Parent Ed Recap: Understanding Youth Substance Use

This is a summary of a council-sponsored parent education panel on youth substance use and prevention on November 19, 2020.


  • Jerry Blackburn, executive director of Influence the Change
  • Andrea Frost, Substance Abuse Education & Prevention Coordinator with Youth Eastside Services
  • Olga Davidov-Beirer, community member and mother whose son overdosed
  • Scott DePuy, father whose son overdosed
  • Holly McIntyre, Earlybird Alliance

Olga and Scott both presented their stories of these young, athletic, well rounded sons who could light up the room and were so loved. Lucas started experimenting with marijuana and continued to other drugs. Changes in behavior and physicality were warning signs of more frequent drug use. Sadly, Lucas succumbed to an overdose in 2019. Ryan was an avid soccer player and all-around athlete. Watching his older sister struggle with alcoholism, he vowed to his parents that he would never do such things. Once the parents noticed pills missing and a knee surgery that allowed opioids for pain management, they knew an intervention was necessary. Unfortunately, Ryan succumbed to an overdose in 2005.

Jerry briefly explained about the neurophysiology of the brain and what psychoactive chemicals can do it. Psychoactive chemicals alter the brain and trick it to keep wanting more to attain stasis. Substance use is a preventable activity. A substance use disorder is a treatable healthcare condition.


Resources shared at the meeting:

Please send questions to Parent Education Co-Chairs, Irene Neumann and Hae Sue Park at