Weatherford Democrat

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February 10, 2013

Deadly Dope: Confronting a local problem

(Continued)

Drug enforcement should work hand in hand with prevention efforts, Hopkins said.

Hopkins said he believes the community needs to be trying to reach children at a younger age with the drug prevention message.

“I think we need programs in schools, not just a pamphlet,” Hopkins said.

There’s a problem

Substance abuse is a problem many local organizations are dealing with but some say parents and the community need to recognize the extent of the problem in order to properly address it.

Drug use seems to be more socially acceptable by those in high school than it was 20 years ago said Sgt. James Peel, a narcotics investigator with the Weatherford-Parker County Special Crimes Unit.

Though Weatherford is a small-town community, people need to realize that the area does have a drug problem as much as any other area, particularly because Weatherford is connected to Fort Worth, the investigator said, adding that drugs are easy to get.

He said they see high school students start using hard drugs at around 15 or 16 years old.

Because the potency can vary, heroin can kill even if it’s the first time someone’s used it, Peel said.

Charlene Larance, a licensed chemical dependency counselor and program director for Substance Abuse Guidance and Education, which provides outpatient services primarily to those on parole or probation, said there is definitely a local heroin issue.

Larance said she’s noticed many who end up addicted to heroin often are prescribed pain medication, such as vicodin or hydrocodone, and start abusing the opioids.

Many people seek treatment through methadone clinics or take Suboxone and become dependent on the prescription drugs, Larance said.

The poverty that often comes with addictions is something else that community members noted.

Chad Sears, a board member with Center of Hope, which seeks to address poverty in Parker County, and volunteers with its Jobs for Life program, estimated that about half the center’s resources are being used to battle the affects of addiction.

While a majority of those families are dealing with addictions to alcohol and methamphetamine, another significant group has issues with harder drugs like cocaine and heroin, Sears said.

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