Search for answers begins
by Lenny Roberts
Last week, the OVN received an anonymous letter from a parent
concerned about teen drug use in the valley. Although we do not
normally publish unsigned letters, we believe that this submission
can be important reading for children and their parents.
To the editor:
I am fearfully affected by drugs. My friends are, my neighborhood
is, and this town is. At first, I saw things in the neighborhood
and would sluff it off as "the kids are experimenting, none
of my business." When things escalated, I spoke with the
parents. After an overdosed kid was raced to the hospital, I
started calling the cops. Recently, I called an ambulance on
a passed-out kid in my yard, fearing it was another overdose,
a possible death. This has been a slow and terrifying evolution.
I now ask the newspaper to publish some of the facts. Fact No.
1 being, yes, there are drugs in Ojai, and people are dying because
of their use. I know it's not a pretty subject, but I can't stand
thinking that I would avoid it after all that is going on around
here. What are the types of drugs being used? How many arrests
in Ojai have been made around them? What do these drugs do to
the body? How would we know if our kids are on them? How addictive
are they? Are there treatments? What happens after treatment?
The most important question is how can we as a community prevent
another death due to drug use?
The staff of the OVN has devoted many hours conducting interviews
of teens and adults, compiling facts and statistics, and preparing
this detailed report on drug use in the valley. Perhaps the recent
deaths of young people are a lesson from which we all can learn.
Perhaps if just one young person or parent is reached by this
report, the renewed efforts of many to find a solution will not
have been in vain.
Ojai is not immune to drug use. In fact, it is the most drug-active
area in Ventura County in which the Sheriff's Department enforces
The ASTER Foundation and Gladstone Counseling Center have formed
the Ojai Valley Substance Abuse Education Project in search of
more effective drug abuse prevention and treatment programs.
Dr. Bruce Gladstone states, "Drug abuse among our youth,
along with its associated trauma, suffering and grief, has become
all too common in our community. It is time for us to come out
of denial and come to grips with this reality and do something
According to Gladstone, the California Healthy Kids Survey conducted
by the Ojai Valley Unified School District and the Ojai Valley
Youth Foundation in 2000 and 2002 yielded disturbing responses.
The survey asked 1,309 students in grades seven, nine and 11
to report their use of alcohol and drugs. Thirteen percent of
seventh graders, 36 percent of ninth graders, and 57 percent
of 11th graders reported getting high from using unspecified
drugs. Further, 3 percent of seventh graders, 18 percent of ninth
graders, and 37 percent of 11th graders said they had been drunk
or high on marijuana while on school property.
"These statistics, along with our personal experiences of
what kids are telling us and what we ourselves know and feel,
can and should be a powerful motivation for us to take positive
action to prevent further escalation of drug abuse and to encourage
treatment for kids and families in a community already deeply
involved in drug abuse," Gladstone said.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley
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