Substance Use and Abuse
The Forney Independent School District is committed to providing a safe and healthy learning environment for our students, faculty, and staff. We recognize that the abuse of alcohol and drugs will interfere with a student’s ability to reach his/her full potential. Without a safe and orderly learning environment, teachers cannot teach and students cannot learn.
Forney ISD Substance Abuse Prevention Overview
Our substance abuse prevention efforts use the dissemination of information as well as both group and individual counseling in order to discourage and bring awareness to the harmful consequences of alcohol abuse and drug use. Our School Counselors and Student Support Counselors offer general counseling and referrals to substance abuse treatment agencies. In addition, our prevention efforts include:
- Providing individual and group education, prevention, and awareness activities.
- Providing individual counseling sessions.
- Providing school-wide student led prevention lessons in the classroom.
- Promoting a healthy lifestyle for staff and students.
- Addressing substance abuse prevention at the individual, school, and community level.
- Enforcing district policies plus local, state, and federal laws to address the dangers of alcohol and drug use.
- A focus on enhancing protective factors and reducing risk factors.
- A focus on enhancing “School Connectedness.”
Risk vs Protective Factors
Efforts to improve child and adolescent health typically have featured interventions designed to address specific unhealthy behaviors such as tobacco, alcohol, and drug use. However, results from a growing number of studies suggests greater health impact might be achieved by also enhancing protective factors that help children and adolescents avoid multiple behaviors which might put them at high risk of adverse health and educational outcomes
Risk factors are individual or environmental characteristics, conditions, or behaviors which increase the likelihood that a negative outcome will occur. Examples include:
- Isolated and few friends
- Early academic failure
- Early aggressive behaviors
- Feeling unloved
Protective factors are individual or environmental characteristics, conditions, or behaviors which reduce the effects of stressful life events; increase an individual’s ability to avoid risks or hazards; and promote social and emotional competence to thrive in all aspects of life. Examples include:
- Community and school involvement
- Supervised by parents
- Positive adult role models, coaches, and mentors
- Involved in religious and/or cultural activities
The Power of School Connectedness
Our counseling department strives is to help every student feel capable, cared for, and connected. School Connectedness is the belief by students that adults and peers in the school care about their learning as well as about them as individuals. Research has demonstrated a strong relationship between school connectedness and educational outcomes. Adolescents who feel connected to school:
- Enjoy school more.
- Have better attendance.
- Have higher academic performance and graduation rates.
- Have fewer behavioral problems.
- Are more likely to achieve emotional health and well-being.
- Have a commitment to do well in school.
- And are less likely to:
- Use drugs or alcohol.
- Bully or be bullied.
- Self-harm or have suicidal thoughts.
- Exhibit disruptive or violent behavior.
- Engage in adolescent sexual behavior.
As you can see, when we assist a student in feeling “connected” to school, we are increasing a student’s chance of academic success and decreasing the risk of drug abuse, suicidal thoughts, bullying, and other risky behaviors.
Resource: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. School Connectedness: Strategies for Increasing Protective Factors Among Youth. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2009.
Alcohol and drug users often try to conceal their symptoms and downplay their problem. If you’re worried that a family member might be abusing drugs, look for the following warning signs:
Psychological Warning Signs
- Unexplained change in personality or attitude
- Sudden mood swings, irritability or angry outbursts
- Periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness
- Lack of motivation; appears lethargic or “spaced out”
- Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid with no reason
Behavioral signs of drug abuse
- Drop in attendance and performance at school
- Unexplained need for money; may borrow or steal to get it
- Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors
- Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies
- Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities)
Physical warning signs
- Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual
- Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habits
- Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
- Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination
Above the Influence
Collin County Substance Abuse Coalition
Foundation for a Drug-Free World
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
Winning the Fight