Statistics show many Truckee students have been drunk, high | TahoeDailyTribune.com

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.

Your Health: Alcohol No. 1 drug choice for teens – talk to your kids

Quick quiz: What is the leading drug used by our youth today? If you're thinking marijuana or heroin, guess again. The answer is alcohol. It has long been and still remains the most widely used drug among young people, making alcoholism and alcohol-related problems the No. 1 public health problem in the United States. April 2016 is the 30th annual Alcohol Awareness Month, founded and sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). "Talk Early, Talk Often: Parents Can Make a Difference in Teen Alcohol Use" is this year's theme, focused on the significant role parents play in preventing and reducing underage drinking and other drug use. NCADD says fostering healthy and responsible attitudes, talking openly and honestly, encouraging supportive relationships and showing children that their opinions and decisions matter are all ways to help prevent the use of alcohol and other drugs. These experts also point to research showing that kids who have conversations with their parents about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50 percent less likely to use than those who don't have such conversations. TALK WITH YOUR KIDS NCADD shares the following basic guidelines to encourage and assist you in your ongoing conversations with your children: Listen before you talk: As parents we want to have "all the answers." And, sometimes we are so anxious to share our wisdom — or our opinion — that we don't take the time to listen. For kids, knowing that we are really listening may be the most important thing we can do to help. Ask open-ended questions: Talk to children about their feelings, their friends and what's happening in general in their daily lives. Avoid simple "yes/no" questions to get them talking as much as possible. Be involved: Get to know your children's friends and their parents, and don't hesitate to reach out to check on a gathering they're hosting or confirm plans of your children going somewhere together. Set expectations, limits and consequences: Make it clear that you do not want your children drinking or using drugs, as well as the consequences should the rules be broken. Be honest, open and positive: Talking honestly, openly and positively with a child not only gets him/her educated on the issues, but it helps to build a bridge as opposed to a wall between the two of you. Share family history: Addiction is a chronic, progressive disease that can be linked to genetics. So, if there is a family history of problems with alcohol or drugs, be matter of fact about it, as you would with any other chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer. Talking with your children about alcohol and other drugs is critical to their health and wellbeing, both now and in the future. The longer children delay drinking, the less likely they are to develop the many problems associated with it. You are your child' first line of defense. Get the conversation started today. This article was provided by the Tahoe Truckee Future Without Drug Dependence, on behalf of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, which is the founder and sponsor of NCADD Alcohol Awareness Month. Visit ncadd.org or sign TT-FWDD's Parent & Adult Committed to Stopping Underage Drinking & Drug Use Pledge. Visit ttfwdd.com to learn more.

