APPLAUDD: A Prevention Program Learning About Underage Drinking & Drugs
Marilyn Grifoni Belmonte, Drug Abuse Recognition & Prevention Specialist
- Co-Chairperson for Burlington Drug and Alcohol Task Force, Burlington, MA
- Trained & presented to dozens of school districts and police departments
- Published “Screening Assessment for Students Impaired by Drugs,” in the Comprehensive School Health Manual, Dept. of Public Health
- “All Star Award” by the Consumer Health Care Products Association
- “Citizenship in Action” recognition certificate from Middlesex DA’s Office, completed advanced coursework through MA State Police Academy
- “Service To Science” grant by SAMHSA for evaluation of innovative, evidence-based community programs
The lack of federally approved, evidence-based prevention programs to train parents, who are the most powerful influence on our children, is a sad fact that Marilyn Belmonte is working hard to address. “This program is about empowering parents to prevent their children from underage drinking and other substance abuse. Studies show that kids who do not drink and drug choose not to because they don’t want to lose the respect and support of their parents. Teens do not think about the disasters that could befall them, or that someday they may get cancer or become addicted. They do not think those things will happen to them. Teens primarily want to please their parents. But this is something they will do anything to keep you from realizing. So teens are skilled at giving parents the impression that their words don’t matter to them. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The words and conversations between teens and their parents matter a lot and can make a huge difference for our children.”
Many parents do not feel that they have any power to influence their adolescents because teens build barriers to keep their parents at a distance. APPLAUDD will focus on how parents can dialog with their children to effectively encourage critical healthy behavior choices, building trust between parents and teens. Researchers have found that specific attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, situations, and/or actions that parents can teach will reduce the likelihood that a young person will struggle with substance abuse and related problems even if that young person is exposed to a substantial number of risk factors. The protective factors explored appear to balance and buffer the negative impact of existing risk factors.
APPLAUDD will teach parents about what has changed in recent years regarding the actual substances themselves, what science now knows about the physiological effects on adolescents, recognizing signs substance abuse in teens, what to do about it, and the legal environment. Each presentation will have a unique focus, building on each other as part of one complete program that will underscore parent-child communication, but are also effective as stand-alone events. The presentation topics include 1) Parent Prevention Techniques, 2) Prescription Drugs, 3) Marijuana, and 4) Underage Drinking. Each session ends with small group discussion and a home assignment.