Welcome to AHM’s Prevention Programs!

Prevention at AHM Youth & Family Services is defined as a multifaceted approach that allows teens and adults to work towards the goal of decreasing the use of alcohol, substances, and use of vapes within the RHAM Community. 

AHM provides opportunities to RHAM Middle School and RHAM High School students, parents, and the community to get involved in positive change efforts to help move our mission forward. 

Spring National Take Back Day: Saturday, April 27, 2024

AHM’s Coalition for a Healthy and Empowered Community (CHEC) in partnership with the Connecticut State Police, hosts free Take Back Events for our community members to properly dispose of old and unneeded prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and vitamins anonymously. Unused and expired prescription medications are a public safety issue. Proper disposal of unneeded drugs saves lives and protects the environment and our overall community. Start preparing for AHM’s next Take Back Event today!

Past Take-Back events have collected the following incredible amounts:

Kids vs Cops event at RHAM High School

On April 19th, Resident State Troopers from Troop K faced off in a friendly basketball game against student-athletes from RHAM High School. The goal of this event was to bring students, community members, and law enforcement together in a casual, fun and uplifting environment.

Additionally, as an educational component for parents/caregivers, a mock bedroom set up by Hidden in Plain Sight was on display to highlight how drug paraphernalia can be hidden in bedrooms by teens.

Hebron Earth Day Cleanup Walk!

The Hebron Earth Day Clean-up Walk on Saturday, April 20, 2024 was a great success! During this event, Hebron community members volunteered to collect trash from various locations throughout the town in an effort to lessen the amount of litter found in the community and reduce its harmful impact on the environment.

This year as a recipient of the NIPS Grant, the clean-up walk will bring awareness and education to the problematic environmental impact micro-plastics (specifically alcohol nip bottles) have on the environment.

Ana Gopian, Director of Tricircle, Inc., will be counting, categorizing, and photographing the nips and substance paraphernalia collected.  She will include them in Ana’s ‘Paraphernalia Project’ which will be shared with the community as a means of educating residents on the importance of appropriate disposal and the impact these micro-plastics have on our environment.

AHM’s Prevention Coordinator:
Ashlee Parks

Contact: 860-228-9488, x22

Email: AshleeP@ahmyouth.org

Take Back 2023 Pictures

Earth Day Cleanup Pictures

Screenagers Movies at AHM

Funded by the Local Prevention Council’s Grant.

Screenagers: GROWING UP IN A DIGITAL AGE is an award-winning film by Dr. Delaney Ruston and Lisa Tabb designed exclusively to be watched by parents and their children. This film has been screened more than 8,000 times to 4 million people in more than 70 countries around the world. With multiple screenings happening daily in communities across the globe, Screenagers is the first featured documentary to explore the impact of screen technology on kids and offer parents and families proven solutions that work. What started out as a personal story for one has grown into a national movement, helping millions of teens and their families navigate growing up in a world with instant access to screens.

Filmmaker and physician Dr. Delaney Ruston take the conversation around screens and teens to the next level with Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER: Addressing Mental Health in the Digital Age—a film that examines the science behind teens’ emotional challenges, the interplay of social media, and most importantly, what can be done in our schools and homes to help them build crucial skills to navigate stress, anxiety, and depression in our digital age. 

We witness Delaney as she finds her way from ineffective parenting to much-improved strategies. We follow other personal stories of families from an array of backgrounds with a spectrum of emotional challenges. We also observe approaches in schools that provide strategies relevant beyond the classroom setting. Interwoven into the stories are surprising insights from brain researchers, psychologists, and thought leaders that reveal evidence-based ways to support mental wellness among our youth. The impact of social media and other screen time is incorporated in all the topics raised in Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER, how it may be impacting our teens’ mental health, and what we can do to help foster youth in the face of struggles.  

Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER shows many ways parents, counselors, and educators can help teens build crucial skills for navigating stress, anxiety, and depression.

Watch the trailer!

Discover the extremely well-done documentary, Screenagers: UNDER THE INFLUENCE: Vaping, Drugs and Alcohol in the Digital Age by Dr. Delaney Ruston and Lisa Tabb designed exclusively to be watched by parents and their children. This movie is designed to open the conversation about the complexities associated with social media, substance use, and the challenges youth face online. 

