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Drug Abuse Fight Brings Par-Troy Leaders Together

MAC Drug Prevention Leadership Summit featured candid discussions about the reality of drug use and abuse in Parsippany.

A host of town officials, clergy, educators, law enforcement professionals and parents gathered Thursday night for the Parsippany Municipal Alliance Committee's Drug Prevention Leadership Summit. The event, which allowed attendees to brainstorm on ways to stop drug abuse in the township, took place at the Knoll East Golf Club.

Mayor James Barberio kicked off the program, which he said was aimed at addressing "serious problems that can happen in the best of families."

"The methods employed to get high are getting more creative," the mayor said. "It's imperative for us to know what kids are dealing with. We've seen firsthand what Parsippany families have faced and the destruction that drugs can cause. ... We have to relay the message that being cool doesn't have to end with drug addiction."

Annelise Catanzaro, chairwoman of the MAC, which exists to prevent drug abuse, mentioned that the town recently has experienced "multiple, very tragic losses" thanks to drug abuse.

She introduced Ptlm. Earl Kinsey, a 10 year veteran of Parsippany Police, who offered a presentation detailing facts about the drugs some teens are doing.

He noted that while most think kids are abusing alcohol and marijuana, the past few years have shown a "huge rise" in the use of pills—everything from sedatives . Many teens, he said, help themselves to the legally prescribed medications in their parents' medicine cabinets.

Kinsey said that the problem is so pervasive that the town's high schools have earned new nicknames: Pillsippany High and Par-Pills High. And he said the problem exists in middle school as well.

The patrolman then surprised many in the audience, declaring that more teens than we might think are using heroin.

"This summer, there were three lethal overdoses of heroin in Parsippany," Kinsey said. "There was another earlier in the year." 

Additionally, police and emergency medical services teams have responded to "numerous non-lethal overdoses."

He noted that heroin in New Jersey "is some of the strongest you're going to see," and can cause the user to seize, stop breathing and die.

But he said many kids turn to heroin because it is much less expensive than prescription drugs.

He said a single oxycodone pill can run about $30, while a hit of heroin, purchased in Paterson or Newark for $5-$7, can go for $10 in Parsippany and other suburbs.

Kinsey said the drug abuse can lead to other crimes when the abuser has to come up with money to pay for his or her next fix. The crimes can range from people stealing jewelry, video games and even baby formula from family members to residential burglaries and smash-and-grab robberies involving vehicles. He said often electronics—GPS systems and smartphones—are taken and sold at disreputable pawn shops or to inner-city bodegas.

"Most of our jewelry shops and pawn stores are reputable, and they follow the law, but others aren't, and they'll melt down items as fast as they can," he said, adding that often the addict will take whatever pittance is offered for a stolen item. "All they need is $10 for heroin."  

Kinsey said reducing drug abuse will require finding effective deterrents and enforcement measures.

After the police officer's presentation, the audience was divided into groups for discussions facilitated by MAC members. At each table, participants investigated questions regarding why young people do drugs and potential solutions for encouraging teens to just say no.

Many attendees said the problem starts at home and stems from bad behavior or inattentiveness of parents. They also blamed peer pressure, glamorization of alcohol and drug abuse in media and celebrity worship.

Potential solutions suggested included pushing accountability through stiffer penalties for youth and parents; encouraging adults to be better role models; putting more school resource officers in schools; educating parents, seniors and youth about the realities of drug abuse and its consequences;  and instituting anti-drug youth groups. 

"The summit was an important step toward tackling a serious and complex problem," said Catanzaro, who said she was pleased by the large turnout. "It is our hope that the MAC summit will provide us with new approaches and ideas for addressing substance abuse in Parsippany, and energize our committee as we look ahead to planning for 2013 and beyond."

