Talk substance abuse in teens with Eat Chat Parent in Edwards and Gypsum

Carol Johnson
Eat Chat Parent
The discussion will be led by Kari Commerford, director for Gunnison County Substance Abuse Prevention Project.
Special to the Daily

If you go ...

What: Teen substance abuse and the role of toxic stress.

When: Wednesday, April 3, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. | Thursday, April 4, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Where: Battle Mountain High School in Edwards | Eagle Valley High School.


More information:

At the local food bank, the positive impact of helping families in our community is immediate. Compare that with local families and youth caregivers who attend Eat Chat Parent, and the results are much more subtle. Discussing the nuances of anxiety, technology misuse and sexting causes some to squirm and rely on outdated concepts such as “kids will be kids.” Those who challenge themselves and who are seeking real answers, learn that they are not alone when attending ECP. Our brave ECP participants are breaking stigmas bit-by-bit, parent-by-parent, youth-by-youth.

At the two ECP events in early March, we discussed youth anxiety and depression while advising parents how to best respond. Dr. Schlozman presented data about the hyperactive teen amygdala and offered viable assistance strategies. Local author and yoga studio owner Julie Kiddoo shared that if it were not for her mom’s love and support, she would not have received the mental-health help she needed when she was 17 years old. A local mom attended the first night at Battle Mountain High School and returned the following night at Gypsum Creek Middle School with her teenage son; she felt it was vital that he hear the presentation. If your curiosity is piqued, watch the presentation available at

Behind the scenes of all this community bonding and change making, our inner circle of financial supporters is increasing as fast as the snow is falling. Last summer, Vail Health jumped on board as the presenting sponsor. Since then, several other influential businesses and organizations, whom also care about the local mental health of our community, have joined ECP’s ranks: Total Health Alliance of Eagle County, Vail Resorts Epic Promise, Slifer Smith & Frampton Foundation and the town of Vail. This support help ECP bring in renowned experts and continue the convenient format of up and downvalley events. They join a loyal list of partners from the early days of the program’s existence that includes: Vail Valley Cares, Thrifty Stores, Eagle County Schools, Wells Fargo, Changing Minds, Colorado Office of Behavioral Health, SAMSHA and the towns of Eagle, Avon and Gypsum. SpeakUp ReachOut and Mind Springs Health have also been regular partners providing speakers on mental health topics.

The final events of this school year take place April 3 and 4 when ECP will discuss Teen Substance Use and Toxic Stress. The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey from 2017 tells us that in the past 30 days, approximately 36 percent of high school students are drinking alcohol and trying marijuana, and over 68 percent of high school seniors have tried vaping a tobacco product. This is a timely ECP session for the upcoming prom and graduation celebratory season. Coupled with the fact of one-third of all local middle school and high school students report feeling sad and lonely, this is a deserving topic. Sadly, substance use and mental health issues go hand-in-hand.

Who can attend

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One need not be a parent to attend ECP. We encourage teachers, coaches, advisers, mentors, counselors, youth leaders and anyone who works with youth to join us. Youth fifth grade and older are welcome to attend with an adult. Although one might think that fifth grade seems too young to have these discussions, the Eagle River Youth Coalition believes that is the perfect age to start. Prevention experts contend that by talking about tough issues three to four years prior to unwanted behavior occurring, the strong influence of a trusted adult can help steer behavior in a positive direction.

Join ECP as they confront and embrace the uncomfortable conversations, and provide our youth and the adults who support our youth, with the help they need. Join the inner circle.

Carol Johnson is the community education manager at the Eagle River Youth Coalition.

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