Find It Fast

Substance Abuse Prevention


Dr. Cristina Cortesi, Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator
Green Student Services, Room 2414

Thomas Habley, CADC, Substance Abuse Counselor
Room 2606

District 125 recognizes that alcohol, nicotine and other drug use not only interfere with a student's ability to learn, but may also lead to additional problems for students and their families. Parents have the strongest influence over their children's choices to experiment with and/or use alcohol, nicotine and other drugs. However, because adolescents spend a significant amount of time in school and at school-related functions, schools have a unique opportunity to assist parents in preventing and addressing substance abuse. The Student Assistance Program provides a comprehensive framework for prevention and intervention related to substance abuse.

Substance abuse prevention consists of programs and strategies that include age-appropriate, evidence-based drug education, interpersonal and behavioral skill building, communication campaigns, policy development focused on clinical intervention and reinforcement of positive youth activities. We work collaboratively with various members of the school and multiple sectors within our communities to employ data and a strategic prevention framework.

Intervention and Referral
The Student Assistance Program provides support and assistance to students and their families concerning nicotine, alcohol and other drug-related issues that show an impact within the school setting. Relevant information is gathered in an effort to provide students and families with the most appropriate intervention to meet their specific needs. A plan is developed to help the student and family reduce the barriers to learning and improve the student’s chances for success. If the student receives school and/or community services, the Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator coordinates the exchange of important information to increase the probability of success.

The following groups are available to all students who believe they can benefit from the stated goals:

  • Insight Class: The goals are to provide students with information about substance misuse/abuse, provide a safe space to discuss the process of behavioral change and offer support for healthy decision-making. This class can be added to a student’s schedule by request during an assigned lunch period.
  • Recovery Group: This weekly group exclusively supports students who have been attending 12-step groups in the community (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) and are focused on recovery from a substance use disorder. Please see Dr. Cortesi for more information.
  • COA: This group provides support for students who have a family member with a substance use disorder. Please see Ms. Sushinski in Green Student Services for more information.

Individual sessions focused on the impact of substance misuse/abuse are also available by request through Dr. Cortesi.

cristina cortesi

About Dr. Cristina Cortesi
Dr. Cristina Cortesi is a certified alcohol and drug counselor (CADC), a licensed school social worker, and a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). She has her BS, MSW and PhD in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago, as well as a second MA in Educational Leadership from Concordia University Chicago. 

Prior to coming to Stevenson, Dr. Cortesi worked for six years as the SAP and Restorative Justice Coordinator at Evanston Township High School. She also worked as a general school social worker and at the Lake County Health Department as a substance abuse counselor. In addition, Dr. Cortesi has worked extensively with community coalitions. She previously served as a committee leader and the chair of the Evanston Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition. Dr. Cortesi is currently the Marijuana Committee co-chair of the Stand Strong Coalition and a consultant to its executive board, as well as a member of the Lake County Underage Drinking and Drug Prevention Task Force.

Dr. Cortesi is passionate about working collaboratively with all members of the community to promote change and prevent substance abuse. 



What Parents Need to Know About Vaping (PDF)

Addiction and the Brain (PDF - English)

Addiction and the Brain (PDF - Spanish)

The Impact of Alcohol on Athletic Performance (PDF)

Teens and E-Cigarettes: An Online Presentation by LEAD

Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health


Watch Previous Stand Strong Presentations

“Not My Kid?! 4” - Sept. 13, 2018

“Not My Kid?!” 3” - Sept. 6, 2017

Naloxone Use at Stevenson High School
Stevenson High School was one of the first high schools in the Chicago area to carry the life-saving drug Naloxone in the building. Naloxone is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose through an auto-injector. The school was featured in Chicago media for its decision to carry Naloxone. Here are some of the reports:

NBC Chicago | WGN-TV | WBBM-AM | ABC 7 Chicago


The following links are for outside resources, courtesy of Stevenson’s Student Assistance Prevention Program:

12-Step Support Groups

Alanon (for family and friends of problem drinkers)

