East Valley police units warn teen heroin use on the rise - East Valley Tribune: Public Safety

East Valley police units warn teen heroin use on the rise

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Posted: Friday, June 22, 2012 6:59 am

Chandler police are warning parents across the Valley about growing numbers of teenagers whose abuse of some prescription drugs has spiraled into an addiction to heroin.

Police have detected greater heroin use through narcotics detectives but a telltale signal came in May, when investigators arrested a drug-dealing Chandler family who had 32 pounds of heroin.

That was a record amount seized by Chandler and a big quantity by any measure, Chandler police Sgt. Joe Favazzo.

Police found the family was trying to sell heroin in the state’s prison system and said the amount was meant to satisfy demand across the Valley.

“That’s much larger than just Chandler,” Favazzo said. “They just happened to be based here.”

Police are warning parents to watch their children for signs of them turning to the highly addictive drug.

Heroin use often begins with curious teens who find a parent’s prescription bottle, Favazzo said.

Heroin is in the same family as opiates like oxycontin, vicodin and Percocet, which can be found in many homes. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get a prescription for those drugs because of efforts to stop abuse, Favazzo said. So many teens turn to the black market, where one pill can cost $60 to $80.

An addict could need three pills a day — which can lead one to steal from the home or turning to crime to fund the habit.

Or, Favazzo said, addicts can switch to the much cheaper alternative of heroin. A day’s supply could cost $10 or $20.

Today’s heroin users don’t fit the old stereotype of people hanging out in alleys injecting the drug with needles, Favazzo said. To avoid the stigma of scars, users are more likely to heat heroin on a sheet of tinfoil and inhale the vapor with a straw.

Parents should watch for foil, which will have dark marks from where the drug was burned.

Signs of heroin addiction include becoming withdrawn, flu-like symptoms, losing weight, appearing to nod off, a lower heart rate, lower blood pressure and perhaps even feeling cold to the touch.

“It’s OK to be suspicious of your child when your child is (nodding off) and withdrawn and doesn’t care about anything anymore and hangs out with kids you don’t know,” Favazzo said. “Ask the questions.”

Police recommend parents keep prescription drugs secured, or to dispose of pills in coffee grounds or kitty litter. Don’t flush drugs down the toilet.

Anybody concerned about drug addiction can call the East Valley unit of Narcotics Anonymous at (480) 897-4636.

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