Middle school students get the facts

Students take part in science-based events focusing on drug and alcohol use

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Wendy Butler, a student assistance counselor from Educational Service District 112, hands out drug and alcohol fact sheets to students at Canyon Creek Middle School. The event was a part of National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. (Contributed photo)

Schools across the country took part in National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week in January.

This is a national health observance for teens to promote local events that use National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism science to shatter the myths about drugs. More than 1,800 events were held in the United States and internationally.

“We are taking advantage of this week in Washougal to start conversations about drugs and alcohol with youth,” said Wendy Butler, a student assistance counselor from Educational Service District 112. “The focus on drug and alcohol information has changed since the days of using scare tactics for kids. Now our information is more evidence-based facts.”

Butler spent two days each at Canyon Creek and Jemtegaard middle schools talking to students at lunch time.

“They would line up for a chance to read a slip of paper with a fact about drugs or alcohol on it,” she explained. “They would read the fact and then paraphrase the information back to me.”

Stating the information in their own words helps students to understand and retain the information, she added.

“We are not with these kids every second so they need to be prepared with the tools to think on their own,” Butler said. “It is best to give them information to process so they can make their own decisions. We are approaching our kids on a more mature level.”

An outcome of the fact sharing is also to create student interest in prevention clubs starting at both schools.

“I think it is cool and interesting to hear these facts,” said CCMS eighth-grader Alexis Brock.

The fact she was given was about e-cigarettes, a topic she was already aware of.

“I have talked with my family about how it is not right that e-cigarettes can be sold to kids when it is really the same stuff in them as regular cigarettes.”

Student Casey Rappe’ said he found the facts interesting to think about.

“My fact was on alcohol blood levels,” he said. “Some kids don’t realize that what you drink gets into your blood. That is what makes you woozy but it can also kill you if you have too much. It is kind of scary to know that alcohol goes into your blood.”

Facts were presented in several categories including marijuana, tobacco and nicotine, synthetic drugs, prescription drugs and alcohol.

“Kids are surprised by the information about prescription drugs and that it is the source of most drug overdoses,” Butler said.

The danger of additives in synthetic drugs was also new to the students.

“We want to let them know the most important thing they have is their brain and they should not harm it while they are still growing,” Butler said. “My job is really to empower kids to make positive choices.”