WESTERLY — A free workshop in January at the Westerly Education Center is intended to help parents and anyone who interacts with youth to understand why teens adopt risky behaviors and how to spot the warning signs.

The workshop, Prevention of Substance Use, will be offered three times at the education center on Friendship Street: Jan. 6 and Jan. 16 from 4 to 6 p.m. and Jan. 17 from 10 a.m. to noon. Although it is free, registration is required. The sign-up form is available at http://bit.ly/PreventionRI.

The workshop will provide information on emotional and behavioral development, adolescent brain development, high risk behaviors, typical drugs used by youths, including lesser known synthetic drugs, and how young people procure them. Particular attention will be given to the medical issues associated with vaping (nicotine and cannabis), opiate abuse in Rhode Island, and the short- and long-term effects of illicit substance use. The curriculum includes warning signs of substance use, the connection between mental illness and substance use, how to talk to teens about drug and alcohol, and treatment options.

The instructor will be Pamela Messore, a licensed clinical social worker, certified alcohol and drug counselor, and an educator, with more than 25 years of behavioral health experience in residential, schools and outpatient programs in Providence and Woonsocket. Messore is a frequent lecturer on mental health and substance use for behavioral health professionals, nurses, teachers and parents. In 2010, she was recognized as the social worker of the year in addictions by the state chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

The training sessions are funded by a grant from State Opioid Response South County; South County Prevention Coalition; and the state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals. Other partners include the state Office of the Postsecondary Education commissioner’s office, the Westerly Education Center, and the Rhode Island College Institute for Education in Healthcare.

Further information can be found at westerlyedcenter.org.

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