Community program to teach parents what they need to know about drug abuse

Published 9:45 am Thursday, April 28, 2016

Although it may seem like drug addiction and abuse happens elsewhere, the reality is that southwest Michigan is not immune to these issues.

Assistant Post Commander Melinda Logan, of the Michigan State Police Niles Post, said 34 people died of drug overdoses in Berrien County in 2014. Statewide, that number was more than 1,700.

“The more tools residents have to keep our families and children safe, the better our community will be,” she said. “The more we talk about the obvious problems in our community, the more we can help each other.”

In order to help raise awareness for and combat the growing drug and heroin abuse epidemic, the Voice. Change. Hope. Alliance. will host a free community presentation called, “Drugs 101: What every parent wants to know,” from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 30, in the Niles High School Auditorium.

The purpose of the event is to help teach people how to identify if a family member, friend, or student is likely to be using drugs and what resources are available to help.

“If a person is addicted to opioids, it is rarely the first time using results in an overdose,” Logan said. “With this program, it will provide tools to give someone the ability to identify the early warning signs and help provide treatment options and resources.”

The highlight of the program is a mock teenager’s bedroom set up for adults to observe and attempt to identify the obvious and not-so-obvious drug related paraphernalia.

Logan said the event is helpful for anyone from parents to grandparents to teachers and nurses.

“Even people who do not have children could save a person’s life by identifying risk factors from this program,” she said. “This program can help someone with a current problem or help five years from now.”

Directly after the program, a panel representing law enforcement, a judge, a parent of a recovering addict and a recovering addict will answer questions from those in attendance.

Children between the ages of 2 and 18 will not be allowed in the program. However, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department will provide activities and babysitting for children in the school’s auxiliary gym.

Children will not be allowed in the presentation unless they are under 2 years old.

Free refreshments, local resource vendors and training materials will be provided.

Although walk-in participants are welcome, those who register will be eligible for a drawing to win local gift certificates. People must be present to win.

The register contact call Logan at (269) 921-5741 or email her at

The presentation is made possible by the Lakeland Health Foundations’ Community Wellness Endowment grant to the Voice. Change. Hope. Alliance.