Parents, kids come together to discuss preventing heroin addiction

GUILDERLAND, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A local community is fighting back against the increasing numbers of heroin addiction that is devastating communities.

Guilderland police said seven people died from heroin in 2014, and the police department responded to an additional 18 overdose calls. Several hundred adults and their children came to a forum Wednesday night. The goal was to teach people the skills they need to have the very important conversation about drug addiction.

Lynde Noel has been on a journey full of trials.

“It started at 17,” she said. “It breaks my heart. I don’t want anyone to go through what I had to go through.”

Noel was addicted to painkillers but didn’t have access. She started to feel the withdrawal.

“And the guy I was with pulled out heroin and said I could feel better,” she said.

Like many other teens, Noel gave in to the addiction.

“Things that you were raised not to ever do, and you end up doing them just to make you feel better,” she said.

Noel said communication was nonexistent in her household, but experts hope parents will reach out to their kids.

“I think the conversation has to happen very early,” Keith Stack with the Addictions Care Center of Albany said.

Parent Debra Rhoades said parents can talk casually about drug abuse, and they should look for the “green light moments.”

“Say as a parent that you care, that this is important, and that it’s not okay to use drugs,” she suggested. “They pay attention.”

Katie Giarratano grew up with a mother addicted to drugs.

“I was about four years old, my dad sat me down and told me my mom was using drugs, and that’s why she’s not coming home, and that was about it,” she said.

As a result, Giarratano was forced to grow up fast and help take care of her younger sister.

“I cleaned, I bathed her, I did the laundry,” she said.

Giarratano said having an open dialogue with her dad and family made the difference.

“Support was extremely important,” she said.

“A lot of people think they’re alone in addiction, and they’re not,” Noel said.

Experts at the forum said kids whose parents talk to them about addiction at an early age are 50 percent less likely to do drugs in high school.

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