The most effective step parents can take to deter their teenagers from abusing drugs or alcohol is to talk about it.
"Communication with their kids is one of the most important functions. I would advocate a direct, more open approach," said Kane County Undersheriff David Wagner, adding that one reason kids don't try drugs is because they don't want to disappoint their parents. "Some parents are under the impression that if they openly discuss drugs or alcohol, it may tempt their kids to try something they normally wouldn't."
Wagner, along with substance abuse counselors and recovering addicts, will lead a program called "Parents: You Matter" from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Kane County Sheriff's Office, 37W755 Route 38, St. Charles. It will focus on prevention and early detection of drug use.
While most parents are aware of drugs like marijuana and cocaine, Wagner said authorities will focus on the growing use of heroin among suburban teens, along with newer drugs like synthetic marijuana, and the abuse of prescription drugs like OxyContin and hydrocodone.
Synthetic pot was banned in Illinois starting Jan. 1.
Wagner said heroin use is growing among suburban teens, who start out by snorting it and eventually inject it as the addiction grows.
"The injectable form is by no means in the past. It's front and center," he said.
Wagner said heroin arrests in the suburbs are understated because teens sometime drive to Chicago for their drugs, but treatment centers have seen a rise in patients.
Tuesday's free program has a capacity of about 50, and is aimed at parents with children ranging from age 11 to the early 20s.
To reserve a spot, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (630) 208-2031. Authorities also are planning follow-up seminar for parents and also plan to take their message to students at Kaneland and Burlington Central high schools.