Hoyleton | Drug Take-back Program

 Hoyleton takes part in Drug Take-Back Day on Oct. 24

Data pulled by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that alcohol and other drug use among youth in the U.S. remains a major public health problem. Substance use and abuse can increase the risk for injuries, violence, HIV infection and other diseases.

 Hoyleton Youth & Family Services continues to provide its Substance Use Prevention Services program to combat the rise of drug use among youth in southern Illinois. The work of the organization offers decision-making practice, anxiety coping skills, and social and communication skills to better improve self-image so youth can make healthy choices later in life. 

 “Our goal is to work with youth in 6th, 7th and 8th grades to provide an evidence-based program that helps them with decision-making, anxiety coping skills and overall self-image,” says Tasha Morrow, Substance Use Prevention Specialist. “Our hope is that by providing this education to them early, they have a few years to practice before entering high school, when the pressures on them increases.”

 Oct 24 - Drug Take-Back Day

 In addition to their ongoing programs and education, Hoyleton also takes part in the National Drug Take-Back Day, annually held in April and October. “The event is one more way for us to engage our communities and build awareness around substance use,” says Tasha. “It allows people to have a safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs.”

 Last October 2019, the national event brought in nearly 442 tons of medications and vape devices.

 Hoyleton has taken part in the national program for four years (both in April and October), helping communicate the logistics and importance of the event to local communities. “We had to put a hold on the April event this year due to COVID-19,” says Tasha. “But we have had time to prepare for the October 24 drive to ensure it is safe for everyone involved.”

 With adults and children both staying at home more, there is an increased risk of having access to prescription medications in the household. Hoyleton has teamed up with two local pharmacies, where local residents can safely and confidently take their unused medications for disposal. 

 “As an added incentive, we will be providing a small gift bag to the first 25 people that take part in the event,” says Tasha. “The bag will include a face mask, hand sanitizer and drug disposal bags to allow for people to safely dispose of other medications at home.”

On Oct. 24, the Hoyleton team will be at Smithton Pharmacy (Smithton, IL) and Doehrings Pharmacy (Nashville, IL) from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Liquids and needles are not allowed to be disposed of at the event. Those interested can visit the Drug Take-Back Day for more information.

Prevention starts at home

Substance use prevention is important to everyone in communities. Hoyleton works with parents, teachers, school administrators, community groups and leaders who serve youth - all to ensure they can make healthy choices in their lives. 

Studies show that parents’ behavior and habits have a direct influence on their children. With the pandemic bringing added stress to households, the need for conversation about substance use has never been greater. “We will always be there to help those who need it,” says Tasha. “But we also believe that prevention always starts at home.”

To learn more about how you can help Hoyleton Youth & Family Services provide emotional and mental health services for every stage of youth and family development, please visit: https://hoyleton.org/

Hoyleton | Substance Abuse Prevention

As one of Hoyleton’s Substance Use Prevention Specialists, is not only our goal to build additional positive adult relationships but also to educate youth on substances; what they are, how they’re used, and the effects they have on a person. While I may be able to impact a student’s initial impression of substance use, one thing that determines the sustaining view of substances is parental interaction and reinforcement of those lessons. When parents develop positive relationships with their youth, it creates a dialogue that Hoyleton's in-class programs helps to reinforce. 

We have a responsibility to be open and honest with our teenagers so they can make the best (and most informed) decisions about substance use. Knowledge is very powerful. When we teach them about substances, youth have the power to create positive interactions with adults and their community. It may seem like the easiest decision to completely shield students from any harmful situations or information, however, they have the innate desire to learn, and from the time I have spent interacting with them in class, they crave information so they can develop their own thoughts and opinions on substances from an educated perspective. If they are not informed about the dangers of substance abuse, chances are they are more likely to want to explore those situations themselves. Parents or guardians must be confident in being able to have honest and open conversations with their children about hard subjects. 

Right now, you may be thinking, “that sounds good on paper, but what steps can I actively take to create a positive conversation about substances with my child?” The first thing as a parent/guardian you could do is to educate yourself on substances. Being uneducated of harmful substances and the effects they have can invite wrongful information that may be more harmful than helpful. One of the best places to start looking is www.samhsa.gov. The site will provide you with facts on substances as well as data recovered on how it has affected youth. Once you feel comfortable with the information you have, try to find a time to talk to your youth, and ask them what they know about substances. 

If your youth is struggling to keep the conversation positive, end it quickly and re-approach it later when things are calmer. These few things can enforce a sense of trust between you and your child while also setting achievable expectations. One final thing parents can do to instill a positive relationship is by being a prevention champion themselves. Showing your child that you have your own personal boundaries with substances can give them someone to look up to and model their own choices after. 

Although substance misuse can be prevalent in any child’s life, LGBTQ+ youth are even more susceptible, especially with unsupportive families. Youth often turn towards substance use to escape hard situations or as a relief from the feeling of exclusion from family. When parents are unaccepting of how a child self identifies, it can create a hostile home environment in which a child will want to escape from. This introduces the desire to find some sort of alleviation from the feelings of not being wanted or accepted. 

