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Amy Rozett provides substance abuse counseling to students at the Naples high school and middle school.
Amy Rozett provides substance abuse counseling to students at the Naples high school and middle school. (Lisa M. Novak / S&S)

NAPLES, Italy — Naples youth counselor Amy Rozett knows about teenage drug use firsthand.

“I started using drugs and alcohol as a teenager,” Rozett said. “I remember feeling really afraid and wishing I had someone to talk to.”

Now a substance abuse counselor, Rozett teaches Life Skills Training to students aged 12 through 18 at the Naples high school and middle school. The program is designed to help them with behavioral problems or problems with drugs or alcohol.

“I want our students to know they have someone talk to,” she said. “It’s an honor and privilege when people share their struggles with me. It gives me a sense of purpose in life.

“I want kids to know that they don’t have to be afraid.”

As part of her job, Rozett goes into classes once a week to teach decision-making, stress and anger management, as well as self-esteem.

“We focus on skills development as a means of prevention,” said Rozett, who has been working in the field of substance abuse counseling for 16 years. “In the middle schools, we like to focus on prevention, but at that age we also have to provide treatment.”

Aside from the classes, she also provides individual, group and family sessions, all of which are free to all military ID card holders and their families.

Rozett is the only Adolescent Substance Abuse Counseling Services counselor for both schools, which have a combined student population of about 600. Besides the classroom instruction, her caseload averages about 65 students for individual or family counseling, and about 30 students in group counseling.

According to Rozett, the prevention-to-treatment ratio for the middle school is about 80:20, and at the high school, it’s about 50:50.

“At the younger ages, you’re really planting seeds to help kids recognize when a problem might begin,” she said.

“For example, I’ll ask how they would know if they were in trouble with drugs or alcohol. They may say that drinking on school nights would indicate a problem. If they start doing that, they can’t deny they have a problem, since they identified that behavior — not the counselor.”

And students at Department of Defense Dependents Schools have the additional stress of military life, including frequent relocation, parent deployments and living in a foreign country. To address these issues, Rozett also provides a support group for students with deployed parents.

Rozett, the sole youth counselor in the Naples area, said the hardest part of her job isn’t the case load. It’s gaining the trust of kids and parents.

“This program is completely confidential. There isn’t anything that goes into a school, medical or military record,” she said, adding that children 15 or older can seek counseling without parental notification.

Naples High School Principal Sandra Daniels said Rozett’s programs give students a comfort level that they wouldn’t necessarily receive in the classroom.

“Students are very smart and intuitive, and they want to be heard,” Daniels said. “She provides our kids with a loving, trusting environment. I know she makes a difference.”

For students enrolled in the program, confidentiality is paramount. One student who had problems adjusting to life in Naples said Rozett is someone she feels comfortable talking with about her problems.

“Everybody knows Miss Amy,” said the student, who was not identified to maintain her confidentiality. “She’s experienced things and knows how to relate to us. Teachers gossip, and students know that. With Amy, we have faith in her keeping our confidence.”

“She’s an adult who has been a teenager before.”

Information on the Adolescent Substance Abuse Counseling Services program is available at www.asacs.org For details on services available in Naples, call DSN 629-4478, or 081-811-4478.

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