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Face2Face program goes virtual

COVID-19 forces Kids Escaping Drugs to make changes to substance abuse programs.

WEST SENECA, N.Y. — One of Kids Escaping Drugs' major programs has had to change because of COVID-19 with most kids doing the virtual or hybrid model this school year.

The Face2Face program partners primarily with schools on substance abuse prevention, but with so many kids learning from home, its director has moved a lot of the programming online.

"Our goal is to educate the community on the consequences of addiction and adolescent drug use," says Face2Face Program Director John Bennett.

And to do that, Bennett and his team usually visit schools, businesses, and churches, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, now they're delivering that message virtually. He says it has its advantages.

"We can bring our kids from the campus, and alumni, to share their stories virtually," Bennett said. "We can actually reach more people virtually, which is good. Whereas we had travel limitations before, we can present across the state."

Jodie Altman with Kids Escaping Drugs says while people have more time on their hands and less to do, her concern is that drug use and mental health go hand-in-hand. BUFFALO, N.Y. - Kids Escaping Drugs has adapted to some new challenges that have come with the coronavirus pandemic, including changes in drug use.

With kids spending more time at home this fall, Bennett wants to make sure parents have the tools to recognize potential drug abuse. He's seen an increase in demand for the early intervention program.

"We are able to do that program face-to-face on our campus," he said. "What we do is we do take COVID precautions, you know, everybody's wearing a mask, we check temperatures coming in."

"What should parents look out for? What kinds of changes in behavior should they be aware of?" Asked 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik.

"Yeah, the biggest piece of advice I can give parents is to trust their gut," Bennett said. "You know, if they think something's not right and something's going on, definitely follow through with that, too, chances are they are onto something. Changes in behavior are huge."

Another warning sign could be if your child starts selling valuables. Bennett says you can never overreact.

"It's totally free, and it's a one-time session that's an hour to an hour and a half, and honestly, I think every parent should take advantage of the program," Bennett says.

Face2Face also does presentations for parents on drug, social media, and internet trends - from vaping to the dark web - and they can also watch the Face2Face At Your Place presentation from home via Zoom.