COPAY President María Elisa Cuadra-Fernández educated parents about the growing drug problems around Nassau County, particularly those regarding a greater heroin influx, at a presentation the Great Neck Chinese Association (GNCA) hosted at Great Neck House on Wednesday, Sept. 28.
“Heroin abuse has increased 20 percent in the past six years in Nassau County,” said Cuadra-Fernández. The growing influx of heroin can be attributed to cheaper prices and purer concentrations of the drug, inducing a highly addictive sensation through all mediums of consumption. There have already been 19 recorded deaths to heroin abuse in the county, and parents fear that the toxic influence will diffuse into the Great Neck community.
Addictions often parallel underlying family issues or mental illnesses, as those with a reputation for self-mutilation (cutting) or depression are more likely to succumb to drugs. Children afflicted with mental-health issues often experiment with drugs for relief or as an escape mechanism from the immense psychological pain. Often, consumption of heroin begins as recreational, but eventually leads to “daily use and loss of control,” said Cuadra-Fernández.
Heroin use also puts teenagers at “much higher risk for infection to HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B,” according to COPAY. Family issues can contribute to heroin abuse as well. Signs of abuse are often hard to detect, which is why family communication is imperative for handling drug issues.
COPAY offers family-friendly services such as screening tests to confirm suspicious drug or alcohol consumption, as well as intervention treatments for abusers. As for the parents, it’s essential to lead by example and establish a trustworthy connection, because adolescents often look up to a role model during mental development.
Cuadra-Fernández said, “Recovery is a family process,” for those suffering, and there’s a lot parents can do to help. COPAY encourages parents to be alert to any physical or emotional changes in their children, be alert to secretiveness and be alert to declining academic performance or drive. Also, parents should be aware of their own prescription medications, since children may have a tendency to use prescription medications as gateways to more severe drugs.
GNCA was grateful for the informative drug presentation by Cuadra-Fernández and COPAY, especially since education about drug issues around the county is vitally important for developing families around Great Neck.