Drug and Alcohol Abuse Program


Dependence on alcohol and drugs is a serious national public health problem to which Key Biscayne is not immune.
The Key Biscayne Fire Rescue Department is conducting open forums to have a conversation about substances abuse and decision making in preteens, teens and young adults.

These forums are set up for ages from 11 to 21 years old. Those under 18 years old will need to be present with a parent/s. The forms are scheduled on Thursdays from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm twice per month. Registration is required.

If you are interested attending and/or on putting a group together, please contact Sylvie Elmoznino at selmoznino@keybiscayne.fl.gov.

Details about the program

The mission of this program is to bring awareness to kids and young adults. The discussion is designed for ages between 11 and 21 years old and it includes a round table with parents to talk about the drug trend that is being seen across the country. Our target is the under 21 year old. The intent of this program is to open a window of communication to help understand and discuss the importance of not experimenting with drugs and drinking at an early age.

Through the volunteering of local coaches and professionals in addiction and recovery, the Key Biscayne Fire Department is providing tools for kids and families to prevent, monitor and act upon situations where making the right decision is critical to the outcome of an individual’s wellbeing.

Since we started this discussion in October of 2015, we have met with almost 600 families. Our team of facilitators is composed by coaches, mental health professionals, addiction experts and recovered addicts.

  • Eric Lang – Fire Chief at the Key Biscayne Fire Department
  • Sylvie Elmoznino – Community Outreach Liaison at the Key Biscayne Fire Department
  • Tony Goudie – Basketball, Football and Baseball Coach
  • Eddie Blanco – Assistant Athletics Coordinator – Football Coach
  • Flip Devarona – Athletic Coordinator - Football and Baseball Coach
  • Marie Guma – Director of Business Development at Lake Haven Recovery Center
  • Joe Fiorello – Community Relations Coordinator at Recovery Village Rehab Center

The discussion starts with parents and kids in the same room and then the parents separate. The parent group continues a discussion as does the kid group.

Discussion Goal and Program Goals

  • Encourage dialog between kids and parents. 
  • Alternatively be sure the children have an outlet to connect with someone if they need help.
  • Understand the risk associated with exposure to drugs and alcohol as teenager.
  • Create a toolbox of resources for kids and adults to use if needed.

Kids who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use drugs and drink alcohol. For this reason we would like to provide you with tools and resources to educate yourselves on today’s drugs and trends and also give you tips on how to start and have meaningful discussions with your kids and families about substance abuse. The following information is extracted from drugfree.org.


  • Clearly communicate the risks of drug and alcohol use
  • Let your kids know you disapprove of any use – kids who believe their parents will be upset if they try drugs are 43% less likely to do so.
  • Use “teachable moments” to raise drug and alcohol issues
  • Frequently talk AND LISTEN to your kids about how things are in their lives.

Important Conversation Goals

  • Show you disapprove of youths using alcohol and drugs. It’s is important that you send a clear strong message.
  • Show you care about your child’s happiness and well-being. Young people are more likely to listen when they know you’re on their side. Try to reinforce why you don’t want your child to drink or use drugs –not just because you say no, but because you want your child to be happy and safe. The conversation will go a lot better if you are working with, and not against, your child.
  • Show you’re good source of information about alcohol and other drugs. You want your child to be making informed decisions about drinking as well as using drugs, with reliable information about dangers. You don’t want your child to be learning about alcohol and other drugs from friends, the internet, or the media – you want to establish yourself as a trustworthy source of information.
  • Show you’re paying attention and you will notice if your child drinks or uses drugs. You want to show you are keeping an eye on your child, because young people are more likely to drink if they think no one will notice. There are many subtle ways to do this without prying.
  • Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking as well as drug use. Even if your child doesn’t want to drink or use drugs, peer pressure is a powerful thing. It could be tempting to use substances just to avoid looking uncool. To prepare your child to resist peer pressure, you will need to build skills and practice them.


Key Biscayne is a safe place but kids should not be wandering the streets late at night. Set clear curfew rules with your kids so they know when they are expected to be back home.

Parents have the responsibility to get to know the kids and families their children spend time with and if they are under the supervision of an adult when going to their friends' houses.

  • Know WHO your child is with
  • Know WHAT they’re doing
  • Know WHERE your child will be
  • Know WHEN your child is expected home
  • Know who your teen’s friends are – communicate with their parents
  • Establish and enforce rules – including a clear “no use” policy


Here are five changes to watch for…

  • Declining school work and grades
  • Abrupt changes in friends, groups / behavior
  • Sleeping habits/abnormal health issues
  • Deteriorating relationships with family
  • Less openness and honesty

Be aware of special vulnerabilities

  • Family history -- predisposition to drug or alcohol problems
  • Close friends who use drugs or alcohol
  • Early first use
  • Diagnosed or undiagnosed depression / other mental health disorders
  • Problems in school / learning disabilities