Bob Crawford December 07, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Annelise Thank you for returning this issue to the public forum. A few years ago a couple of BOE members raised concerns about the possibilty of growing drug use in our schools and what could be done to better understand and address that problem. The only answer offered up by Superintendent Seitz, in a public session, was an offer to form a skate board club and a frisbee club to provide alternatives to students who were using or might be using drugs. Hopefully, the discussion last evening generated some better ideas for the Superintendent and the BOE to consider. Pillspany High and Par Hills High?? We owe our children better.
g December 07, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Teach the children social skills and assertiveness. Giving the child the tools and the confidence to resist peer pressure is one of the most effective ways of preventing later drug abuse. Early intervention and liaison with other agencies may prevent experimentation and may help the child to avoid becoming addicted, even if he does experiment in a mild way. Read more: How to Prevent Drug Abuse in Schools | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_7893376_prevent-drug-abuse-schools.html#ixzz2ENSy5Ja1
Milin Shah December 07, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Bob - I mean this with all due respect - please, enough with taking cheap shots at leaders every chance you get. Instead of all the time and energy you spend painting others in a bad light, how about spending that time to actually help the community with any ideas/solutions you have. I do agree - Annelise continues to do a great job organizing efforts on behalf of MAC. Thank you Annelise, the MAC committee, Mayor, Council, Parsippany PD and all those who attended this forum, - by doing so you all took strong steps to bring this issue to light. The drug & alcohol abuse problem is very serious within our schools. Let's continue to take steps forward as a community to address this very real problem.
Jen December 07, 2012 at 05:49 PM
I think the schools should adopt a no tolerence policy. If any student is under the influence or found to have any drugs or alcohol in his/her posession on school grounds the student should be removed immediately and not permitted to attend that school district any longer. I think parents would be a lot more vigilant if they were faced with the possibility of having to home school or pay for private school.
g December 07, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I agree with punishment but to punish the student only means the student loses out on an education. also, it could lead to the student committing other crimes for drug money. I would fine the parents $5,000 for first offense and $10,000 for second offense. If you think that amount is too high, how much does the student cost the town and parents when the child commits numerous offenses in the future.
steve revette December 07, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Jen that's a little far fetched especially considering how easy it is to set people up. I mean I never thought about doing drugs in my entire life but I new kids who did. Somebody could have very easily slipped them into my backpack during gym or lunch or something. It only takes 5 seconds not even. A policy like this means the Teachers and administration would follow it. I can't say anything for the High but at the Hills that would NEVER happen. I don't believe what's going on is okay in anyway but if there are kids who are drinking and doing drugs to FORGET because that stuff can relieve depression I think punishing him for that is wrong too. I think we should try to react to the causes and not the effects. I mean I remember my senior year I was having MANY problems and my friends got me to go to one of the parties and I never drink much not even on that night. The sad things is many kids turn to Drugs and Alcohol for depression.
g December 07, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Kinsey said that the problem is so pervasive that the town's high schools have earned new nicknames: Pillsippany High and Par-Pills High. And he said the problem exists in middle school as well. It appears that Bob Crawford is frustrated with the results of the last attermpt at attacking the drug problem: "...of couple of BOE members raised concerns about the possibilty of growing drug use in our schools and what could be done to better understand and address that problem...". Bob Crawford appears to be concerned that this new attempt at controlling and stopping drug abuse in our shools will follow the same inaction we now see.
Mrs. K December 08, 2012 at 12:41 AM
We need more then one School Resource Officer for the district. One SRO for two large high schools in town doesn't work. SRO's know the kids who are in trouble and try to keep them on the right path. They form bonds with the students and know who is doing what. Our children deserve better. .
Nancy December 08, 2012 at 03:05 AM
How about more parents being involved with thier children? Know where they are and who their friends are too. Just because you play on sports teams, whether they are school teams or township teams it doesn't make you drug free. Teach them to be leaders and not followers. This cannot be done at school alone.
