Most parents firmly believe they know their children better than anyone else. They are convinced that if their kids ever began experimenting with drugs or alcohol they would quickly see some signs.
In reality, parents are many times the last ones to know their children are heading down a dangerous path.
In an effort to help parents stay better informed, the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education will present “Drugs Uncovered: What Parents and Other Adults Need to Know” on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m. at Apex Middle School.
The free two-hour lecture and exhibit addresses laws concerning drugs and alcohol, current topics under investigation by law enforcement, and some trends being influenced by pop culture and the media.
Parents will also have the opportunity to explore “The Poe Center’s Teenager of Today Bedroom.” The traveling exhibit contains more than 70 references to drugs, drug paraphernalia and alcohol.
The program, which is being brought to town by the Apex Middle PTA, is for adults only.
The timing of the visit to Apex seems especially relevant given the recent drug overdose death of an Apex High student and the related arrest of another teen.
“Every year you see a similar tragedy with young people using drugs or alcohol,” said Thomas Ray, senior director of educational programming at the Poe Center. “We were already booked to come to Apex months ago but the timing is certainly unique.”
Ray said parents face many challenges today that never existed when they were teens. While alcohol remains a problem, prescription drugs are quickly becoming the drug of choice among young people.
“So much of teen culture is different from when adults were teenagers,” said Ray. “Prescription drug use has become a real issue because of easy access. Family or friends will have a prescription and not use all the pills and then they don’t even think about locking them up.”
The bedroom exhibit provides something else for adults to think about. Ray contends that signs of drug use can become easier to see once you know where to look.
“This exhibit is incredible and really does look like a teenager’s room,” said Ray, the father of three teens. “There are all kinds of different symbols that are allusions to drug and alcohol and we uncover them. We make those symbols easy for the parents to see and interpret.”
The program also helps parents deal with the problem once they discover it.
“It can be difficult for parents to have a conversation with their children about drugs and alcohol,” said Ray. “We provide some talking tips.”
Working closely with law enforcement agencies and public health officials, the Poe Center regularly updates the exhibit in order to include the latest trends and information.
Ray said the Poe Center has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from adults who have attended the lecture.
“It has had a profound effect on parents,” said Ray. “We’ve also had many school officials who were floored by our information. We showed them things to look for that they hadn’t recognized.
“What we are trying to do at the Poe Center is provide parents, adults and children with the information needed to make healthy choices. The tragedies we see resulting from alcohol, drugs and even tobacco are all preventable.”
For more information visit www.poehealth.org.