Ridgewood has a serious problem with teen drug and alcohol use, according to High School Principal Jack Lorenz, who is urging parents to attend a Town Hall-style discussion next week on combating substance abuse.
A collection of law enforcement officers, school administrators and doctors are holding Parent2Parent: Alcohol and Our Teens Town Hall Dinner on Oct. 27 at the RHS Campus Center.
“Underage drinking in Ridgewood is totally out of control, along with marijuana and other drugs,” Lorenz said. RHS has had several public incidents in the past year, notably a dance that led to police intervention and multiple hospital visits for excessive intoxication.
Lorenz said that alcohol poisoning happens "nearly every weekend" in Ridgewood and that he believes there's a “huge problem” with female students engaging in binge drinking.
The panel, tasked to share concerns and determine strategies to reduce drinking and drug abuse, includes RHS Assistant Principal Basil Pizzuto, RHS Crisis Intervention Counselor Lauren DePinto, Valley Hospital emergency room physician Bruce Felsentstein and a Ridgewood police officer.
“The abuse of these substances crosses a diverse group of kids at all levels of the socioeconomic spectrum," Lorenz said. The problem is so prevalent that any parent [who] does not attend puts their child at risk.”
And Lorenz says it's not just the expected "problem students" who find themselves downing beers, smoking marijuana and experimenting with harder drugs.
“The landscape is continually changing,” he says. “In the past, it was easy to identify the kids who were abusing drugs and alcohol. Today, some of our top students are the biggest abusers.”
He said teen drug and alcohol use is associated with everything from car crashes, sexual assaults, STDs and warned parents not to be "drinking buddies" for their children.
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