Episode Information

WWL: Heroin in the Suburbs
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
Aired:
06/18/2009
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In this episode:

Heroin use is rising among young adults in suburban and rural communites in the Northeast

 

Episode Audio

49:00 minutes (47.05 MB)
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A study conducted by the CDC found that more than 4% of high school students in Connecticut have used heroin - compared with 2.5% nationwide.  In the past several years, the number of heroin deaths in the state has doubled from one a week to two a week.  And, despite what many suburban parents might want to believe - the problem in not just in our cities.

Coming up, Where We Live, we're talking about a disturbing trend.  Heroin use in the suburbs.  

 

*This episode of Where We Live originally aired on March 17, 2009.

 

 


 
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Anonymous Listener Email

I just wanted to share that many of my cousins are either in mandatory rehab, prison or just users on the streets. They began as lower middle class white children in southeastern Connecticut. I believe their heroine use and/or dealing began as rebellion. All of their parents are alcoholics who use at least marijuana and most likely cocaine. Therefore, when it came time for them to rebel against their parents they had to one-up their parents and do a much more dangerous drug. It is so sad to see all of their lives ruined by their use and dealing of this drug.

Listener Email from Ryan

I am disturbed by the classist tone of your story on heroin use in the suburbs. Your story seems to be presented as if heroin has only become a problem since a few middle/upper middle class kids have died from use. Its short-sighted to not problematize the systems that perpetuate the huge socio-economic gap in this overall wealthy state; a gap which drives the drug use and trade in our urban areas.

Ryan-Storrs, CT

Email Comment from Greg

 

"Much of the continued heroin epidemic in my experience can be related to ineffective treatment systems focused on treating addiction in an acute manner.  Addiction is a chronic illness that needs to be looked at and treated in the same fashion.  We need public financing and support for Recovery-Oriented systems of care and recovery community support organizations like  CCAR and CTYF.  If we send a young person to 28 days or detox and then say okay your "fixed," we are doing a disservice to our society.  What is needed is support to connect young people to recovery cultures that exist throughout our state, together we can make it 'cool to live sober lives,' the war on drugs needs to focus on the demand side in addition to locking our borders down."
 
Greg Williams, 25, a person in recovery since 17.

Facebook Comment from Ed

"I'm disturbed by two things: the lack of detail in the stories of addicts and former addicts like your guest, and the repeated mantra that "recovery is possible."  

When your guest said that "I was using cocaine, and next thing you know I was using heroin," leaves out a lot of detail about decisions made, the effect it had on the person's family, the pain it causes to the family, the effect it had on the person's life, the things the addict had to do to support his habit.  I think explaining, in detail, how he made the decision would be a lot more helpful.

In terms of the "recovery is possible" phrase, while it's a good thing to know, it is possible, it also provides an out for someone considering using - they might think, "Okay, I'll try it, because recovery is possible."  As I understand it, recovery means dealing with an addiction every single day.  I'd rather hear "recovery is very difficult, but possible.""
 

Ed's comment

Ed,

I think that the public is already aware of all the negatives surrounding the use of drugs, and how it effects everyone involved.  I seriously disagree that someone would try drugs because they think that "recovery is possible"; I would be curious as to what decision you would have liked me to answer how I made.  I think that people all are on different paths, and didn't find it necessary to describe all of these details.  I also feel strongly that people need hope, instead of a qualifier about recovery.  Many people who are afflicted by addiction are not aware that recovery is possible, and parents may not realize that their young one's life is not over because they have become dependent on a substance.

