WMDT 47 NEWS - Drug enforcement is just one part of dealing with the heroin problem on Delmarva, and by the time officers get involved in the process, experts say getting someone help for the addition may be too late.
"The withdrawal from that is really intense and very scary," explains Tracy Simpson, with the Worcester County Drug Court program. "And especially with these younger kids who haven't had a worldly experience. And they don't have a lot of life-experience. They think they're dying."
Which is why experts say prevention and intervention needs to happen early. Once someone is addicted to heroin, even though they successfully make it through a drug cessation program, Simpson says it's a disease that carries a high risk of relapse. About 50 percent of clients, no matter the drug, complete the drug court program in Worcester County, MD. Simpson admits individuals who come in with heroin addiction have a lower success rate.
"How do we stop new users?" asks Beau Oglesby, State's Attorney for Worcester County. "That seems to only come from education."
This includes education for the doctors prescribing highly addictive pain medication to their patients and education for patients being prescribed these medications. Simpson says they need to be taught the dangers of having them around young people in their homes, "The more that parents can be aware, know the signs, know what to look for, and be more active in their own home...the better the outcome for this group of young addicts that we seem to be working with."
Some tips for parents include: locking up your prescription pills, staying on top of who your kids are hanging out with, and always being aware of changes in attitude or behavior.
"The information is there, and it's available," Simpson tells WMDT. "I just think we need to keep beating that drum. I just think it cannot be said enough."
Oglesby agrees, "And if you have just a hint of suspicion, don't you owe it to yourself, and more importantly to your family and your child to at least follow up on it, and make sure there's nothing to it?"
Another important tip for parents is to keep an eye on the Internet and cell phone use of children and teens.
In the 5th and final part of this special report, health and legal experts in Worcester County explain the role technology plays in facilitating drug use among young people, and why parents need to stay on top of it.
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