Heroin is not the stranger on the Other Side of the Train Tracks. It’s here in our backyard. And it’s the high that hurts, leading to Very Bad Things.
When we grew up, heroin was so Street, that no one I knew was doing what’s known as “Smack”. It was usually depicted on some crime show, affecting kids from low-economic backgrounds with little or no parental supervision. It was the addiction that made prostitutes, prostitutes. Selling anything just to get that high. Kids from affluent backgrounds who needed the next fix up from Weed, did Coke. There were lines drawn in the sand.
But not anymore.
I was working on my last blog in Starbucks, when I ran into a local police officer, who was getting his latte and was off-duty. One of my daughters is friends with one of his kids.
I smiled. “Casual Friday?”
He glanced down at his clothes, and laughed. “What are you working on?”
I was kind of embarrassed because it was the blog about the Dad who wanted kinkier sex with his wife. So instead I told him about the blog as a whole, omitting Hot-2-Trot-Daddy.
“You should write about what really goes on here,” he said.
“Drugs?” I asked.
“I’ve been worried about heroin,” I said, alluding to recent local high school drug busts.
“It’s everywhere,” he said. “You have no idea what we deal with. And the crazy thing is, these are not all bad kids. Good kids from good families who have made really bad choices. Athletes. Good students.”
“Tell me,” I asked, pointing to my computer. “What can I tell parents?”
“Well, marijuana is not what it was when we grew up. THC in the marijuana now is at least 15 times stronger … And monitor the medicine cabinet — that’s where a lot of kids are getting the hard drugs.”
He took a sip of his coffee. “The truth is too many parents are looking the other way. Too many go out for the entire night or even a weekend — and not only give their kids total freedom but also 100 bucks to buy food. Let me just be clear: That 100 dollars is almost NEVER used for food — it’s for alcohol and drugs.
There’s a lot of money here in the suburbs, kids are too entitled, and lots of parents are too involved in their own thing to notice if their kid is going down the wrong path. If the grades are good, then they think EVERYTHING must be good. Kids get away with a lot. And too many parents are afraid to say NO.
“Lots of adults throw their junior high boys a beer for example,” he continued. “They let their high schoolers go out for the night and don’t have the kids check in. Parents Need to Parent, and stop being afraid that they are going to somehow hinder their child’s fun or social life.
My advice: Tell your kids they have one choice: Be a leader or a follower. There is nothing in-between. Don’t be afraid to be strict. I’ve seen the dire consequences of too many parents who are afraid of their kids — and believe me, those kids know it, and get into big trouble.”
We spoke for a while — about kids finding their parents’ drugs and selling them to their peers. About parents renting rooms for their high schoolers to drink. We talked in depth about kids with a wide range of opportunities and options, committing a drug crime that will change their lives forever.
After the police officer left, I thought about a young man I knew — a fun-loving guy in his 20s — always the life of the party, sweet and caring too. He was a secret heroin addict. He told his wife that he spent nights at the gym. Last year, he was found dead in bathroom of his workplace — the needles spread around him like Pick-Up Sticks across the linoleum floor.
So I worry. For my kids, your kids, and those I don’t even know. As the officer said just before he left: I would never want to grow up in this generation. It’s really tough.
I decided to do some research about heroin that I could pass onto you. A friend of mine, a very involved Dad with three kids, and an addict in his youth (now fully recovered), gave me the following information about heroin in the “good” neighborhoods. He said:
Note: Drug dealers see rich kids as a Market, and are exploiting this in a predatory way — again just one text and the $20 bag is dropped off.
Here’s what I’ve come up with as perhaps a potential parental solution. If your kid is caught drinking, don’t just take away the phone or ground his social life as THE punishment. This won’t make a dent long-term. Take him or her to a Moms Against Drunk Drivers meeting, or an AA meeting. If your kid is doing heroin, find a rehab center and get your child the professional help he or she needs. If your son or daughter is not an addict, but is doing drugs — the key is to show your kid what the ‘face’ of addiction looks like: dark, desolate, lost, and in severe pain.
Before anything gets extreme in your kid’s life, GO Extreme by showing them in real-time how low a high can really go.