 

Listener Email from Lynn

Dear Where We Live,

Parents speaking to children is extremely important.  I have two elementary student age children and am terrified of drug addiction. Since they began to speak I have be talking about drug use and the effects of it using.   Every visible opportunity as a speaking moment  I do address drug use and addiction starting with Elvis Presley, whom the love, who died of a drug overdose.  Don't take candy from kids on the bus.  Some people, people that you know, sell drugs and want to make money selling drugs and by getting you hooked on it will make more money.  Always back to the money.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Lynn
Durham
 

where we live

I agree with Lynn,

      when learning about drugs, the dealer is always made out to be a shady character in dark clothing lurking in the back alley of the city.  These days drug dealers look like your friends.  They live where you live, they go to school where your kids go to school.  They take the bus with our children.  You may be inviting drug dealers into your home because they are nice, clean cut kids.  Remember, kids who sell drugs probably don't take drugs because it's bad for business. 

Facebook Comment from Shawn

"It would have been important to have someone on the show talk about things like harm reduction, syringe exchange, etc., as well as some insight into the differences in addiction for men and women.  For example, a tremendous percentage of women who are activiely using or in recovery have histories of interpersonal violence which often lead to  mental health problems such as depression and PTSD; which all increase women's risk of HIV.  Folks are at greatest risk for overdose when they're released from prison or substance use treatment.  Some folks are working on OD prevention programs for these populations, but we're in the early stages.  CT had over 400 opioid-involved overdose deaths in 2006, many of which could have been prevented.

Addiction is so complex and the reasons behind it and the ways people enter into recovery are equally as complex.  The abstinance only approach does a disservice to the "one day at a time" philosophy."

 

Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care

Much of the continued heroin epidemic in my experience can be related to ineffective treatment systems focused on treating addiction in an acute manner.  Addiction is a chronic illness that needs to be looked at and treated in the same fashion.  We need public financing and support for Recovery-Oriented systems of care and recovery community support organizations like  CCAR and CTYF.  If we send a young person to 28 days or detox and then say okay your "fixed," we are doing a disservice to them and our society.  What is needed is support to connect young people and their families to recovery cultures that exist throughout our state, together we can make it 'cool to live sober lives,' the war on drugs needs to focus on the demand side in addition to locking our borders down on the supply side.

Greg Williams, 25, a person in recovery since 17.

Greg Williams
Co-Director
Connecticut Turning to Youth and Families
Email: [email protected]
Mobile: 203.733.8326
www.ctyouthandfamilies.org

Think of the context of

Think of the context of suburban drug use.  Kids are left home or left "at the end of their driveway" in areas with nothing to do.   Kids just want to do something, and they want to do their own thing.  People are generally NOT paying any attention to this age group of people.  Every heroin user that I know started in HIGH SCHOOL in the suburbs.  This was a problem as far back as 2000 when I went to HS (in southbury!!!).  Public school education of drugs is a joke  -- people need to give this next generation more credit and pay them more attention!

 

Herion use in Burbs

One of the phyiscal best signs not mentioned for injecting was examing your Kids Arms, Hands, Wrist & Feet for pucture pin marks, small but visable, sometimes in tracks like a row of spider bits and slightly swollen. Next: for confrimation of snorting heroin.. when you think they have done it in the last hour by nose.. just ask the Kid to blow in a Kleenex and you will see a brownish looking mucus, unlike any brown you have ever seen in Nasal mucus before. Even if they are snorting white heroin it will appear brown when discharged from nose. Rolled dollar bills, cut straws, rubber gloves, belts rolled up etc are also a tell tale. Bottom-line talk to your kids and ask them and then ask them if they would take a drug test for Opiates only if you suspect Herion. Don't be a cop, trying to Bust them for everything you can think of...like pot, be a parent and keep them safe and listen to what they say & how. My kids never flush the toliet, so if you keep your toliet clean without alot of chemicals or Tiddy-bole stuff..you can take a sample of toliet water after they Urinated and use a home Opiate test kit sold at Walgreens Pharmacy.

Signed: A Sad Father Who knows to Much.

If you're checking you kids

If you're checking you kids for pin pricks and tracks, dont' forget under the tounge, under the breasts, the dorsal vein of the penis, or the other dozen places where you can inject heroin that most people don't think to check.

Or you can foster a trustitng, open, and healthy relationship with your children.