Clearing the haze: Program features hard facts about drugs

By Sarah Womer, @YSSarahWomer

Representatives from the Drug Demand Reduction Program at Marine Corps Air Station-Yuma have been visiting area high schools this past week with the goal of debunking students’ misconceptions about illicit drugs.

In conjunction with National Drug Facts Week, which spans from Jan. 26 to Feb. 1, this is the second year that DDRP has been presenting to high school students in Yuma in an effort to yield positive changes within the community.

“Community outreach is an essential component of DDRP,” said Elena McShane, MCAS-Yuma School Liaison Officer. “The influx of non-restricted sales and use of synthetic drugs, spice and bath salts, prescription and over-the-counter medication abuse has had a tremendous impact within Yuma County. The key to prevention is education and awareness.”

Based on scientific facts from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, DDRP representatives and substance abuse counselors in uniform set up a booths at all high school campuses within the Yuma Union High School District as a way to educate students first-hand on the physical and emotional consequences of synthetic drug use, abuse of prescription medication, and over-the-counter medication.

In addition to a myriad of informational brochures about various drugs and their side effects and a banner students could sign, pledging to be “drug free,” they also had a pair of “drug goggles” for students to wear that showed how much drugs can actually impair a person’s vision.

“By visiting the DDRP resource tables, our Yuma teens are given the scientific facts about drugs so they can better be prepared to make good decisions for themselves. They can then share this valuable information with their peers,” said McShane.

She added that the presentations garnered a positive response from YUHSD students and campus administration.

“National Drug Facts Week is a valuable aspect to be on our campuses,” said associate superintendent Gina Thompson.

“We are so fortunate to have MCAS-Yuma as a partner in education. Volunteers come to share factual information with our students as we all work to help guide them in making the best decisions for their lives as our leaders of today and tomorrow.”

At MCAS-Yuma, the program serves as an education, outreach, and awareness program to deter military personnel from abusing illegal drugs and prescription medications.

Visit www.drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov for more information on National Drug Facts Week.

Sarah Womer can be reached at swomer@yumasun.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook atFacebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.