Cheryl Culberson, Dallas ISD’s Alcohol and Drug Intervention Program coordinator, is playing a vital role in the district’s efforts to increase awareness, expand prevention, facilitate intervention and promote recovery for substance use/abuse in students, a role that has become even more crucial recently as the area faces an increase in fentanyl abuse.
As a licensed chemical dependency counselor and a licensed professional counselor, Culberson is qualified to provide both substance abuse and mental health intervention, something that has always been her passion.
“Substance abuse is a large component of impulsivity and poor life choices that affects the whole family,” Culberson said. “Being exposed to so much trauma and stressors with inappropriate coping skills, students may lean toward that quick fix to cope with anxiety, depression, feeling uneasy and more. My goal has always been to educate and support healthy problem solving and alternative thinking.”
Culberson focuses on several key areas to accomplish the Alcohol and Drug Intervention Program’s goals. She consults with school and Youth and Family Center counselors to help them determine a student’s needs and educates Dallas ISD team members so they can identify signs and symptoms of drug use, connect students to resources and know how to respond in emergency situations. She also conducts coffee talks with various principals to educate families on the substances their students may be exposed to, such as fentanyl, smoking and vaping.
“I’m definitely working to educate people on the alarming emerging trends related to the fentanyl epidemic,” Culberson said.
For more information on how you can protect your family, students and your community from opioid abuse, visit Having Naloxone on Hand Can Save a Life During an Opioid Overdose. You can also take advantage of the Alcohol and Drug Intervention Program website to find resources for teachers, counselors, parents and more, and learn more about the dangers of fentanyl by reviewing the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration’s Counterfeit Pills Fact Sheet.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, opioid overdoses continue to be a major public health problem in the United States. They have contributed significantly to overdose deaths among those who use or misuse illicit and prescription opioids. In fact, all U.S. overdose deaths involving opioids (i.e., unintentional, intentional, homicide and undetermined) increased to more than 42,000 deaths in 2016. Culberson recommends the SAMHSA Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit and the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or 1-800-487-4889 (TDD, for hearing impaired) for anyone looking for immediate support.
“When I go on campus, I have a pen that says ‘one pill can kill,’” she added. “That enables us because students will ask what it means. That’s my opportunity to have a dialogue with them.” She is encouraging families and Dallas ISD team members to register for the following free educational webinars by Operation Parent to help students get the support they need:
● March 14: Risky Behavior Modification
● April 11: Childhood Trauma
● April 25: Vaping
“My passion has always been being able to help people see the bigger picture and know that there are alternatives to change their lives and empower them,” Culberson said. “Some adults as well as students feel they were ‘born this way’ or are ‘stuck in this life,’ and I help them see they can have a different life outcome.”