The Danger that Opiates Pose to our Youth

Ask the Experts by Sam Quinones

Q: I've been hearing so much these days about opiates and the dangers they pose to our youth. What should I look out for as a parent of teenagers?

A: You are right to be concerned about this epidemic. Opiates are highly addictive and recent years have shown that addiction to them can lead to heroin use. Awareness is an important first step for most communities. 

The epidemic has spread largely because doctors have prescribed pain pills aggressively, but also because people have remained silent about it. Parents of addicted adolescents retreat into isolation, mortified, trying to keep anyone from knowing. Thus they're all alone, when they really need to be in a community of people who recognize the problem, who don't stigmatize it but treat it with the urgency it demands. All across America this silence has pervaded this issue for well more than a decade and that's why we're in the spot we're in. 

Parents and community members need to be aware and vigilant. There are signs. Kids who get involved with opiate addiction often have symptoms, both physical and social. They may have flu-like symptoms. Grades drop. They lose interest in their friends and start hanging out with people you don't know. An addict generally becomes interested only in dope. Cellphones, bedrooms and cars are good places to find the signs of opiate use. 

It's important to remember that that's not your child - the kid you watched grow up so sweet and excited by life. These drugs have a way of making every addict into a zombie, a hyper-consumer with only one daily goal: to get dope. 

The antidote to heroin is community. Above all, though, it's important to be forming community in our neighborhoods. The more we're out, with others, at public events, block parties, community gatherings, the more we know each other and feel comfortable in each other's presence, the harder time heroin will have.

Sam Quinones is a former LA Times reporter and veteran journalist who has covered immigration, gangs, drug trafficking, the border and Mexico, where he lived and wrote from 1994-2004. Dreamland is a revelatory account of how easily obtained, extremely addictive, "miracle" pain medications and a massive influx of black tar heroin are a corrosive threat facing every American community.


March 15, 2016

Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic

7:00pm (doors open at 6:30) Grosse Pointe War Memorial (32 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Farms)

Presented by the Family Center in partnership with Henry Ford Health System, the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, Grosse Pointe News, Grosse Pointe Memorial Church, Grosse Pointe North & South High Schools, St. John Providence Brighton Center for Recovery, CARE of Southeastern Michigan and Park Pharmacy.

RSVP online or call The Family Center 313-432-3832.

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