Heroin use is here in Fairfax. “It’s definitely here,” said 19-year veteran officer employed by both the Fairfax County Police Department and Drug Enforcement Administration as a Task Officer who spoke at a drug awareness meeting sponsored by the Lake Braddock Secondary School Parent Teacher Student Association.
The officer’s name isn’t being publicized due to the nature of his work.
During his Nov. 10 presentation in Lake Braddock’s lecture hall, the officer described heroin as “a big problem now” among young adults. He said in his experience, he’s seen use increasing within the last three years.
Users can either develop a dependency to prescription pain medication and then look for cheaper alternatives to get a similar high, he said, or are simply bored with their unlimited lifestyle.
The officer gave an example of a 16-year-old female who died from a heroin overdose. “I talked to her friend,” he said, “who said ‘I get everything I want, it’s handed to me. I don’t have no excitement.’”
Looking for more of a thrill, the kids then seek out heroin and other drugs locally in Fairfax County or go into Washington, D.C. The officer said he’s been part of numerous sting-type drug deals in parking lots in the Tysons Corner area and near the Silver Diner in Springfield.
Though his office and collaborating agencies are working on eliminating the supply-side of the problem, the officer was clear on his message to parents of students who may already be using drugs or might pursue it in the future.
He encouraged them to “keep dialed in, involved” with their children through both social media and by talking to them face to face. In addition, they should look for warning signs in their children’s bedroom, including needles and rubber bands used for shooting heroin into the vein in one’s arm. “Be nosy,” the officer said.
“Talk to your kids,” he added, “have a conversation, tell them you love them, care about them and want to know what’s going on in their life.”
One parent who attended the meeting asked Lake Braddock principal Dave Thomas if he was concerned about a drug problem at the secondary school.
“It’s always a concern,” Thomas said. “The majority of our kids are doing the right thing. But we always have to battle drinking, marijuana. It’s school culture, something we work on every day.”
Thomas also said they do use police drug dogs and do sweeps of the school from time to time, but that it doesn’t happen frequently.
Michele Buschman of Burke, vice president of the Lake Braddock Parent Teacher Student Association, helped organize the event. “A lot of parents are focused on marijuana -- I think they’re surprised to hear about the prescription drug and heroin problem, how prevalent it’s becoming. I was shocked.”
Though the event took place at Lake Braddock, Buschman invited the Robinson and West Springfield communities to be involved, as well as other schools in those pyramids.
The full 2014 prescription drug and heroin abuse report to the Board of Supervisors is available online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/living/healthhuman/reports/heroin-report-2014.pdf. For more information and resources from Fairfax County on heroin and opiates use, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/csb/heroin-opiates.