The Rockwood Drug-Free Coalition hosted "Above the Influence," a substance abuse prevention event Feb. 11 at Crestview Middle. The event was open to the public and featured tips for parents on ways to help their teenagers resist drugs and alcohol.
The evening featured a public screening of the documentary film "The First Day," which is about the life of former NBA player Chris Herren.
Rockwood Drug-Free Coalition Coordinator Lili Schliesser explained why.
"Herren travels across the country talking to teenagers and focuses on where he was when he first decided to use drugs and alcohol," said Schliesser. "It's a really powerful film, and we've been showing it in Rockwood schools thanks to the efforts of a Rockwood parent who helped make it possible."
After the film, organizers hosted a panel discussion featuring Leah Schaefer, NCADA director of prevention education; Tucker Hiegel, a substance use disorder professional representing National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI)-St. Louis; and Erica Mock, president of the Eureka High chapter of Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD).
"Talk to your kids," said Schliesser. "The number one thing a student cites when he or she decides not to use drugs or alcohol is that their parents told them not to. They listen. Keep talking because they hear you."
"My message is similar to the one in Herren's film," said Hiegel. "On the first day, you don't realize how heavily weighted those decisions are. It doesn't seem like it's going to turn into the rest of your life, and it can."
Schaefer discussed ways other than substance use that people find to cope with stress.
"Finding a positive strategy is a means of coping," said Schaefer. "Whether it's playing a musical instrument or writing or sports – finding something that works for you and having that person you can talk to if you need to is the key."
"Since we have such amazing music, sports and arts programs in Rockwood, we're really trying to promote those things," said Mock. "We're trying to get young people into clubs and activities so they realize they can do these things without doing drugs."