It’s been my experience, by creating a loving and supportive environment in which the child can ask questions, share fears or frustrations, and seek guidance, parents create positive relationships that will last years. I understand it is not an easy task, but we at Hoyleton, are here and ready to help and support the entire conversation and family. 

For questions on where to start, or if you need guidance on how to talk to your child after substance use has started, feel free to contact Wren at wfallon@wordpress.compu-type.net, and he can share further resources on prevention as well as recovery options. 

Article Guest Author
Wren Fallon
Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist


A Parent’s Guide for Talking to Teens About Drugs and Alcohol

Talking to teens about drugs can seem intimidating, but having these conversations can be greatly impactful. Now that they’re older and have a bit more freedom, they’ll likely encounter situations or environments where drug and alcohol use are prevalent. However, parents have more influence over their kids’ choices than they know.

Here are a few steps from our substance abuse prevention specialists that can help parents work with their teens in order to help them make smart decisions regarding drugs and alcohol.


Step 1: Stay Engaged

Regularly asking your teen questions opens up a dialogue about the things going on in their lives, which may include experiences with drugs and alcohol. Even if the subject of substance use doesn’t immediately come up, asking open ended questions creates those opportunities for be responsiveness. Additionally, knowing who their friends are and checking in on those friendships establishes a familiarity of those relationships.


Step 2: Creating a safe word

If your teen is at a party or outing where they are encouraged to use drugs or alcohol, creating a safe word (via a text or phone call) that signals they want to leave, can give them a way out of a situation that makes them uncomfortable. Because they are older and may have more responsibilities attributed to them, using an excuse like, “My parents need me to pick up my sibling” or “I need to leave early to help my grandma’ can serve as a plausible reason to exit an uncomfortable situation.


Step 3: Setting Expectations

Beyond discussing drugs and alcohol use with teens, setting expectations in the household about drug and alcohol use can be highly influential in their decision to not experiment with substances. Whether it’s the understanding that alcohol will not be consumed in the home until 21, or that cigarettes are not to be used regardless of the legal age, setting expectations promotes an understanding of acceptable standards that teens can be encouraged to uphold.


Step 4: Practicing Healthy Coping Skills

Adolescence can be a fraught time, and teens may end up turning to substances to cope with the stress or social pressures they may be dealing with, or to gain social capital with their peers. Make a plan with your kids about new ways to cope through yoga, journaling, music, exercise, drawing, or other healthy outlets. Also, parents should be mindful of their own usage so that their teens can follow a good example. Parents prefacing a glass a wine or a can of beer with a comment about how stressful a day it was, sends a signal their kids that drinking is an appropriate way to cope with stress.


Step 5: Be Informed

It’s valuable to check the news and research what drug and alcohol use trends are currently popular across the teenage demographic. Despite the misconception that teens don’t want to talk to their parents, their desire to be heard will often prompt them to share. Ask teens what they know about a certain drug, what it is, and if they know anyone who’s tried it. If a child knows that their parents are aware of a certain drug, they’re less likely to try it.


In the end, parents cannot control their kids’ actions, but through communication and preparation, they can assist them in having the right tools to make smart, informed decisions.

A Parent’s Guide for Talking to Kids, Aged 11 – 14, About Drugs

As children grow, so does their concern for the approval of their peers. Despite this, parents often have more influence over their children than they realize. A talk with kids about drugs is not necessarily an easy one, but it can be an invaluable conversation to have as they approach the age of curiosity about drugs or first use.

Here are some steps parents can take to be proactive in preventing drug use in their children:


Step 1: Take the Lead

Around the ages of 11 to 14, kids are at a period where they may have heard things about certain drugs, and are curious. More than ever, now is the time to inquire about what children already know through their own research, from peers, or the media. Don’t be afraid to bring up the topic to them and ask what they’ve heard about a specific drug at school, in music or on television, and ask if they have any questions.  


Step 2: Create An Open Dialogue

A lot of times adults ask questions, but then quickly try to answer themselves. By giving youth the the chance to speak, it reveals what they do or don’t know. Listening to what kids have to say about drugs is a helpful opportunity to expose their misconceptions on the topic and replace them with the proper information, which can be put into a context they can understand.


Step 3: Write A Script

In their youth, kids may find themselves in situations where they are faced with peer pressure. Helping them to come up with a safe way to get out of uncomfortable situations can give them the confidence to navigate these difficult moments. Help them practice what they will say if they encounter someone who wants them to use drugs or alcohol. Another strategy is creating some sort of text script that kids can send to their parents, which signals for their help to get out of an uncomfortable situation. Role playing these scenarios not only helps prepare kids for what to say, but also helps them get more comfortable navigating those moments of peer pressure.  


Step 4: Get Familiar With Friends

Most often, kids from ages 11 – 14 are using substances in someone’s homes – not out in bars – therefore it’s important to get to know the people a child is spending their time with. Even if parents are familiar with the parents of their child’s friends, it’s important for them to get a sense of what substances are or aren’t allowed in the house, and what the attitude is in regard to the use of those substances.


This age range, 11 – 14 years old, can be a pivotal time in life, and it’s important for parents to lend their guidance to help their kids through it. These points will create effective dialogue with kids.