7 thoughts on “Watertown Middle, High School Students to be Screened for Drug Use Next Year

  1. In regard to opting out, I actually stated that I wanted to be sure that students and parents understood it to be a genuine option with no negative connotations. Aid and support should be readily available to those who desire it, but no coercive program will be effective, and success will be based on trust and genuine confidentiality.

  2. SBIRT is a critical part of the efforts to address substance use and misuse in our community. I fear that a headline like the one on this article will incite fear and suspicion among community members (because they will immediately jump to incorrect conclusions about the nature of the screening). I hope that in future articles and public awareness campaigns an effort can be made to ease concerns that parents and students might have (and so lessen the possibility of parents or students “opting out”.
    Ilana Hardesty
    Program Operations Manager, SCOPE of Pain Program, Boston University School of Medicine

  3. I’ll post my reply to Erica here as well as on the FB link:

    Erica, I can assure you that I am quite horrified that my words could have been misinterpreted as you’ve suggested. I have to apologize that I had awful jetlag on Monday (traveled on Saturday after working a week in the Middle East). A full day of work and 2.5 hour SC meeting is tough. My words may have come out jumbled. I know what my point was, but don’t recall my exact words. My points were as follows:

    1) I think screening for substance use could be a real game changer. For example, as someone who used alcohol as early as 7th grade, had I been screened in my early teens–and had appropriate follow-up–it could have saved me many bad decisions and experiences and poor grades.

    2) We need to be well prepared to address our students’ needs when we begin screening. Right now, the plan is for health education, but we need more than education.

    3) Our students (and adolescents in general) use alcohol and substances for many complex reasons. I’ve done statistical analysis for the Watertown Youth Risk Behavior Survey for a number of years and I know that students who report higher rates of alcohol and other substance use are more likely to identify as LGBTQ and transgender. Students that use are also more likely to report being sexually active, having experienced some type of sexual assault or rape, and have higher rates of depression and suicidal thoughts or plans. There was a recent article in the J of Public Health that showed students with higher rates of mobility (parents move) also have higher rates of alcohol use. Our students have complex lives and the reasons they use alcohol are complex. By the way, the pattern we see in Watertown is fully consistent with national data. For us here in Watertown, we must help students find a healthier path, which will likely require community, town, and school partnerships.

    Charlie, do you think you can edit your article so my words are not misinterpreted?

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