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Red Ribbon Week school meeting

Screen shot 2016-05-25 at 8.42.50 AM[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he week before vacation is usually full of distractions especially for seniors whose minds wander to end of year fun and other activities besides schooling. On Tuesday, April 12, seniors were invited to an assembly as a kick off to the Red Ribbon initiative in partnership with Biddeford High School. The purpose of this assembly was to educate the community about new drugs trend in the state, and more specifically in southern Maine.

Presenter Ryan Hatch was a graduate from 2007, works for Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. After graduating from criminal justice program in 2009 he was twenty years old and went to work at the Saco PD.

Hatch currently participates in weekly raids responding to drug trafficking. He said, on average, there are four heroin overdoses a week. And every 14 minutes someone dies of a prescription drug overdoses in the US.

He started his presentation with a news video on Colorado driving since they legalized recreational marijuana and went on to give an overview of a variety of drugs and their potential impact on teen’s lives. Included in his list of modern drugs he mentioned: designer drugs like Lemon Drop, Dabs, club drugs like Molly and Ecstasy, Methamphetamine and Heroin. Most of the these substances are being cut with other toxic and dangerous drugs, which make them more deadly to users.

However, of all these drugs and substances, Hatch is most worried about the rise in Heroin use in teens as young as 12 to 13 years old. Heroin users often report that they began with marijuana, went on to try opiates in the form of opioids/prescription drugs, then moved to heroin when it became hard to get pills.

A 2013 survey reported that 3% of high school students had tried heroin, many users have had multiple overdoses. It is on the rise among teens, because it is cheaper than pharmaceuticals containing oxy, and easy to get. In Maine it costs $120-190 for 1 gram (about 2 days product for an addict), but only $35-40 in Mass and NY so dealers can triple their money and have a huge incentive to cross borders into our state.

People are body smuggling as many as 5 10 gram packages called “fingers” into Maine.

Right now MEDA officers like Hatch tries everything everyday to stop the spread of Heroin and help Heroin users who try to get clean.

Like Methamphetamine, Heroin is also being cut with lots of ingredients like fentanyl. Unfortunately there is still significant spike in overdoses. Yet demand for treatments outgrows resources. The pain and sickness users will experience when trying to get clean is so harsh and brutal that they go right back to heroin, even though they are flat lining. Heroin in Maine is very inconsistent, other drugs are cut in, it is that combo that is killing people. Narcan can bring people back, but only if it is given quickly. Some people keep injecting heroin even after flesh has begun to die and bones are exposed.

Thornton Academy’s social worker – Margaret Cumbie, was also at the assembly as a resource to students who might need to talk. She and other social workers invited Hatch to start off the Red Ribbon Week in an effort bring awareness to substances use or abuse and the problems arisen in our community from substances. What’s important about doing this is “because substances use quickly became substance abuse,” said Cumbie. “(For substance users)Substances have really damaged people’s lives. At this age, for adolescents don’t completely see that(consequences),” continued on Cumbie. She then pointed out that kids usually started out smoking Marijuana and there is a feeling for teenagers that they think they won’t feel hurt and kids start going to parties.Under the effects of drug use, they stop caring about certain things like coming to schools, schoolers or certain friendships.

“I think that can really hinder your potential of whom you become. But bigger than that, Heroin use has become very prevalent in United States and lots of people are using it on regular basis and are drying from it.” Cumbie brought out an bigger picture to the table.

Cumbie said it’s important to get attention centered on the effects of drug uses especially starting out at young age. “If we don’t talk about it, then people aren’t going to realize the big ramifications that come from substance use.”

She added that the presenter Ryan Hatch is a police officer who has seen first hand of what the harmful effects are (of substance use). 

What’s most important for students to take away from the experience, she said, is that there is help. If students realize they are using drugs regardless of the amount, they can always see someone they can rely on like their guidance consultor or any social worker like Cumbie to get that help.

“A lot of time, teenagers don’t realize that if they want help or come in and talk to her about substance use, they assume that I would have to contact their parents. But I don’t. I do not have to contact parents to talk about substance use. I think often time teenagers don’t want these conversations because they don’t want their parents to find out about them using substances. That’s a really important piece I think,” she said.


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