MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Teen drug use spikes in the summer months.

It’s not something anyone wants to talk about, but it’s something that needs to be said. Especially as summer approaches, the “drug talk” is key.

“Kids are bored, parents are usually gone at work during the day, so it leaves a lot of time for kids to get creative with these different ideas,” said Amber Hewitt, who works with the “Know the Truth” program at Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge.

Parents gathered at Irondale High School in New Brighton to hear what they wish wasn’t true – that addiction can happen to anyone.

“I was introduced to heroin at 15 and that took things down a very bad path very quickly,” Aubrey Lee said.

Lee, a former Apple Valley student, was one of several speakers at a night hosted by Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge to talk about the dangers of summer.

“It is really difficult, especially for teenagers because I feel like that’s when I was introduced because of all of these parties and meeting new people, and that’s usually how it goes,” Lee said.

She’s now sober and a drug educator working alongside Hewitt.

“I have a lot of students who don’t talk about smoking weed, doing drugs, drinking, but they are into vaping,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt works with teens in schools and says vaping is one of the biggest drug problems she sees.

“They are already experiencing things like wheezing, shortness of breath,” Hewitt said. “I’ve worked in plenty of schools where students have been taken away by ambulance because they’ve experienced this nic sick.”

She says students are also hiding a concentrated form of marijuana in their vape pens.

“Don’t let your kids vape. It’s not a better alternative,” Hewitt says.

Another takeaway for parents is the crafty way kids can hide drugs – in a soda can, a hairbrush, a book or a game controller.

They are reminders that problems aren’t always obvious and to be in the loop and on the lookout. Even if it’s uncomfortable, keep talking.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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