Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 | 12:40 a.m.
The addiction often begins with a prescription drug found in the home like Oxycontin or Xanax until it becomes too expensive or hard to obtain. Then they look for a cheaper drug, one that’s easier to get with a similar high.
That’s when they often find heroin.
This is how many high school students in Clark County are becoming addicted to the drug, according to Metro Police detectives Tim Beck and Steve Balonek, who are on the federal Drug Enforcement Administration task force.
The detectives gave a drug awareness presentation Tuesday to about 20 residents at Metro’s Downtown Area Command for its First Tuesday open house. With school back in session, the need for drug awareness is even more important for parents. Drugs impact children from high school all the way down to elementary school, Beck and Balonek said.
“You’re not going to stop the drug flow at schools at the parents' level, but (parents) have got to be aware of what their children are doing at home and focus on their kids,” Beck said.
Residents were shown slides of candy-colored Ecstasy pills, pocket-sized packets of chemical-laced spices or “K2,” marijuana buds and multicolored uninflated balloons filled with heroin. All are drugs that have become popular among high school students, Beck said.
But the most popular has become prescription pills.
While working undercover, Beck said students often started using Oxycontin or Xanax, but as soon as the supply ran out, they turned to heroin. The drug is cheaper, and dealers target the school to make it easier for students to purchase them.
While school police and Metro are working to prevent drugs in school, Beck and Balonek said parents also need to take precautions at home. They urged parents to lock their medicine cabinet, count their pills and deposit unused prescriptions at a Metro station.
Parents were also told to be on the lookout for piles of uninflated balloons, needles or spoons, which indicate heroin use.
In the end, Beck and Balonek said drug prevention comes down to awareness and education.
“The prescription drugs are what’s being used first, and if the parents don’t realize those are being abused it makes an easier transition for them to try some of this other stuff because they are still searching for that euphoria,” Balonek said. “Hopefully the parents can recognize that and put an end to that before it gets to that level.”