Pubdate: Sun, 27 Apr 2008
Source: Nevada Appeal (Carson City, NV)
Copyright: 2008 Nevada Appeal
Author: John Simms
Note: John Simms is a Juvenile Probation Office for Carson  City
Bookmark: (Heroin)


In recent months, leaders of this community have targeted a specific
evil enemy in hopes of saving many  of our young people from the
devastation it causes.  This enemy is known as methamphetamine. We as
citizens  of this great community responded quite swiftly, as we 
should with any threat that has the capability to harm our youth or
any citizen. The fight persists and likely  will for some time to come.

As the use of methamphetamine appears to be on the decline in this
community, the use of prescription  drugs, over-the-counter
medications, and heroin  (opiates) are on the rise. While attempting
to put one  evil nemesis to rest, we in fact woke other  opportunistic
creatures waiting to wreak havoc on our  young people.

I can tell you as the Chief Juvenile Probation Officer  for Carson
City, we drug test many of our probationers for several illicit and
illegal substances. We have  seen a significant reduction in the use
of  methamphetamine and a dramatic increase in the use of  heroin
(opiates). The reduction in methamphetamine  reveals the cold and true
fact that our youth are  cleverly and dangerously making the switch to
other substances that are not necessarily on the radar screen  right

What can be learned from this experience is that those individuals
who use substances that are dangerous will  adapt their usage to what
is available to them in the  ever-changing climate of substance abuse
and use.

Parents need to understand that the threats are real and come in
several forms and have several names. While shopping for a car, it is
obvious that all cars are not  the same color and the same brand name.
These choices  are often dependent upon supply and demand. Our 
children who are at risk will likely choose the substances that are
available to them. Methamphetamine is just one of them. Kids in our
community have discovered that meth is not as easy to obtain as it
was  just a few months ago. For that reason, the use of  heroin has
been on a significant increase.

I believe the tactic of singling out one drug or substance to fight
might have its downfalls. As adults and parents, it is essential that
we don't get so  caught up in singling out one monster, that we open
the  door for several others to sneak in and harm those we  love and
care about. It is much easier to go to battle if you know who the
enemy is.

I have always believed that the best way to defend your children from
the evil enemies of drugs is to be  involved with the many aspects of
your child's life.

You should always know who your child's peers are and engage with
those peers when the situation presents  itself. Look for changes in
your child that are out of  the ordinary. These changes include, but
are not  limited to, poor grades, different dress, coming home  late
at night, sneaking out of the house, different  peers, reduction in
weight, weight gain, different and  unusual taste in music, people
coming and leaving your  house and a change in behavior toward parents
and  adults. Our children do go through changes as they grow  up and I
know that teenage years can be difficult. But  don't always assume
that they are going through a phase that will dissipate over time. In
fact, time is of the  essence and your intervention may be the best
defense  for your child.

It is important to understand that the physical signs of drug use
vary depending on the substance. In recent  months we have all been
trained to look for loss of  weight, skin sores, loss of teeth, hyper
or agitated  demeanor and other signs of meth use. However, the 
substance heroin (opiates) sometimes doesn't reveal  obvious signs.
The method of use for heroin (opiates)  seems to be smoking with a
pipe, straw or similar  device, but that does not mean it can't be
used with  needles. Currently, the kids use the name "point" to 
describe a small amount of heroine that is not much bigger than a dot
and can be shared by as many as 20 to  25 people. Also used is
"balloon, which is a bigger dot that can be shared by as many as
30-35 people. These are terms that parents should listen for in their
 child's vocabulary.

Parenting is never an easy task and with all this  discussion about
all the substances that are available  to our children, it can be very
intimidating. But I  also know that parents who are involved in their 
children's lives, significantly reduce the risks.

Parents must also demonstrate a healthy and clean  lifestyle
themselves. The old adage, "do what I say,  not what I do" holds very
little weight and only confuses children more.

I would encourage parents to look up the substances  mentioned in this
letter on any search engine on your  home computer or go to the
library. Become familiar  with the symptoms and familiar with what the
substances  look like. You can also contact the Community Council  on
Youth at 841-4730 for information on any controlled  substances.

John Simms is a Juvenile Probation Office for Carson  City/Storey
County and a father of four children.
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