Combatting teenage substance abuse focus of local forum held at VHH


On Tuesday about 120 people attended a drug forum to listen to a  panel of experts talk about substance abuse issues in Crescenta Valley.
The forum was held at Verdugo Hills Hospital and sponsored by the Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition.
Before the panel discussion began a video that was filmed and produced by young adults was shown to the audience. In the film teens, their images blurred and voices distorted to protect their identity, spoke on drug and alcohol issues they face daily.
Students shared stories of how they have faced drugs and alcohol in school and at parties with friends. Several students said they knew of kids who came to school drunk or high. On the video were kids that had done drugs, still do drugs and others who had never done drugs or drunk alcohol.
One said she tried alcohol because she had always wanted to. Another said she didn’t do drugs or drink because of what her mom would take away – her cellphone and freedom.   She also spoke of being a role model for a younger sibling and how her behavior would directly affect her sister.
“I think if I did anything bad that would make it alright for her to do something bad,” she said.
Dr. Greg Lizer spoke about the physical affects of drinking and how just one night of binge drinking could and would affect a teen’s body.
“One fourth of sudden cardiac deaths in teens is from alcohol poisoning once you [eliminate] congenital heart defects,” Lizer said. “And many of you might not know this but binge drinking increases your risk of breast cancer.”
Then Cary Quashen, a certified addiction specialist with Action Family Counseling, took the podium.
“I want to play some messages for you,” Quashen said by way of introduction.
He played 25 messages from family members and fellow therapists, all related to failed attempts of rehabilitation, including several messages about teens who had overdosed. The voices, all sullen, told a story of where many drug addictions end.
“I didn’t know if I should have played those recordings,” Quashen said in an interview after the forum. “But this is what I hear and I wanted the audience to know.  I am so tired of getting these calls.”