Shonna Moss along with guest Lauren Gunter from Teen Challenge spoke to the Kiwanis Club about the Strengthening Families Program. This is a program funded through the Rapides Foundation. It is a program to give parents the tools to keep kids alcohol and drug free. Shonna related the story of their adoption of a 12 year old girl who came from a background of addiction. Their daughter also has a brother who is in Teen Challenge right now and whose life has been changed. If a parent is addicted a child is 4 times more likely to be addicted. Thirty day programs do not work.
In answer to a question, Lauren Gunter said Teen Challenge has some adolescent programs in other states but not in Louisiana. These are programs that are similar to boarding schools. One of the issues of teen drinking is that parents allow children to drink at home or provide alcohol for parties because they think they can control the situation in this way. Most kids get alcohol from parents or older siblings.
Strengthening Families is an 11 week course. It involves having a meal together and then breaking into sessions – 7-12 year olds, 13-17 year olds and then parents. One problem is that no fathers have been engaged in the program,
A forum called Understand the Teen Brain and be Empowered to End the Cycle of Addiction will be held at the Winn Parish Library on June 7th at 5:30 PM. This forum is funded by the Rapides Foundation. Everyone is invited to attend. The brain is not developed until the mid-twenties. That is when good reasoning skills are present. Lauren Gunter said that alcohol and drugs are chemicals that alter the brain and take away dopamine which helps with good decisions. This takes a toll on the mind and body. 45% of kids who take their first drink at age 13 become an alcoholic.
The Strengthening Families Program is decreasing teen substance abuse by improving the family unit. In the program, a “family” is defined as one or more adults responsible for one or more children: a “parent” is an adult with that responsibility.