The Ardsley SAYF Coalition is dedicated to providing information and programs designed to reduce underage drinking and drug use in our community. We have many dedicated coalition members volunteering their time to coalition activities. One of our members is Ellen Morehouse, Director of Student Assistance Services, who has provided us with the information below pertaining to heroin.
Ellen Morehouse, Student Assistance Services
The tragic death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman has brought increased attention to Heroin use. The availability of low cost high potency heroin, and recent heroin related deaths of young people in Westchester County and throughout the Northeast is causing worry and distress. Even though only 1.0% of high school seniors report lifetime use, the risk of heroin related death is great for any young person who uses, even once. In fact, the potency of available heroin is particularly dangerous for first time users and those in recovery who relapse.
What everyone needs to know:
- A recent study indicated that almost 80% of people who recently started to use heroin said they had previously used prescription painkillers illegally. (SAMHSA 2013)
- 45% of high school students who abused prescription drugs reported they used the painkillers to relieve physical pain. (McCabe, Boyd, et al., 2009)
- The most common sources for youth to obtain medication are from friends or family for free (33%-50%) or from a physician (22.2%). (Schepis & Krishnan-Sarin, 2009)
- Until their heroin use becomes known to a parent, very few parents believe their children misuse prescription drugs or use heroin. Therefore, few parents have discussed the dangers of prescription drug misuse and heroin with their children.
- While most of the deaths have involved recent HS graduates, heroin is available to HS students. It is often less expensive and easier to obtain than prescription painkillers for some youth.
- Signs of use can include constricted (pin-dot) pupils, loss of weight, and missing money. Withdrawal can include flu like symptoms, nausea, and cramps.
- Narcan, the antidote for heroin overdose, can be administered by a parent and is available through Sancia Health Care in White Plains (914) 421-0400.
What parents need to do:
- Keep prescription medication out of easy access, get rid of unused medication. The Ardsley Police department has a permanent Med Return Units where unused/unwanted prescriptions can be disposed, available 24/7. For a complete list of locations in Westchester visit Power to the Parent.
- Talk to your teen. Use media coverage of celebrity addiction to engage your children in conversation.
- If your child is prescribed painkillers for oral surgery, a sports injury, or any other reason, speak to both your teen and your teen’s physician about preventive measures to avoid the potential for abuse.
- Be aware of any changes in your teen and tell them what you have noticed.
- Express your concerns to your teen and “trust your gut.” You know your child best. If you think something is wrong, it might not be drug use, but there may be something troubling your child.
- Seek out consultation if your concern persists. Not all adolescent angst is part of normative mood swings.
- If your teen is misusing prescription drugs or using heroin, below is a resource list where you can find help in Westchester, free consultation for parents is available at Student Assistance Services.
Click on one of the following for a list of available programs in Westchester: