Teens in small towns across America are challenging age-old perceptions about “junkies” on the street in the worst way possible… by dying from heroin
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.”