Miss Florida promotes program to prevent students from drinking underage

Michaela McLean also preparing for Miss America Pageant

ORLANDO, Fla. – One in seven people in the U.S. will battle addiction, according to the 2016 Surgeon General's report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.

One health care organization is partnering with Miss Florida 2019 to reach high school and college students.

Miss Florida 2019 Michaela McLean tells News 6 she has visited 12 schools for the Real Talk program since being crowned in June.

She recently visited Ocoee High School, speaking to students in student government, the peer mediation group and the minority leadership scholars.

The presentation begins with a 28-minute video, followed by a question and answer session.

"It uses real world examples from high school students, college-aged students and even young adults who feel like they had to experiment with drugs and alcohol to know how their bodies would react," she said. "This presentation uses cutting edge science to show why their brain and their body reacts the way it does when you abuse drugs and alcohol."

Real Talk is sponsored by Advanced Recovery Systems, an integrated behavioral health management company that treats addiction, substance abuse, eating disorders and mental health issues.

"I think everyone has a family member or someone down the line that struggles with substance abuse and addiction in silence, and it really doesn't have to be that way," said Lindsay Bettis of Advanced Recovery Systems.

McLean said the program addresses peer pressure.

"Students feel like when they get to college or even high school they have to fall into this peer pressure of binge drinking and taking drugs to feel like they belong to a certain group or have a role in friend groups," she said. "So really it's educating them to show them that they don't have to give in to peer pressure, that they can have the confidence and the courage to say no."

Students say hearing from someone like McLean who they can relate to, drives the message home.

"I think it was really good to see someone young like us talk about it and see what she thinks and have her guide us with those questions," said senior Ty'Ya Benyard.

McLean is currently preparing for the Miss America Pageant, which will be held next month in Connecticut. If you'd like her to visit your school, contact her here:


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