Campaign empowers kids to help those addicted to opioids

Brochure targeted to children lists eight signs of addiction, abuse

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As part of its “Connect 2 Disconnect” campaign to combat the growing heroin and opioid crisis in the county, the Orange County District Attorney’s office has released a new brochure geared to children, with ways they can recognize addiction in their friends and what to do if they suspect a friend needs help.

Previously, literature from the campaign has been geared toward educating parents about ways to keep their children away from opioids. The newly released brochure, on the other hand, specifically provides children with a list of eight signs that a friend might be abusing or addicted to opiates.

It also provides some strategies for children to use in talking with friends who might be addicted, in order to help their friends stay away from opioids in the first place, or to urge them to seek help if they are already addicted. Contact information for resources that children might use to seek help for opioid abuse or addiction is also in the brochure.

“We’re all in this opiate crisis together, and it is important for all of us, parent, child, educator, public official, to step up and do whatever we can to stop the epidemic,” Hoovler said in a statement. “‘Connect 2 Disconnect’ is designed to bring our citizens important information that they can use to do that.

“Our new release is directly targeted at children, who often relate better with each other than they do with their parents,” he continued. “Getting this valuable information into the hands of children, who might have friends struggling with opiate abuse or addiction, is critical. Having this information might just allow a child to save someone’s life.”

The “Connect 2 Disconnect” campaign gets its name from the goal to help parents connect with their kids to break the connection between prescription drugs and heroin.

Opioid crisis

In 2014, three times more Orange County residents died from heroin or pain medication overdoses than in any other county in New York State, according to a state comptroller’s office report.

It’s not just New York State dealing with the heroin and opioid crisis; others are as well. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement in June.

The situation has gotten so severe, that President Donald Trump declare the opioid crisis a national emergency on Thursday, Aug. 10.

“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially, right now, it is an emergency,” Trump said at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. “It’s a national emergency. We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.

This declaration came after new statistics from Trump’s commission on combating the opioid crisis, led by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, were released, painting a grim picture. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 142 Americans die every day from a drug overdose, with drug overdoses now killing more Americans than guns and car crashes combined.

In 2015, nearly two-thirds of drug overdoses were linked to opioids like Percocet, OxyContin, heroin and fentanyl, according to the commission’s latest report. In that same year, the amount of opioids prescribed in the U.S. was enough for every American to be medicated around the clock for three weeks.

With approximately 142 Americans dying every day, a death toll equal to Sept. 11 every three weeks, Gov. Chris Christie and the committee recommended that the president declare a national emergency.

Essential informationFor further information about the ‘Connect 2 Disconnect’ initiative, or to obtain copies of written materials, contact District Attorney Hoovler’s Special Projects and Community Affairs Bureau at (845) 615-3640 or by email at Online materials for the initiative can be accessed at

Signs your friend needs help:

If you notice any of these warning signs, it is always best to confirm your suspicions before confronting your friend:
1. Taking medication to boost mood: If someone is taking medication to get high or to forget a bad day, that usage might be considered problematic.
2. Fatigue: Opioids are depressants and can often lead to drowsiness or fatigue. Pay attention to drastic changes in sleep patterns, red or glazed eyes, or a general lack of focus and concentration.
3. Faking illness to get a prescription: Opioid addicts often pretend that a specific body part is painful to score painkillers from a doctor.
4. Mood changes: Be aware of sudden mood changes, including irritability, personality changes or lack of interest in school, work, sports or other hobbies. Watch for isolation or withdrawing from friends or family.
5. Weight loss: Opioid addicts will tend to lose weight rapidly due to metabolic changes. Watch for a change in appetite and eating habits as well.
6. Stealing the drug: Someone deep in the throes of addiction might choose to raid the family medicine cabinet or go on real estate home tours to steal drugs from strangers.
7. Flu-like symptoms: If opioid addicts do not have a constant supply of drugs, withdrawal symptoms become evident. Common withdrawal symptoms may include nausea, fever and headaches.
8. Stealing money: A painkiller addiction is very expensive. Take note if a friend repeatedly asks for money, or suddenly is selling valuables to earn “extra cash.” Buying prescription medications from a friend/dealer typically means that someone is willing to do anything to get drugs.
Symptoms become more prominent as the drug abuse continues. Larger doses are associated with more severe symptoms.
Source: Orange County District Attorney’s Office

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