steve revette December 08, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Nancy I don't know if we agree alot but I whole heartedly agree with you 100 percent here. You make an EXCELLENT point about kids being leaders instead of followers and I agree that is something that has to be taught by the parents. Teachers could have close relationships with students and tell them it is wrong and kids can say they didn't and won't do it but it is completely different when you are dealing with kids your own age and when you might be in the minority and might be the only one not doing something. I may have beef with the school district but the kids doing drugs part is not their fault.
Darch December 08, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Nancy and G ...try telling the parents of the kids who died from this epidemic your point of view and ideas. Oh and fines please how is this helping? Until you are in these folks shoes or someone who has an addict child ... Keep your bright ideas to yourselves. You can teach your kids good values till the cows come home if your child has easy access to these drugs as ours do in this town no family is safe from drugs and or addiction. The kids need to hear the truth from 7th grade on from addicts who have been down the road of addiction and where it leads. They also need to hear from parents who have been or are going through this as well ...open honest scary but the truth!
Nancy December 08, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Darch, First of all too many people have children and forget that they are their responsiblity. They need to do their best as a parent and sacrifice their needs for the needs of the children.Unfortunately once a child turns 18 forcing them to get help is no longer an option. I truly feel for these parents who desperately want help for their children. And then there are the parents who want to push the blame on the schools and society. I know that any child could become addicted to drugs. Try to explain anything to a teenager. You as a parent know nothing according to them. Talking to your child about drugs needs to start very early. It's a real threat to our youth. Anyone can get addicted and you never know if you will be the one. I talk openly to my kids and explain it in a way that they can understand. I hope and pray that they will rise above any peer pressure. They know I would never approve of that behavior but I am there for them whenever and where ever they need me. Education starts at home. Take the time and eat dinner together as often as possible. It truly helps.
Bob Crawford December 08, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Milin All right. Here goes: The option that the BOE began to explore a couple of years back was to introduce random drug testing at the high school level. What that meant was that on a regular basis, students would be selected to submit a sample to determine if they were using drugs. If it was determined that they were using drugs then they would be prohibited from participating in school related extra curricular activities for a specified period of time. The hope was that a random drug testing program would deter students from using drugs by providing them with a very real reason not to use drugs. It would also give students a way to push back on peer pressure to give drugs a try. There are certainly arguments to be made on both sides of this idea including privacy, program administration costs and student rights but it may be worth reopening the discussion. The push back we got from Superintendent Seitz, a couple of years ago, was that the drug problem that then existed didn't require extraordinary action and that the introduction of a couple of after school clubs was a sufficient response. Perhaps but perhaps not.
Darch December 08, 2012 at 01:51 PM
g... until you walk a mile in in my shoes I don't think you would ever understand. I do eat dinner with my family and talk to my children ... as I am am sure many other parents of drug addicts did... I hope you realize that you are stating the obvious of course we should talk to our children about MANY things from an early age...if the answer to this epidemic was simply talking to your kids at the dinner table then that would be wonderful! I don't want to do battle on Patch with you or anyone...I get what you are saying glad that this approach works for you, all I want to know is do you get what I am saying?
Darch December 08, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Invading a child's privacy with a pee test that may or may not be accurate just makes teens angry .... we must scare these kids straight...they need to hear from peers who have been down the road of addiction and how very scary it is... and a maybe a nar anon or al anon club isn't such a bad idea...for the kids who need to talk about addiction in their families. I wish I had the answer I don't ..what I do have is a teen addict and he is now in recovery and we are both willing to share our experience of this disease but not the G rated version the unabashed, scary truth about heroin and drug addiction in OUR town and what it can do to you. Just let me know when you would like us to speak!
steve revette December 08, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Bob I don't know if they can just come up with a policy saying they can just test students. There has to be reasonable suspicion that they will fail the drug test or something. Also like Darch said you can't scare the kids straight. Also Darch that was Nancy who said that not G and I'm 1000 PERCENT sure that Nancy is NOT logging into a computer as G. Darch I'm very happy to hear that your son is in recovery and wish him a healthy one. Also Darch I think your idea is great btu realistically I don't think it would work. It will help but kids will forget about it over time. A tragedy struck Parsippany Hills in 2007 regarding alcohol in before Seitz's time and many kids said they would never drink again until they were 21. Some of those kids were that said this were drinking at the very next party I went to.