Drug testing a growing business

The drug-testing business in Truckee is buzzing. In the past year, Truckee Drug and Alcohol Testing has grown approximately fivefold, said the company’s owner Mark Brown. In the past, drug testing was mostly reserved to “safety-sensitive” industries like medical, construction, and transportation, Brown said. But now the Town of Truckee, Safeway and roughly 80 other area companies drug test their employees. There is little consensus about what is driving the increase, but Brown said more businesses are adopting drug tests because insurance companies are beginning to offer worker compensation rebates for employers who have mandatory testing programs. Insurance requirement Gerry Rodriguez, senior project manager at Robert Marr Construction, said moving to regular drug testing was simply an insurance requirement. As a subcontractor of East West Partners, the company developing the Village-at-Northstar, Robert Marr Construction gets part of its insurance from East West’s insurance program, which requires regular drug testing. For Tom Just, an owner of Mountain Home Center, the move to general drug testing came similarly out of a deal with a larger, out-of-town firm, but it had nothing to do with insurance. This is “something we’re seeing a lot more of as big developers come into town,” Just said. For a long time his company had a policy of “no drugs in the workplace,” and tests were only performed after an accident or under suspicion that an individual was using drugs. After being subcontracted by G.E. Johnson, another client of East West, Just’s company had to perform mandatory drug tests on everyone as part of their contract. Dave Albertson, a vice president at G.E. Johnson, said insurance played no role in the decision to require drug testing, but rather came out of concern about worker safety. “Caring for the safety of our employees is a foremost for us,” he said. Nonetheless, Just said there were indirect insurance benefits. Fewer workplace accidents brought down their worker compensation insurance rates. “The productivity benefits were huge,” he said. A difficulty drug testing companies face is the inability to distinguish between individuals who are on drugs and individuals who take drugs outside of work. Unlike an alcohol test, which tests an individual for influence of alcohol at a given time, drug tests look for residual drugs in the system. Drug tests indicate usage within the last few days or within the last month, depending on the drug. The problem has in some cases been an added impetus for establishing drug testing programs. Just said that before his business had a program that tested every worker, he “would have difficulties disciplining an employee” if an accident occurred, because it would not be possible to prove that drugs were involved in the accident. The new program though, simplifies the issue by making it a policy violation to test positive for drugs. Punishments for testing positive differ from business to business and range from being sent to a drug program to expulsion. Illegal in some cities According to Brown random testing is not allowed in California without documented, probable suspicion. In some cities, like San Francisco, it is outright banned, he said. Most employers who drug test all their employees said that there was little opposition to the implementation of such a program. Just said that there was a “small percentage who opposed the change.” Some of these relented and some of these left the company. As one can expect, employees also try to elude the system, although it is hard to say to what degree they succeed. Brown claimed that supplements people buy to cheat on the drug test no longer work with newer equipment. But one worker, whose company drug tests, said employees just “find ways to beat the test,” rather than change their lifestyle. “There are more products available at headshops to do this than there are to get high with,” he said Despite a surge in drug screening, many area companies continue to not drug test. Many of the firms declined to comment, but others said that it was simply a matter of having a close enough staff that testing was unnecessary. “We’re fortunate to have had same work crew for many years, and we know that (they) don’t use drugs,” said Tracy Loudenclos, office manager at Lowe Construction. “If we were to get a new crew, we would drug test them.”

Tahoe Truckee School Board weighs drug test issue

TRUCKEE – After hearing from students, educators and a doctor during its Sept. 21 meeting, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Board of Trustees began to back away from a proposal calling for mandatory random drug testing of student athletes. “What I’m hearing is that this isn’t going to work very well,” said board member Suzanne Prouty after nearly two hours of public discussion. The board initially delayed discussion of the subject because Jim Abbott, assistant superintendent, had invited late-arriving guests who were to give some insight into the issue. Once Abbott’s panel – which included principals, coaches, a medical professional and a county education employee – had arrived, their presentations portrayed the proposed drug testing as financially taxing, socially questionable and “barely legal.” “Personally, I’m not in favor of it,” Dr. Ed Heneveld, an emergency room physician at Tahoe Forest Hospital said of the testing. “There’s some benefit, but then you weigh cost verses benefit, appropriateness verses benefit, community support verses benefit.” A representative from the Placer County Department of Education, Tad Kitada, told the board that he could not find sufficient data regarding student drug testing because the concept is relatively new; he said he had yet to locate a school in California that had instituted a mandatory testing policy. The school district is basing its push for drug testing on the findings of a recent survey. The California Healthy Kids Survey, an anonymous survey issued by the state’s Department of Education, showed that student’s within the district had an above average appetite for alcohol and drugs. Participation in the survey required written permission from students’ parents; about half the students in the district did not take the survey. The meeting also saw students speak out against the proposed policy. Some students felt it was unfair to test only athletes. “It should be all the students, all the coaches, all the staff,” said Katie Kyler, a senior at North Tahoe High School. “No one should be excluded.” Kitada explained that it was against the law to impose mandatory drug testing on students because it would be considered a search (which requires probable cause), but that the United States Supreme Court had cleared the way for testing athletes in 1995. “Student athletes go in knowing they’re not going to have the same level of privacy as other students,” Kitada said. Mark Martinez, a student-journalist with Tahoe-Truckee High School’s newspaper, The Wolverine, told the board he had been interviewing classmates about the possibility of drug testing and the response had been less than positive. “A lot of kids will quit the team and keep doing the drug,” Martinez said, suggesting the boards’ proposal could blow up in their face. The strongest show of support for the implementation of such a policy came from North Tahoe High School’s principal, Rod Wallace. He said he thought the testing would curb the area’s drug problem among students, and that the procedure would get eventual support from the community. “I think the positives outweigh the negatives,” Wallace told the board, explaining that the potential of being tested might dissuade drug use. “It gives the kids another chance to say no. It takes the pressure off the kids.” Board member Mel Cone suggested that efforts focused on athletes would positively affect the entire student body. Did athletes, he asked, serve as moral-guideposts for their peers? “Who do you look up to?” Cone asked one Truckee student. “I don’t think we have role models in our school. We’re all around the same age,” answered 12th-grader David Brooks. “I’m not gonna look up to someone in my grade.” Brooks also echoed Martinez when he told the board that drug testing would more likely deter students from participating in sports than from experimenting with drugs. “I can see where you guys are coming from with this, but eventually…,” Brooks paused, “… you’re not gonna have any sports teams.” Besides the apparent lack of support being shown for drug testing, the board was also discouraged from implementing the policy after finding out the tests would do little to flesh-out alcohol use. “I thought we would be targeting kids who are drinking heavily,” Prouty said. By the end of the night, members of the board decided more information on the effectiveness of drug testing needed to be gathered. Prouty also said she would like to see “community buy-in” before supporting the policy. Board member Cone seemed to capture the night’s collective sentiment best during his closing comments: “Individuals cannot control other individuals, they can only control themselves. That’s my philosophy.”

