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Parents: first line of defense against substance abuse

Second of two parts

WATERTOWN — Parents and other adults received tips on how to maintain healthy relationships with children to help prevent substance use during a “Wake-Up Call” presentation Wednesday evening.

Part of the “Stairway to Heroin” educational series, “Wake-Up Call” is a program for adults 21 and over only featuring a life-size exhibit of a teenager’s bedroom with more than 50 “red flags” that can signal drug or alcohol use (see related story in Thursday’s Daily Union).

The “Stairway to Heroin” series began in 2014 in Ocon­omowoc as an effort to address the growing opioid and heroin epidemic.

It was created through the collaborative efforts of Your Choice to Live Inc., Rosecrance, the Oconomowoc Parent Education Network and the Oco­omowoc Area School District.

Provided by Your Choice to Live Inc. and Rosecrance, “Stair­way to Heroin” has e­volved into a model program for education, prevention and recovery used in communities and school districts across the state of Wisconsin and in parts of Illinois with a mission of making a difference in the lives of families.

About 90 people attended Wednesday night’s event at Watertown High School.

“I was sitting in your shoes not long ago when I started learning all about this, and it is really terrifying,” Katie Westerman, a trained counselor, told attendees. “When my kids were little, I would have been terrified to attend a ‘Stairway to Heroin’ event because I would think, ‘That doesn’t apply to me. My kids are too young.’

“But, in reality, when it comes to this fight, we, as parents, are the first line of…

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