Parents of North Union, Marysville and Fairbanks middle school and high school students will get a chance to raise their awareness of drug issues March 30.
The Union County Sheriff's Office, the Union County Multi Agency Drug Enforcement Task Force and the school districts are working together to present "Drug Awareness for Parents" from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Bunsold Middle School auditorium.
Union County Sheriff Jamie Patton said while there have been drug awareness community events in the past, this one is the first of its kind.
"This is more geared toward what's happening here locally and specifically for parents to let them know what's happening in our community," Patton said.
"I feel some would be naive to think we live in a community that doesn't have this problem. Rural communities do have drug problems."
The four-hour program will include information on the signs of being under the influence of drugs, the most-abused pharmaceutical drugs and withdrawal symptoms.
"Detectives from the MADE Task Force have identified a direct correlation between diverted opiate-based prescription drugs and the use of heroin," Patton said.
Parents can learn how to keep prescription drugs secure at home and how to properly dispose of any unused medication.
Recovering drug addicts also will be present to offer firsthand accounts of how their addictions began while they were in middle school and high school.
"Parents of a recovering drug addict will talk about the role of parents and how drug abuse affects the family," Patton said.
He said he isn't sure how many will attend, but organizers talked about ways to increase attendance and get the word out.
"With past public events, most of those that attended are active community members. We thought, 'how can we get other people there? Let's throw the money out there'," he said.
As an incentive to attend, middle school parents who have children enrolled during the 2012-2013 school year and have paid pay-to-participate athletics fees will have the opportunity to receive a $25 reimbursement per student.
"We had to go back to the pharmaceutical grant company and draw up a plan and ask about the money. They were all for it," Patton said.
The evening is not geared toward parents of athletes specifically but the task force wanted to find some way to offer the incentive.
"The money is a first-come, first-served deal but certainly anybody can attend," he said, adding that parents of high school students will be eligible to receive the same reimbursement if there is money left after middle school parents have been paid.
Patton said he hopes this event will spin off similar programs in the future.
"For the parents in general, knowledge is power and there is power in education," he said.
If 100 people attend, then those 100 can tell another 100 and so on, he added: "They can get the word out."
Registration is available by calling 937-645-4125 or by emailing Alicia Bosch at firstname.lastname@example.org.