While most documentaries about substance use focus on severe addiction, this film fills a pressing need that explores more common scenarios faced by youth and a deep dive into the science of substance use as it relates to youth. The digital age is complicated, and it is important for parents to be aware of how it influences youths’ decisions to use substances, vaping, drugs, and alcohol. 

Physician and filmmaker, Delaney Ruston decided to make SCREENAGERS when she found herself constantly struggling with her two kids about screen time. Ruston felt guilty and confused, not sure what limits were best, especially around mobile phones, social media, gaming, and how to monitor online homework. Hearing repeatedly how other parents were equally overwhelmed, she realized this is one of the biggest, unexplored parenting issues of our time. As a director, Ruston turned the camera on her own family and others—revealing stories of messy struggles over social media, video games, academics, and internet addiction. We meet Hannah, a 14-year-old victim of social media bullying who struggled trying to hide her social media use from her mom. And Andrew, whose love of video games turned into an addiction taking him from earning straight A’s to flunking out of college. Interwoven into these stories, are cutting-edge science and insights from thought leaders Peggy Orenstein, Sherry Turkle, Simon Sinek, as well as leading brain scientists, who present evidence on the real changes in the brain when kids are on screens. SCREENAGERS goes far beyond exposing the risks of screen time, it reveals multiple approaches to how parents and educators can work with kids to help them achieve a healthy amount of screen time.

Delaney Ruston is a filmmaker, doctor, and mother of two. Through her company, MyDocProductions, Delaney has made award-winning films such as Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia, about her father, and Hidden Pictures: A Personal Journey into Global Mental Health. These films aired on PBS, and were the focus of national campaigns to raise awareness about mental health and were featured at conferences by the World Health Organization. Delaney has been invited to screen her films and be a guest presenter to hundreds of worldwide audiences. She presents to a wide range of audiences ranging from school-age children to The United Nations, The World Health Organization, Harvard, and TEDX.Film has been a passion of Delaney’s throughout her education at Cornell, Stanford, and the University of California, San Francisco. She melded this interest with her medical training as a fellow in Ethics and Communication. While on the faculty at the University of Washington, she participated in a National Endowment for The Arts-funded filmmaking program. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to make films in India. She is currently the Filmmaker in Residence at Stony Brook Medical Center, creating films that explore the intersection of health and society. Delaney has been providing care in underserved clinics for over an a decade.

Location: AHM’s Performing Arts Room
Fee: Free
Age: Grade 6+ and parents & caregivers
Time: *Doors open at 6:15 pm, films start at 6:30 pm.

RSVP: Email AshleeP@ahmyouth.org AHM Prevention Coordinator. Free for grade 6+ and parents/caregivers. Please note the number of adults and children attending in your email.

Internet & Phone App Safety Class

The Connecticut State Police presented Internet and Phone Safety Tips on 2/20/2024 to parents that highlighted well-known and some not so well-know apps.  The theme “Friends follow Trends” was explained in great detail as it relates to these apps.

AHM Panel Discussion for Parents & Students in 6-12th Grade

AHM’s Executive Director, Tressa Giordano, facilitated a discussion on February 21 that did a deep-dive into the Risks & Consequences of Youth Cannabis Use. Participants included Deepa R. Camenga, MD, MHS (Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics and Public Health Faculty, Yale Program in Addiction Medicine, Yale School of Medicine), Kevan Dantzler (Willimantic Probation Officer), Deborah Lake (Member of the Governor’s Prevention Partnership), Carol Rusch (RHAM High School, School Psychologist), Jenn Boehler (AHM Prevention Coordinator and JRB Case Manager), and Megan Albanese (Youth Prevention Coordinator).

AHM Panel Discussion Video Recording

Cocoa with a Cop!

Thank you to Georgette Goodale, owner of the Marlborough Country Bakery, for warmly welcoming AHM and Connecticut’s Law Enforcement Officers Bernier, Kehoe, Loiler, Reed and Vendrillo at Saturday’s (1/7/2023) Cocoa With A Cop event! 