Tobacco prevention steps

Six steps to prevent and reduce tobacco, alcohol and other drug use among youth: 1. Recognize that all drugs are unhealthy – Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol are just as harmful as any other drugs. In fact, these two drugs kill more people than all other drugs combined. Studies show that use of these two substances solidifies the addiction process which encourages youths to experiment with and use other drugs. 2. Seek out help for youths early – Substance-using youths are more likely to break their addiction if help is sought out early. Don’t wait for a situation to improve on its own. 3. Reduce youth access to drugs – Many young people are able to purchase tobacco and alcohol from stores. The legal age to purchase tobacco is 18, and 21 for alcohol. If you know of a business that is illegally selling these products to minors, call (800) 527-5443 for tobacco sales, and (530) 263-3575 for alcohol sales. 4. Model healthy behavior – Children often model what they observe. If schools are able to make an impact with lessons taught about drugs, the community’s adults must support these efforts. 5. Stop advertising aimed at children – The tobacco and alcohol industries heavily promote their products to youths. For example, using cartoon characters in advertising campaigns and paying merchants to display them. Local coalitions of concerned citizens are working to combat advertising aimed at children. For details, call (530) 621-6130. 6. Support prevention programs for youth – Drug prevention programs for youths have been significantly reduced in recent years due to funding cuts. Alternative funding sources must be explored in order for these programs to continue. Source: El Dorado County Health Department and Office of Education.

Zephyr Cove Elementary students graduate from DARE program

Approximately 30 students from Zephyr Cove Elementary School graduated from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, or DARE, on April 22 in a ceremony officiated by Principal Nancy Cauley. The nine-week program was instructed by Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Youth Services Officer Teresa Duffy. The DARE program a cooperative effort between law enforcement, schools, parents and the community, working together to help children make the right choices concerning non-use of tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs. The DARE lessons focused on four major areas: Providing accurate information about drugs, alcohol and tobacco; teaching students good decision making skills; educating students on how to recognize and resist peer pressure; giving students ideas for positive alternatives to drug, alcohol and tobacco use. DARE teaches kids how to recognize and resist the direct and subtle pressures that influence them to experiment with alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or other drugs. Student Drue Chapman received special recognition at the ceremony for writing an inspiring poem regarding non-use of drugs and alcohol. Since 75 to 80 percent of all crime is directly or indirectly related to drug or alcohol use, program officials say it is vital to reach children at an early age. By Drue Chapman Alcohol can make you crazy It makes you very very mad Alcohol also can make you lazy You can also seem very sad You can get off balance You may seem to stutter You can lose some of your talents Your house is a big clutter You might do thoughtless things Like get behind a wheel You might get distracted and think you have wings Next thing you know the air bag you feel When you take alcohol you may think you are cool You may think you are awesome You actually look like a fool And at night you’ll sleep like a possum You will be mad for no reason You won’t eat your food You may forget a season You will be in a bad mood You won’t get a lot of hugs This is why you don’t take alcohol drugs

