Centerstone Comics are part of the organization’s Prevention Services programs that educate and empower children, teens and their families to make positive decisions when faced with common real-life issues and help youth develop character and personal resiliency.
Storylines in the comics approach complex issues in an approachable manner, and Spark—by day a high school student named Amber—helps her peers understand and deal with situations they may face in real life. The series has previously addressed issues often faced by teens including: bullying, depression and suicide, online safety, sexting and underage drinking.
The latest issue, Spark and the Dangerous Switch, depicts common challenges faced by high school students – a breakup and poor grades – and how those challenges led the main character, Jake, to take an unprescribed pill that was thought to be harmless. He accidentally overdoses on a lethal pill laced with fentanyl. Friends call 9-1-1, and Jake’s life is spared with naloxone—an overdose combatant. Spark then takes care of the counterfeiters who made and sold the dangerous drugs.
As an educational resource, the comic aims to share information with teens about the dangers of taking pills from unknown sources, and it provides resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) about opioid misuse. It also has discussion questions for readers to reflect on the characters’ choices and how to help a peer showing signs of distress.
“Centerstone Comics share information on issues that students face through a creative medium that appeals to them,” said Ashleigh Hall, a Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS II) at Centerstone. “We are pleased to provide Spark and the Dangerous Switch as a free resource for teens, parents, teachers and others in the community. The CDC acknowledges that the earlier teens start using substances, the greater likelihood of substance use issues later in life, so prevention is vital for long-term health.”
A high school in Nashville, Tennessee, has selected Spark and the Dangerous Switch for use in its early intervention program. Centerstone Comics were featured at a presentation at the 2019 National Council for Behavioral Health Conference and have since received inquiries from mental health providers around the country. The series’ fifth comic, Spark: Rising from the Ashes, received a gold Aster Award for excellence in health care advertising.
Spark and the Dangerous Switch and other installments in the Centerstone Comics series are available free at: www.centerstonecomics.org.
The publication of Spark and the Dangerous Switch was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Population Affairs, grant number TP1AH000081-01-00; its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of HHS.
Centerstone is a not-for-profit health care organization dedicated to delivering care that changes people’s lives. We are a nationally recognized leader, providing mental health and substance use treatment, related crisis care, education and support to people of all ages in communities in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Nationally, we offer specialized care for service members, veterans and their loved ones and develop employee assistance programs for businesses of all sizes. Our research institute improves behavioral health care through research, evaluation and technology, and our foundation secures philanthropic resources to support our work. For more about Centerstone, please call (888) 291-4357 or visit centerstone.org.