THEY ARE young, have money and too much idle time. Many Howard County teen-agers who plead boredom are using drugs to fill the void in their lives. Most of these disaffected youth turn to marijuana and alcohol. Some have tried crack cocaine. But police say an increasing number have become regular users of heroin.
Authorities aren't sure how many heroin addicts are in the county. But Howard narcotics officers say customer demand has reached the point that a drug once hard to find no longer is.
Because heroin has become more popular among young people, police have begun a program to involve parents in their drug-fighting efforts.
The Heroin Education Liaison Program (HELP) makes narcotics officers available to village boards, neighborhood committees, school associations or other groups of adults. The officers tell parents how to detect signs of heroin use in their children and discuss how devastating heroin addiction can be to a family and a community.
More teen-agers are using heroin because the drug being sold today is not only cheaper but purer.
It is so powerful that users can snort it and avoid the stigma and health risks posed by using a needle.
But Lt. Tim Branning, head of the county narcotics division, says that's only until they become so addicted that they have to inject the heroin to get high.
Police believe the growing heroin problem is also a factor in many burglaries in the county. The high percentage of dual-income families in Howard County makes it easier for thieves who know very well when a house will be empty, whether it's their own home or one down the street.
It is important to reach teen-agers who think they can use heroin without fear of addiction. Parents are the best people to do that.
The HELP program gives parents the information they need to talk with their children before it's too late. Any group that wants HELP can contact the police narcotics division at 410-313-7550.
Pub Date: 6/02/98