Dear Friend,
We are in the midst of the busiest few weeks of LEAD’s history.  While this time of year is typically busier than the rest, I’m not sure we were prepared for what has been accomplished this so far this Fall.  Please take a look, below, as I highlight our activities and impact over the past few months:
  • Since the beginning of the school year, we have presented in person in front of 2,229 students in 15 different schools.  Topics have included:
    • The Truth About Marijuana
    • E-Cigs, Juuls and Vapes
    • Cyber Bullying
    • Healthy Decision Making
    • Harming Effects of Prescription Medication
    • Medication Safety
    • A Better You
    • General Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention
  • Since the beginning of the school year, we have presented in person in front of 1,414 parents, educators and other adults on a variety of topics.
  • Led 2 Marijuana Summits with prevention leaders from around the state in preparation for combating upcoming marijuana commercialization initiatives in Illinois.
  • Expanded Text-A-Tip to an additional 2 million people
  • Expanded operations in Florida (Much more will be forthcoming about this).
We’re not even halfway through the school year, and we have already blown by the goals we had for the year.  By the way, we’ve done all this while being understaffed.  As you can see, we are making a major impact, and we are thankful to the school and community leaders who have trusted us to work with their students and constituents this year.  You can make a difference, too, by supporting us.
How to Raise an Adult
It is often said that the primary job of a parent is not “to raise great kids” but, rather, “to raise great adults.” This will be the primary theme of our 2017 keynote event featuring bestselling author and Stanford Dean Julie Lythcott-Haims.  I want to express my thanks to Mike Simeck, Superintendent of Lake Forest School Districts 67 and 115 for co-sponsoring this event with us.  Mike and I had the opportunity to hear Julie speak last Spring, and we were both incredibly inspired by what we heard.
Julie will be visiting our community on Monday, December 4th.  The evening keynote will be open to the entire community and will begin at 7:00 p.m. at LFHS. Please see the flyer below for additional details.
SMART Recovery Teen & Youth Recovery Program Begins Next Week
We are happy to announce that LEAD will begin offering SMART Recovery groups here in Lake Forest this Fall for 14-22 year-olds with our own in-house SMART Recovery Facilitator.  This will be the only SMART Recovery group open to teens in the Chicago area.
The group will meet every Thursday from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., beginning Thursday, December 7, 2017 in our office on the 2nd floor of Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest.
For those of you who do not know about SMART Recovery, it is a science-based addiction recovery support group where participants learn self-empowering techniques to aid their recovery through mutual-help, face-to-face meetings & services. The tools and methods discussed are scientifically-proven and evidence-based methods for addiction recovery such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy and motivational interviewing.
SMART Recovery’s 4-Point Program focuses on building and maintaining motivation; coping with urges; managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; and living a balanced life.  SMART Recovery advocates choice, so that those seeking recovery can choose what works best for them from a variety of options. The goal is for participants to achieve a healthy, positive and balanced lifestyle and to “graduate” when they feel their addictive behavior is behind them.
If you know anyone who is struggling with a substance abuse (alcohol, marijuana, opiates) or behavioral (gaming, gambling) issue and would like help, please invite them to participate by joining us for the first meeting on December 7th.  If you have questions, please contact Danielle Franzese at

If you’d like to pass this info on to someone else, please click here to download our SMART Recovery flyer and brochure.
Marijuana Commercialization in Illinois – We Need Your Voice
As you may know, there are proposed bills in both the Illinois House and Senate that, if passed, will legalize and commercialize marijuana in the state of Illinois.  On Tuesday, November 28, I will be speaking at the House Public Hearing in Chicago in opposition to these bills.  Our staff has also filed written testimony to communicate to our state representatives that we are not in favor of creating a new commercial cannabis industry in Illinois.
But, we need your help too!  It is important to make your voice heard, and you can make a difference in less than 2 minutes by completing a witness slip in opposition before Tuesday’s hearing.
To create a witness slip go to the links below, click on “Create Witness Slip,” and complete the form with your information.  Selecting “Record of Appearance” indicates your position, but does not require you to be present at the hearing.  For the middle section asking about the group you represent, you can indicate that you are just representing yourself.
The following links will take you to the Illinois General Assembly website to file a slip:
Please spread these links around to anyone who may be interested in expressing their views on this legislation.  Thank you again for your advocacy in this area – our State, and our youth, are counting on us.
Please stay tuned.  This is just the beginning!
One final thing, if I may.  While holidays are often filled with cheer, for some people they can be a sad and distressing time.  As such, we generally see an uptick in texts from teens on our 24/7 text line, Text-A-Tip.  If you know a young person who may be struggling, please make them aware of this 24/7 unique and free resource.  To get connected with a live, mental health counselor, students can simply text 847HELP to 1-844-823-5323.  Please note, this resource is available to everyone in Lake and McHenry Counties, parts of Northern Cook County, and a few other states as well.
If your community doesn’t yet have Text-A-Tip, please contact me so we can get that process started!
I hope your holidays are filled with happiness and blessings!


Andy Duran, Executive Director