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Addiction Through Local Voices

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Because I live in New York City I tend to write stories on urban addiction. In contrast, here are stories from localized news effort patch.com, wisdoms on the pervasive and devastating effects of addiction touching communities across the country — all stories from just this week.

Concerns range, but strokes of consensus tint the voices. All communities are alike in this way.

West Deptford, NJ:

“I wasn’t aware of prescription pill abuse,” Connie Tighe said during a presentation at West Deptford High School Tuesday night. “It really wasn’t on our radar screen.”

As photos of Kevin—from his youth soccer team, or hanging out with family, or as a stony-faced football player in his No. 55 jersey—played out behind her, Connie Tighe unfolded her son’s story of addiction, which eventually escalated to him to the deadly combination of OxyContin and Xanax.

The painkiller abuse likely started after Kevin, a 1999 West Deptford High School graduate, battled through multiple knee and hand injuries as a teenager, Connie Tighe said, when he was prescribed powerful drugs like Percocet or Vicodin after surgeries.

Prescription drugs are particularly insidious, McKenna said, given their easy availability. While a teenager might have to hop in a car and drive 15 minutes to Camden to score street drugs, prescription painkillers could be sitting in a medicine cabinet a few rooms away.

Laguna Niguel, CA:

I still believe that educating parents and getting to the child at an early age is a good line of defense. Not the only one –but a start. The sweet spot for experimentation and addiction is age 12-15. Just say “No” doesn’t work.

We need many things in this state. One is a real-time prescription monitoring system that works and that physicians must use. We need to track who is writing the prescription, what they are for, and where they are being dispensed. We have real-time reporting on Facebook, why not for prescription monitoring.

Chelmsford, MA:

Opiates unfortunately are the leading cause of death for young adults in this area, and the number of kids addicted has been skyrocketing,” said Rosa. “So it’s two fold, it’s about educating the children on what drugs do what, and how you can go from dabbling to abusing to then addiction.

Los Gatos, CA:

Back in the day, marijuana was illegal and that was that. If teens smoked, they knew it was illegal. Today, however, youth face a different decision, a decision that can be blurry as result of the debate around medical marijuana.

Considering that this is an ongoing and growing concern, I am curious to know “How do you address and support your teen to make healthy decisions regarding marijuana use?” Or, if you are not yet a parent of a teen, “How will you offer prevention to your child regarding marijuana use?”

Cassie Rodenberg About the Author: I write on culture, poverty, addiction, and mental illness: I explore things we like to ignore. I also teach public school in New York City's South Bronx. Follow on Twitter @cassierodenberg.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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