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School district gets proactive in addressing student chemical dependency concerns

Nicotine and vaping most prevalent among students, followed by THC and alcohol use.

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Chemical Health Coordinator Steven Moser spoke to the Detroit Lakes School Board on Monday, Nov. 21 about an advisory committee that was formed to address the issue of chemical dependency with students in the school district.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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DETROIT LAKES — The Detroit Lakes School District is taking a proactive approach to reducing chemical dependency in the student population.

During the monthly school board meeting on Monday, Nov. 28, Chemical Health Coordinator Steven Moser spoke about an advisory committee that was formed to address the issue as a team.

“Unfortunately, we do have chemical use in the school district,” he said.

The path to changing student chemical use includes influencing decision-making, educating students on potential outcomes of their decisions and celebrating the students who make positive choices. The chemical dependency advisory committee started with about 25 members and met for the first time in early November. The group included school staff, county employees in human services, community health, mental health, law enforcement and medical workers.

“We decided that the group should be dedicated to be data-driven, outcome-focused and intentional on impacting our main priorities,” Moser said, adding they want to maintain the mindset that small changes lead to big results in time.

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Using data pulled from multiple sources, Moser said the committee plans to concentrate its efforts in five areas: alcohol use by minors, THC use, accessibility and, the most prevalent concern, nicotine and vaping.

Moser said subcommittees have been formed within the group. Each subcommittee has a specialized focus, including: chemical use within the schools, family engagement and community awareness. There are also projects in the works to find more resources, including funding, he said.

Board member Dr. Thomas Seaworth asked if the committee had looked at how legalization of recreational marijuana impacts students, and if there were actions that educators could take to inform elected officials on how legalization may impact their efforts.

Moser explained youth tend to have a mentality of “it is not a big deal” with alcohol use, and wonders if legalization of recreational marijuana would give youth the same perspective on the drug.

“That would be harder to overcome if it were legal,” he said. “Right now it is seen as, it’s just pot.”

Seaworth noted that he and others in the medical community have concerns about the legalization of marijuana, as there is “enough trouble” with youth using alcohol and nicotine.

Moser said he has a close connection with Lakes Counseling Center “because of THC use” and agreed limiting THC products would be “better for students.”

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