combat the problem, said Schlesinger, who spoke recently as a panelist at Truckee’s recent Town Hall Meeting on Underage Drinking, along with law enforcement officials, counselors and members of Truckee VICE, a teen anti-drug advocacy group standing for Vision, Integrity, Courage and Excellence. “When I was in high school, any drug was easy to get. I’ve seen friends pass away for driving drunk and watch friends get arrested,” Schlesinger said. Schlesinger, who recently launched an Alcoholics Anonymous group for teens, said today’s teens are struggling with many of the same difficult challenges he had to overcome growing up. Citing examples, he said marijuana and ecstasy are major problems – but alcohol is the biggest. Courtney Pomeroy and Kyle Jorgensen, both sophomores at Truckee High School and members of Truckee VICE, reaffirmed Schlesinger’s observations with statistics from the 2008 California Healthy Kids Survey performed in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. The survey reported 45 percent of 11th grade students and 30 percent of ninth grade students having consumed alcohol in the last 30 days, as well as 55 percent of 11th graders and 35 percent of 9th graders had either been drunk or sick from alcohol consumption. Panelist Janika Morgan, 18, a former Truckee High student who came to share her story about overcoming substance abuse, said those percentages are likely conservative. “Kids lie – they really do – and you can take a poll all you want to and walk around the high school, but half the time kids think you’re going to write their name down and take it to the police, so they’re not going to tell you they use,” Morgan said. During the night, parents questioned panelists about possible solutions and whether more enforcement or more outreach programs are optimal. “It’s a hard thing to deal with, but I wish this town (Truckee) had more to offer for teens and children after night time,” Schlesinger said. He said many teens watch adult behavior and see bars as the only option for entertainment after 9 p.m. “Kids like to play pool, kids like to go bowling, kids like to watch movies,” Morgan said. “It would be nice for kids to meet and do adult things without having to associate that with drugs and alcohol.” Panelist Debbie Spohr, a certified drug and alcohol school counselor in Truckee, said students likely to have drug problems are those who have family members with similar problems. She said Tahoe’s resort community and its party atmosphere is another temptation for teens. “In our community, even though skiing and snowboarding and skateboarding are awesome healthy, sports there is also a high amount of partying that goes on in that community,” Spohr said.