One recent news story after another reveals the extent of the heroin epidemic rolling across the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.
Like these headlines, for example:
February 2014: How Did Idyllic Vermont Become America’s Heroin Capital?
November 2014: “Region battles cheap, powerful heroin that kills.” (Massachusetts)
January 2015: “Since 2012, authorities track 450 percent rise in heroin-related deaths in Loudoun.” (Virginia)
January 2015: “St. Elizabeth sees ‘alarming’ jump in heroin ODs.” (Kentucky)
Across much of the Eastern US, similar stories are told. Heroin has moved out of the inner cities where it has created devastation for decades, and it has now arrived in the suburbs. Many young people who didn’t seem destined for drug use and certainly not for a drug overdose are being lost to heroin.
Two quotes from these news stories reveal the just how grim this situation is.
Vermont: “Last month, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin devoted his entire annual address to the state’s heroin crisis. Two million dollars’ worth of heroin is pumped into Vermont each week.”
Virginia: “Much of the heroin that is circulated locally is laced with dangerous synthetic opiates such as fentanyl, increasing the likelihood of an overdose.”
One Family Fights Back
In Ohio, one family has taken on the job of spreading news about these dangers on every media channel they can find. The Riggs family lost their beautiful daughter Marin in 2012, just weeks after she turned 20. She had been addicted to heroin since she was 18. They want other families to be aware of the danger faced by their younger members. You can see more on this story here: http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2014/04/in_ohio_where_heroin_overdoses.html.
The heroin epidemic takes so many families by complete surprise because the young people who are becoming addicted these days aren’t in an environment where drug use is common. Good students who are doing well in school and live in orderly homes are turning up addicted and the families can’t understand what happened.
Experiences of families like the Riggs are proof that this terrible drug can invade any community. When a child starts using drugs, they can become moody and drop activities they used to enjoy. They may manifest rebellion and spend lots of time in their rooms. Families may be frustrated but not overly worried, thinking that these and other changes are just signs of being a teenager. But they can conceal drug use that starts in hiding and continues to be hidden until the addiction can no longer be kept a secret.
You can see some of the signs of teenage drug abuse and addiction here: http://www.narconon.org/drug-abuse/signs-symptoms-of-drug-abuse.html.
What Parents Can Do
If you see these signs in your children or grandchildren, the right thing to do is take action. Start finding out more about his (or her) life, who he goes out with, where he goes, how his grades are, what activities he is involved in, how much money he has. Make sure you detect if he leaves the home at night when everyone else is sleeping. If any items are missing out of the home or business, you should get much more vigilant.
If your child is away at college, make a couple of surprise visits. Be willing to bring up challenging subjects like alcohol or drug consumption. While you need to cover all drugs, some of our educational articles on heroin are collected here: http://www.narconon.org/drug-abuse/heroin/.