Crime task force gets update on drug scene

Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 2:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 2:19 p.m.

The Black on Black Crime Task Force learned that a growing number of parents don't discourage their children from using drugs and alcohol.

Continuing its series on drugs in the community, the task force heard from Gwen Love and Karen Baugh of CDS Family & Behavioral Health Services Inc. Love, prevention coordinator at CDS, and Baugh, regional supervisor of adolescent and adult substance abuse programs at CDS, shared some alarming trends during their 20-minute presentation at the monthly meeting of the task force last Wednesday at the Kirby Smith Center.

Besides the presentation by Baugh and Love, Donald McClellan and Robert Wilson, both former substance abusers and graduates of the Alachua County Drug Court program, spoke about substance abuse and sobriety. The drug court program is a supervision and treatment program that serves third-degree, non-violent felony drug offenders.

Baugh said CDS operates an intervention program funded by the state that consists of CDS being in charge of keeping children with limited exposure to substance abuse from becoming abusers. She said the most popular drugs for teenagers are alcohol and marijuana, which she said has been the case for years.

"One of the changes I have seen recently has been a change in parents' attitudes," Baugh said. "They are becoming more and more permissible and saying it's OK for kids to drink and smoke and we are seeing this trend across demographics."

Baugh said schools are joining forces with CDS and sending students to CDS for counseling instead of giving them out-of-school suspension for some drug- or alcohol-related offenses.

"When the kids come and do counseling with us, that can really help them get intervention when they need it," said Baugh, who also encouraged residents to call CDS for help if they know of any children involved with drugs.

Love, who spoke after Baugh, said she would add pills to the list, along with alcohol and marijuana, of mind-altering substances popular among teenagers. She said she speaks to a lot of youth organizations and pills are on the list when she asks what intoxicants are popular among teens.

"The list goes from Oxycontin to skittles (ecstasy) to cough syrup," Love said. "It is a wide variety from prescription drugs to over-the-counter drugs."

Love also said parents and adults can help with prevention by not glorifying the use of pills and alcohol. She said when young people see a parent take a pill to relieve stress or pain, it can send the wrong message.

She used another scenario in which a parent gets home from work and opens a cold beer then talks about how the beer relaxed and refreshed them.

Love said it is going to take the entire community to keep children free from substance abuse, which she said has to start at home.

"We need caring parents and not parents who want to be friends with their children," she said. Love said parents need to know where their children are going, who they are going with and should have the phone numbers of other parents they can call to check out if what their child is telling them is true.

McClellan and Wilson, who both spoke after Love, answered several questions, including one asking them to describe the drug scene in Gainesville.

"The drug scene today is pretty much as it was when I was out there, and as a matter of fact, I am celebrating three years of being clean," said McClellan, 46, of northeast Gainesville. "One of the things that was really disturbing for me when I was out there was the age group of people who were becoming addicted was getting younger and younger."

Wilson, 56, answered a question asking if there was enough assistance for people who want help.

"In my opinion, there is more than adequate enough assistance," said Wilson, adding that he has been sober for 13 years. "If you want to stop doing drugs, you will. But, you have to want to stop in order to receive the assistance."

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