Pubdate: Thu, 21 Feb 2002
Source: Ventura County Star (CA)
Copyright: 2002 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Corine Riedell


Re: your Feb. 15 article, Simi leaders hear heroin concerns":

As a health care provider and mother, I was pleased to see active
interest on such a serious subject. Though not epidemic, I've
certainly seen an increase in heroin related incidents while working
in a local hospital.

Illicit drugs have "fashion" cycles: heroin and LSD in the '60s,
cocaine in the '70s, crack cocaine and crystal meth persisted through
the '80s/'90s only to give way to prescription drug abuse and
increased access to marijuana and alcohol. Though attention has been
brought to the community to help us respond to this growing problem
and regulations set in place at pharmacies to better control
medications, the natural progression is for old things to become
fashionable again, and heroin is gaining popularity among a new generation.

As a family practice physician assistant, I encourage families to tune
in to youth behavior. Though attitude, social and academic changes are
normal for teens, prolonged or severe changes without explanation are
a red flag worth investigating.

Uniquely, heroin leaves physical signs behind after immediate affects
have worn off - typically injected in the arms, legs, groin or wrists,
leaving "track marks." Additionally, finding syringes, needles,
lighters or tourniquets among your child's belongings raise a big red
flag - to be addressed immediately.

Among the many resources available, turning to your family physician
is a good place to start. You might be surprised how much support you
find, and you can ask for a drug test and additional resources. Take
charge; get the resources and support that you need. Together we can
help our youth reject and recover from drug use.

- - Corine Riedell

Newbury Park
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