The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

By Meadow Meeder
Wah. Co. Healthy Community Specialist 

Coming Events Community Center in Cathlamet


While doing some research, I came across an article on Dr. Yolanda Evans and social worker Erik Schlocker of Seattle Children’s Adolescent Medicine Clinic have recently compiled data and found that the “youth have indicated worsened mood and feelings of boredom and isolation, resulting in an increase in the misuse of prescription and non-prescription medicines, and alcohol and drug use as a way to cope.” This is a big deal, so I thought I would share some helpful considerations in order to keep teens safe as they spend more time at home:

*Keep all medicines, alcohol and any other drugs in a locked area or in a location that is not accessible to your children. If you keep alcohol in the fridge, monitor the amount.

*Continue to take opportunities to talk to your child about the dangers of medicine misuse and drug and alcohol use. The website has great resources and ideas on how to get the conversation started.

*Help your teen think of safe ways to deal with feelings of boredom and isolation. Support them if they want to try new hobbies or activities at home. Visit and go to the ‘Choose You’ tab for hobby ideas to inspire passion and creativity.

*Model healthy ways to cope with stress, even if you are stressed. Go for a walk together to break tension, get fresh air and regroup.

*Watch for changes in behavior. This includes talk of suicide, worsening of mood, and signs of intoxication (slurred speech, stumbling while walking). Call 911 if you are concerned for their immediate safety or the safety of others around them.

*Put the poison control number in your phone contacts: 1-800-222-1222 for free and confidential help with poison prevention and poison treatment advice.

*Depressed teens are at risk for suicide. It is recommended that firearms be stored unloaded and locked in a firearm safe, lockbox or with trigger locks. Store and lock ammunition in a separate place. If a family member is depressed, suicidal or abusing drugs or alcohol, you may consider temporarily removing firearms from your home.

*Remove any expired medicines and medicines you no longer need from your home to your closest Drug Take Back box.

Wahkiakum’s Drug Take Back box is located on the first floor of the courthouse. Due to current safety precautions the courthouse is closed to the public. However, Sheriff Mark Howie has arranged a way so that anyone who needs to dispose of medications and/or sharps, still can. The Sheriff’s department is asking anyone who has items that need to be placed in the Drug Take Back box, to please call the Sheriff Office at 360-795-3242 ext. 0. A deputy will meet you in the courthouse parking lot and take your items for you. For many reasons we ask you to please not flush unused medications down the toilet or put sharps in the trash. Both methods pose potential health and safety hazards. Pills and sharps need to be put into separate plastic zip bags before you arrive to the courthouse.

Cannabis. Pot. Weed. Grass. No matter what you call it, it’s illegal for anyone under the age of 21. I know that we have a population, of legal age folk, that do imbibe. I also know that many of those folks take great responsibility and care with their actions and surroundings while doing so. To encourage this responsible behavior, we have Lock Boxes available for households that have children, grandchildren, foster children, or nieces or nephews that come to visit. I implore you to make sure you are setting a responsible and healthy boundary between the kids in your home, and your cannabis. Last summer was the kickoff of my Key Influencer Lock Box campaign. It was a huge success and I was able to have some deep and important conversations with the people who came to get a Lock Box. With almost every box I gave away, I felt an immense sense of relief from the recipient. I heard a lot of “I use it for pain, my grandkids don’t know I smoke, but I feel so much better now knowing they won’t be able to get into it.” I also heard a lot of folks say that they not only use the Lock Box for their edibles, but they also keep their aspirin and other meds inside.

I have 100 Lock Boxes left and I want to get them into your homes. Be the key influence and let them know that you don’t support youth cannabis smoking. Start talking to them, they are listening. If you are worried about children being able to access cannabis products in your home, please call me for your free Lock Box M-Th 9-5 @ 360.751.7149.

These are hard times we are dealing with. This pandemic has transformed the way humanity lives and it is stressful no matter who you are. Sheltering in place, changing our patterns of social interactions and relying on virtual connections to maintain relationships and livelihood. Some don’t have a computer or the internet, some are stuck inside with an abuser and some are dealing with addiction and mental unwellness. For teens, they may be experiencing all of those, combined with school closures, missing normal activities, lacking personal connection with friends- even the inability to give hugs at their high school graduation are all factors that increase the potential for anxiety and depression symptoms.

Prevention is much more than “Just Say No.” It predicates the future total wellness, wellbeing and lifestyle of you or somebody you love. This may not be the most popular subject to discuss, but I think when we can shed light on a potentially harmful or scary place, normalize talking about it and letting our kids know that we really are there for them, we seem to not care about what is popular anymore.

Be well, Wahkiakum. "It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings." --Ann Landers.


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