By Allison Collins
OTEGO – The Tri-Town Coalition on Substance Abuse Prevention (COSAP) has teamed up with Oneonta’s LEAF, Inc. (Life Enjoyed Alcohol Free) and Unatego to offer a unique opioid awareness opportunity for adult community members and parents.
Thursday, March 15 at 7 p.m., anyone over 21 interested in learning how to identify drug use among teens is encouraged to participate in LEAF’s interactive “Shawna Has a Secret” program. The program will take place in the Unatego auditorium and typically lasts 90 minutes.
Conceptualized last summer, “Shawna” invites participants to search an average teen’s “bedroom” for signs of drug use, then returns participants to the room with a LEAF prevention specialist.
LEAF Executive Director Julie Dostal said plans to bring “Shawna” to Unatego got underway in December. LEAF’s participation, she said, followed an invitation from COSAP.
“(COSAP) had heard about ‘Shawna’ and thought it would be really good to bring to their communities,” Dostal said, “and we agree.”
Joan Hale, vice president with COSAP, said LEAF’s program underscores the importance of taking an early approach to prevention.
“We hope that we reach parents that had no idea they need to intervene,” Hale said. “Prevention is much easier than rehabilitation from drug addiction, and it’s cheaper and more successful.”
Hale added, “We are united between three school districts in substance abuse prevention, so that we have healthier communities and healthier teens.”
Dostal noted that the age restriction on participation serves to keep the program about prevention, not promotion.