Ray Lozano (on stage) has local fifth-graders do some fun activities while educating them on the dangers of drugs and alcohol and other dangerous substances during a presentation at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center this week. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent
Motivational speaker Ray Lozano and his daughter, Brooke, were in Van Wert County this week to speak to students and adults about the dangers of substance abuse — drugs and alcohol — as well as the dangers related to smoking and vaping.
Lozano, who uses humor and fun to get his message across, has been speaking to people about substance abuse since he began as a high school student in 1986.
Noting that his whole family mother, father, brothers, and sisters were into drugs and alcohol, Lozano said he had questions about substance abuse he couldn’t answer and set out to find those answers.
“As a little kid I had questions: ‘Why is my dad a good guy? He drinks and then he fights? Why is my mother really nice? She drinks and then she yells’,” he said.
The young Lozano did some research and then did a presentation in school on the subject. The teacher was impressed with his knowledge of the subject, and asked him to do a verbal presentation to other students.
“That’s the very roots of how it all started,” Lozano said.
Later, Lozano, who is a certified prevention specialist/drug and alcohol counselor in California, saw the effects of drugs and alcohol on young people at the Teen Challenge Ministry Institute and decided to take his presentations on the road to provide a better way to reach young people about the dangers of substance abuse.
Van Wert Elks Lodge 1197 and the City and County DARE programs heard about Lozano’s success in educating young people about drugs and alcohol and other dangers such as tobacco use and vaping and brought him to the county to speak to students in Van Wert, Lincolnview, and Crestview school districts, while also holding a “meet-and-greet” reception for Lozano and his daughter at the Elks lodge to allow adults to meet the pair and ask questions about substance abuse.
One of the problems with getting young people to see the dangers of alcohol and drug use, Lozano noted in his presentation, is the fact that the pre-frontal lobe of a person’s brain doesn’t usually kick in until 21 for girls, and a couple years after that for guys. The pre-frontal lobe, Lozano added, is the part of the brain that senses danger and sends danger messages to a person.
A non-functioning pre-frontal lobe is why most kids think they’re immortal and immune to danger, he added, noting that youngsters usually need to try something before they understand it could be dangerous. Lozano said the problem with that is, because of the addictive nature of most drugs, including alcohol and nicotine, it may be too late by the time a young person sees the danger.
That’s especially true with addictive drugs such as heroin, and smoking, which can “hook” a person after only three cigarettes.
Brooke Lozano said she was happy to get into the “family business”, so to speak, after listening to her father as a young girl.
“I grew up watching him and seeing the impact he was making on people and realizing what an amazing job he’s doing and really wanting to be a part of it,” she noted.
Lozano said their presentation is mostly about the dangers of alcohol and drugs, but also noted the difficulty of getting that message across to young people.
“We know through all the research we’ve done and people we’ve talked to, just telling them not to do it doesn’t work because of that frontal lobe part of the brain,” Lozano said. “So we do it with a lot of humor – to that’s the best way to open up their brain to get that information in.”
Original article courtesy of The VW Independent.