The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 5, 2013

Parents get tips on prevention

Expert: Caring is key to curbing drug, alcohol abuse

Frank Sojak
fsojak@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — Parents are a powerful role model and can do more to influence their child’s life than anyone or anything, said a representative of the nonprofit Drug Free Pennsylvania organization at a seminar at Greater Johnstown High School Thursday night.

The representative, Gregg Schick, was in Johnstown to give a presentation called Straight Talk for Parents, a program to educate parents about drug and alcohol abuse.

“Caring about your children is the biggest thing,” said Schick, who also is fighting the war on drugs daily as a York City police officer.

“Pay attention to your children. Know what their norms are and look for behavior that is outside their norms.”

Alcohol is the most widely abused substance because of its wide availability, he said.

A recent survey showed that nearly 30 percent of Grade 8 students have tried alcohol with 64 percent of Grade 12 students doing so, he said.

Signs of alcohol abuse include bloodshot eyes, lack of concentration and secretive behavior, he said.

A pamphlet that Schick had on hand for the program stated that the number of 12- to 17-year-olds who expect to try illegal drugs is estimated at 9 percent. About half of all children in middle school have tried alcohol, and the percentage increased with each grade, the pamphlet said.

The second-most abused substance is marijuana, followed by tobacco, prescription drugs, inhalants, cocaine, Ecstasy, methamphetamine, heroin and synthetic marijuana, he said.

Greater Johnstown High School Principal Michael Vuckovich said after the presentation that the school district has been  working to combat drug and alcohol abuse.

“I have to applaud safety officer Michael Dadey and resource officer Chad Miller, for taking a proactive approach in getting presentations (such as the one Thursday) to educate the great families and students in the Greater Johnstown community,” he said.

The Greater Johnstown area is a great place to raise a family and drug-awareness programs that Dadey and Miller have developed and implemented is a step toward sustaining that quality of life, he said.

Bruce Haselrig, a Johnstown resident who has been involved with youngsters in a variety of ways, said after the presentation that he attended the event to learn more about keeping the youngsters free from drugs and alcohol.

Schick presented a good program, he said.

Deborah Pridgen, a Johns-town resident and director of the Child Care Center at

the Alternative Community Resource Program, said Schick’s program was informative.

Such a program should be mandatory for every student to attend, she said.

ACRP has a great drug-awareness program in which a teacher uses puppets to educate the children, she said.



Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ FrankNews10.