Last Friday night, within the Newport High Drug-free zone, 9 people were attempting to buy or sell Oxycontin.  They were arrested and now face federal charges.  Kudos to the Drug Task Force, Newport Police Department,  Sullivan County Sherriff’s Department, Claremont Police Department, and Sunapee Police Department.  Evidently, thousands of OxyContin pills are bought each month in our community.

OxyContin is an extremely dangerous, and addictive, prescription drug.  During the later stages of its abuse cycle, OxyContin can dramatically change how the brain works leaving parts functionally dead.  Thousands of pills sold illegally?  Monthly?  We’ve got a problem!

It’s time to make the connection!  This didn’t happen in a vacuum!  Nobody just wakes up one day and gets arrested for buying or selling Oxycontin.  Ground Zero is the illegal use of alcohol.  It’s the gateway.  Through our research, and hearing from youth, parents and community members, we know this is what is happening in Sullivan County.   We have to “make the connection” in our community, and make a commitment to do what we can to stop underage drinking.

Once a teen enters this world, cravings for more dangerous highs often follow.  Add to this the fact that a teen’s brain is still developing its ability to connect risk with reality, and you have a problem with other serious consequences.

What’s a parent or caring adult to do?

“Plenty!” says Liz Hennig, Coordinator for Communities United for Substance Abuse Prevention.

“First of all, let’s be thankful for the Drug Task Force, and our various police departments, who work long and hard to keep our communities safe.  We should encourage them to keep educating the community, and enforcing NH’s social hosting laws.”

“Second, research shows that kids are 59% less likely to drink if parents take the responsibility to teach their children about the dangers of alcohol and drugs. Similarly, kids are 67% less likely to binge, 71% less likely to use marijuana and 75% less likely to smoke or chew tobacco if parents take the lead.”

“Third, start talking to your children about alcohol and drugs by the age of 10.  Middle School is where it all begins.  By 6th grade, one in six have experimented with alcohol.  By the time they graduate 8th grade, that number rises to one in two.  Parents need to understand that friends become very influential during this season of their children’s lives so parents should help them choose their friends carefully, and get to know the parents.  Engage your children in two-way conversations that are open-ended and ongoing.  Resist the urge to lecture or lose your cool.”

“Finally, educate yourself.  Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to substance abuse. PreventionWorksNH.org is a resource for parents and community leaders CUFSAP has developed.  There are links in our Parent Toolkit to other resources that will help educate, inspire and give you the practical skills to help your children succeed.  Get involved.  Ask questions.  Make a difference.  It’s what love does!”

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