How to talk about substance use

Following a presentation by Dr. Suniya Luthar last October on substance use and other risky behaviors, it was clear parents had concerns about adolescent use of alcohol and other drugs and their uncertainty about how to address these issues at home.

“A lot of parents struggle to know what is ‘OK’ for their teens and what is not,” Genevieve Eason, vice chairman of Wilton Youth Council said in a press release. “Do kids need to learn how to drink before they go to college? Is partying in high school a normal rite of passage? Parents get a lot of conflicting advice.”

In response to these concerns there will be a free panel discussion on how to talk about substance use at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 26, at Wilton High School’s Clune Center. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to find parking and pass through school security.

The expert panel includes:

  • Shanthi Mogali, M.D., director of psychiatry of Mountainside, who will discuss the effects of substance use on adolescent brain development;

  • Giovanna Pisani, director of Mid-Fairfield Substance Abuse Coalition, who will describe vaping products and their ingredients;

  • Allison Kernan, certified recovery coach, who will tell her own story of addiction and recovery;

  • Amy Sedgwick, director of outpatient services of Mountainside, who will share practical strategies for family communication and decision making.

Ample time will be provided for questions.

Eason said Luthar will return to Wilton next school year.

“We are working with Wilton High School to bring Dr. Luthar back to town to survey our students about their feelings and behaviors in order to better support our teens’ well-being. Right now, we plan to administer the survey in the late fall. In the winter, Dr. Luthar will present her findings to our community. Like the panel discussion, this will be another opportunity for our community to continue the conversation that we started in October.”

The April 26 presentation is sponsored by the youth council, along with Mountainside Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center, Mid-Fairfield Substance Abuse Coalition (a program of Human Services Council), the Wilton Public Schools, Wilton Schools PTAs and PTSA, and Wilton Youth Services.

It is appropriate for parents with children of all ages. Registration is recommended at Information: 203-834-6241.