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Faces of Heroin: Keeping Kids off Heroin

By Jason Weinstein.
To prevent heroin addiction it's important to know what it is.

"It's related to brain chemistry. And if someone were to take opiates for about two weeks that person could potentially become physically dependent upon them," said Lynn Skinner, Registered Nurse and Health Coordinator for the Addiction Center of Broome County.

Danielle Swart's son Sean is currently battling a 10-year addiction. He became addicted after taking painkillers prescribed after emergency surgery. She has advice for parents looking to keep their kids safe.

"Pay attention to the painkillers you're being prescribed. Challenge them. Pay attention to what your children have in the home. Lock up things, discard things," said Swart.

"I always tell parents, 'Get rid of the notion that your kids have privacy.' If they're in your house they don't have privacy. Know who they're talking to, what their Facebook password is, what their phone password is. Look at their text messages. If they're at a party, show up unexpectedly," said Captain Patrick Garey of the New York State Police.

Alexis Pleus founded Truth Pharm to lobby for heroin treatment funding and awareness. She lost her son Jeff in August, 2014. She says the blanket anti-drug message which gives equal weight to all drugs is a problem. She says there has to be more of a focus on truly lethal substances.

"Just start the conversation at the point where these things are truly dangerous," said Pleus. "What I've been told by some people who are addicted is they tried pot and it wasn't that crazy. They see other adults using marijuana and they're like, 'They're successful, they have no issues.' It kind of gives them (the idea) that everything else must be a lie," said Pleus.

Many say education is the key to prevention.

"The biggest thing is education and starting young. Starting education in schools and that's already happening but awareness has to be bigger and broader," said Skinner.

"I think that they need to hear the realities from people who are recovered addicts," said Pleus.

A healthy home environment could give kids the best chance to avoid the potentially fatal road of heroin addiction.

"Try to have the best relationship you can with each other so you can be open and honest and talk about it and seek help earlier rather than later," said Swart.

"Spend time with your kids, be aware of what they're doing, pay attention to what they're doing on social media. Have them involved in sports, be an involved family. Don't assume they're doing the right thing," said Pleus.

"Never say it couldn't happen to me, never say it couldn't happen to my son or my family or my loved ones. It can," said Swart.

****In Broome County, Jason Weinstein, Fox 40 HD News.****