SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Whether it be underage drinking, smoking or vaping, a Sioux City town all Monday night was a way for parents, students and those dealing with abuse to have an open discussion about the dangers teens face when experimenting with substances at such young age. 

Father of two, Adam Vega says, “My fear is that I prepped my kids as best as I can to make responsible decisions, but when they’re in that moment they still make an irresponsible decision and end up screwing up the rest of their lives.”

Few understand the importance of helping youth learn how to make responsible decisions than police officers.  

“These meetings help parents to be educated as well as help juveniles see what the consequences could be,” says Sioux City Police Officer, Elisha Schmeckpeper.

According to a survey done by the Iowa Department of Public Health underage drinking is on the decline in Iowa. However, vaping amongst teens is on the rise and can lead to serious repercussions in young adults.

“What we see a lot is that kids aren’t aware that it’s harmful. There’s a lot of flavors that the Juul pods come in and different types of vapes. We know that it is harmful to your lungs and that’s it’s extremely addictive,” says Rachel Lundgren with Jackson Recovery Center.

Lundgren says vape pens are often more addictive than cigarettes. In fact, one JUUL pod can contain the nicotine of 20 cigarettes.

Christian Bork, Bishop Heelan’s Principal says, “Years ago, this is almost unheard of and now schools everywhere are talking about it as an epidemic. It’s just a really concerning health issue.”

And one that parents like Adam Vega know it won’t be gone anytime soon.

“I wanted to give them the tools that they need so when they’re out there making the decision for themselves, am I going to do this or not, they make the right decision,” says Vega.

Steering kids away from drugs and alcohol, officials aim to continue educating students, giving them the information they need to address difficult situations they may face in the future.