Substance abuse education

Fort Dodge Senior High sophomores learned about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as their consequences, from members of the Fort Dodge Police Department Wednesday.

Joelyn Johnson, school resource officer, told students that the choices they make with alcohol can result in serious problems.

“There are repercussions, not just criminally but also physically and mentally, and also with your relationship with your parents,” Johnson said. “Alcohol alters your perception and can also cause you huge embarrassment.”

Students can also face punishments in school.

“If you get caught with alcohol, it gets reported to the school,” she said. “You’re not able to participate in any athletic events or activities.”

Besides the possibility of embarrassing photos showing up on social media, Johnson said teens can face criminal charges related to alcohol. While most alcohol-related charges are misdemeanors, if someone drives while drunk and kills someone, it’s a felony, even if the person didn’t intend to kill someone.

“When someone gets behind the wheel of a vehicle after they’ve been drinking, they’re putting a weapon in their hands,” she said.

Sometimes teens feel like drunk driving accidents don’t happen to them, she said.

“It’s maybe not likely, or it’s not going to happen to me,” Johnson said. “But it does happen.”

She challenged the students to not only avoid drinking themselves, but to be responsible if someone they know has been drinking.

“If you know your friend has been drinking, take the keys away from them,” Johnson said. “If you haven’t been drinking, offer to drive for them. And never get into a vehicle if you know the driver has been drinking.”

“Do them justice and find them a ride or give them a ride,” she said. “You don’t want their memory to be of how they died. It should be how they lived.”

Detective Ryan Gruenberg focused his comments to the students on drug abuse and what various drugs can do to people.

“Just because you take something once doesn’t mean it’ll have the same effect as before,” Gruenberg said.

He specifically focused on synthetic marijuana, a drug that is known as an unpredictable hallucinogen.

“The chemical makeup varies so differently between packages that it can kill anybody who tries it even once,” he said.

Gruenberg showed a brief video on David Rozga, an Indianola teenager who died in June 2010 after smoking a type of synthetic marijuana. After abusing the drug, Gruenberg said the teen committed suicide.

“Ninety minutes after he took it, he was dead,” Gruenberg told the students.

He encouraged students who know about drug abuse to contact Webster County Crime Stoppers, adding that anyone who uses that method of providing information will remain anonymous.

Then Johnson reminded students that the presentation was meant to inform so that they would be safe.

“Nobody wants to be a statistic, and your friends and family don’t want to think of you that way,” she said. “Information is the best way to protect yourself.”