Heroin: The Python in Schools Across America
By William J. Smith & Stephanie Kent
Imagine finding your 8th grader collapsed on the floor of his or her bedroom… breathless, cold, and gone from the physical world. This trauma was experienced by Branden Stock’s parents in Laguna Niguel, California. Brandon was lifeless because of an overdose on Vicodin. It was also experienced by the families of 13 year-olds Grant Seaver and Ryan Ainsworth due to their synthetic drug overdoses. The same loss moved Josh Brabender’s dad to write a letter to eighth graders about the horrors of drug use. “Why would I burden you with this information [as eighth graders]? The answer is because when Josh was in 8th grade he was perfect and beautiful and innocent just like all of you. In high school he discovered drugs, and eventually he found heroin.” Heroin took Josh’s young life, and “wrapped itself around his neck like a python until it eventually strangled the life out of him. It is the devil incarnate—pure evil.”
Tragically, more than 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses alone in 2015. Envision each state alone losing more than one thousand residents each year to drugs. Overdose statistics have soared to new heights due to heroin and prescription painkillers. Heroin deaths alone rose to 12,989 in 2015, causing even more deaths than gun homicide.¹
How does heroin abuse begin?
A jaw-dropping 75% of high school heroin users report having experimented with opiates only after initially being introduced to prescription painkillers.² In her interview with 60 Minutes, Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that we live in a country of about 312 million people and 210 million opiate prescriptions per year! However, painkillers are expensive both on and off the legal market, so what’s the cheapest alternative? HEROIN.
Why is heroin on the rise in all middle and high schools?
- It’s cheap! Heroin costs about $10/pill for a high that’s extremely acute and addictive.
- It has evolved into more “clean” and easy forms. It no longer requires needles and back alley injections. Taking heroin can be as simple as breaking open one tiny capsule and snorting the powder. This method makes both the drug and its ingestion less detectable.
- Children often have easy access to prescription painkillers in the cabinets, spurring their susceptibility to heroin addiction when it becomes available.
How can society help to solve the heroin epidemic in schools?
- Doctors: Avoid over-prescribing opiates to ALL patients.
- Parents: Keep all household prescription drugs inaccessible to children. Dispose of any unused or unfinished bottles of painkillers.
- Parents: Be mindful of the addictive consequences of painkillers when prescribed to your child, and be sure your child isn’t overusing or abusing the medication.
- Schools: Mandate student-counselor meetings to assess mental health of and evaluate potential drug dependency in students.
- Schools: Incorporate a drug education program with a large focus on opiate use and abuse for elementary-aged children and up.
For additional information on how you can maximize the safety of your students, CLICK HERE to contact American School Safety online, or call us at 1-866-531-6560 to schedule a free on-site consultation. As always, we look forward to hearing from you.