The Heroin Epidemic… it can start in your medicine cabinet

Heroin use is on the rise, and young adults are those most at risk. There is no school district in the country that isn’t at risk to drug infiltration, so there are no kids that are immune to the risk.  It’s important that parents know the facts, stay involved, and ask questions.

Mind your medicine cabinet: Heroin Prevention and Facts for Parents

Prescription pain medication like Oxycontin and Vicodin are among the commonly abused drugs in the nation. Recent research suggests that these drugs may open the door to heroin abuse, as the drugs effects are similar to heroin when taken in ways other than as prescribed.

heroin2Three recent studies showed that almost half of young people who injected heroin began abusing prescription pain medication prior to using heroin. Unlike prescription pain medication, heroin is easily accessed and inexpensive. A bag of heroin can cost as little as $8. Heroin is used in a number of ways. In addition to injection, it can be snorted, smoked, and mixed with other drugs such as marijuana.

Heroin is a white powder, but can also be black or brown. It is often wrapped in small, aluminum packages, in capsules, or balloons. Some street names for heroin include H, Black Bar, Brown Sugar, Dope, Junk, and Smac.

Suffolk County and the Police Department have made this a top priority to protect our kids –  passing legislation and increasing community awareness through seminars and community programs.   In early February, the 4th precinct of the Suffolk County Police Department worked with the Commack Coalition of Caring to present “The Ugly Truth”.  The presentation featured officers, addiction specialists, and young individuals and their families who have been directly impacted by heroin addiction. Programs like these help to educate and empower young adults and teens to make positive decisions.

Prevention is the best form of intervention. The SCPD encourages you to talk to your children about heroin and other illicit drug use at an early age. Give them the facts and participate in ongoing, open dialogue about drug use.


Spot the Signs of Drug Use

  • Slow movement, slurred speech, runny nose/eyes, constricted pupils, increased fatigue/unusual amount of sleeping
  • Change in friends, decline in grades, neglected hygiene and appearance
  • Unexplained small foil balls or plastic bags/balloons, capsules, Visine Eye Drops squirt bottle (used for snorting), missing items such as spoons, aluminum foil, checks or cash or patterns of borrowing money with nothing to show for it.


How to Talk to Your Kids When you Think They’re Using Drugs (CDC)

Be direct and calm. Approach your kids directly and immediately regarding the issue, and avoid coming from a place of anger. Your child will be far more receptive to your concerns if you approach the situation with sensitivity. If they deny drug use or respond casually, respond calmly, letting them know that you do not condone drug use of any kind. Reiterate house rules about drugs and alcohol use and the consequences that come with that behavior.

  • Talk when your child is lucid. Don’t try to have a serious conversation when your child is drunk or high.
  • Ask open-ended, non-judgemental questions. This will likely evoke a more honest response from your child. Examples include, “Can you tell me more about that? How do you feel in that situation? How can I help you with this?”
  • Don’t punish your child. Threats or punishment will never keep a drug user away from using.
  • Show your support. If your child reveals their drug use, show support by allowing them to speak honestly, showing them love, and letting them know that you’re there for them.
  • Get your child treatment.  It’s crucial to take your child to see a qualified specialist or health professional if they are using drugs. This is not a time to compromise or negotiate; don’t take “no” for an answer. Instead, be firm and clear.
  • Express concern for their safety, and let them know that this decision is the best for everyone. If the situation allows, give your child options regarding therapists or facilities. Be sure to set and communicate clear limits to your child and follow through.

The SC-PBA offers free drug-testing kits (limit two per individual) that can be picked up at their headquarters located at:

Suffolk County PBA
868 Church Street  Suite 1
Bohemia, NY 11716
(631) 563-4200 (press 1)

If you or someone you know if suffering from a heroin or other substance abuse addiction, reach out to the following resources immediately:

Long Island Crisis Center’s 24/7 hotline at (516) 679-1111
Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence at (516) 747-2606

For more of the facts and tips on how to talk to your child/teen about drug abuse, visit: