Substance Abuse and Education. Because Every Teenager Deserves a “Second Chance”

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Teens on a stoop

It has been more than a year since the Second Chance program opened its doors to adolescent first-time offenders in Arlington, and we can proudly say the project could not be more successful.

Early Intervention Program

The early intervention program is the result of a successful collaborative community effort of Arlington Public Schools, local courts and Phoenix Houses of the Mid-Atlantic to prevent and fight teen substance abuse.

Use of illicit substances at such a young age may result in slipping or failing grades, unplanned and unprotected sex, accidents resulting in serious injury, and other high risk behaviors. The earlier teens start using drugs and alcohol, the more likely they will experience addiction problems later in life. Unfortunately teens are not always aware of consequences and risks of alcohol and drug use. Participating in the Second Chance program is a great opportunity for them to be educated about substance abuse and, in some cases, legal infractions can be wiped off a student’s record upon successful completion of the program.

During the three-day program teens learn about the potential impact of alcohol and drugs on their life and identify activities to replace time spent using alcohol and drugs. Adolescents also develop an action plan that focuses on changing their attitudes, beliefs and behaviors towards substances of use and abuse.

“Everybody makes mistakes, you have to learn from them”, one parent said, “But at the same time our children need to understand that there is a second chance, but there is no third.”

Parents & Teens

Parents of Arlington youth referred into the program are required to attend a 3-hour educational session. As often they are not aware of their teens’ alcohol and drug use or do not know how to deal with it, this session teaches mothers and fathers and/or guardians how to talk to their children, how to prevent their progress further into substance abuse, and how to guide them towards healthier lives.

“We have had the pleasure of working with 138 families in Arlington over the last year and a half and both parents and children have been receptive and supportive of the program” said Jerome Bumanglag, Program Coordinator of the Second Chance Substance Abuse program, “A number of parents said they are so thankful to have their child back after participating in the program and most children have reported that their illicit substance use has either become less frequent or stopped completely”, continued Jerome, “These claims are supported by their parents and this makes us feel very proud of our accomplishments and our support to the local community.”

Second Chance is held at a local firehouse, and it is supported by a combination of county and private funds, at no cost to Arlington County participants. Teens can be referred into the program by the school system, the court system or by their parents.

Each of our children deserves a second chance and it is our responsibility to give them one through substance abuse education and prevention. As Maya Angelou, American author and poet, rightly said  “ When you know better, you do better.”

Find out more about programs and services at Phoenix Houses of the Mid-Atlantic, or call us today at: 1 888 671 9392.

For information on the Second Chance program contact  Patrick DeLeon at 1 888 671 9392  or at



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