Alcohol and Drug Program in South Lake Tahoe Moves to New Location

El Dorado County’s Alcohol and Drug Program (ADP) has a new home in South Lake Tahoe. As of January 26, Alcohol and Drug services, previously located on Third Street, will share space with Mental Health services at 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd. in South Lake Tahoe. “The new location provides a great opportunity to collaborate with the staff of Mental Health and more comprehensively serve the residents of our community,” said Hector J. Reyes, Supervising Health Education Coordinator of ADP. “The move is also helpful in terms of reducing our facility costs.” The Alcohol and Drug Program offers a wide range of education, prevention, treatment, and counseling services. ADP staff support programs in local schools, reduce youth access to alcohol, stop teen binge drinking, and create opportunities to promote positive youth development. In addition, ADP works in collaboration with other agencies in El Dorado County to assist high risk adults and youth through various Drug Court programs. Staff members can be reached at (530) 573-4372. The Alcohol and Drug Program is a division of the El Dorado County Health Services Department.

Judge teaches kids about pitfalls of drug use

Alarmed by the number of middle school students coming before him for alcohol and drug offenses, District Judge Dave Gamble has altered his traditional discussion with children in the courtroom. Gamble has often hosted Carson Valley’s school children, encouraging them to watch the courts in action and talking to them about how the system works. However, Gamble is starting to tailor his message for children entering the middle school to warn them about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. “The drug use we are seeing at the middle school is making me change some of what I talk about to the fifth- and sixth-graders,” he said. “I used to bring them in and talk about the courts, but now I’m talking very directly about drugs. “We had three kids from the middle school in court the other day,” Gamble said. “It’s important we not treat kids as so young they can’t understand what’s happening. When they get to the middle school they have drugs and alcohol in their faces.”

Guest column: Alcohol a weapon of abuse, not just a drug

In society, we are inundated with advertisements and daily messages infused into our culture that justify alcohol as acceptable and normal. This substance is glorified as a method to enhance dining experiences, celebrations, entertainment, sporting events and holidays. Alcohol itself is not the problem. A drink to accompany a meal or celebratory time is a much different choice than to completely dissociate from reality and manipulate others to achieve a "good time." Children grow up seeing alcohol use as part of being an adult. Alcohol abuse destroys families and contributes to teens having extreme issues building meaningful relationships and having social emotional stability. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent who has alcohol abuse problems. This contributes to excess rates of binge drinking in teens and young adults through the misconception that alcohol is how to handle a Friday night out or a crisis situation. We are seeing increased rates of alcohol use among teens, which when infused into their habits increases the risk of addiction, harmful decisions and legal consequences. Unfortunately, youth who drink are 7.5 times more likely to use other illegal drugs. We must combat rising rates of drug use and elevate the normalcy of supportive and safe relationships. February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. One important fact that demands attention is that alcohol is the No. 1 date rape drug. Many do not associate alcohol in the same category as "roofies" and other rohypnol related drugs. However, the truth is that using alcohol to influence sexual interactions is the most common cause of sexual assault and date rape. Together, Live Violence Free and the South Tahoe Drug Free Coalition are speaking up to raise awareness in our community that alcohol is a prominent factor in incidents of teen dating abuse and non-consensual sexual activity. Just as the term "domestic violence" set a public precedent of the large need to support those abused by intimate partners, the term "date rape" should also serve as lexicon to drive support toward those victimized by sexual assault. We should not limit the concept of rape to dramatic movie-like assaults of violence perpetrated by a stranger hiding in the bushes. We need to recognize that two-thirds of all sexual assaults are perpetrated by a close acquaintance or partner. The harmful role of alcohol in these occurrences is often not associated due to the public's acceptance of the substance as less dangerous than other illegal drugs. California law states that no person can legally consent to sexual activity while under the influence of alcohol. As a result, when alcohol is used as a tactic to progress any relationship to the next level in a sexual manner, it becomes a situation of date rape. A fun night with a boy/girlfriend can easily turn into a traumatizing event. It is up to us as adults to educate our teens, and remember that alcohol is not exempt from the high-risk threats of all drugs. Often we lose sight that alcohol is a drug in the first place, similar to that of caffeine or coffee. Too much coffee causes the body to express symptoms such as becoming jittery, dizzy, anxious or an increased heart rate. Too much alcohol impacts the brain's memory and ability to make logical decisions. If we want our teens to form meaningful relationships based on trust, respect and equality, they must be able to make smart decisions. The extreme social pressures to conform, be accepted and deal with life without pain or struggle is compounding the issue of teen substance abuse. Alcohol is the leading cause of date rape and we must draw this connection. We must have conversations with our youth about boundaries, consent and safe sexual activity beyond birth control and pregnancy. We must make clear that consent is not optional and alcohol removes any and all consent. Teens are at-risk of many different forms of abuse in their relationships. Beyond common forms of physical and emotional mistreatment, there lies a threat when alcohol is involved. This month, help us increase awareness and be a mentor. Have the conversation with a son/daughter/teenager to teach them that their choices and consent matter. It is time we broaden our scope of respect and be real about establishing "real-ationships" of integrity and trust. Hannah Greenstreet is a community advocate at Live Violence Free and the student advocate at South Tahoe Middle School. She works directly with young people and community-based organizations to address necessary at-risk interventions to help youth be more personally, academically and socially successful. She can be reached at hgreenstreet@liveviolencefree.org.

