Pinckney St. Mary School hosts presentation on teen drug use and prevention
By Denyse Smith
The Catholic Times
PINCKNEY — Parents of St. Mary School students were asked to face an unwelcome possibility on Wednesday, May 16.
Their children may be experimenting with drugs.
In a presentation sponsored at the school, Lt. Tom Cremonte of the Livingston County Sheriff’s Dept. told the parents about teen drug use, how to spot signs of abuse and what to do about it.
The presentation included an overview of the opiate epidemic; specifics on the drug and how it is used and signs or indicators for parents to be aware of.
“We felt it was important to discuss the growing teen drug problem with parents,” said Veronica Kinsey, school principal, in explaining why the school hosted the event. “Parents and teachers need to work together to prevent drug abuse among kids.”
Cremonte told parents that kids often will start using painkillers from simple procedures like tooth extraction. They will abuse painkillers like Vicodin by crushing them and sniffing the drugs. Then they move onto stronger medications like Oxycontin, which is meant to be a timed-release medication.
Sniffing the timed-released medications often causes overdoses, said Cremonte, who manages the Livingston County Jail but formerly worked as a Michigan State Police detective assigned to the drug unit in Flint, because the strength of the medication is not spread out over time like it is supposed to be, especially when the Oxycontin is mixed with another painkiller.
Later, once kids develop a tolerance to pain killers or opiates, they move onto heroin, which can also be snorted, sniffed or smoked, but Cremonte said the high doesn’t come soon enough and in a short time, so kids will start to inject it.
That’s when the trouble begins, said Jason, an inmate in Livingston County Jail whose last name wasn’t revealed. Now 30 and a trustee at the jail, his addiction started with alcohol and marijuana at age 14. It took six months for Jason to start in injecting heroin.
Both of his parents worked and kept an eye on him, he said, but once his addiction took off, he became a good liar. His parents were strict with curfews and rules, but the addict knew how to get around them.
He eventually stole what he could from his own family to feed his habit, doing things, he said, “I’d never do in a million years.”
His mother, he said didn’t believe he could be a heroin addict because he was afraid of needles.
“My dad always enabled me,” he said, “thinking he was going to help me.”
Heroin doesn’t discriminate between rich or poor, or kids whose parents who hover, or those whose parents are absent, he said. Heroin is “in a league of its own,” said Jason.
“Words can’t describe how seriously evil this drug really is,” he said, explaining the effects of the high of injecting the drug and the painful withdrawal and the inevitable losses.
“It’s 100 percent guaranteed you’ll go to jail,” he said. “Once you start using this drug it will run its course.” That course often ends in death.
Jason, who spent 10 months in jail before this most recent incarceration, was clean for a few months before returning to drug use. “It’s not a drug you can just not use,” he said. Despite overdosing several times, and being brought back from cardiac arrest, Jason said, “All I could think about was getting more.” Even after several months of not using heroin, Jason, who attends regularly meetings for his addiction in the Livingston County Jail, said he continues to think about it.
Jason, now a father, has spent most of the 17 months of his young daughter’s life behind bars.
“This drug is so horrible,” he said, “that if I could get some kind of guarantee my daughter would never have to have the life I’ve had I’d give my life right here and right now.”
Instead, he offered tips to the parents gathered for the meeting.
He told them to drug test their kids if they suspect they are using heroin. “And bribe them if you have to.”
He said he could scam his parents into leaving him alone in the bathroom, but pleaded with parents not to allow that.
“Once you get addicted to heroin you become the master manipulator,” he said.
Jason told parents to stop enabling and start getting educated about how to recognize when their kids are using drugs. Some things he said to look for are changes in behavior, lying, long sleeves in summer, nodding off and using lots of water bottles.
“Education is the way to get ahead of this,” he said. “It’s not something you can go to rehab and eat a magic pill and it’s going to go away.”
Jason, Cremonte and Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte all said trying to arrest all of the drug dealers won’t make the problem go away either.
“We’re never going to be able to arrest our way out of the drug problem,” said Bezotte. “The best way is through parent involvement. Get to your kids early, educate them and don’t trust them.”