FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- The first step to end the growing trend of prescription drug abuse is recognition. Beginning this month, Fairfield County teens and parents can learn more about how to recognize patterns of dangerous behaviors before they become a problem.
Newport Academy, a teen rehabilitation facility, is opening a new location this week in Darien at 36 Old Kings Highway South. It is also hosting screenings of a movie, "Behind The Orange Curtain." The film and subsequent panel discussions will explore the staggering problem of teenage drug abuse in one of the most affluent counties in the country.
Newport Academy will hold screenings and discussions throughout Fairfield County the entire month of March. They are scheduled for Wednesday, March 11 at New Fairfield High School; Thursday, March 19 at Fairfield University; and Thursday, March 26 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in New Canaan.
A screening of “The Anonymous People,’’ a documentary film about the 23.5 million Americans living in long-term recovery from alcohol and other drug addiction, will be shown on Thursday, March 12, at Christ and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Westport. All of the films begin at 6:30 p.m. Click here to find the full schedule and to register.
Jamison Monroe, the founder of Newport Academy, said the message in “Behind The Orange Curtain” is to awaken parents to the harmful and deadly usage of prescription medications by teens. “I’ve seen an epidemic and rise in prescription abuse and overdose, especially opiates,’’ Monroe said. “We need to realize the dangers of prescription drugs.”
Monroe said Newport Academy has been treating Fairfield County teenagers for five years. It opened a facility in Bethlehem in 2013. Newport Academy also has facilities in California.
Monroe said parents should watch for warning signals that their teens may be abusing prescription drugs. “There’s a decrease in grades, accompanied with a decrease in ambition and activities,’’ Monroe said. “There’s a possible change in peer group, a change in attitude and energy levels. It sounds like it could be any teenager. When you have the confluence of all of these coming together, it may be time to ask a few questions.”
Monroe also said parents should start conversations early about prescription drug abuse. “I encourage parents to start talking to the kids at age 8 or 9,’’ Monroe said. “That’s when they start noticing different things through popular culture. You’d start by asking very simple, open-ended questions, such as, ‘Have you heard of marijuana or pot?’ and going from there. You want to keep it open and non-judgmental.”
Monroe said prescription drug abuse does not discriminate. “That’s one of the most important messages in the film,’’ Monroe said. “It can happen to anybody. It doesn’t matter where you live or how much money you have or what club you belong to.”