This might be a precarious time for children and teens vulnerable to substance abuse or mental health issues. They've been operating without the structure of in-person school for weeks, and their parents might have struggled to help them with schoolwork while adjusting to new work processes and other stressors.

One of the key treatment organizations in our community, Kids Escaping Drugs, has maintained its in-patient treatment programs through The Renaissance Campus, which has 77 beds for patients ages 12-24. Meanwhile, their reintegration program had to shift to telehealth services. Deputy Executive Director Jodie Altman explained some of these changes during an interview:

The Renaissance Campus is taking admissions again, and Jodie advises parents to stay on the lookout for warning signs that their children might be struggling with substance abuse. Was there a sudden change in friends or personal hygiene? Have they suddenly started sleeping all day and staying up all night? Parents should have access to their children's phone and social media accounts and keep tabs on the people with whom they are talking.

As Jodie says, if your gut tells you something isn't right, it probably isn't.

But Kids Escaping Drugs has plenty of resources for parents. Here's how their website describes early intervention services:

Students identified as being “at risk” by educators, parents, or doctors are provided with an opportunity for a private, one-time session on the Renaissance Campus with their parent(s), a counselor, and peers in recovery. Parents are provided with educational materials, and referrals to treatment services are made as necessary.

Parents can reach out directly to a counselor and ask questions by clicking here. They can see answers to frequently asked questions by clicking here.

Even if the topic is a little uncomfortable, it's an important one to educate ourselves about. We're all in this together, trying to make sure kids are staying safe throughout their teenage years.

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