Newtown Assesses Drug Problem

Newtown Assesses Drug Problem

By Melissa Bruen STAFF WRITER

New Times

 11/16/2008 06:43:02 PM EST


NEWTOWN — Dana Schubert, resource officer at Newtown High School, said there is a drug problem in town, not just in the school system.

He was speaking Thursday night at the “Local Trends in Substance Use and Abuse” forum sponsored by the Newtown Parent Connection and Newtown Police Department.

The main reasons kids begin using drugs are boredom, high stress, or too much spending money, said Tom Janette, the director of community affairs for the Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association, who trains police officers to deal with drug abuse.

He said today’s technology-based culture, with instant messaging and texting, causes children to expect instant gratification.

He called this generation Generation Rx and said the No. 1 in Connecticut and the U.S. is prescription drugs. Kids are not afraid of taking drugs prescribed by doctors — their parents take them, so kids assume they’re safe.

“You are what they call passive pushers,” Janette told parents.

He said parents put drugs in the medicine cabinet, because that is what they think they are supposed to do.

“I highly recommend if you have pharmaceuticals that you don’t need, get rid of them. Clean out your medicine cabinet,” Schubert said.

Janette said alcohol, marijuana and cocaine are ongoing problems. The average age at which Connecticut kids start drinking is 11. The amount of drinking in Connecticut is 28 percent higher than the national average. Connecticut is also ranked 15th highest in the nation for underage binge drinking.

In 2007, 113 people died from heroin overdoses in the state. In Naugatuck Valley alone, there were six heroin overdoses last November and December.

“There is no town in the state of Connecticut that doesn’t have a drug problem of some kind,” Janette said.

“The biggest thing parents can do is stay up and greet their kids when they come home for the evening,” said Judy Blanchard, the Newtown schools district health coordinator.

“Ask them how their night was, what movie they saw, how it was, who they were with … Then kids know that they can’t just come home and go to bed and pass out.”

A new state law that recently took effect makes it illegal for a person who owns or exercises control over any dwelling or private property to knowingly permit any minor to possess alcohol there, even if the minor is their child.

“If you know your kids are going to a party, call the parents and see what you can do to help,” Police Chief Michael Kehoe said. “Try to do what you can without having any sort of government intervention. If you have to rely on us, things are going pretty bad.”

Janette said that one conviction for drug possession equals one year of lost financial aid for college.

“Smart kids do stupid things, good kids do bad things — they are kids,” Janette said.

Contact Melissa Bruen at

mbruen@newstimes.com

or (203) 731-3350.

Use stats Newtown students who report usually drinking three or more drinks when they drank in past month 7th and 8th grade — 2002: 0% 2005: 2.9% 2007: 6.6% 2006 National average: 17.2% 9th and 10th grade — 2002: 16.7% 2005: 15.9% 2007: 34.6% 2006 National average: 33.8% 11th and 12th grade — 2002: 47.2% 2005: 40.3% 2007: 24.3% 2006 National average: 45.3% Newtown students who use marijuana three or more days in the last month 7th and 8th grade — 2002: 0% 2005: 1.6% 2007: 1.0% 2006 National average: 6.5% 9th and 10th grade — 2002: 10.0% 2005: 5.5% 2007: 11.2% 2006 National average: 14.2% 11th and 12th grade — 2002: 25.1% 2005: 16.0% 2007: 24.3% 2006 National average: 18.3% Newtown students who have ever used inhalants 7th and 8th grade — 2002: 6.8% 2005: 11.2% 2007: 6.4% 2006 National average: 16.1% 9th-10th grade — 2002: 10.7% 2005: 11.1% 2007: 9.7% 2006 National average: 13.3% 11-12th grade — 2002: 17.9% 2005: 13.9% 2007: 12.0% 2006 National average: 11.1% Source: The Governor’s Prevention Initiative for Youth, Newtown student survey results, April 200

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The mission of the Newtown Parent Connection is to educate and empower the community in the prevention of substance abuse and to embrace families in crisis.

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Founder & Executive Director

Dorrie Carolan and her husband raised their four children in Newtown, CT. Starting the Parent Connection was never part of her plan.

The issue of substance abuse became personal when her eldest son, Brian, became addicted and subsequently died at age 28 of a prescription drug overdose. Through the struggles caused by Brian's addiction, Dorrie became aware that this was an issue that affected many others in the community. She founded the Parent Connection in 1993 in an attempt to network with other concerned Newtown parents. It was the impetus behind many policy changes in town and within the schools.

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Joseph Hemingway - President 

Gene Vetrano- Vice President

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Anne Dalton

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