I write to commend the Lisbon School Board on its consideration of adopting a drug testing policy for its students. As a member of the Columbiana County ADAPT (Alcohol and Drug Prevention Team) Coalition for the past three years, I have learned much about what works to prevent drug and alcohol use among youth. One necessary element is creating an environment in which drug and alcohol use among youth is unacceptable, and school policies that support the notion of unacceptability are one "tool" in the community's toolbox that communicates to kids that adults take the problem of underage alcohol use and drug use seriously.
In the article of Dec. 19, one of the school board members was quoted as stating that "in the end, the problem is with the attitudes and families, and we can't change that." Any time community leaders take a strong stance to prevent the serious health problems youth develop as result of drug and alcohol use, that "stand" influences everyone's attitudes. While parents are the most effective "anti-drug" - they have more influence on their kids' behavior than anyone - other institutional policies, including those of school boards, can support what parents are trying to accomplish with their kids as well as encourage parents who haven't given this problem much thought to think more carefully about it.
It takes the community as a whole to prevent drug and alcohol use among our kids, and no one policy from any sector of the community is going to solve this problem. However, the cumulative effect of efforts from all sectors of the community DOES work to prevent alcohol and other drug abuse among our youth.
I wish the board well in its determination of the most appropriate approach for Lisbon students. I urge everyone in the community who wishes to learn more about how we as a community can prevent the serious health problems youth develop when they use alcohol prior to age 21, as well as other drugs, to visit the ADAPT Coalition website www.adaptcoalition.org, or contact the ADAPT Coalition at 330-424-0531.
Kathleen Chaffee, director
County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board