Last October, about 300 parents and other concerned adults attended a presentation by Suniya Luthar, PhD on the risks of growing up in an affluent community. Luthar discussed her research that shows that teens in towns like ours have elevated risks of anxiety, depression, substance use and other risky behaviors, compared to national norms. Many questions from the audience reflected parents’ concerns about adolescent use of alcohol and other drugs and their uncertainty about how to address these issues at home.

In response, Wilton High School will host a panel discussion with local experts on Wednesday, April 26 at 10 a.m. titled, “Privileged and Pressured Continued:  How to Talk About Substance Use.” Following the panel’s presentation and discussion, there will be a Q&A session.

“A lot of parents struggle to know what is ‘ok’ for their teens and what is not,” says Genevieve Eason, vice chairman of Wilton Youth Council. “Do kids need to learn how to drink before they go to college? Is partying in high school a normal rite of passage? Parents get a lot of conflicting advice.”

In response to these concerns, Wilton Youth Council–along with Mountainside Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center, Mid-Fairfield Substance Abuse Coalition (a program of Human Services Council), the Wilton Public Schools, Wilton schools’ PTAs and PTSA, and Wilton Youth Services–is presenting the follow-up panel discussion on how to talk about teen substance use.

The expert panel includes:

  • Shanthi Mogali, MD, director of psychiatry at Mountainside, who will discuss the effects of substance use on adolescent brain development
  • Giovanna Pisani, MSW, director of Mid-Fairfield Substance Abuse Coalition, who will describe vaping products and their ingredients
  • Allison Kernan, certified recovery coach, who will tell her own remarkable story of addiction and recovery
  • and Amy Sedgwick, LADC, CCDP, SCPG, director of outpatient services at Mountainside, who will share practical strategies for family communication and decision making.

Ample time will be provided for questions.

“We hope that parents and other concerned community members will feel more empowered to address these issues with the teens in their lives after this presentation.  Research shows that parents have more influence with their adolescent children than they think they do.  Informed parents really can have a huge impact on their kids’ decision making,” says WYC’s Eason.

The Wilton Youth Council is taking the topic one step further, working with Luthar to study Wilton teens specifically, next year.

“We are working with Wilton High School to bring Dr. Luthar back to town to survey our students about their feelings and behaviors, in order to better support our teens’ well-being. Right now, we plan to administer the survey in the late fall. In the winter, Dr. Luthar will present her findings to our community. Like the panel discussion, this will be another opportunity for our community to continue the conversation that we started in October,” says Eason.

The panel discussion on April 26 will start promptly at 10 a.m.. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to find parking and pass through school security at the Clune Center.

This presentation is free and open to the public. Parents, professionals, school staff and other interested adults are welcome. The program is appropriate for parents with children of all ages. Registration online is recommended. Please contact Wilton Youth Services at 203.834.6241 with questions.

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