Amy Caruso, a nursing student at Boston College, was about to turn 21, with a bright future ahead of her. To her mother, it seemed like things were going fine.
Then she died of a heroin overdose.
Next week, Caruso’s mother, Melissa Weiksnar of Carlisle, will speak to parents and caregivers at a forum devoted to getting the word out about the dangers of drug abuse.
The “Just Listen” event is called “The Real Deal: Substance Abuse in Andover, 2013” and promises to enlighten the Andover community about adolescent substance use.
Bill Fahey, executive director of Andover Youth Services, which is cosponsoring the event with the Andover Police Department, said all too often the responses he hears when he tries to talk about substance abuse among local teens are “not in my town” and “not my kid.”
But Fahey said the problem is indeed here, according to local police and youth workers.
“There probably isn’t a street in town where a drug deal hasn’t gone down,” Fahey said. “Residents need to know the latest trends and take recommended precautions. Families aren’t getting the message about the dangers of prescription drug misuse. The pathway from opioid painkillers to heroin is all too real.”
Sgt. Greg Scott of the Andover Police Department’s Narcotics Unit said opiates like Percocet and Oxycontin are the gateway drugs on that pathway to heroin.
“Young addicts don’t start with a needle in their arm,” he said. “It’s usually a sports injury and a pain medication is ordered. These opiates are how it all starts. ... We just want people to come and learn about the dangers of opiates. We want to help and we plan to have a question-and-answer session where we will talk about the resources out there. Most people are not aware of the help that is out there.”