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School Talk: Less drugs means more life

By: Vicki Barber, El Dorado County Superintendent of Schools, Special to the Telegraph
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Recently I had a conversation with a young man who was planning to work on my car. He?s personable, easy to talk with, and very candid in his conversation. As we chatted, he mentioned he had difficulties with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). He said he earned a 3.0 grade point average in high school and college, but that it was a challenge due to his issues related to ADHD. In high school he used crank to help manage his symptoms, and in his early college experience, he chose alcohol to help him get by. Although greatly frowned upon by his teachers and schools, he explained it was his way of maintaining focus. He was never belligerent, and he is now passing all his classes with an even better 3.5 grade point average. So what?s the problem? Most of us who are a bit older than my young mechanic friend have seen the results of drug and alcohol abuse. We know that long-term misuse of any substance, drugs (illegal or prescription), alcohol, food, or whatever the drug of choice, does not support a healthy, positive lifestyle. It?s easy to see how ADHD might affect a child?s self-image and present challenges to the growing and learning process. We have all seen the results of substances being used to replace seemingly insurmountable challenges with an outside high that on the surface feels good even though the inner person does not. One group that stands out in El Dorado County for providing positive youth development opportunities and helping young people avoid unhealthy addictions is the El Dorado Hills Vision Coalition. The Vision Coalition is a non-profit group that was formed to build and support a safe, healthy, and drug-free community. To this end, the coalition supports such programs as a teen council, after-school and weekend activities, a mentoring program, and school training programs. I would encourage you to take a look at their website at edhvisioncoalition.org. As their video illustrates, they?re about helping adolescents and teens transition into a healthy adulthood. I am very happy to report that my young auto mechanic friend, although making choices in his early adulthood that may not have been the healthiest, is now making different choices. He admits he was addicted to drugs and alcohol. His family history and his ADHD fueled his reasons for his substance use and abuse. Yet, today, without the substance abuse and having chosen a healthier lifestyle, his world is working much better for him. Although I won?t be able to take my car into his shop early in the morning because he has carved out that time to play with his 3-year-old daughter, I am thrilled for this young man and his family! My car can wait. Vicki L. Barber has been with the El Dorado County Office of Education for 26 years. In 1994, she was elected as the Superintendent of Schools.