Sixth graders take part in anti-drug, alcohol workshop series

The Woodland Park Municipal Alliance Against Alcoholism and Drug Abuse recently sponsored a six-part workshop called "We're Not Buying It" for Memorial School sixth graders, given by the Center for Prevention, based in Newton.

The program aims to prevent or delay the onset of alcohol, marijuana, and drug use, and to prevent bullying. Participants learn how to deconstruct media messages that promote or glamorize substance use. With a better understanding of the marketing directed toward them, students are better able to resist messages and to make healthy decisions.

Sessions focused on “media is everywhere,” alcohol and marijuana use, prescription drugs, healthy ways to deal with stress, staying safe on social media and bullying. The sessions are customized for each class as program facilitators Miss Ashley and Miss Laura say some are more knowledgeable than others on the topics discussed.

At each session, "fast fact" were handed out and students picked ones they wanted to discuss, such as "1 in 5 say painkillers are not addictive" and "each day an average of 2,000 teens will try prescription drugs for the first time."

At a session which focused on popular music, nearly two third of the students knew of songs that referenced drugs or alcohol, mentioning such artists as Wiz Kalifa, Juice Wrld, and Snoop Dogg.

The students were broken into small groups, looking at lyric sheets of popular songs, and counting the number of drug or alcohol references in them. In one such song, “Because I Got High,” students counted 52 references. 

In speaking about alcohol, students learned that the legal drinking age is 21 as adult brains are not fully developed until that time. “In actuality, it’s more like 25,” Miss Ashley noted. The students learned about the Good Samaritan Law, which protects you from any liability in an attempt to get medical help for someone who is in need.

Students also heard about the addictive properties of drugs and alcohol as well – how the brain tells the body that the person needs it. “Usage only masks your problems,” Miss Ashley said. “It’s so important that we learn healthy coping skills to deal with the stresses that we face.”