District drug program educates parents and students

A drug seminar for parents and students sponsored by the SDUHSD Recovery Education Alcohol Drug Instruction, or READI, was held in the TPHS gym on May 3.
Introduced by READI supervisor and District Substance Abuse Counselor Joseph Olesky, the main presentation was given by forensic expert and toxicologist, Sarah Urfer, who is also the lab director of Boulder, Colo. diagnostic laboratory ChemaTox. Urfer, who often testifies in court cases regarding the evidence, processed by the ChemaTox lab, shared many stories about drug use and discussed the dangers of different kinds of common drugs with an emphasis on marijuana, and the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration found inside. Urfer put an emphasis on how the THC concentration of marijuana has changed over the years due to how it is processed.
“There is also a large amount of misunderstanding about marijuana that is on the market today,” Urfer said. “I believe education leads people to making better and more informed decisions.” 
While the READI program informs students and parents about drugs and alcohol, it can also be an alternative to a five-day suspension for students who have been caught using them.
The READI program can be entered voluntarily and is a two-day education program, but also offers outpatient and inpatient programs for students that struggle more than others.
“We actually have a 90 percent success rate in the READI program [which means] 90 percent of our kids actually get it and don’t use [drugs] anymore or they lower their using,” Olesky said.
According to Olesky, the main goals of the READI program are prevention and intervention.
“I thought it was really informative,” Melissa Costello (11), who attended the seminar, said. “I think [sharing] a lot of personal stories and stories of specific events of how drugs have affected people’s lives … helps to show people that [drugs] actually have an impact.”
Before the seminar began, parents and students lined the wall of the gym as they walked past several stands for recovery programs and health care service.
Most stands offered information on recovery programs, but the READI program put out a series of colorful pamphlets called “Tips for Teens” near the stadium bleachers. However, there were much fewer students than parents in the stands.
Ashley Stayer (10), whose parents are both police officers and is a Peer Assistant Listener member, had not even heard of the seminar.
“I didn’t think it was advertised enough,” Stayer said. “If it was a different time or maybe during school, it would’ve been a little easier [to attend].”
The seminar began with expressions of thanks to sponsors and supporters of the READI program, one of which was the San Diego Police Department-Northwestern Division captain Mark Hanten, who was in the audience.
“I’m a firm believer that more education and more awareness of the totality of the situation is beneficial to help show how big the problem is and minimize it,” Hanten said.
Urfer used cat memes throughout her presentation, even though she was addressing a serious topic.
“I like cats,” Urfer said. “They are funny, but mostly it keeps people’s attention.”
Olesky, Urfer and Hanten all took part in the question and answer session after the presentation ended. 
“I think a lot of the parents that were there were very concerned about their kids and very engaged in their kids’ development and growth,” Hanten said. “I was pretty impressed with the level of commitment and the number of people that were there.”
According to Olesky, READI is putting together a panel-style drug seminar to be held at La Costa Canyon High School next year.

drug audience drug guy

Sarah Urfer uses the projector to present information to audience members in the TPHS gymnasium (TOP). Urfer spoke about the dangers of different kinds of common drugs, especially marijuana. At the beginning of the seminar, Joseph Olesky thanked the sponors of the READI program before introducing Urfer (BELOW). 

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