High School Freshmen Hear About Substance Use Prevention

Howell Alliance coordinator Christa Riddle and Howell High School physical education and health teacher Nancy Clark showcase Clark’s bulletin board encouraging students to pursue a positive mindset. (Photo courtesy Howell Alliance)

  HOWELL – The Howell Alliance started off the new year by visiting Howell High School to teach students about the risks of youth vaping and substance use.

  Howell Alliance Coordinator Christa Riddle joined Howell High School’s Student Assistance Counselor (SAC) Julie Adkins to educate freshmen with an hour-long interactive presentation that empowers students to make informative and healthy decisions. The presentations help prepare students for peer pressure and other triggers that may push them to use substances such as nicotine, marijuana, alcohol, and prescription medications.

  “Since the brain develops until at least 25 years of age, youth are reminded that their growing bodies are at an increased risk for long-term consequences and addiction when using substances, especially high potency products like today’s nicotine salts and concentrated THC products that are not subject to any potency cap regulations and are often preferred by underage users,” the Howell Alliance states. “For example, extracted THC oils and waxes can be 99% THC, and nicotine strengths can run up to 50 mg. THC is the psychoactive, mind-altering chemical in marijuana that affects the body and brain.”

  The presentations consisted of open discussions about vaping, as it’s become a popular trend among the youth and young adults. Students shared insights on what they already know about vaping, how their peers behave, and what they want to learn about the subject. Topics included e-cigarette regulations, covering the illegal sale of products to anyone under the age of 21, the e-cigarette flavor ban in the state, and discussing the legal age to purchase, possess, or use marijuana and alcohol.

  Another major topic of discussion included the reasons that young people try these substances. Riddle explained how it could be due to peer pressure, relief from anxiety and depression, curiosity, boredom, a major life change, and more. Students also learned how to say “no” and walk away from these types of situations.

  “I am impressed by youth participation during these presentations; on how much they already know and share about these topics and the questions they ask to become informed decisionmakers,” Riddle said. “We are all learning a lot from one another through candid, mature, and respectful dialogue, which helps us achieve our goal to empower students to make wise, fact-based, and health-oriented choices when it comes to their bodies and brains. We want them to understand that decisions they make today can last a lifetime.”

  To learn more about the Howell Alliance, visit twp.howell.nj.us/Alliance.