Kids are dying. 10 years ago the average age to focus on for substance abuse prevention was 16. The tragic reality is that today, some 10- and 11-year-olds struggle with chemical dependency.
Let me say that again: 10- and 11-year-olds. Fifth graders!
When youth suffer from depression, peer pressure, and the inability to find someone they can trust and confide in, they may self-medicate. Parents and guardians are in the dark. The best-case scenario is that adults at least acknowledge the problem, but lack awareness and education about who to contact for help. When that happens, we have failed as a community to provide timely resources, education, and support.
As a community we deny the existence of such an issue. Synthetics – what are those? Pill party – we don’t have that here. Inhaling alcohol vapors – no one does that! But this is reality. These are the challenges our kids face day after day.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a community to fight substance abuse. Chemical dependency is not a battle that can be fought alone.
A movement has been created in Winona, and the momentum is building. It’s time to acknowledge that chemical dependency is a major challenge for our young people.