FARMINGTON — Students from five area high schools spent Friday learning about substance abuse and then creating their own videos and radio and newspaper public service announcements.

Sponsored by the Healthy Community Coalition, the 10th annual Youth Summit was held at Franklin Memorial Hospital with health students from Mt. Blue, Livermore Falls, Jay, Rangeley and SAD 58 attending.

Before the students could settle down to create, they listened to information on substance abuse from Gerry Baril of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and other presenters on the local situation.

Former Mt. Blue student, Desi Van Til and her husband, Sean Mewshaw, film producers who have worked on several Hollywood sets, provided a segment on how to create effective videos and public service announcements.

The students have an advantage in producing a substance abuse campaign, Baril said.

“You know your peers better than we do,” he told the freshmen and sophomore students.

Baril with 36 years experience in law enforcement including 14 years with the MDEA, told the group the percentage of people abusing drugs among the ages of 14-20 within the Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford county area is higher than the national average. The three- county area in Maine has an abuse rate of 30 percent compared to 20 percent in other parts of the country including Los Angeles. They have higher numbers but Maine’s percentage of teen users is higher.

Baril encouraged the youths to use the information he gave on everything from crack to methamphetamine to make healthy choices.

“No matter what — the choice (to use or try drugs) will always be yours,” he said. “With more information, there’s a greater probability of making healthier choices.”

The people involved in selling drugs only want money. They don’t care about your health, he said. There’s also no quality control. They add substances to the drugs to create more drug. A common drug used to treat colon cancer is often added to cocaine while another drug includes Ketamine, a drug used by veterinarians to put cats and dogs to sleep.

Although the purity of heroin sold in Western Maine is higher than heroin sold in California, there’s a great difference in how a specific drug will affect you, Baril said.

“It’s like playing Russian roulette,” he said. “No one can predict how he/she will react. The first time may be the last time.”

He then warned the students there is only a 15 minute window of time to get a friend who goes into cardiac arrest from drugs at a party to the emergency room.

Many students panic and fear getting in to trouble but the clock is ticking, he said. Dial 911, do the right thing and you’ll still have your friend, he said.

Calling marijuana Maine’s number one crop, Baril warned the students that minors who use it are 85 times more likely to use cocaine.

Baril also warned of the increased use of prescription drugs especially among girls.

“Drugs take over,” he warned adding, “You can’t recover from death. There’s no saying I’m sorry,”

Each school was assigned a different topic to work on, said organizer Nicole Ditata from the Healthy Community Coalition. One group was charged with creating a media campaign for tobacco and the others for inhalants, alcohol use/abuse and drug use/abuse.

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Area high school students spent Friday at the Healthy Community Coalition’s 10th Annual Youth Summit held at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington. Above, Kristy Macomber and Kourtney Brennick of Jay High School wear T-shirts provided for each student in celebration of the decade of youth summits. This year their task was to create a substance-abuse media campaign.

Area high school students spent Friday at the Healthy Community
Coalition’s 10th Annual Youth Summit held at Franklin Memorial Hospital
in Farmington. Above, Kristy Macomber and Kourtney Brennick
of Jay High School show their T-shirts provided for each student in
celebration of the decade of youth summits. This year their task was to
create a substance-abuse media campaign.

Area high school students spent Friday at the Healthy Community
Coalition’s 10th Annual Youth Summit held at Franklin Memorial Hospital
in Farmington. Jon Dunton of Livermore Falls High School dons a T-shirts provided for each student in
celebration of the decade of youth summits. This year their task was to
create a substance-abuse media campaign.

Area high school students spent Friday at the Healthy Community
Coalition’s 10th Annual Youth Summit held at Franklin Memorial Hospital
in Farmington. HCC organizer Nicole Ditata displays one of the T-shirts provided for each student in
celebration of the decade of youth summits. This year their task was to
create a substance-abuse media campaign.


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