In today’s substance abuse pandemic, the pandemic within the pandemic, we are experiencing a worsening of what was already the worst public social health crisis America has ever seen. The threat to our youth is greater than ever and the chasm between what parents needed to know in the past and the current trends necessary to understand now, the importance of parental education and awareness can’t be overestimated. It is vital! The threats to youth years ago have changed, and the terminology you thought you understood needs new understanding. What are the conversations you need to have? Where does connection fit in with this digital world? Where do we go from here?

My name is Michael DeLeon, CEO and Founder of Steered Straight. We are the #1 booked school presentation organization in America. I am a recovered addict, former gang member, ex-offender and a national leader in prevention and recovery, addiction advocacy and criminal justice reform. The Corona Virus and the subsequent lockdowns changed more than the landscape of life in America, it recreated the foundation of connection for kids, for families, for communities. People have no alternative but to face the reality of the Covid climate. Every day, we read with sadness the infection and death numbers on our TV screens. Yet very few people understand the collateral damage and the real-life loss from despair death unfolding right now. Even fewer understand how long this damage will last nor how many families it will actually effect. It will unfortunately dwarf Covid numbers.

That’s bad news obviously. It’s a difficult thing to read and just as difficult for me to write. But there is good news. There is Always good news. Some of the lessons we learned from Covid are applicable with addiction and suicide. Some of the solutions we implemented are just as effective protecting society from this damage. Prevention is the most effective tool we have, with a virus, with a pandemic, with preventative death. Education is the key to and through prevention, and Parents and Guardians are the key holders. We all need to be educated as well, Parents, Students, Communities!

This education – the education about substance use, misuse, and abuse, needs to happen now more than ever before. Substance use is up across America. The CDC states that 13% of Americans have either started or increased substance use to cope with pandemic-related stress or emotions. That number represents 43 million people. The most cited among them is ISOLATION! There substance use returned, or increased, and this will lead to a higher overdose rate, suicide rate and crude death rate nationwide.

Substance abuse among adolescents is up even more. There are many factors contributing to this, and substance abuse by adults is a key contributing factor. Isolation is obviously affecting our youth. Many are disconnected. Learning online sounds like a great theory to some but does not address what students really need right now, nor does it provide what kids need “From” school. Things like connection, physical education, socialization, people-skills; these are all lacking and will compound the isolation that will impact them long term. There is also fear, academic regression and the extension of the “summer-slide”, where students fall behind. Virtual distance learning will never address that. In Tennessee, between 20% and 24% of all students do not even have reliable internet connection. In more rural areas, it is much higher. For some of those students, the regression will be irreversible.

This month, I want to provide an invaluable tool for Families. Many students and schools have gone back to school, some are digital learning from home, and some are doing a hybrid of both. Regardless, the issues of the Covid lockdowns are stressful. And “STRESS” is the #1 issue we hear across America right now from kids, from parents, and from Educators. STRESS! People define it differently. People handle it differently. So, this month, I want to provide Families with a tool to deal with “Stress”.

We offer an entire Stress/Anxiety tool on our website, and it’s geared toward “Teens”. However, it is appropriate and effective for everyone.

Stress is the uncomfortable feeling you get when you’re worried, scared, angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed. It is caused by emotions, but it also affects your mood and body. Many adults think that teens don’t have stress because they don’t have to work and support a family. They are missing the point and are wrong!


  • Stress is an important survival tool and can keep you alert and focused. But when you’re not dealing with a real survival issue, it can make you uncomfortable and interfere with your ability to think through the problem.
  • Stress hormones are telling us to run, so exercise uses them up. The body reacts to stress when the brain tells the body to prepare for an emergency.
  • Emotions play an important role in how our bodies experience stress. How we think about a stressful situation and what we choose to do about it affects how it makes us feel

Our Guide will show you, and your Teens, how to create a “Personal Stress-Management Plan. It’s a 10-point plan to help Teens handle stress. It’s truly amazing and will benefit the entire family during this time.

The 10-point Guide is broken down into 4 parts as follows:

  • Tackling the Problem
  • Taking Care of my Body
  • Dealing With Emotions
  • Making the World Better

Please visit our website and download your FREE 7-page guide called, “Teen Stress Management” Please share it with loved ones and friends. There has never been an environment where stress was more universal and there has never been a more important time to handle it, especially for Teens.

You can also get our Full Parent/Guardian Guide as well:

Table Talks and Dashboard Conversations is only $19.99 and is available at or you can order direct from Amazon.

You can also pick up your copy at our local Murfreesboro Steered Straight Thrift Store at 1222 Park Avenue, Murfreesboro, Tennessee 37129