Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

May 2, 2014

Prosecutor details drug prevention strategies

Debbie Blank The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — LAWRENCEBURG – The stories Aaron Negangard told during his speech about “Strategies to Protect Your Family from Substance Abuse” at the 18th annual Southeastern Indiana Economic Opportunity Corp. Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect Conference April 26 were alarming.

The prosecutor for Dearborn and Ohio counties enlightened 93 attendees about a new illegal drug dubbed krokodil, which leaves reptilian marks on its victims. The active ingredient, codeine, a mild opiate, is mixed with methamphetamine or another substance to mimic the high of heroin.

The long-term effects? Flesh falls off at the injection site, gangrene sets in and amputation occurs. He warned, “Within 12 months, you’ll be dead. Children will have their arms and legs amputated because they’ll be so addicted to a drug.”

He recalled a Decatur County boy who “did not like how his mother was when she was on drugs. He did something with her pills. We’ll never know … the mother and her boyfriend beat her 12-year-old child to death, torturing him so he would tell them where the pills were .... She expressed no remorse” for killing him.

The Bright resident added quietly, “We all remember the five people who were killed in Franklin County. A 2-year-old was found walking among the dead corpses of her family.”

Of illegal drugs and unprescribed legal medications, Negangard observed, “It is a fair assessment to say it’s an epidemic at this point. Drug abuse is a disease ... of addiction.” According to him, “Overdose deaths have become a huge problem in our area.” He read a stark statistic recently. “One person dies every other day from an overdose in Hamilton County,” Ohio.

Jail is another very likely possibility. “Drug addicts are not very smart criminals.”

While alcohol is called the gateway leading youth to stronger substances, the prosecutor maintained, “Marijuana is the ultimate gateway drug.” According to him, “Every heroin addict I ever met – all but one started out smoking marijuana at a young age .... This is not the stuff from the ‘60s and ‘70s.” He reported now it’s four to five times more potent.

“The other big problem is prescription drugs,” announced the Indiana Association of Prosecuting Attorneys vice president. Opiates have been used by the elderly with chronic pain problems to make them comfortable until they die. “The kids think it’s OK” to ingest because it’s legal. The drug “came from a doctor. It’s medicine. One’s made by a pharmaceutical company. One’s made by terrorists or the cartel. Both are addictive and dangerous.”

In many cases, “the first doses of drugs our children are getting (and abusing) are coming from us or their grandparents in medicine cabinets.”

Drug addiction “is so difficult to fix,” Negangard mused.

“What’s clear is we have to prevent this. What has changed (in society) that has made this much more prevalent? ... Alcohol is a bigger problem now, in part, because of the marketing and products. If you start drinking at age 12, you have a 50 percent chance of having a substance abuse problem. That’s like flipping a coin: ‘Am I going to have a good life or a difficult one?’” Because a young brain is not fully developed, using alcohol at a young age will essentially reprogram it to become substance abuse dependent.

The speaker asked, “What can we do as parents? We have to set a good example. If we party every weekend, our kids are going to believe that’s what adults do. They’re not going to get good examples from television … or movies.

“Set rules clearly,” he emphasized. “Be consistent. Be a parent and not a buddy. I don’t like being the jerk all the time, but I have to be. I love them enough to discipline them … to ground them. If we don’t, no one else is going to.”

The prosecutor recommended going to www.drugfree.org. “It tells you how to talk to children about drugs at each and every age. Talk to your children early and often about drugs and alcohol and your expectations. Kids will be frustrated when we lay down the law, but deep down they appreciate the boundaries.”

Negangard also offered this advice:

• Keep prescription drugs in a secure location or know how many pills are in the container so you know if any are missing. Properly dispose of unused prescription drugs. “You can’t flush them. That poisons our water supply.”

• “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Provide for supervision after school or involve kids in after school activities,” such as sports, hunting, scouts or church.

• Divulge your family history. “Genetics plays a huge part. If alcohol or substance abuse runs in your family, the risk is greater. Tell them.”

• “Know everyone in your child’s life. You have to trust, but verify. Who your kids choose as friends will absolutely affect their futures. Their friends could be leading them down the wrong paths.”

• “Demand access to social media sites and text messages. They have no right to privacy.” With a Find iPhone app, he can track his kids’ locations.

“I’m not asking the state to (drug) test kids, I’m asking parents,” he reported. “It can be a tool in preventing your kid” from experimenting. The attorney is handing out drug testing kits to parents at schools in an initiative funded by Dearborn County Citizens Against Substance Abuse.

He explained knowing parents have kits ready to use “gives them an out when they are in peer pressure situations. You are protecting them at that party you’ve always worried about.” He urged testing teens after gatherings. “I strongly encourage you to do this because it could save your child’s life.”

“If there was a deadly virus and all it took was an occasional urine test to prevent it, wouldn’t you do it?” Those with positive drug screens should talk to counselors, perhaps at Community Mental Health Center, “to find out how big the problem is.”

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.

Prosecutor will speak in Batesville Aaron Negangard will discuss "Strategies to Protect Your Family from Substance Abuse" Monday, May 19, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Church on Fire Ministries, 1170 State Road 229, Batesville. The presentation is sponsored by the Ripley County Local Coordinating Council. Pastor Dave Roark says, "At Church on Fire, we daily deal with people who are experiencing the consequences of addiction and the struggle it brings in their lives. Our goal is to see everyone walk in freedom from addictions and we know that prevention plays a very important role in keeping young and old from going down the road to addiction." There is a session for youth 10 and up while Negangard speaks to the parents. Amy Phillips, YES (Youth Encouragement Services) Home, Manchester, program manager, points out, "Prevention costs less than treatment and is an investment in the lives of others."