Panelists at the Monroe meeting included:
- Detective David Chitwood from the Snohomish Regional Drug and Gang Task Force; http://www.srdtf.org/
- Bart Wheaton, chemical dependency counselor for Catholic Community Services; http://www.ccsww.org/site/PageServer and Cocoon House; http://www.cocoonhouse.org/index
- Kerry Boone, vice chair of the Monroe Community Coalition; https://www.facebook.com/monroe.cc.united
- Officer Scott Kornish from the Monroe Police Department; http://www.monroewa.gov/index.aspx?nid=68
During the Monroe meeting, held on Thursday August 14 at the Monroe Library, the following points were brought out:
- Drug addiction often fosters crime to feed the drug habit. Currently, Organized Retail Crime and EBT theft are crimes that are taking the lead. But often, burglaries and car prowls are also motivated by a drug addiction.
- Kids want to believe that there are good drugs and bad drugs. The best way to view drugs is their danger to be addictive. It is the addiction that causes problems for an individual’s body and to society.
- Most youth begin using drugs in 7th or 8th grade.
- Youth may be using marijuana more thinking that now that it is legal for adults, it is Ok for them to use also. While the statistics are not in yet, most of the panelists expect the use of marijuana by teens to rise. Also, in Colorado, crime in general has decreased, but DUI’s have increased.
- It’s important to start talking to your children when they are young about what is safe and not safe to ingest into their bodies. It’s important to reinforce these messages throughout their youth.
- Most panelists observed that youth get their start with drugs by using marijuana. Other “gateway” drugs can also include hookah pipes, alcohol and prescription drugs.
- Heroin and meth continue to be popular with addicts. The majority of production of meth is no longer from backyards or local producers. Mexican gangs have taken over production and distribution. Heroin, which can be smoked or injected, has been seen as a cheaper choice after a change in the formula to oxycontin.
- Mental illness can be a “co-occurring issue” with drug addiction. Depression can be a big problem with teens who look to drugs to feel better.
- Some signs to look for in your child are changes in behavior, changes in friends or grades. One panelist suggested being aware of how your child smells.
- One member of the audience asked why the epidemic is happening in Monroe and Snohomish. Detective Chitwood pointed out that the “epidemic” is all over Snohomish County. The people in Snohomish and Monroe are talking about it. Other panelists pointed out that the whole community needs to be involved (law enforcement, schools, social services, medical, and parents) to reduce drug addiction.
The Sno-Isle Libraries has created a web page, http://sno-isle.org/issues-that-matter, about this subject as part of their Issues that Matter series. You can find a listing of books on different aspects of drug addiction as well as links to web sites that talk about addiction. Also, on Twitter, you can find the live tweets for this meeting by searching for #snoisleITM.