The good news, the panelists said, is that there is help available, from police to social-service agencies to rehabilitation facilities.
One of the sponsors of the event, Learn to Cope, offers a website that offers an online forum for people to ask questions about addiction day or night.
Other parents wanted to know where the “hot spots” were that kids were going to smoke pot or do drugs.
One woman said she was shocked that kids were smoking pot in The Park during Clown Town.
“The field was full of teenagers,” she said. “They were smoking marijuana and having sex. I want to know how to make it safer for everyone.”
Scott said he relies on parents and citizens to be extra sets of eyes and ears to tell his officers what’s going on and what they see.
Police Chief Patrick Keefe added the “hot spots” aren’t at big parties, as in the past.
“It’s kids hanging out in groups of five at someone’s home,” he said. “It’s totally different than it was even 10 years ago. It’s where the parents aren’t.”
One young woman stood up and gave a short, impassioned speech, imploring adults not to judge young people involved in drugs, but to get them help.
“Don’t be scared,” she said. “Figure out what the underlying cause is. Don’t arrest them. Get them in a program that might actually help them.”
The audience members applauded.
Another young woman — a 19-year-old graduate of Andover High — also shared her story as a recovering addict.
She asked parents to “be aware of the pressure” they put on their children.
“The pressure is not helpful,” she said. “It makes children crumble.”
A 16-year-old girl from Andover High School marched to the front of the auditorium, took the microphone and told the parents in the audience that they needed to realize “nothing is the same” as when they were kids.