It was a great morning mingling with residents of all ages getting to know our officers a little better! The huge platter of delicious chocolate chip cookies at this event was donated by Georgette and then taken back to Troop K in Colchester.

Tressa Giordano, AHM’s Executive Director, joins Cathy Osten, CT State Senator and Ana Gopoian, Founder & Executive Director of TriCircle, Inc. to discuss drug paraphernalia found in our communities. Watch the video below!

Check back soon to learn about our upcoming presentations or “Like” Andover Hebron Marlborough Youth and Family Services on Facebook to get this information on your Facebook news feed!

Coalition for a Healthy Empowered Community (CHEC) is made up of RHAM Middle School and RHAM High School administrators as well as town leaders, parents, business owners and community members, with the focus to incorporate increased community wellness with an emphasis on helping to keep youth alcohol and drug-free.

Through the dedication and work of this coalition, AHM is proud to be only one of fewer than 200 nationwide communities to be awarded a federal grant to support communities in their efforts to help combat local underage drinking, prescription drug abuse and the prevention of marijuana use. The grant award, which is for five consecutive years, is funded through the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Drug-Free Communities Support Program.

Formerly known as the AHM Substance Abuse & Violence Prevention Task Force; this group as a whole has worked together since 1986 to minimize the impact of drug and alcohol use and abuse in the regional community.

More information for committee members can be found on the CHEC Coalition page.

The purpose of the JRB is to divert youth from the juvenile court system. Research has documented that such diversions can help to enable youth to stay out of the juvenile court system and have potentially brighter futures than they otherwise would. For over 20 years, AHM has positively changed the lives of hundreds of RHAM High School students.

The AHM Juvenile Review Board serves as a template across the state for similar programs and is made of social workers, school administrators, Resident State Troopers, probation officers, a juvenile prosecutor, a representative from DCF and a representative from The Family Support Center. This highly dedicated group of people assists the youth and their families during difficult times.

Visit our Juvenile Review Board page for more information on the process.

Middle School Full-Length Videos:  http://dynamicinfluence.com/vaping-awareness-for-ahm-middle-school-teens/

Password:  Dontbeplayed

High School Full-Length Videos: teens/http://dynamicinfluence.com/vaping-awareness-presentation-for-ahm-high-school-teens/

Password: Dontbeplayed


To access the page use the password:  AHMParent

(Note: the password is case sensitive)

Each year AHM partners with State Troop K to sponsor patrols at the Hebron Lions Fair. This strategy helps keep the community fair a safe event, and over time will contribute to a decrease in substance use, as consequences for those offenses occur.

Project Graduation is a drug and alcohol-free celebration that has taken place at an offsite on the night of graduation. AHM Youth and Family Services has proudly coordinated Project Graduation for over 26 years with 1000s of graduates in attendance.

The main members of the Project Graduation Committee are junior and senior parents since this celebration directly impacts their child/children, but the committee also welcomes members of the RHAM community to join in support of a graduation celebration without the temptations of drugs and alcohol.

For more information, monthly meeting dates and meeting highlights, please visit the AHM Project Graduation webpage.

The SOAR Youth Group is facilitated by the AHM Prevention Coordinator, Jenn Boehler, and Carol Rusch, RHAM High School, School Psychologist. This year students work on a social norms campaign highlighting data collected from the 2022 Youth Voices Count Survey,

At RHAM High School and RHAM Middle School, students can join the afterschool activity club called SOAR. This year’s members are putting together a calendar of afterschool activities for a fun way to get together and show how easy it is to be “high on life!”

Join with friends or join to make new friends! General information, monthly meeting schedule and meeting highlights are located on the SOAR Youth Group page.

Parent Education Series

AHM hosted two presentations in Spring of 2022 which are available to view via Zoom recording. Each presentation is about 30 minutes in length. 

  1. Dangers of Synthetic Marijuana – presented by Rob Picone
  2. Vaping and the Risks of Using – presented by Victoria Adams
​AHM invited Ana Gopian, founder of The Paraphernalia Project to Hebron Day 2022 to share what drug paraphernalia looks like and what she found on short walks in the towns of Amston, Hebron, Marlborough and Andover.  Community members were in awe of what was found in our towns. 

