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Substance abuse awareness night on Black Balloon Day urges parents to speak with children

ENDWELL (WBNG) — Chris Scott, a father of three from Binghamton, was the main speaker at Wednesday’s substance abused awareness night at Maine-Endwell Middle School. The former marijuana user of 22 years spoke about the consequences of substance abuse, from prison to death.

“This is happening in everyone’s backyard, it’s happening in our backyard, but its happening in everyone’s backyard,” explained Scott about substance abuse.

Scott said he sold large quantities of marijuana around the Greater Binghamton area for years, until he was apprehended by the federal government and sentenced to prison for 77 months.

“When you think its not happening, then you might be in danger, as far as parents go,” said Scott.

Scott and organizers spoke about the dangers students can be surrounded by at parties when it comes to pills, powders, and other substances, acknowledging how one bad decision could be someone’s last.

He stressed to 12 News, the importance of dialogue between a parent and their child. He said open communication with your child about what they’re doing and who they’re friends are is extremely important. He also advises that families become educated on substance abuse to know what to look for in case a loved one were to ever begin using drugs, or abusing alcohol.

“Know they’re friends,” emphasized Scott to parents. “Understand the people they hang out with, have a direct impact on the choice they make.”

Scott spoke to the dozens after a documentary called, “If They Had Known,” was shown in the middle school’s auditorium, highlighting the risks around modern day party culture of teens and young adults. It featured the true story of a teen who died from an overdose.

“I think the party culture is more dangerous now than its ever been,”explained Scott.

“We cant be with 24 hours of a day,” said Scott. “So we have to make sure we’re comfortable talking to them, and we have to make them comfortable talking to us.”

He advised parents to let your children know that they can tell you anything. Even though substance abuse may not be something your child wants to speak about, Scott says he tells his children, “If you’re somewhere and you feel uncomfortable and someone is offering you something that you don’t want to take, call me and let me know, I’ll come get you.”

The Broome County District Attorney’s Office said there were 31 deadly overdoses in 2018, with 2 more pending toxicology reports. Those lives were remembered at the school with black balloons on Wednesday’s Black Balloon Day, March 6, to continue the conversation on substance abuse.

Audience members were asked to bring balloons home and put them outside to show the community is one in the fight against substance abuse, in memory of those lost.

The night was hosted by the Maine-Endwell School District and Broome County Legislator Jason Shaw, it’s part of a series of community conversations, called “The Buzz,” regarding substance prevention, recovery, abuse, and the stigma around it.

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Michael Schwartz

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