Darch December 08, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Steve I was talking to both Nancy and G.. Also I said we must scare them straight ...drug testing will not do this it will excuse the pun..just piss them off... recommending an out patient clinic and having serious one to one talks is better then drug testing you are then NOT accusing a child but offering help. I agree there are circumstances when kids should be drug tested just not by the school!
steve revette December 08, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Your right it will piss them off. But the thing is nobody can force kids to go to an out patient clinic except for their parents and for older kids themselves. Also we were both children at one point in another forcing them to go will make them think you were accusing them. Perfect example. When the school district wanted to put me in special education I took it as them telling me I'm a retard. That's how alot of kids minds work. I mean like your idea and think it would work if it's done the right way. But the one concern I do have when you say you don't want to accuse kids Would all kids go? Or just kids who are found with drugs or kids who are accused of having drugs? That's the one concern I might have. Also one question I do have because you seem to really know what youre talking about. Do you think there are kids who are afraid to get help because they don't want their parents to find out what they had been doing?
g December 08, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I walk in my own shoes. I have two children and two grandchildren. None of themn smoke or drink. I don't smoke or drink. They have never tried drugs of any kind. I think I recognized the problem of drugs and set a good example for my children. I told them about the dangers of drugs. I cared about my children and they in turn care about their children.
clyde donovan December 08, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Hey kids, check out this bit of info. about using Meth: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2244031/The-horror-Meth-Before-pictures-reveal-shocking-transformation-faces-users-hooked-deadly-drug.html?ICO=most_read_module
g December 08, 2012 at 07:54 PM
I would rather have a pissed off kid than a drug addict. Pissed off kids don't die from an overdose of being pissed off, they die from an overdose of drugs.
Darch December 08, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Ok g you win you are perfect and I obviously am a horrible parent!
steve revette December 08, 2012 at 09:02 PM
G kids or not they still have rights. You can't just go around drug testing everybody otherwise you set yourself up for a lawsuit. You need to have reasonable suspicion. And actually being pissed and stressed actually is bad for your health. Being accused of doing something like drugs when you're innocent then forced to go through humiliating thing like a drug test is terrible. You cannot just guess that a kid is doing drugs. Somewhere I believe it was Colorado and a kid had money stolen. Wellk they strip searched an entire gym class about 50 girls and 50 boys for the money. The judge ruled in the favor of the plaintiffs because they need reasonable suspicion that conducting the search might turn up missing money and since they checked so many kids they were just guessing. You cannot drug test kids unless you have a reasonable suspicion that they would fail the drug test.
Darch December 08, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Thank god one person gets it! Thank you Steve!
Nancy December 09, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Even good kids get hooked on drugs. It can happen to any family. Stay true to your valves and hope that your children follow in your footsteps.
Selene December 09, 2012 at 05:45 AM
Family values have nothing to do with drug addiction. An addict is born with those tendencies. The real problem is our society who can send an 18 year old off to Iraq and get his head blown off but the same kid can not buy a beer or a pack of cigarettes. We are a society of hyprocrites. As parents we have our cocktail parties and say NO YOU CAN NOT DRINK to our kids. A teenager comes of age at 13. 14. 15, her/his fascination with drugs and alcohol also comes of age and we say NO. How about we say YES and take the taboo out of the act. Abusers will abuse, experimenters will try and release their impulses, safely. Europeans don't have these issues because wine and beer and cigarettes are not EVIL. These community leaders and SOCIETY needs to pull their heads out of their lowest orifice and address the real issues. Their own hypocrisy. The real addicts will find the heroin and the dealers and sadly little can be done for them other than rehab instead of prison. Oh crap, but we throw druggies in prison...hhmmmm AGAIN a flaw in our society.
Sick of the trolls December 09, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Yes, boys and girls, it's true, "clyde donovan" is an expert in the effects of methamphetamine use. He has plenty of personal experence. Hey, "clyde," which one of those is you, by the way?
Darch December 12, 2012 at 04:35 PM
You are so right Samantha if a strung out junkie can find the dealers then certainly so can the cops!

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