Holliston drug forum panelists: Everyone's children are at risk
MetroWest Daily News Staff
June 10. 2014 12:01AM
HOLLISTON — With almost 78 opiate-related deaths already this year in Middlesex County, the problem has become a top priority for lawmakers and police.
At a panel discussion organized by state Rep. Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston, on Monday, officials reminded residents that Holliston is not immune to the scourge of drug abuse.
“If you asked me 10 years ago if my kids would use drugs, I would say no,” said Kathy Peirce of Natick, mother of Tristan Peirce who died of an overdose in September at age 23.
Her son, she said, got addicted to painkillers when he played football.
“He was a smart kid, he made curfew,” his mother said to a group at the Adams Middle School auditorium. “I don’t care who you are or what you do. Your children are at risk.”
Dykema, a mother of three teenagers, organized Monday night’s panel to educate parents about the rise in heroin overdoses, talk about warning signs and provide resources for families dealing with drug abuse.
“Substance abuse is not an issue that should be left to individual families,” said Dykema.
The panel included District Attorney Marian Ryan, Holliston Police Chief John Moore, Detective Chuck Todd and Bill Phillips, a counselor based out of Keefe Technical High School.
As a counselor, Phillips said the most alarming part of the opiate crisis is the age of its victims. Phillips has been to 21 funerals in the past year, the youngest for a 14-year-old boy. “That’s not a good situation,” said Phillips.
He told parents to be open with their kids about family history of drug and alcohol abuse and to reinforce their strengths and interests.
Ryan said parents should start with their own medicine cabinets. In recent months, several towns have adopted the drug take back program to encourage people to get rid of prescription painkillers they don’t need. In some towns, the drug take back bins at the police station are filled up weekly, said Ryan.
After an injury, student athletes are especially prone to get access to prescription painkillers, often a gateway drug to heroin. At $5 a bag, heroin is now cheaper than a pack of cigarettes.
Ryan gave three major signs of drug use: disinterest in daily activities and the disappearance of checks and expensive household items. The sudden appearance of cash might be a sign an adolescent is dealing drugs, she said. “They all know this,” said Ryan about teens. ”You can go to the high school and they will be happy to tell you where to get heroin.”
She estimates it would take 15 minutes tops at a county high school to find out where to get heroin.
Chief Moore said that while there haven’t been any drug overdose deaths in Holliston, the problems don't respect town lines.
“Those boundaries don’t stop crime or (drug) abuse,” said Moore.
Ryan said she believes parents can make a difference. “You have the opportunity to intervene. They do care what you think,” she said.
The 911 Good Samaritan Law protects from prosecution people who call the police to report an overdose. Moore said that while Holliston still prosecutes drug crimes, that law encourages addicts to get help. “We want to help the people who are abusing these drugs,” he said.
Anamika Roy can be reached at 508-626-3957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @anamikaroy.