Opening Up Chemical Substance Abuse Conversations Within the Community

November 14, 2012

Dave Watermen, senior prevention specialist for FCD Educational Services spent three days at Gould to speak with the community on chemical  substances and addiction. According to Watermen, awareness happens best through an open dialogue.

Watermen talking with a group of juniors

“FCD is a non-user support program, from the very beginning we did not want to be a search and destroy, or a just say no type program. We are a health based organization, and we really encourage and support non-users as a healthy choice. But, what we want is to open up the opportunity to get the community talking about addiction,” said Watermen.

FCD is an international non-profit organization that provides substance abuse prevention education to high school students of international and independent schools all over the world. FCD clears up mis-information through media and literacy programs, and conversations about pop-culture as it relates to the true risks of substances.


Then prevention specialists like Watermen can answer questions based on their addiction experiences.
Watermen spent his time working with students in small groups, one-on-ones and also addressed the school during an assembly. While working with students his personal stories stood out, making the workshops relatable and comfortable.

“I thought his life story was really interesting and he definitely approached the kids in a personal way, and I think we all responded positively towards that. He never said, ‘oh don’t do this and don’t do that’, it was more relatable,” said Kate 13’.

John 15’, was moved by Watermen and felt his stories of his youth were inspiring.

“He wasn’t boring. He would relate it to himself, which made me want to listen to what he had to say,” said John. “He would explain the mistakes he made when he was young, and the things you could do to make it better, and to make it right. He would give us advice based on his mistakes, which really stood out to me.”

The workshops helped create a stronger sense of understanding within the community by also breaking the barrier of being able to have conversations relating to chemical substance abuse.

“I thought that having these issues exposed to the whole community, and opening that conversation had a really positive impact on the way I was able to later follow up with students about how they feel about these issues.” said Anne Rothacker, English teacher at Gould Academy. “There is so often a stigma attached when talking about breaking the rules and talking about any kind of chemical issues with adults, and being able to break through that as a result of the talk this morning was incredible.”

During Watermen’s time spent at Gould, the students were extremely interactive and eager to speak with him. Students were willing to apply their knowledge of what’s going on right now in the world and within our culture, and connected with Watermen thattherefore lead to further conversations of understanding.

“I go to a lot of schools and there is always something that stands out, and I noticed Gould Academy students have a real willingness to ask questions, and I got a sense that there is a higher than average degree of knowledge. The community feels like a very conscious community and a smart community,” said Watermen.


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