NEWARK, Md. - As children become young adults, they and their parents are faced with many challenges, and for some those include drug and alcohol use, anxiety, and depression. Thursday in Newark, parents went through an exhibition to look for clues of substance abuse in kids and started a conversation on how to handle such a situation.
The event held by the Worcester County Health Department, Worcester County Sheriff's Office and Atlantic General Hospital at Worcester Technical High School had parents go through an exercise to see how well they could spot clues that their child might need help.
"I think as parents watch their teenagers grow they tend to back off a little bit in their lives and try to and expect that they're becoming adults but they're not adults yet," said Kat Gunby, Director of Prevention with the Health Department.
A check of your child's room could turn up things as routine as nail polish used to huff, or body spray used to cover the scent of smoke, but it could also lead to something as alarming as a half finished suicide note lying on the floor, according to experts.
"And that may be a trigger to let you know that your child is having difficulties and needs to seek psychiatric attention that you may not be aware of any other way, because they are not going to come out and tell you point blank," said Carolyn Miller-Cragway, a registered nurse and Care Coordinator.
Miller-Cragway has a son who struggled with substance abuse, but didn't know at the time.
"I was one of those parents who thought that I knew everything there was to know and that wasn't going to happen in my house. And we found out after a severe car accident that my son was addicted to pain medications."
Sergeant Matt Crisafulli, with the Sheriffs Office, says it's important that parents also check for household items like cough medicine, an abundance of water bottles, or items that can be turned into bongs or blunts that could be lying in plain site.
Parents may feel this is an invasion of privacy, but Crisafulli says this is a way to empower parents to help guide their young adults.
"Legally they do not have an expectation of privacy. We want families to know that. When they child says that's my phones you cant look through it, you can look through it."
And if you do find any clues, you can get your child the treatment they need.
"We're going to start the process for what happened, what they used, and then we can start reaching out we can give them information through the health department, through the (Atlantic General Hospital," said Crisafulli.
Experts at the event say this is just the start of a conversation within the community about preventing and stopping the cycle of substance abuse with young adults.
These organizations are also working with local schools through a health literacy program to educate and let parents know the signs and symptoms before they miss the prevention stage.
For more information on this event you can contact Donna with Atlantic General Hospital at 410.629.6820.
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