DUI patrols planned through the holidays

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – ‘Tis the season to be merry – and sober. South Shore law enforcement agencies have one drunken driving checkpoint and a series of saturation patrols planned during the busy holiday season. The measures are part of a countywide task force funded through the California Office of Traffic Safety. “After hearing about the dangers of drinking and driving time after time, most people have gotten the message that if they’re planning on drinking, they should always plan a safe way home,” said South Lake Tahoe Police Sgt. Shannon Laney in a statement. “Sadly, millions of Americans still think they are invincible and regularly choose to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink.” With 24-hour drinking available just across the state line, drunken driving remains prevalent at the South Shore, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Jeff Gartner. Officers from CHP’s South Lake Tahoe Office have made nearly 300 arrests of suspected drunken drivers this year, compared to about 265 last year, Gartner said. Highway Patrol officers have also responded to 33 alcohol-related collisions this year, compared to 19 at this point last year, Gartner said. The bump in alcohol-involved traffic incidents comes at a time when drunken driving deaths are on the decline regionally and nationally. Alcohol-related driving fatalities dropped 7.4 percent between 2008 and 2009 for the entire country, according to the Century Council, a national nonprofit group funded by distillers to fight drunken driving and underage drinking. Nevada saw the biggest decrease, 35.8 percent, during that time period. California has seen a drop in DUI related deaths for the past four years, with the latest 7.2 percent drop mirroring the national average. But an increase in the number of people killed in traffic collisions who show involvement in drugs has recently drawn concern from federal officials. Of the 21,798 drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2009 who were tested for tested for drugs, 3,952 tested positive, according to researchers with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drug use among fatally injured drivers increased from 13 percent in 2005, to 15 percent in 2006, to 16 percent in 2007 and to 18 percent in 2008 and 2009. Researchers warned that drug involvement does not mean the driver was impaired or that drug use was the cause of the crash. Years of field observations and empirical evidence show a strong relationship between blood alcohol levels and impairment and crash correlation, but the same evidence is not available for drugs, said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland in a statement. He said continuing to conduct research to better understand the correlation between drug levels and their impact on crashes. “While it’s clear that science and state policies regarding drugs and driving are evolving, one fact is indisputable. If you are taking any drugs that might impair your ability to drive safely, then you need to put common sense and caution to the forefront, and give your keys to someone else,” Strickland said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s drugs or alcohol – if you’re impaired, don’t drive.”