Alcohol, drug abuse prevention training discusses disturbing trends among youth

A former police sergeant who left her job to help her daughter overcome drug addiction now takes her message of prevention to people around the state.
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 6:22 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2022 at 7:02 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A former police sergeant who left her job to help her daughter overcome drug addiction now takes her message of prevention to people around the state.

“Youth are going to start drinking a lot earlier in the night. They are also going to drive on the backroads to avoid detection from people such as myself, our law enforcement friends,” says Tamara Spencer.

Tamara Spencer works full time with the Texas Municipal Police Association teaching drug and alcohol prevention across the state of Texas.

Spencer left her former position as a police sergeant at the League City Police Department to help her daughter who had hit rock bottom due to her drug and alcohol addiction.

“I was struggling, so I did turn to drugs, and I thought that would mask the pain but it only makes the problems worse,” says Brigitte Smalley, Spencer’s daughter.

She is currently an office manager at a swimming pool company.

“Sometimes people drink but then they take pills, or sometimes they take pills and then maybe they’ll use marijuana. Pretty unusual that some people that abuse drugs are only using one,” says Spencer.

Spencer spoke about the effects the pandemic had on young people and how it led some of them to cope with isolation by indulging in drugs and alcohol.

“I think a lot of them looked at it as a coping mechanism, and once they got into that hole they were unable to get out; it was difficult to get out of it,” says Spencer.

The prevention training program discussed uncommon ways youth are sneaking alcohol into their blood stream including using candy, tampon applicators, eye shots, and mixing hand sanitizer with a liquid.

Heather Singleton is the traffic safety specialist for the Texas Department of Transportation in the Tyler District.

“A lot of the fatalities that we’re seeing lately either involve alcohol or some other type of substance that could be over the counter, that could be prescription, even, so a lot of these substances, when it says ‘don’t operate heavy machinery’ it’s talking about your vehicle, not just a dump truck or some big piece of heavy machinery,” says Singleton.

“The most important thing you can do is make someone aware of what you are going through; get help, get through, because you can,” says Smalley.

Tamara Spencer will be teaching two alcohol and drug prevention abuse training programs next week in Forth Worth at The Annual Woman of Law Enforcement Conference.