May 22, 2023, Durham, NC – iRT Research Scientists Drs. Alison Parker, Allison Schmidt, and Rebecca Stelter presented at the 2023 Foster Family Alliance of North Carolina Teaming with Teens virtual event on May 6. The Teaming with Teens event brings child welfare professionals, caregivers, youth, and young adults together to discuss topics that impact youth in foster care. The focus of the May event was on substance misuse.

As part of the Teaming with Teens event, iRT’s experts led a 2-hour session for youth and young adults entitled “Making Healthy Choices as a Teen/Young Adult.” 230 youth and young adults attended the live session to learn about current substances being misused and strategies to prevent substance misuse.

During the session, Drs. Schmidt and Stelter discussed common misconceptions or “myths” about tobacco, marijuana, opioids, medications, and alcohol and ways in which those misconceptions can negatively impact youth and safe driving practices. They also demonstrated various skills youth and young adults can practice to refuse substances in scenarios where they may feel peer pressure or find themselves surrounded by others misusing substances to prevent impaired driving. Schmidt and Stelter engaged youth in an interactive learning activity to practice how to refuse alcohol when they are offered a drink using different approaches that can be tailored to the individual based on what they are most comfortable saying in the moment.

Dr. Parker outlined the impacts of stress on the mind and body, as well as various healthy and unhealthy coping strategies individuals use to manage stress. Youth and young adults participating in the session learned about mindfulness, the practice of bringing attention and awareness to one’s surroundings, as a healthy strategy to cope with stress. Parker demonstrated two examples of mindfulness techniques and practiced them with session participants to equip them with strategies to cope with stressful situations to combat the negative impacts of stress and prevent potential substance misuse precipitated by stress.

Dr. Orrin Ware, Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work, co-presented with iRT’s Research Scientists to help facilitate the highly engaging discussions with session participants about substance misuse.

iRT is committed to using its research, developments, and expertise to change the lives of teens and young adults. Prevention Central, a division of iRT, provides products and services to address and solve various real-world problems facing youth, families, communities, and organizations. Browse for substance misuse, sexual health, social-emotional learning, and research resources iRT has developed to help support youth and young adults.