Grand Haven parent speaks out about teen drug prevention

Carolyn Taylor encourages families to talk to their kids about teen drug use prevention. The best place might be in the car traveling.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 6:17 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - No drugs are off limits, which is putting more and more kids at risk. That is why the organization TalkSooner and the Michigan Department of Transportation are encouraging conversations in the car as families travel for spring break. They’re posting “Make the Chatter Matter” flyers at rest stops for families to see.

Carolyn Taylor is the mother of Casey, a 19-year-old who was once battling a drug addiction.

“You know what marijuana does, it makes you not want to do all the things that used to bring you joy,” Taylor recounts from Casey.

Now, Taylor is on a mission to prevent teens from using drugs.

“One day after practice, someone offered him a vape. And he took it. And that first hit, had him completely hooked. He said, ‘It was just amazing.’ Those are his words,” said Taylor.

Casey, who is now an adult, took his first puff at the age of 15. As a sophomore in high school, he ran on the track and field team.

“It can happen to you, you know, it can happen to anybody. And with Casey, it led to other things. So, it led to smoking marijuana, trying opioids, and then to alcohol,” said Taylor.

According to the FDA and the CDC, in 2022, more than 1 in 4 middle and high school students used e-cigarettes daily.

“If they start down that path with the vaping, and get addicted for one, you have to realize they can’t just quit that,” Taylor said. “I learned quickly that he just can’t quit.”

After going to rehab, he relapsed a few months later when he returned home. Taylor encourages families to talk to their kids about the dangers of drugs. No matter how difficult the conversation may be.

TalkSooner, an advocacy website, said it can even be in the car. Spring break family road trips pose a great opportunity to do just that.

“You’ve got them in a closed space for 10 (hours), you can get those earbuds out, get those screens off and have some good conversations,” said Vicki Kavanaugh.

“You can say, ‘hey, I hear it all the time that kids are vaping in the bathrooms at school, you know, do you see that? You know, what do you think of that?’” said Taylor.

Being open and honest during conversations allows your child to see you as safe space which is exactly how Casey felt.

“He came to me fairly quickly, to let us know, and I said, ‘Well, what’s that look like to you?’ He said, ‘I think I need to go to rehab again,’” said Taylor.

Casey now lives in North Carolina where he participates in rehab programs. His mother said parents need to know and in order for that to happen, they have to have these conversations.

“It’s been a wild ride, you know, and my son still lives 1,000 miles away. That’s his home now. You know, we get it. He is surrounded by a lot of support,” said Taylor.

A lot of support that keeps Casey on track.

Whether you’re driving to the grocery store or traveling, Taylor said it’s a good time to have the conversation about avoiding drugs with your teenager.

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