Heroin use is a community problem
We would like to commend the group Take A Stand following the recent heroin deaths in the northern suburbs. After such tragedies, parents typically ask, "What can I do to protect my family?" At the Robert Crown Center for Health Education, we're answering that question with an education and prevention initiative piloting in suburban schools this fall.
We believe we can prevent more deaths by teaching young people about heroin and its dangers. In October, we released results of the latest, original research RCC commissioned specifically to learn about the suburban youth who turn to heroin, how and why they do it. That research is available to all on our website at http://www.robertcrown.org/heroinPrevention.shtml.
Most importantly, that research serves as the basis for our educational intervention. Not only has the "face" of the suburban heroin user changed, but so has the pathway to the drug. Many of the heroin users told us they'd used prescription pain medications at first, then moved into heroin use. The young people also told us they had little or ineffective drug education in school, and nothing addressing heroin specifically. Most troubling, many of these "good kids" revealed their struggles with depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions.
The most important thing we've learned is that heroin is a community problem. We need to remove the stigma from families so honest dialogue at home, at school and with trusted friends can begin. Research reveals that kids still want guidance and health information from their parents. As the nation's oldest health education center, we are proud to work with all communities to prevent more young people from starting down heroin's dangerous and deadly path.
Kathleen M. Burke
CEO, Robert Crown Center for Health Education