Presentation gives students facts about drugs, alcohol

When a high school student showed a Franklin doctor how to properly use an e-cigarette, that reminded him of how much teens already know about drugs, alcohol and tobacco products.

Students often already have some degree of knowledge about drugs and alcohol, and that is precisely why Dr. Dick Huber, a retired family physician, talks to 125 middle school, high school and college classes per year, he said.

“There are some kids who know way too much, but some of the information isn’t very good information that they have,” Huber said.

“That’s the whole problem. They know a lot, but it’s not good information.”

This week, Huber spoke to six health classes at Franklin Community High School, just before spring break starts for the school district.

“We thought, before spring break, it’s a good time to drive that home a little bit,” health teacher Dave Clark said.

“Hopefully our kids will make good decisions and choices.”

Clark and fellow health teacher Curt Holcroft invite Huber into their classroom once per semester so students hear more about the dangers of drugs and alcohol — beyond what they are tested on in class, Clark said.

Huber has years of experience, and his approach to teaching kids about drugs and alcohol is different from their teachers, Clark said.

For example, Huber created a fill-in-the-blank quiz for the Franklin students, with multiple percentages, data and information on the white board. He also had a table full of alcoholic beverages, pot-smoking devices, vape pens, illegal candy and organs, including a heart, lungs and a brain, for students to see.

But out of the dozens of factoids he shared with students, Huber wants the teenagers to remember that drugs will stunt the connectivity in their brain, and that the brain isn’t fully developed until about age 25.

“I really think if kids would keep those two things in mind, it’ll save them so many problems because they’ll remember, ‘I’ve got to protect my brain, and I’ve got to protect it until I’m 25 years in age,’” Huber said.

“Their brain is so susceptible when they’re starting (drugs or alcohol) at a young age.”

Huber was first invited into a classroom about 15 years ago, when tobacco was becoming a big problem with high school students, Huber said. Then a teacher pulled him aside and said the issue was larger than just tobacco: alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs and illegal substances were a problem, too.

While some of the drugs and alcohol used by high school students has not changed, the rise in e-cigarettes and vape pens is something that Huber has had to incorporate into his presentation, he said. For some students, they’ve already become experts in naming the different accessories needed to use a vape pen or e-cigarette, he said. For example, when he was trying to demonstrate how to use a vape pen and was struggling, a student piped up, suggesting he hold down the button on the device longer.

“So that’s a bit different. How many adults know about a vape, let alone have a student tell you, ‘please hold the button,’” Huber said.

By the numbers

Retired physician Dick Huber speaks to about 125 classrooms per year about drugs and alcohol. Here’s some of the statistics he shares with the students:

A look at what surveys have shown high school seniors use each month:

33% drink alcohol

25% use vape pens or e-cigarettes

19% smoke marijuana

16% smoke cigarettes

Every day in the U.S.:

46 people die from using prescription medications

132 people die from second-hand smoke

202 people die from alcohol

1,068 people die from tobacco use