"We had a drug abuse problem in my family, too," said Sandor Cheka, executive director of the Addiction Prevention Coalition. "I saw first-hand what it is like to feel the shame and guilt associated with drug addiction, to be afraid of what others would think of your family. But, now, it's not a stereotype; anyone's kid can become an addict."
Cheka explained his passion for teaching "How to Drug-Proof Your Kids," a class currently being offered at The Connection in Chelsea.
"Too often families don't know what signs to look for with addictive behaviors. They don't believe it could happen to their kid," he said. "They don't know where to turn when it's finally obvious they need help."
"I hope I can help these families avoid the ravages of drug abuse," Cheka said with concern.
"Statistics tell us three students in every 12th grade class are drug addicts," he added. "In the eighth grade, that number is one in each class. Not experimenting, they are chemically dependent to function on a daily basis. It's getting younger."
"How to Drug-Proof Your Kids," a drug prevention class, currently being taught Wednesday night at 6:30 at The Connection, Chelsea Campus, is targeted for parents of kids ages eight through thirteen. Hopefully, before drugs become an issue, so we can reverse the trend of addiction.
"Church kids are not immune," Pastor Greg Davis said. "It's difficult for parents to deal with. This class helps them learn how. It also teaches them what to look out for.
"One of the biggest issues we are facing right now is called Kratom," Cheka said, pointing to what looked like a small energy-shot bottle. "It is marketed like an energy drink, but it mimics the effects of heroin."
Kratom is addictive and legal for anyone to buy. One convenience store manager said he goes through 10 cases a week.
"If a kid starts this when he is 13 he will be hooked on pain meds when he is fifteen and in a recovery center as a heroin addict by the time he is eighteen. It's scary," Cheka said.
For more information, visit addictionpreventioncoalition.org. Call to schedule a class.
By Tony Nivens, Community Columnist
Shelby County Reporter
February 3, 2014