The Paraphernalia Project: How Signs of Drug Use Can Be In Plain Sight

Ana Gopian, Executive Director of TriCircle Inc., founded the organization in July 2016. She has been in recovery from substance abuse since 1995 and has also had family members who struggled with it. Ana’s life mission is to share her knowledge with parents about current trends and ways to hid paraphernalia in plain sight. In addition to speaking engagements, Ana, coordinates the following groups: “Hope & Support” that provide a safe and confidential space for parents guardians and others who are concerned about a loved one’s substance use or addiction. Families are encouraged to utilize these services at no cost and “Hope After Loss” which gives a place where everyone understands. There is no judgement or blame but rather support and understanding.

AHM Youth & Family Services invited Ana Gopian to Hebron Day this past June with the only goal of sharing what Ana collected on her walks in our three towns. A huge amount of drug paraphernalia and alcohol containers were found during these walks.
Hebron (5/5/2022 & 6/16/2022)
  • Walk started near John E. Horton Blvd, down RT66, then a left into RT85 South and back on the other side of the street
  • London Road near Gay City State Park
  • Veteran’s Memorial Park and both sides of Wall Street in front of the school
  • Corner of Reidy Hill Road until the first telephone pole and back
Marlborough 6/16/2022
  • Walk started near coffee franchise and grocery chain with a left onto Rt 66 towards East Hampton for 2.5 tenths of a mile and back
  • Commuter parking near Exit 12 off RT2 down North Main Street 4.5 tenths of a mile and back
Andover (6/16/2022)
  • Walk started at the gas station on RT66. left out of the parking lot for 2.5 tenths of a mile and back 

Dangers of Synthetic Marijuana

Rob Picone is a graduate of the UCONN School of Pharmacy and has been a licensed Pharmacist for more than 25 years with clinical interests and expertise in substance use disorders and endocrinology, including especially Type 1 Diabetes having worked clinically both in in-patient and out-patient settings.  He is currently the Immediate Past President of the Connecticut Pharmacist Association and has presided over and sat of their Board of Directors for the past seven years.  In addition to his clinical experience, Rob holds a PhD in Molecular Pharmacology also from the University of Connecticut where he worked to elucidate the mechanisms by which marijuana interacts with its site of action in the brain.  For the past 15 years, Rob has worked in the pharmaceutical industry in various Medical Affairs capacities including clinical trial support in the development of medications for diabetes as well as addiction.  Currently, he is a Field Medical Scientist at Provention Bio, a clinical stage biotechnology start-up focusing on curing and/or delaying autoimmune diseases especially Type 1 Diabetes.

Vaping and the Risks of Using

Victoria Adams, M.Ed, NCTTP, is the Tobacco Prevention Coordinator at Southern Connecticut State University. She holds a National Certificate in Tobacco Treatment Practice and is a trained tobacco treatment specialist trainer from the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Center for Tobacco Treatment Research and Training. She provides tobacco prevention, cessation and policy work support to community organizations, schools and colleges throughout the state. She coordinates a Youth MATCH Coalition group which aims to reduce tobacco use among youth in the state. In addition, she provides tobacco cessation care to all members at SCSU. Victoria’s work is grant funded by the CT DPH and CDC.

Risks of Using Presentation

LINK to presentation
Passcode: *m=7HVy2

Suicide Prevention

Through a partnership with the Jordan Porco Foundation (JPF), AHM clinical staff members will be introducing the 4 What’s Next program to high school students. 4 What’s Next is a program that builds psychological resiliency in high school students by giving them the tools to handle stress and distress now and in their future. The core of the program is the 4 What’s Next Framework, which teaches students how to effectively handle distress by “reaching in” and utilizing independent coping strategies, “reaching out” by seeking and accepting help outside of themselves, or a combination of the two. This process is followed by an assessment of how well their chosen coping method is working and encourages them to reevaluate if needed. This program is made possible through the Jordan Porco Foundation and the Benny Fund.

jordan porco foundation logo
4 whats next logo
1 word 1 voice 1 life