I think my son or daughter is abusing drugs or alcohol. What should I do? My teen was arrested for drugs or alcohol. What happens next? How do I test my teen for drugs?
These are some of the questions being asked by residents of Flower Mound and surrounding cities and towns.
Drug and alcohol abuse is no longer a problem exclusive to large urban areas. Yet, some parents, often those living in upscale communities, continue to be in denial about the possibility that their little darlings would ever be involved in such deplorable conduct.
A couple of months ago, an event, “A Community Conversation, Drugs,” was held at Trietsch Memorial Church on Morriss Road. Also referred to as “A Drug Summit,” the standing room only gathering featured personal stories from parents who used to be in denial too, until the reality hit them where it hurts, in the broken lives of their children.
Recently, my wife and I visited with Captain Wess Griffin and Sergeant Colin Sullivan at Flower Mound Police Headquarters. Assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division, they, working with the Highland Village and Lewisville PD’s, have launched a new program known as “I.N. the Know,” an innovative tool to help combat drug abuse among teens in the community. I.N. stands for Identify and Notify, which focuses on identifying at risk teens who are using or experimenting with dangerous drugs, specifically heroin. Employing the use of tips that come in by phone, email or in person, officers reach out and notify family members that their teens may be using illegal drugs and provide the necessary support to help get them back on a successful path. Many tips come in anonymously, but even those who identify themselves are assured of confidentiality.
The program approaches the problem from a life-saving direction, rather than an enforcement method. Sgt. Sullivan explained that it is not about getting teens thrown in jail, suspended from school, or kicked off the football team. Instead, it’s about working with the families to provide information, resources, and support. Sadly, many people will be loath to “get involved” because they don’t have enough evidence, or they simply don’t want to get the person in trouble. It’s that attitude that makes police work even more difficult. Cops can’t be everywhere, so they need civilians to be the eyes and ears of the community. Keep in mind, if someone is using drugs they are already in trouble and they need your help. Being a good citizen may save someone’s life, perhaps someone near and dear to you. On the other hand, you could do nothing and merely hope that the scourge of illegal drugs will never reach you and yours.
None of the foregoing should be viewed as a drug epidemic occurring in the area. However, we have suffered some loss of young lives during the past few years. In 2010, Flower Mound resident Kathy O’Keefe suffered the devastating loss of her 18 year-old son Brett to heroin. She started “Winning the Fight (WTF),” an organization dedicated to educating parents and children about the insidious growth of drug use in every community in the country. Ms. O’Keefe has been working with the police to continually update residents on drug issues that may be occurring in the family. I asked Sgt. Sullivan what drove him to begin this program; “I kept seeing reports coming through about teens that were overdosing and having problems with drugs more and more, and I thought to myself, this just can’t continue. We have to do something about this,” he said with steely-eyed conviction. He presented his idea to his superiors and they liked it enough to assign him to handle it. Captain Griffin noted that the program was not initiated just to look as though something is being done. “We monitor it to make sure it’s having the effect we want,” he added.
The fact is that pernicious drugs have become a deadly plague that knows no boundaries. It’s as much a part of the landscape as the roads, the trees and the lovely manicured lawns and shrubs that adorn our suburban neighborhoods. The best way to prevent this cancer from ultimately taking a personal toll on you is to pay attention and be proactive when you notice something that rouses your suspicions. We have proactive police departments in the area that are pursuing substantive ways to prevent another tragedy. Please do your part to assist them.
If you have information relating to a teenager using narcotics, please call the Flower Mound Police Sergeant Colin Sullivan at 972-874-3341 or the FMPD non-emergency line at 972-539-0525. In Lewisville, you can call Lt. Chris Butterworth: 972-219-5137. In Highland Village, call Cpl. Chris Carver: 972-317-5558 (Ext. 529).
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.