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Monday, March 26, 2018

AWARENESS OF THE PROBLEM IS KEY

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[DRUG EDUCATION]


Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse creates ‘Let’s Talk’ series

The staff at the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse of NWLA (CADA) has pretty much seen it all when it comes to addiction. They’re aware that “knowledge is power.” They know how important evidence-based information is for people with addiction and their families because they see the powerlessness and damaged lives stemming from lack of knowledge. CADA is an area leader when it comes to prevention outreach and education.

CADA and the Community Foundation of North Louisiana kicked off their new "Let's Talk about Addiction" panel discussion/Q-and-A series, held at Robinson Film Center this past February.

The first topic was "Let's Talk about the Opioid Crisis," with guest speakers Bill Rose, executive director of CADA; Dr. Robert H. Jackson, founder of the Martin Luther King Health Center; Dr. Nicholas E. Goeders, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Neuroscience at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport; and Peter Bunce, founder of One Great River.

We want to send parents home with questions designed to open the door to discussion between them and their teens.

"We created the ‘Let's Talk’ series to mash myths about addiction and educate our community about the prevalence of use across all social-economic sectors,” said Bill Rose. “We partnered with the U.S. Attorney's Office to produce this next parent prevention series in order to educate parents about the deadly impact of fentanyl use among adolescents and to provide resources for prevention. We want to send parents home with questions designed to open the door to discussion between them and their teens."

Some alarming statistics from the National Institutes of Health: More teens die from prescription drugs than heroin/ cocaine combined. Sixty percent of seniors don't see regular marijuana use as harmful, even though contemporary marijuana is nearly five times stronger than it was 20 years ago. Sixty percent of teens abusing prescription drugs get them free from friends and relatives.

"Peer pressure is a major contributor to drug use,” Rose said. “Synthetic drugs are common among adolescents and much more dangerous than some of the other drugs they've been using. At CADA, we provide a full continuum of care from medically supported detox to educational-based programs to address addiction."

Alexander C. Van Hook, a veteran federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's Office, has followed the northward path of fentanyl since it first appeared in South Louisiana. "The most important thing that parents can do is talk to their children about the dangers of these drugs and look for changes in their lives,” he said. “Awareness of the problem is key. That’s why the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration have been working so closely with schools in the community to spread the word about the horrific consequences of addiction. The United States Attorney’s Office and its law enforcement partners are aggressively targeting and prosecuting the dealers selling these drugs.”

"We first began hearing about fentanyl around 2014 and started seeing its impact in Louisiana in 2015 and 2016," Van Hook said. "Unfortunately, its wake of destruction continues to grow. For most, addiction starts with the abuse of prescription painkillers. Whether it is taking a pain medication too long or teenagers taking pain medicine prescribed to their parents or grandparents, it is astonishing how quickly individuals can become addicted."

"Fentanyl is a newer synthetic opioid painkiller that is 30 to 50 times more potent that heroin,” explained Van Hook. “Drug dealers are adding fentanyl to heroin and to pills that look like other prescription drugs such as Xanax, which too often produces deadly results. Most of the illegal fentanyl that we see is produced by Chinese suppliers and is sold on the Internet."

More teens die from prescription drugs than heroin/cocaine combined. Sixty percent of seniors don't see regular marijuana use as harmful, even though contemporary marijuana is nearly five times stronger than it was 20 years ago.

DEA Special Agent William Green said his office has also been tracking the flow of this deadly drug. "In the last four to five years, we began to see law enforcement officers locating and seizing suspected loads of cocaine and/or heroin, which were laced with fentanyl, or the complete package was fentanyl. About the same time law enforcement began seizing (those) packages, the country began seeing overdose deaths associated with fentanyl."

“All kids are at risk because of the nature of drugs and how drugs are spread,” Green said. “It’s urgent to address the problem because, when it comes to teens and drug use, the power stemming from evidence-based knowledge can be the difference between salvaging damaged lives and dying.”

"Parents should talk to their kids every chance they have,” Green said. “They should become involved with their child as much as possible."

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

CADA will present “Let’s Talk about Prevention” in the CE Byrd High School Auditorium on April 19. Refreshments will be served in the lobby at 5:30 p.m., and the program will begin at 6 p.m. The event is free, but it is best to RSVP at (318) 222-8511 or development@cadanwla.org to reserve a spot.

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