Evening of Prevention for Rivertown Parents


Ossining and Croton, NY – Billed as an “Evening of Prevention for Rivertown Parents,” local health-serving organizations are partnering to present “Setting Our Kids on a Substance-Free Path,” a community discussion and presentation that will make the expertise and perspective of local practitioners available to all interested and concerned parents in the area. The session will be held at the Ossining Public Library, 53 Croton Avenue, in the Budarz Theater, on Tuesday, May 12, from 7:30 to 9:00 pm. It is free and open to the public.

In citing the goals for this presentation, Lauren McDonald, behavioral health intake manager at Phelps Memorial Hospital Center, said “As both health-care providers and concerned residents of the area, we want this evening to provide reliable, accurate information on substance use in our communities, and counter the myth that a little experimentation is ‘normal’ or ‘safe.’ Nobody starts using with heroin; it starts with one drink, one blunt, one illicit oxycodone pill.” She noted the increase in recent years in emergency room treatment for substance overdoses, including treatment for marijuana, “which many people mistakenly believe you cannot become seriously ill, addicted, or impaired by.”

Presenters will include Dr. Rachel Schoolcraft, a psychiatrist specializing in addiction treatment at Phelps, who will describe how first experimentation with a substance might progress to dependence, lending new perspective to addiction as a disease of the brain rather than the rational choice it is often thought to be. Susan and Steve Salomone, founders of Drug Crisis in Our Backyard, lost their own child to addiction, and their comments on how bad choices can spiral out of control are compelling testimony for parents who might view experimentation as “just being a teen.”

Karen Milici Palmiero, LMHC, noted author and substance-abuse counselor on staff at Phoenix House, will give prevention suggestions for every age and stage of child development. She is the author of 90 Ways to Keep Your Kids Drug Free, and the first 50 attendees at this event will receive a free copy of her book.

A panel discussion to address questions and concerns from the audience will follow the guest speakers and will be moderated by Beverly Pierce, MA, LCSW, a program administrator at Student Assistance Services Corporation. Joining the panel will be the student assistance counselors and the police officers working with students at both Ossining and Croton high schools, as well as a former student who is now in recovery from addiction.

Co-sponsoring this event are the Croton Community Coalition and Ossining Communities That Care (CTC) coalition. Both organizations are federally funded through Drug Free Community (DFC) grants issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The Croton coalition, coordinated by Laurie Dean, has spearheaded the creation of a teen video that will begin the evening’s presentations. “Hearing what the kids have to say on the subject of substance use is where prevention begins,” Dean said. “Listening to our children, talking to them about it, is the most effective thing any parent can do when it comes to deterring young people from substance use.”

“We are excited to be able to offer an evening on prevention that reaches out beyond our borders and recognizes that the Rivertowns are stronger when we meet this challenge together,” said Alice Joselow, coordinator of the CTC coalition. “Our presenters are all specialists in their various fields, and we are confident that attendees will be introduced to some useful information, resources, and approaches that are relevant to our own communities and our own kids.”

Drug Crisis in Our Backyard, a parent-focused Westchester prevention organization, and Arms Acres, a licensed in-patient/out-patient treatment facility in Carmel, are additional sponsors of the event.

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