BAY Matters forum stresses importance of early drug intervention

Superintendent Clint Keener discusses Bay Schools' policy when dealing with students that have substance abuse problems.

Here's a scenario – you're in your teenage daughter's room gathering clothes for your weekly laundry loads and come across a container of bath salts buried underneath a pile of dirty clothes. You think, “I didn't know she was into taking baths," but with teenagers, who can tell what they're into at any given time.

As you think about it though, it gives you pause, because you don't remember her taking any baths recently and yet the container is half empty. You look again at the bottle of salts and it is labeled Vanilla Sky. How calming, you think. The fact is that these bath salts may not for a soothing, relaxing bath but may be a tell-tale sign that your teen is experimenting with an illicit and dangerous drug.

This type of synthetic drug, made in underground labs and marketed as a household item, was among the topics discussed at the “Because All Youth Matters” public forum held on Nov. 7 in the Bay High School auditorium. Hosted by the Bay Village Kiwanis, the discussion featured community leaders including school and city officials, members of the clergy, police department and substance abuse counselors providing information on how to identify youth chemical substance experimentation, how this issue affects us all, plus what each of us can do as concerned citizens to help our kids stay drug free.

Besides the use of drugs, the forum also provided an insight to the abuse of alcohol by teens. Bay Village schools superintendent Clint Keener related a story of a Bay couple who came home early from a trip to find all their furniture covered in plastic. The reason? Their 16-year-old son was preparing for a beer party and covered the furniture to protect it from the effects of the party. This scenario may not be common, but as Keener stated, "No one is immune to it."

The superintendent described the school system's policy in dealing with students that have substance abuse problems. "We want to work with the parents and we want our students to make the right choices. We have procedures in place to help both the parents and student in these situations," he said.

Bay Village Detective Kevin Krolkowski described how bath salts can be swallowed, snorted or smoked to get high and are growing in popularity among teenagers throughout the country. The new designer drug is making inroads into the teen population and are sold at convenience stores, gas stations and head shops. Krolkowski explained how the police, schools and Bay Family Services work together to help Bay Village teens that have been drawn into the use of drugs, and what programs are available to parents and teens in dealing with drug experimentation.

The evening’s most poignant moments came from a local mother who shared the story of her youngest daughter's "decent into addition and her ascent into sobriety” and a young woman’s perspective as a recovering heroin addict.

Drugs, she said, “did a scary amount of damage to my life, to my family, to my education, to my future. They all ruined a part of what I had as a child.”

“I can't even explain my gratitude to the people that are doing what they’re doing today,” she continued. “This is incredible, and I know that it's going to save lives.”

Bay Middle School Principal Sean McAndrews discussed the importance of parents educating themselves about teen drug use and encouraged all in attendance to spread the word about teen drug experimentation and the “Let's Talk About It” forum, to be held next May at Bay Middle School.

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Volume 4, Issue 23, Posted 9:37 AM, 11.13.2012