Alcoholics Anonymous (for individuals who have had a drinking/drug problem)

Families Anonymous (for the family and friends of those individuals with a drug, alcohol or related behavior issue)

Narcotics Anonymous (for individuals for whom drugs have become a major problem)

Area Coalitions

Stand Strong Coalition (All communities that feed into District 125)

Lake County Opioid Initiative (countywide)

Lake County Underage Drinking and Drug Prevention Task Force (countywide)

Link Together Coalition (District 214 including parts of Buffalo Grove)

Informational Sites

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Social Hosting Laws

One of the biggest challenges facing efforts to curb underage drinking in the Stevenson community is the fact that some parents allow or encourage parties in their homes — or even in properties or other places they rent — featuring illegal alcohol use. The Stand Strong community coalition, of which Stevenson is a member, offers the following reminders about “social hosting” laws:

Parents or guardians who knowingly allow underage drinking in their homes can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and face fines ranging from $500-$2,500.

If a minor dies or is seriously injured as a result of illegally provided alcohol, the provider can be charged with a Class 4 felony and sentenced to 1-3 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. The provider also risks being sued in civil court.

The first two examples come from state law. However, many towns and villages in Illinois, including most in District 125, have stronger ordinances with harsher penalties and higher fines. In Buffalo Grove, Lincolnshire and Vernon Hills, for example, even if the parents (or owners of the house) are not aware that underage drinking is happening, they can still be charged with social hosting. The burden of proof falls on the owners of the house to prove that they took all necessary steps to prevent underage drinking to occur, including controlling access to the house and the alcohol in the house. Buffalo Grove’s ordinance goes further: Homeowners do not have to be present to be guilty of social hosting.

Local ordinances also expand the scope of the state law. Police officers can charge not only homeowners with social hosting, but anyone deemed to be in “control” of the home, including a minor. The ordinances apply not only to residences, but any property controlled by an individual, including a hotel or motel room, limousine, bus or boat.

What should parents do if they find out that underage drinking is taking place without their knowledge? Call the police before they call you to avoid social host charges. No charges will be filed if parents request assistance from law enforcement after discovering the illegal activity.

For more information on social hosting laws, visit

46th Credit

The 46th Credit is one of the strategies we use to provide all Stevenson students with coordinated substance abuse awareness and prevention education. It is typically offered within our health classes. The curriculum consists of information on the topics of alcohol, tobacco, prescription medications and illicit drugs. It includes a comprehensive exam to assess knowledge of key terms and consequences of use.

I already took Health, so why am I being asked to take the 46th Credit?
Students who took Health elsewhere and those who did not pass the 46th Credit exam in their SHS Health class, need to successfully complete the 46th Credit to be granted access to graduation ceremony privileges.

What is on the exam and how do I prepare for the 46th Credit?
No preparation or study materials are necessary prior to taking the exam. It consists of 31 objective questions (multiple choice and true/false) presented in a series of brief videos. A score of at least 25 is required to pass; if you do not achieve 80%, you will be asked to repeat the assessment.

How can I schedule a time to complete the 46th Credit?
The exam can be taken on a single, designated iPad located in the Testing Center. Please use the Testing Center link to arrange this obligation before/after school or during free/lunch periods. Be prepared to show your ID and bring earbuds. It takes approximately 25 minutes to complete. The iPad is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you have further questions regarding this requirement, you may see Dr. Cortesi in Green Student Services, Room 2414, or email her at

7 Challenges

Suspension Reduction: The 7 Challenges Program
In response to a first violation of school policy regarding the use or possession of a prohibited substance or paraphernalia, Stevenson High School may offer students the option to participate in a suspension reduction program on-site through OMNI Youth Services known as 7 Challenges. Eligibility is dependent on the nature and severity of the offense. Please check with your son/daughter's dean to determine whether or not he/she may participate.

Student Program
Tuesday and Thursday (must attend both)
3:35-5:35 p.m.
Stevenson High School Room 2430
Led by OMNI Facilitator
Note: Modified program schedule and location during summer break