Hopi Jr./Sr. High staff prepare for substance abuse problems

POLACCA, Ariz.- As the school year gets underway, Hopi Jr./Sr. High School staff heard about ongoing problems with substance abuse in the community and how they can help students deal with those problems.

As one part of a three day in-service, Kevin Nash gave a presentation about substance abuse. Nash is the program director at the Hopi Substance Abuse Prevention Center.

Nash said people use substance abuse as a form of suicide.

"Many people including myself have lost family members," he said.

Nash recalled days when he abused alcohol. He didn't care what he looked like, if he staggered down the road or if he showered. More importantly, he said that adults with substance abuse problems can hurt children mentally and emotionally, affecting the behavior of those children.

"If you use drugs or alcohol in the presence of children it is a crime," he said. "It has a negative impact on health and relationships. We want a good, clean life, but alcohol can destroy all of that."

Nash said the answer is to intervene at the first signs of substance abuse. He said people need to hold users accountable, use consistent discipline and find natural partners to create healthy environments.

Natural partners include cultural advisors, treatment centers, youth groups, tribal leaders and Hopi courts.

"Everybody has a role," he said.

Nash said tools for positive change include learning life skills, using a 12-step support group, Native Talking Circles, family support groups and suicide prevention training.

"If we develop that potential in children, we can do so many things," he said. "We have challenges and struggles, but we can deal with it in a better way."

Theron Honyumptewa, head of security at Hopi Jr./Sr. High School, warned staff that students are drinking energy drinks with alcohol. School administrators banned those drinks from the school. He said some energy drinks contain 3-8 percent alcohol, but one energy drink has 12 percent alcohol.

Honyumptewa said some students are licking hand sanitizers because of the alcohol in those products.

Hopi High School Principal Glenn Gilman said the school must do its part to help students who have problems with substance abuse.

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