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Substance Use: Practical Parenting & Keeping Kids Safe

Watch the Recording Here Click Here for Resources and Tips

Parents and guardians play an essential role in the health and safety of their children’s lives. As children mature to become adolescents and young adults, parents worry about new risks they may encounter. One such concern is the use of alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, and other drugs. Today’s hazardous substance landscape presents parents with new challenges in keeping their kids safe, especially as they become more independent in high school, college and the working world. 

At the Forefront

An expert panel of psychologists from Palo Alto University and the Principal of Los Gatos High School will examine this new landscape, the common hazards that substances such as fentanyl and misused prescription drugs present, and practical approaches for parents to safeguard their kids from the harms of substance use. The program will include tips on how to talk with kids about prevention and harm reduction, what works and what doesn’t work.  

The discussion is part of PAU’s At the Forefront of Mental Health webinar series. The series is intended for the general public, mental health professionals, clinicians-in-training and others interested in the field of psychology and counseling. They are free, streamed live and include opportunities for audience members to pose questions. Each webinar is premiered on  PAU’s YouTube channel.  

Erika Cameron, Provost at Palo Alto University

The Moderator

Erika Cameron, PhD, NCC, ACS is the Provost and Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Palo Alto University.   She earned her PhD in Counselor Education from the University of Missouri, St. Louis, and holds a master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Hawaii. Her career in education includes four years teaching and counseling students in juvenile detention, 6 years as a K-12 school counselor, and 13 years in higher education. She has written and co-authored a book, book chapters, and articles on School Counseling, Multiculturalism and Social Justice in Counseling, Counselor Professional Development, and Individual Psychology. She was the 2020 recipient of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision’s Counseling Vision and Innovation Award.

Kevin Buchanan

The Panelists

Kevin Buchanan, MEd has been the principal for Los Gatos High School since  2021. His 25-year career in education includes over 19 years in high school administration. Most recently, he served for 11 years as the principal of Oak Park High School in Southern California where his school received four California Distinguished School awards and a California Gold Ribbon award under Kevin's leadership. Oak Park was the only high school in California awarded the National Blue Ribbon School Award in 2021 as an Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Gap School

Originally from Cheshire, England, Kevin graduated from UCLA before beginning his teaching career at Los Angeles High School. He earned his master’s degree in educational leadership at UCLA’s Principal Leadership Institute before spending seven years as the assistant principal of curriculum and instruction for La Cañada High School in La Cañada Flintridge. Integral to these successes is Kevin's commitment to ensuring a collaborative, inclusive approach to leadership, student connectedness and community engagement.

Nancy Haug professor at Palo Alto University headshot

Nancy A. Haug, PhD, Dr. Haug is a licensed psychologist and professor of psychology at Palo Alto University where she leads the Harm Reduction and Addiction Treatment Laboratory.  Her research interests include implementation of evidence-based practices in addiction treatment, harm reduction practices for substance use, cannabis vaping and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. She has clinical expertise in evidence-based treatments for substance use disorders such as motivational interviewing, cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness-based therapies. She has ongoing collaborations and a teaching role in the Stanford Psychiatry Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program.

Amie Haas, Faculty at Palo Alto University Headshot



Amie Haas, PhD,  Dr. Haas is a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University (PAU) with a specialization in college student substance abuse issues.  Her research focuses on the identification of high-risk drinking and drug use practices in college students and the development of targeted interventions using a harm reduction model.  She has served as a consultant to administration for  several Bay Area universities to develop campus substance use prevention and education programming.  Her work has focused on high risk drinking behaviors like pregaming (i.e., drinking before students go out to consume alcohol at a function), co-occurring alcohol and cannabis use, factors precipitating blackouts, and alcohol-involved sexual risk taking.  More recently, her work has expanded to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on youth substance use.  She is also a long-standing lecturer in the Psychology department at Stanford University.

Wendy Wade

Wendy Wade, PhD, is an assistant professor of counseling at Palo Alto University and a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialization in addiction and its effects on families. Dr. Wade has been involved with children and parents throughout her career, beginning with her work with children of addicted parents, through elementary school teaching, in both private and public schools, and administration as principal of a public school. She has combined her experience in education with her psychotherapy training to work for Santa Cruz County Children’s Mental Health providing therapeutic support to children in special education, their families, and school staff.  She worked at Betty Ford Center coordinating their unique program for children of addicted parents, and has provided many trainings and conference presentations, both locally and nationally, on both the disease of addiction and working with children of addicted parents.