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‘Connect 2 Disconnect’ initiative targeting parents of teens to fight heroin and opioid abuse

In March 2017, David M. Hoovler, the district attorney (DA) of Orange County, New York, announced the launch of a new campaign called “Connect 2 Disconnect” which focusses on increasing awareness among teenagers’ parents regarding the dangers of using opioids. The objective of the campaign is to equip parents with important information which can be used to connect with their children and dissuade them from taking prescription drugs and consequently, illicit opioids including heroin, explains Robert J. Conflitti, counsel to the district attorney of the Orange County DA’s Office.

As part of the media campaign, posters, infographics and other educational materials will be distributed in Orange County’s neighborhoods. The campaign has also employed a hard-hitting public service video message aimed at sensitizing citizens about the seriousness of the prescription opioid crisis and its propensity to result in addiction to heroin and other opioid drugs.

DA Hoovler features in the video announcement and discusses the transformation of the heroin addiction. He emphasizes that the abuse of prescription opioids often leads to heroin dependence and reinforces the importance of a frank discussion regarding drug addiction between parents and their children. The DA adds that the effort by law enforcement officials to control the epidemic is not a complete solution. He affirms that if parents think their children are better informed, they are mistaken, adding that the opioid epidemic is not discriminatory in its reach.

Teens and young adults are most vulnerable to prescription drug abuse

The United States is in the midst of an opioid crisis, with Americans consuming more than 80 percent of the global supply of painkillers, as reported by the DA’s office. The number of opioid-related deaths in New York has increased two and a half times in recent years. However, Orange County has suffered the worst impact of the epidemic. In 2014, the overdose rate in the county was 250 percent higher than the average of New York State, and it recorded thrice as many deaths due to heroin or other opioids than in any of the state’s other counties.

The campaign is using data gathered by the New York State Comptroller’s Office to highlight the following facts:

  • 90 percent of addictions to prescription painkillers start during teen years.
  • 73 percent of teenagers are of the belief that obtaining prescription pills from their parents’ medicine cabinets is easy.
  • 70 percent of teenagers who are addicted to prescription drugs are able to obtain them free from friends and relatives.
  • 27 percent of teenagers believe that it is safer to get a high from painkillers than from recreational drugs.

The data also shows that the frequency of prescription drug abuse by teenagers is higher than ecstasy, heroin, crack/cocaine and methamphetamine collectively. Four out of five new heroin users abused prescription drugs before transitioning to heroin. Among high school seniors, 40 percent believe that it is not harmful to try heroin a couple of times, whereas 30 percent believe that getting heroin is easy.

Awareness and education are two key parameters to save lives

Conflitti states that there are no short-term fixes for dealing with the opioid epidemic. He adds that although the use of synthetic drugs such as fentanyl is increasing in the region, heroin remains a predominant issue. The current DA’s office has resolved to use the role of public prosecutors to rise above simply imprisoning people for drug-related crimes.

Reining in drug dealers and tapering off the supply of illicit drugs in Orange County is only a partial resolution. For over three years, the DA’s office has been advocating the need to connect with the county’s communities, increase awareness among citizens regarding the hazards of drug abuse, and urge people to seek addiction treatment if required. The “Connect 2 Disconnect” campaign is part of the long-term strategy to tackle the opioid epidemic by reaching out to and educating communities to avoid drugs.

Addiction to prescription drugs or other opioids is treatable with timely intervention. If you or a loved one is addicted to a substance and is looking for the best drug rehab centers, contact the 24/7 Recovery Helpline. You can call at our helpline number 855-441-4405 for immediate assistance or chat online with our experts who can provide you with all relevant information regarding drug addiction treatment centers best suited to your needs.

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