As fear, anxiety and stress overtake our bodies, minds and hearts during this coronavirus pandemic, there is a concern that many may turn to alcohol and drugs for comfort.

Angelo Valente, executive director for A Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, says there is no question that stress from COVID-19 can put people at risk for substance abuse — especially young people.

So he is encouraging parents to use this time to re-connect with their children, in many cases the children who are home from colleges and high schools. He said parents should be supportive, understanding, patient and kind and make sure these young adults know that they have a support system in place that they can turn to at all times.

Valente noted that many parents still have essential jobs that require them to go to work in this critical time. That means they have no choice but to leave their high school and college aged children at home. Parents should lock up medicine cabinets, liquor cabinets and prescription drugs so young people won't have access.

"We're all dealing with a very stressful situation, but in particular our young people who have to be comforted and supported," said Valente.

If people do turn to alcohol and drugs, Valente said he encourages them to turn to reachnj.org, the state's central location for accessing services and resources.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey will be providing many of its in-person services online at drugfreenj.org.

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