Students learn dangers of substance abuse

Minot High School-Central Campus sophomores got a graphic look at the dangers of substance abuse during the annual addiction symposium on Wednesday.

In the “Teen Maze,” each student was given a disaster scenario that took him or her through a maze of law enforcement officers, medical personnel, addiction counselors or funeral homes who were set up at stations in the school gymnasium.

For a few of the students, just imagining what might happen was too much.

Biology teacher Julia Koble described how one girl couldn’t bear the station where the funeral home was set up, complete with an empty coffin.

“She said, Mrs. Koble, I killed my baby and I had to go to the funeral parlor,” said Koble.

Presenter Shelly Bohl, of the Family Crisis Center in Bottineau, said another girl refused to visit the funeral home station because her own mother is ill.

Koble and Bohl said those students were offered different scenarios. The school was trying to educate the students, not scare them.

Sophomores Makenna Sartwell, Alexis Meyer and Kaitlyn Stenberg said they think first-hand accounts of what can happen to someone busted for driving drunk or using drugs made a big impression on their classmates.

In the auditorium, Dr. Jeffrey Sather, Medical Director, Trinity ETC, and Karen Zimmerman, former ETC nurse, currently director of Clinical Excellence & Patient Safety at Trinity Hospital, gave a symposium based on their experiences in hospital emergency rooms. The girls said they told emergency room stories about meth addicts who harmed themselves because they experienced delusions caused by the drugs.

In the school music room, people who have struggled with addiction told their own personal stories.

In the Teen Maze, the girls heard what happens to people who end up in the penitentiary, working at janitorial and other menial jobs for $1.35 each day.

All of the stories will make kids think twice about abusing drugs and alcohol and ending up in the criminal justice system, they said.

Sartwell said the addiction symposium made her aware that addiction can happen to people she knows.

“It’s not just the homeless people on the street that are doing it,” she said. “It’s people all around us.”

Koble said this is the sixth annual addiction symposium but the first time they’ve been able to offer the Teen Maze, which gives students a more interactive experience. Everyone in the sophomore class went through it in shifts. There were 20 presenters from the area who participated.