Opinion

Last month the Nassau County Legislature passed the Natalie Ciappa Heroin Notification Law, a bill that I sponsored. This is the first law of its kind in the country, directing local law enforcement to inform school districts and other community organizations of heroin-related offenses that occur within the school district or involve a school district student. This will provide our schools with one more tool in the fight against this epidemic that has invaded our suburban lifestyle.

During my research into this insidious drug I came to understand how hard it can be to identify an individual who is using heroin. It is unlike many other drugs; there is no smell or bloodshot eyes such as those associated with marijuana use, there is no impaired speech and judgment such as those associated with alcohol intoxication, and there does not have to be track marks from injections traditionally associated with heroin use on specific areas of the body. Heroin used by teenagers on Long Island is most often snorted or smoked (inhalation). Paraphernalia for inhaling or smoking heroin includes razor blades, straws, rolled dollar bills, and pipes.

Heroin, when pure, comes as a white powder but it usually contains other substances such as glucose, talcum powder or brick dust. When heroin is impure it comes as a brown powder and usually contains caffeine. Heroin is normally wrapped in small packets of paper.

I have listed some of the signs associated with heroin use. If you find something that you feel may be an illegal or controlled substance Nassau County does offer free anonymous testing. If you are interested in this program please contact my legislative office for more information at (516) 571-6214.

Signs of Potential Heroin Use:

• Dry mouth

• Droopy appearance, as if extremities are "heavy"

• Alternately wakeful and drowsy • Disorientation, poor mental functioning

• Signs of injection; infections

• Shallow breathing

• Euphoria

• Drowsiness

• Constricted pupils

• Nausea

• Unkempt appearance/hygiene issues

• Missing cash/valuables, stealing/borrowing money

• Change in performance, academic or otherwise

• Apathy and/or lethargy

• Possession of unexplained valuables

• Runny nose

• Ignores consequences of chosen behaviors

• Withdrawal from usual friends, activities, or interests

• Eyes appear "lost" or have faraway look

• Hostility toward others

• Unexplained absences at work, school or family events

• Poor self-image


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