In this NPR story from Kutztown, PA, guidance counselor Andrew Brett shares, “Kids aren’t afraid of it,” he tells me. “Years ago, it was,’Well, heroin is for junkies.’ And you had to be pretty low, and that was the perception. Well, that’s not the perception. It’s available and it’s cheap. And it’s readily available in our community.” He goes on to say that he has seen a recent pattern: kids who start with pot may pivot to prescription painkillers and sometimes — across the spectrum, from the highest achievers on down — to heroin.
When the student assistance team wants to intervene, they approach the student’s parents first, and school superintendent Kathy Metrick says that conversation doesn’t always go so well: “I sat across the table from a parent whose child had been found in possession of all sorts of paraphernalia, and she said he was picking up trash off the street, that he would never do that.”
Metrick goes on, “The denial is just so powerful. And you want to say, ‘Please save your child!’ Because, if we’re wrong, yay! That would be the best news ever. But gosh, if we’re right and we have a chance to step in now before it’s too late, let’s do that.”
Creative teens from the United Boys & Girls Club of Lompoc will support an attack on addiction by painting retired Commander Ron Cuff’s Cessna 182 in preparation for battle. “SafeLaunch is proceeding with an air strike on addiction….not drugs,” says CDR Cuff. This event, the fourth SafeLaunch Flight Above Addiction, will take place at the Lompoc Airport on March 27 beginning at 1500 hours.
“Addiction isn’t a choice made by adults”, continues Cuff. “Addiction is a disease that almost always takes root during the early teen years. It starts with alcohol, prescription drugs, or other intoxicants. Young teens are up to 600% more susceptible to this deadly disease for which there is no known cure.”
Cuff clarifies, “Addicts aren’t bad people. Addicts are people who contracted a chronic brain disease at a very young age, and are merely exhibiting the symptoms of that disease. The symptoms of addiction are bad behavior. These aren’t my words. These are the words of former Navy Flight Surgeon Dr. Kevin McCauley, who specializes in the study and treatment of addiction.”
Janet Rowse, SafeLaunch’s “wing woman” says, “We have all heard about the brutal and sadistic killings by Mexican drug cartels. These violent cartels exist solely because of our nation’s voracious appetite and demand for drugs. Drug supply isn’t the cause of the problem, demand is the problem. Supply will never be reduced until the nation’s demand for intoxicants is reduced. Every parent, teacher, and politician has a responsibility to stand with us against early teen exposure to drugs and alcohol”.
“Law enforcement is doing all that it can to reduce the supply of drugs, and addiction treatment providers are doing all they can to satisfy the need for services. We must band together to prevent the real source of the problem because crime, gangs, child abuse, homelessness, domestic violence and child trafficking are all symptoms and by-products of addiction”, says Rowse.
SafeLaunch has flown three successful missions to Santa Barbara, Camarillo, and Santa Maria. Following Lompoc, the next destination will be Carlsbad, CA. If you are a local parent with a child who suffered, or is suffering from addiction, SafeLaunch invites you to bring your story and your child’s photo. They will proudly carry it with us on board this and all future FLIGHTS ABOVE ADDICTION.
The community is invited to attend from 3-5pm on March 27 the the Lompoc Airport. To find out more or to schedule a flight in your area, contact Janet Rowse at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-283-7233.