The Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse (RCASA) announces and recommends two important meetings for parents next week at RMHS and Austin Prep. The topic is one of great importance: the state of vaping in our schools and the region and the potential impact to our youth. Our Executive Director Ms. Erica McNamara will be presenting this relevant topic along with the RMHS Assistant Principals Michael McSweeney and Jessica Theriault on April 4th at 7:00pm in the Schettini Media Center and on April 5th at 7:00pm at Austin Prep.
Reading Public Schools have thorough and rigorous policies that address the use of legal and illegal substances in our schools and at school-sponsored events. Tobacco, nicotine, nicotine delivery, alcohol, cannabinoids, opioids, and many others are on the lists in the policies and associated regulations and handbooks. The emphasis of these policies is to provide appropriate consequences, education, and support for both the student and family, as well as helping the student to make better and healthier choices around substance use, misuse, and abuse. At recent RCASA board meetings, the concern on the impact of vaping on our youth has grown. While we have a significant volume of evidence on the harm of nicotine, tobacco, and cannabinoids on the developing brain and long-term addiction rates associate with early onset usage, the data and evidence on e-vaping is still emerging. The liquids that can be e-vaped range from flavored water, nicotine, THC, and combinations of these as well as other chemicals. A recent article published in The Boston Globe entitled “’Juuling’: The Most Widespread Phenomenon You’ve Never Heard Of.’ describes this insidious trend. One student quoted in the article raises an alarming yet wide-spread belief, “I thought it was a healthier choice than cigarettes – it won’t give you as much cancer… But finding out that one (vape) pod is equivalent to one pack of cigarettes was shocking.”
In our community, RCASA is a coalition of youth & adults living and working in Reading, MA who promote a safe, healthy, vibrant community in which everyone makes healthy decisions and ensures that today’s resources shape tomorrow’s strengths. Our mission is to strategically address our youth substance abuse problem in Reading. This includes misuse and abuse of alcohol, prescription drugs, nicotine, and other illegal drugs at unacceptably high rates that emerge early in adolescence. In our schools, RCASA collaborates in many areas; Youth Risk Behavior Survey Process, Health Education, Policy Development, Youth Mental Health First Aid, and Professional Development, and special events and speakers.
Patrick Shannon, President RCASA
Elaine Webb, Vice-President RCASA