Whisenant speaks to health classes about drug, alcohol abuse, spreads awareness


Karina Patel

Brian Whisenant speaks to health teacher Stan Robertson’s 4th period health class about drug and alcohol abuse prevention.

Karina Patel, Staff Writer

Oxford Treatment Center employee Brian Whisenant visited Oxford High School health students Nov. 1 to talk about prevention of drug and alcohol use in hopes to spread awareness on the effects of both.

“I am in recovery myself, so I started using when I was in high school,” Whisenant said. “I do this to give people an alternative, so they don’t have to go down the road I went down.”

Whisenant and the Oxford Treatment Center are trying to start a conversation about drug and alcohol prevention, with the help of OHS nurse Meg Hayden.

“One [purpose] is to help break stigma when it comes to talking about drug and alcohol abuse and addiction and to give students alternatives to using drugs as coping skills, and starting a conversation,” Whisenant said.

Whisenant and Hayden are really to trying to emphasize the harm of drug and alcohol abuse and show that it is okay to ask for help.

“There’s so much peer pressure in our school for kids to drink and use drugs, and it’s okay not to,” Hayden said. “It’s okay to reach out to someone that you trust if you have a friend or a family member that you feel may have a problem, and it’s something we should talk about, not just sweep under the rug.

Since the Oxford Treatment Center already has a relationship with Ole Miss, they are now trying to expand it to OHS to educate more of today’s youth.

“We’re seeing, around this community, a movement to bring conversation about drug and alcohol into the open,” Oxford Treatment Center Communications Coordinator Lucy Schultze said. “Whether that’s actually talking about the substances that kids are using or whether it’s talking about when someone has a problem with drugs or alcohol.”

Oxford Treatment Center is also trying to make people more comfortable about drug and alcohol abuse by talking about it more around town.

“A lot of us are a part of taking away stigma that keeps people from being open about these subjects, so that more people can avoid getting into trouble with drugs and alcohol or the people who are having problems can get help and that families can have support,” Schultze said. “We’re just wanting to expand the conversation in this community on this subject and help people.”

Hayden met both Schultz and Whisenant at one of the many workshops that the Oxford Treatment Center holds throughout the year, and she arranged for Whisenant to come speak to all the classes.

“He is very knowledgable about drugs, including alcohol, and how they affect the brain, which is important for students, for everyone to learn about, “ Hayden said.

Freshman Elsie Buskes feels that Whisenant’s firsthand experience really helps the students understand the reality of drugs and alcohol abuse.

“His words gave us a true first person account that really shows you the perspective of a user. He had lived it himself,” Buskes said. “I believe that everyone in our school would benefit from the insight of this man, that we really do not know.”

Hayden, Whisenant, and the Oxford Treatment center hope that OHS invites more people, such as Whisenant, to speak to more students in our community in the future.

“I would love to continue this conversation,” Whisenant said. “There are other things that we [Oxford Treatment Center] want to do here with the high school, and we want interested students to let us know about that. I’d come back anytime I can.”