WESTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The opiate epidemic continues to take lives across western Massachusetts. 22News explains how more and more teenagers are falling victim to addiction.
“The drug starts to control you, and you no longer control the drug,” said Dr. Ruth Potee, of the Franklin County Opiate Task Force. Just this year, Governor Patrick declared a public health emergency, after nearly 200 people died of overdose in less than six months.
Doctor Potee spoke to parents and faculty at Hampshire Regional High School Thursday night.One of her messages: Parents need to stop letting their children drink and party at home.
“Actually drinking in the bosom of your family, safe and loved, it actually creates a pathway in your brain that says drinking is always safe and a good thing. So it creates exactly the wrong feedback loop that you want,” said Potee.
Alcohol is just one of many drugs that can lead children down the wrong path.
“I’ve heard from my teenage kids about drugs, and about what they’re looking for, what a lot of kids are looking for, and they’re looking for prescription drugs,” said Chuck Shea, a Southampton parent.
Misusing prescription pills is a key risk factor in developing an addiction. In fact, Potee told 22News 4-out-of-5 people who are addicted to heroin, started by misusing prescription pills. That’s why it’s important to keep all your prescriptions and medicine locked up.
“After this talk I looked through my medicine cabinet and just different things that we have, ibuprofen, tylenol, but kids are abusing everything that’s in a medicine cabinet,” said Cyndy Domina, a parent, and a nurse at Hampshire Regional High School.
Although 70% of the time, a family member or friend gives someone a pill they’re not prescribed. That’s how it starts.
To learn how to recognize the signs of someone who might be battling addiction, click here.
For resources on how to find the help that’s right for you, or a friend or family member, click here.