View Mobile Site
 

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos

 

The trouble with trouble...you don't always see it coming

Action addresses rising drug and alcohol issues among SCV teenagers

Posted: February 27, 2009 1:08 a.m.
Updated: February 27, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Cary Quashen asks individual teens to discuss drug-abuse issues during an Action meeting at Saugus High School Tuesday.

 
Maria never realized her 16-year-old daughter used - until she found a letter her daughter wrote to a friend about the need to find a new place to get high.

"I was completely devastated. I couldn't understand why. Why would she want to do something like this?" Maria said.

She suspects her daughter began taking pills, smoking pot and drinking alcohol at 14 as a way to escape.

"I didn't catch any of it until she was almost 15," Maria said.

Maria never did drugs and never expected her daughter to run into such problems.

"It just hits you and your whole world collapses," she said.

Since turning to Action, a locally-based nonprofit parent-teen support group, her daughter has turned around and has been sober for 14 months.

"She's growing up and being more responsible," she said.

She earns good grades at school and takes part in outreach work for Action.

The family feels reunited.

She has plans to attend nursing school, Maria said.

On Tuesday, Maria was joined by about 60 parents who have teenagers facing substance abuse problems.

Action, a parent-teen support group, meets every Tuesday and recent meetings have been crowded.

In the last year, more adults are turning to the support group with the economy tanking and family stress levels on the rise.

"We have so many people right now that are losing their jobs," Action founder Cary Quashen said.

People in crisis will often turn to alcohol and drugs, he said.

The uncertainty continues to the kids.

"These kids are really good kids. They're just making bad choices," Quashen said. "Some of the children are pretty nervous about what's going on with their families."

Drugs like marijuana are much more potent, he said. Prescription drug use is also growing.

"The drugs that people are using are a lot stronger. People are getting addicted a lot quicker and easier," he said.

Action strives to address the local drug problem.

"There's drugs here in Santa Clarita, but there's drugs in every community," Quashen said.

It's a matter of how a community addresses drug problems.

"I think that we are pretty pro-active," he said.

The support group increased visibility by using more volunteers to reach out to teens and their parents.

Prescription drug abuse and marijuana is more prevalent among teens, Quashen said.

"Our outreach has been a lot more serious lately because of what's going on with kids," he said.

The meetings generally draw between 40 and 60 parents. Up to 60 kids will attend, but parents and their teens don't always attend meetings together.

"We work on the whole family, it's not just the adolescent," Quashen said.

It's a message he translated to the parents who sat in a crowded Saugus High School classroom.

"If we can help them make better decisions, then everybody wins," Quashen told the parents.

Trained counselors host small-group meetings with teens to work through their addictions.

Caitlin, 16, recently completed a treatment program for cocaine and has been sober for a few weeks.

"I want to stop doing drugs, which I know I'm going to do, and graduate high school and go to nursing school," she said. "I've always wanted to be a nurse."

Danielle's problem with crystal meth landed her in jail. She is under house arrest until May.

Since being sober for more than a month, 18-year-old Danielle added a few pounds to return to a healthy weight.

"I've never felt this way. I'm a new person. I'm really healthy," she said.

Staying sober is a top priority, along with earning her GED and attending college to become a drug counselor to help others in their battle against substance abuse.

Some of the parents have gone through their own substance-abuse problems.

April 2 will mark a year of sobriety for Diane, who faced addictions to a mix of drugs, most recently prescription drugs.

She attended Action's meeting on Tuesday with a friend who has a daughter overcoming substance abuse.

"This is the place to get healthy," Diane said.

She knows first hand.

"There is hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I'm living proof it," she said.

Diane's two sons, 23 and 25, are in 12-step programs. He declined to use her last name to protect her sons.

The two sons attended Action meetings as teenagers.

Diane realizes sobriety is not an overnight process.

"This is a life-long commitment," she said.

Diane remembers feeling alone.

"When you're going through something, you feel like you're the only one going through it," Diane said.

Attending the support group gives Diane a way to connect with others facing similar battles.

"You don't feel so alone, so desperate," said Diane, a Valencia resident.

A sense of understanding soon develops among strangers.

"We're all here as a unit," Diane said.

tmarashlian@the-signal.comsomething, you feel like you're the only one going through it," Diane said.

Attending the support group gives Diane a way to connect with others facing similar battles.

"You don't feel so alone, so desperate," said Diane, a Valencia resident.

A sense of understanding soon develops among strangers.

"We're all here as a unit," Diane said.

Comments

Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.

 
 

Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...