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Learning to Be Free

Victor H., Staff Writer

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Photo courtesy of medcom.id.

During the week of April 12, Freedom from Chemical Dependency facilitators came to teach students of the middle school about intelligent and healthy choices for drug and alcohol use. As Mr. Will Straughan and Mrs. Sarah Burrell had previously been addicts, their experience and knowledge became power.

It seems all this has had an effect. According to Tray Malloy, a middle school counselor, there has already been feedback from the survey taken at the end of the week, showing that almost five times as many students have grown in their understanding of the effects of drug use.

Apart from the gained knowledge, students also learned how to help a friend. According to Mr. Malloy, “Ninety-five percent said they felt competent in being able to help a friend. The survey showed that seven percent had a high knowledge before and 61 percent had a high knowledge after.”

Some students felt otherwise. Tommy L., a seventh grader, said, “No, I already knew it was bad and horrible. I knew teenagers get addicted easily.”

Though Mack T., another seventh grader, found it surprising that drug sellers target younger people, he still says that he didn’t learn anything about drugs over the week.

Some other students found that their previous perceptions were exaggerated. Both Neil P. and Luke W., eighth graders, said that they thought more people used drugs.

The most common concept was that the views on drugs and the knowledge about the effects of drugs and addiction have changed in one generation. Tommy said, “My dad grew up in the 1970s, 80s and there was the war on drugs during that time. Marijuana was not considered a drug by the populous. For my grandmother, definitely. I think she smokes cigars.”

Helen R., an eighth grader, explained, “They didn’t have that much research at the time, now there is more research about how it is bad. There are also new things like marketing to younger kids.”

Mack agreed. He said, “Now there is a lot more vape and drugs, and they are easier to get a hold of.”

When asked if his perceptions about drug use changed throughout the week, Cody W., a seventh grader, said, “No, I’ve never thought about [using] drugs.”

Yet, Helen said, “I never really thought about it before, but it got me thinking. A learned a little bit, though I already knew about drugs.”

Neil said, “I guess now I know more about the drugs and how the substances more dangerous. I learned specifics, previously I didn’t know that much about vape. Now I have more knowledge to stay away from drugs.”

Alex B., another eighth grader, said that he learned enough to keep him away from drugs for a lifetime.

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Learning to Be Free