Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon and TV personality, spoke to Hudson County View about why he choose West New York to host his first “National Night of Conversation,” what message he’d like students and parents to take home and what he thinks of drug education programs in schools.
Prior to begin his National Night of Conversation inside Memorial High School, Dr. Oz first explained to us why he thought West New York was a great place to hold this event.
“Well, West New York is a typical school in this country. It’s got a lot of diversity. It’s a school that’s been hit by problems with drugs. But it’s also a community that’s come together around these issues who have political leadership that’s savvy enough to realize it’s not about criminalizing drugs,” he said.
“It’s about realizing you have to face people with problems since it’s a medical issue. It’s a school system that’s been very supportive of initiatives to get kids to talk openly about issues and get their parents involved, making sure these kids have the best lives possible. So you’ve got all the elements for a recipe for success.”
When asked what message he’d like parents and students alike to take home from the evening, Oz responded:
“You’ve got to have a question to start the ball rolling. And you can give people facts, and I’ve got lots to give out like the number once cause of accidental death in America under age 50 is addiction. Or that we use 75 percent of all narcotics in the world, we’re five percent of the population.”
“There are many facts that can open people’s minds. That’s not a bad way to get the ball rolling. But the most important question to ask is how are you coping? How are you keeping up? And probe a little deeper and ask how their friends are coping.”
“Because that will give you clues about whether or not they might be tempted by chemicals. And if young people realize their brains aren’t ready for that temptation, just give themselves a couple more years, it will be so much easier for them for the rest of their life, I’ll have achieved my goal.”
When it comes to drug education programs such as DARE and LEAD, Oz said “they’re all valuable” and “more than likely, more is better,” also noting that multiple difference approaches to drug education is the best way to go.
A full report of the National Night of Conversation will be available this afternoon.