By Ashley Sander
On Nov. 15, Ms. Boyer invited Tracey Goerndt, a Prevention Specialist who works for the Eastern Montana Mental Health Center in Baker and Glendive, to speak to our 7-12th grade students about drug and alcohol abuse/addiction as well as suicide awareness and prevention. Tracey started by talking about all the signs of addiction. She defined addiction as the repeated action with a substance or activity that we use to avoid pain, loneliness, rejection or to avoid doing something that needs to be done. She put addiction into perspective by listing addictive substances, other than drugs and alcohol, and their effects on the body. For example, when sugar is consumed it releases dopamine and opioids, which cause feelings of satisfaction and happiness. Other items she mentioned that could be addictions depending on the intent of their use were social media, video games, cell phones, watching television, listening to music, shopping, exercising, caffeine, tanning, negativity, or perhaps even chocolate.
Tracey also spoke about the symptoms of alcohol poisoning which include: confusion, lapses in consciousness, vomiting (which may lead to aspiration and death), shallow breathing, and cold and/or pale skin. She also made it clear that if someone is exhibiting these symptoms, that their life is in danger, and they need medical attention immediately. She discussed the dangers of what she called “Skittles Parties”, which is a party where people partake of a mix of many types of pills. She also mentioned that taking pills with alcohol can double the dosage of the pills. Tracey spoke about depression and suicide as well. She emphasized that if you notice someone acting differently or exhibiting suicidal behavior that you should talk to him/her or find someone who can help. A fast way to remember this is with the acronym ACT, which stands for Acknowledge, Care, and Tell. Tracey provided the numbers for the crisis hotline (1-800-662-TALK) and the suicide hotline (1-800-273-TALK). She also suggested talking to trusted adults, parents, or therapists. The overall experience was eye-opening and thought provoking for the students.