BERNARDS TWP., NJ - Parents and community members from Bernards Township and surrounding communities are invited on Wednesday evening to take part in a free presentationm "Under the Influence," which will feature the speaker Michael DeLeon, who founded Steered Straight Inc. after his own bout with substance abuse and his return from a downward spiral.

The Bernards Township Municipal Alliance Against Substance Abuse in partnership with Steered Straight Inc. will host the program, a parental presentation and community event at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22 at the Ridge Performing Arts Center, 268 S. Finley Ave. in Basking Ridge. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and the program is expected to last until 9 p.m.

Speakers at the presentation will educate parents and the public about current drug trends, signs of use in children, and how to prevent drug and alcohol abuse from affecting young people and their families. During the evening, the goal is also to help the public gain an understanding about the drug abuse epidemic and how many have gotten to this point, according to information about the presentation on the Bernards Township Health Department webpage.

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Steered Straight Inc. was founded in 2000 by DeLeon and is a non-profit educational and prevention/intervention organization committed to reaching children, teens, and young adults with the message of the reality of life-choices and the importance of consequential thinking. Many of the speakers who participate in Steered Straight’s programming are ex-offenders or individuals living in recovery. These speakers are dedicated to helping youth steer their lives in a positive direction, and to educating parents and community members about drug trends and prevention, according to Steered Straight.

The goal of Steered Straight educational programs about substance abuse is to teach and gain the interest of audiences through tales of personal experience. Audience members will gain a better understanding of the prescription drug abuse epidemic and how to have the conversation about substance abuse with adolescents, as well as an awareness of how over-the-counter medicines are being misused and abused.

Examples of real-life youth overdose trends due to over-the-counter and prescription drug abuse - a scourge that has hit the local community - will also be discussed.

Audience members will also learn abut the dangers of vaping and what’s known as the “gateway trifecta” of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. Other topics that will be discussed include heroin abuse and trends emerging in synthetic drugs. 

This program is intended for parents and community members in Bernards Township as well as surrounding towns and is free for all participants. Any questions should be directed to Kaitlin Kordusky, Health Educator and Municipal Alliance Grant Coordinator at (908) 204-2523 or kkordusky@bernards.org. 

The mission of the Bernards Township Municipal Alliance Against Substance Abuse is to provide consultation, programs, training and resources to members of the Bernards Township community with the goal of preventing and reducing the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs through education, support of events and programs and presence in the community. For more information and to view results from the Student Stressors or American Drug and Alcohol Survey, visit www.bernardsalliance.org.