'It's Being Sold in Schools:' Heroin Education Comes to Palos Middle School
A program targeting 8th-grade students at Palos South is hoping to stop heroin use before it starts.
Linda Schmit has a son at Palos South Middle School and a niece in rehab. On Tuesday night, she came to the school for a presentation about a joint effort with the Robert Crown Center to educate 8th-graders about the dangers of heroin use.
For Schmit, the ill effects of heroin abuse and long-term addiction are apparent to her family.
"My kids see her when she’s high, they see her when she’s not," Schmit said of her 27-year-old niece.
Nearly 50 Palos parents got a taste of the educational program students will experience.
Barb Barrett, a health educator at Robert Crown laid out just how dangerous heroin can be for teens.
Heroin is an opioid and shares similar chemical properties to morphine, Vicoden and other prescription painkillers, Barrett said. In fact, the abuse of prescription painkillers is the most common ways heroin use can develop. Those on the pain meds who want to continue the same euphoric feeling often turn to heroin. The highly addictive drug is much more readily available today than in previous decades, more potent and, at least initially, cheap.
“It’s being sold in schools, it’s being sold in the suburbs. It’s pretty easy to get," Barrett said.
Ninety percent of abuse starts in the teen years, according to wwwdrugfree.org.
A pilot program at Palos South will address the social and physical ramifications of using heroin with eighth grade students. Because of the power of the drug, Barrett said, every dose of heroin can be lethal.
There have been no reported cases of heroin use at Palos South, said school Principal Chris Bingen.
Heroin is being seen at the high school level.
Bingen recommended parents contact District 230 officials if they want more information about media reports indicating its use among high school students.
Bingen said they program will help Palos South educators, parents and community get ahead of the problem.
“If we save one of our eight graders from ever trying this, it’s worthwhile.”
Editor's Note: Palos Patch added context to references made about reported heroin use among high school students. This was meant to help direct parents to the right channels for where they could get questions about the high schools answered.
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