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Forum in Central District offers strategies against teen drug, alcohol use

New research shows fewer teenagers are drinking and smoking cigarettes in the Central District, but marijuana abuse is holding steady. (Photo: KOMO News file)

SEATTLE - New research shows fewer teenagers are drinking and smoking cigarettes in the Central District, but marijuana abuse is holding steady. On Thursday night, parents attended a forum to confront those challenges and learn about some strategies to promote healthy choices.

The panelists included two teens now in recovery.

“It started off with marijuana,” said Jordyn, an 18 year old who quickly progressed to abusing prescription drugs like Oxycodone.

“I started using at the age of 8," offered Marques, a 16 year old who started dealing drugs, as well as using them.

Marques and Jordyn didn't want their last names used, but they did want to share how alcohol and drugs were ruining their lives until they made a change.

The forum was specific to teenage substance abuse in the Central District. However, the strategies presented can help families anywhere.

Kids start using for a variety of reasons, according to the forum presenters, and it's up to parents to set clear guidelines early on and then to monitor their children.

Kevin Haggerty, with the UW School of Social Work, said that doesn't mean snooping and spying.

“It means having conversations. It means knowing who their friends are and having conversations with their friends,” Haggerty said.

When expectations aren't being met, Haggerty said consequences must follow.

“Consequences should show what's been done wrong, give them ownership of the problem and promote problem solving,” he said

Marques said it took rehab to turn his life around. At the Healthy Youth CAN forum, he had this advice for other teens headed down his old path.

“Marijuana is dangerous. Marijuana is addictive,” he said. “I was walking, talking proof of that."

Healthy Youth CAN, the group that sponsored the forum, is working on a wide range of projects to promote prevention and encourage healthy choices for kids growing up in the Central District.

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