Scituate: Education on drug use increases as opiate epidemic persists

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Opiate drug use has rapidly become an ageless problem on the South Shore and a problem that officials are still trying to wrap their arms around. Heroin, Percocet, and OxyContin are a few opiates residents have become highly addicted to with, teen usage numbers nearly double the state average of 15%.

Last night in Scituate, a panel discussion was held to raise awareness. But when a parent asked why there hasn’t been a dramatic decrease in drug dealers, Pat Cronin, a recovering addict, explained the dealers are the users, “The drug dealers have changed. That had to become my experience too, like I had to try to sell them too. The only way I knew what to do was to try to sell them just to support my own habit.”

Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz noted that arrests are continuing to be made but it’s become an epidemic, “For the unintended deaths which are the deaths that we get regarding heroin overdoses we had 39 in 2011, the year before in 2010 we had 25 so in that one year alone it was almost a 50% growth.”

Cruz further explained local law enforcement is trying to tackle the problem through drug education in schools and discussions like this. According to Scituate Police Lieutenant Mike Stewart, 95% of area detective work is related to opiate use.

Joanne Peterson, founder of a support group called Learn to Cope, explained her son was a heroin addict in high school and warned parents of signs to look out for, “It took me awhile to piece it together but I would find strange things in the house like the tops of Q-Tip heads without the sticks and then I find the sticks. And he was like clammy and sweaty looking and losing weight.”

Peterson also stated constant itching and abnormal sleep behavior may be signs of drug use.

About Trisha McNeilly

With a Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts-Boston under her belt, Trisha McNeilly joins us full-time as a general assignment and breaking news reporter having previously interned for WBZ-1030 AM in Boston. A South Shore resident her whole life, McNeilly grew up in Pembroke and is 22-years old.