photo by Marissa Wilkens

How serious is the drug problem in Chittenden County?  How should a mentor talk to a young person about substance abuse?   Three terrific speakers addressed these and related questions on April 5, when Mobius offered a program on the topic of Substance Abuse, part of our Mentor Support Series. (The next program in the series will be Tuesday, September 13.)

Corporal Tonya Lawyer from the Youth Services Division of the South Burlington Police Department presented a detailed look at drug and alcohol problems that are prevalent with young people in the greater Burlington area.   Then Nia Prentiss, from Mercy Connections and the HowardCenter, stood and calmly began her talk,  “I have done every one of the drugs you just saw, except one.”  She  told the heartbreaking and inspiring story of her journey from heroin addiction to recovery, adding that she will always be an addict – that’s how addiction works – there is no cure.  She works hard to stay “in recovery” every single day.

photo by Marissa Wilkens

Rounding out the evening, Mariah Sanderson of the Burlington Partnership for a Healthy Community discussed developmental assets representing the relationships, opportunities, and personal qualities that young people need to avoid risks and to thrive.  An exercise with marshmallows, toothpicks, and tape brought it all together.

Whitney Leighton, a mentor through HowardCenter’s Community Friends Mentoring, was grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing young people as they enter adolescence.   “I found the discussion to be very informative and helpful,” said Leighton. “The presenters helped me understand the kind of pressures that teens are facing in and outside of school.”  She said she doesn’t think it will ever be easy to have those kinds of discussions with her mentee, but she feels better prepared when or if the subject comes up.

One of the questions mentors had was “What should you tell your mentee, or your own child, if they ask you if you ever did drugs?”  How would you answer?

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