Heroin Epidemic: It won't happen to my kid

There is a Heroin Epidemic that is killing our kids, and it isn't going away, it's only getting worse.  No one wants to talk about it and everyone thinks it won't affect them.  I used to think that way until 2012 when I found out my daughter was using and less than 9 months later we lost her to an overdose. Back then it was just the beginning of Heroin taking a hold in cities all across our country, and I knew nothing about the drug much less how to help my daughter. Now you have Fentanyl mixed with Heroin and the deaths are increasing. 

You probably think "It won't happen to my kid", and I pray it doesn't because the loss is devastating.  But odds are the life of someone you love or know will be changed because of Heroin.  So what can you do to help them?  You can start by not being ashamed because of their addiction.  If you are ashamed or afraid to talk about it how can you expect an addict to feel comfortable enough to ask you for help.

Education and Awareness..These two things are the first steps in combating this Epidemic.  Educate yourself about this drug, know how to recognize the signs of someone using.  Not just the physical signs like nodding out, pinpoint sized pupils, track marks (between toes, back of hands, wrists and inside the elbow).  But the changes in their personality (separation from family, stealing, drastic change in appearance or personal hygiene, urgent need for money with no explaination).  Do not be afraid to trust your instincts, if you see drastic changes and behaviors say something.  I know you may not want to confront them because you are afraid you may be wrong. But it's better to speak up and be wrong than to keep quiet and do nothing and have regrets when they overdose and die.  

There are so many resources available to help, whether you are the one struggling with addiction or a loved one of an addict.  You can contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP(4357).  

There is also Casey's Law. Ohio enacted Casey's Law in 2012.  The law allows the parents, relatives or friends of an addicted person to lawfully intervene and request involuntary, court ordered addiction treatment for their loved one. Contact Cuyahoga County Probate Court for information on filing.  

If your loved one is not receptive to getting help or treatment I strongly recommend you looking into NARCAN/NALOXONE. Having this on hand can save their life. You can contact your local Health Department or Harm Reduction Ohio provides it through this link.  https://www.harmreductionohio.org/.    

You don't have to do this alone, there is support out there you just need to know where to look.  There is an amazing non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping addicts, their friends and family find safe judgement free support groups to talk with others going through the same thing.  They also offer a support group for families needing support in their grief.  https://www.heroinsupport.org/.

Please don't let the stigma of addiction keep you from reaching out for help.     

Lorie Hannan VanTilburg

I grew up in Euclid and manage a business in Euclid. My parents and many friends are still living in Euclid.

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Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 5:26 PM, 03.09.2020