Drug education and prevention program offered
Parents, guardians and members of the Salisbury community are invited to a heroin and opioid prevention education program 6:30 to 8 p.m. May 4 in the Salisbury High School auditorium.
The program is presented by The Center for Humanistic Change and a version of the program was presented to all students at the high school April 18 and 22.
The adult version will include the same material as well as a visual of household items being used to support the drug use which can be a tool for early intervention.
With Pennsylvania carrying the distinction of the second highest state with heroin deaths, the first being Kentucky, Lehigh County officials are taking notice. Programs are being presented throughout the county to students and members of the community.
There were 84 overdose deaths in Lehigh County in 2014 and 117 overdose deaths in 2015.
According to Lisa Wolff, program director, The Center for Humanistic Change, 51 overdose deaths are suspected so far in 2016. The coroner must wait for toxicology reports to return before confirming overdose as the cause of death in some of those cases.
Opiods are described as a narcotic pain reliever such as Fiorional with Codeine, Robitussin A-C, Tylenol with Codeine, Empirin with Codeine, Roxanol, Duramorph, Demerol, Vicodin, OxyContin, morphine and Lomotil. Xanax is another drug which can be lethal when combined with alcohol.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opiate analgesic similar to but more potent than morphine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It is typically used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery. It is also sometimes used to treat people with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to opiates.
Wolff said prescription drugs, obtained at home from the parent’s cabinets, are the drug of choice for children ages 12 and 13. She said the perception is using the painkillers is ok because they are legal.
Many addictions start with sports injuries or surgeries when pain medication is prescribed.
Regarding heroin, Wolff said 80 percent of heroin users reportedly started their addiction with prescription painkillers. Four out of five.
Wolff said the heroin is coming from Mexico and South America and because it is so pure, it is more dangerous.
Dealers are mixing the heroin with baby powder to make the heroin go further and are giving little packets of heroin out for free with a marijuana purchase to entice customers.
Heroin right now is pure, cheap and easily accessible. Heroin can be administered by needle injection, smoking or snorting.
Wolff asked students to stand up if they knew anyone who had a drug addiction. The majority of students stood.
In anonymous polls with clicker devices, 51 percent of students said they knew someone who was using drugs.
Wolff said there is no typical look for a drug addict. Years ago, the look of model Twiggy or some members of bands portrayed the look of a heroin user such as a very thin, pale or a homeless person. That is no longer the case.
Wolff said addiction runs in families. She also said those who smoke marijuana are more likely to use other drugs.
“If you are smoking pot and hanging out with those folks, chances are good a new drug will be introduced,” Wolff said.
“If you start using pot, it becomes a habit. Habits become addictions.”
Wolff said the brain stops developing at ages 25 and 26 and statistics show marijuana kills brain cells and a person’s IQ drops.
“You have to make choices for yourselves,” Wolff told the students.
The presentation was interactive with students contributing to the conversation and asking questions.
Several videos were shown to the students of parents who have lost children to overdoses from Emmaus and Whitehall as well as a user who explained how the addiction happened and the effects it had on her family.
Most moving were the testimonials from parents who said they had no idea their children were using drugs. They didn’t recognize the signs.
At the community presentation May 4, parents are expected to attend to tell their stories firsthand.
Wolff provided signs and symptoms of opiod and heroin addiction and signs of an overdose. She also told students how to get help and what to do if a friend is in trouble.
In addition to the presentation, Salisbury police will collect prescription drugs for any residents who would like to dispose of unused drugs properly.
If unable to attend the May 4 presentation, contact Wolff at 610-443-1595 or The Center for Humanistic Change at www.thechc.org for additional presentations in the area.
Readers who suspect an overdose should contact 911 immediately. Police and health care professionals are able to administer Narcan which could save a life.