  • Focus, you can do this; don’t panic, but act right away
  • Start talking and let your child know you are concerned; communicate your disapproval
  • Set limits, rules and consequences
  • Monitor – look for evidence, make lists, keep track
  • Get outside/professional help – you don’t have to do this alone


Safeguard Your Home

  • Step 1: Monitor
    • How aware are you of the prescription drug quantities that are currently in your home? Would you know if some of your pills were missing? From this day forward, make sure you can honestly answer, “Yes.”
    • Start by taking note of how many pills are in each of your prescription bottles or pill packets and keep track of your refills.
    • If your teen has been prescribed a medicine, be sure you control the medicine, and monitor dosages and refills.
    • Make sure your friends and relatives — especially grandparents — are also aware of the risks. Encourage them to regularly monitor their own medicines.
    • If there are other households your teen has access to, talk to those families as well about the importance of monitoring and safeguarding their medications.
  • Step 2: Secure
    • Take prescription medicine out of the medicine cabinet and secure them in a place only you know about or secure them.
    • If possible, keep all medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter, in a safe place, such as a locked cabinet your teen cannot access.
    • Tell relatives, especially grandparents, to lock their medicine or keep them in a safe place.
  • Step 3: Dispose
    • Take an inventory of all of the medicine in your home. Start by discarding expired or unused Rx and OTC medicine when your teens are not home.
    • Teenagers will retrieve discarded prescription medicine from the trash. To help prevent this from happening, mix the medicine with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter.
    • Do not flush medicine down the drain or toilet.
    • To help prevent unauthorized refills and protect your own and your family’s privacy, remove any personal, identifiable information from prescription bottles or pill packages before you throw them away.
    • Safely dispose your medicines at the take-back bin located at the Key Biscayne Police Department.

Know the Signs and Symptoms of Medicine Abuse

The best way to prevent prescription drug abuse is to learn about the issue. That way, you can effectively present the facts when talking to your teen.

Recognize the signs of prescription drug abuse:

  • Fatigue, red or glazed eyes, and repeated health complaints
  • Sudden mood changes, including irritability, negative attitude, personality changes, and general lack of interest in hobbies/activities
  • Secretiveness and withdrawing from family
  • Decreased or obsessive interest in school work
  • Missing prescription medicines from your medicine cabinet
  • Additional filled prescriptions on your pharmacy record that you did not order

The signs and symptoms of prescription medicine abuse depend on the particular drug. Because of their mind-altering properties, the most commonly abused prescription drugs are: opioid painkillers, anti-anxiety medications/sedatives, and stimulants.

Pain Reliever Abuse(Opioid painkillers-used to treat pain) Depressant Abuse(Anti-anxiety medication
and sedatives)
Stimulant Abuse(Used to treat ADHD and
certain sleep disorders)
DepressionLow blood pressure  Decreased breathing rateConfusionSweatingConstricted pupils DrowsinessConfusionPoor judgmentDizzinessSlurred speechRespiratory depression Weight loss, Agitation,Irritability, Insomnia,High blood pressure,Irregular heartbeat,Anxiety,Impulsive behavior
Ex: Vicodin, Codeine,Morphine, Oxycontin/Percocet/Oxycodone Ex: Prozac, Xanax,Valium, Ativan, Rivotril/Klonopin/Clonazepam Ex: Adderall, Ritalin


From early adolescence through their mid-20s, a teen’s brain develops somewhat unevenly, from back to front. This may help explain their endearingly quirky behavior but also makes them prone to risk-taking.

Cerebellum (Back of the Brain): Coordination, Physical Activity, Recreational Activities. This is why teenagers tend to prefer a lot of activity.

Amygdala: Emotion center. Highly sensitive during teenage years.

Nucleus Accumbens: Motivation Center. Is undergoing significant development during teenage years. It reveals why teenagers tend to prefer high excitement low effort activities. Example video games.

Prefrontal Cortex: Reasoning Center and behavior control. This part of the brain do not fully mature until the age of 25.

Early exposure to drugs and alcohol can do significant damage to a part of the brain that is associated with memory called the Hippocampus.

It’s as if, while the other parts of the teen brain are shouting, the Prefrontal Cortex is not quite ready to play referee. This can have noticeable effects on adolescent behavior. You may have noticed some of these effects in your teen:

  • Difficulty holding back or controlling emotions
  • A preference for physical activity
  • A preference for high excitement and low effort activities (video games)
  • Poor planning and judgement (rarely thinking of negative consequences)
  • More risky, impulsive behaviors, including experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

The development of the adolescent brain and behavior are closely linked. In a wink, hormones can shift your teen’s emotions into overdrive, leading to unpredictable – and sometimes risky – actions. Unfortunately, developing brains may be more prone to damage. This means that experimentation with drugs and alcohol can have lasting, harmful effects on your teen’s health.

Additional  Information and Resources from The Partnership at Drugfree.org



Receive the Village Connect in your email inbox

Your information is confidential. Email addresses submitted to the Village will be contacted with emergency alerts.