Early users smoke or snort it; more hardened addicts end up injecting it.
Gina Borrazzo of Tewksbury, another panelist, said her son went to Phillips Academy in Andover and graduated with a lacrosse scholarship to the University of Maryland.
As successful as he was, he couldn’t escape the insidious allure of heroin.
“It’s time to throw out the stereotypes,” she said. “The new face of addiction is young people in suburban cities and towns. My son went to Phillips Andover, excelled in sports and got accepted to a Division 1 university for lacrosse.”
But one night, she said, he was at a party where he tried Perc-30.
“He didn’t know it would lead to a lifelong addiction,” she said.
She said that despite what parents think, the types and strength of drugs available to young people today are much stronger than a generation ago.
“Parents say, ‘Well, I did it and I survived,’” she said. “But it’s not the same. The drugs are stronger now and pot, which is also stronger, is a gateway drug. Pills are the real problem. Adderall, Vicodin and Percocet are in medicine cabinets. Taken one time can lead to a lifetime of struggle.”
Borrazzo advised parents to lock up their medications and if they think their children might have a problem, get help immediately.
“Don’t ignore it,” she told them. “Overdose death is the leading cause of accidental death among young people. No one wants to believe it can happen in a place like Andover. But it does. Every day.”
Two young people have died of drug overdoses in Andover so far this year.
During a lengthy question-and-answer session, parents wanted to know how they could tell if their kids were on drugs, how to talk to them about substance abuse without yelling at them, and what to do if their child becomes addicted.