Kim Rubenstein has been setting up information tables at Hatboro-Horsham’s back-to-school nights for the last three years.
But, this year was “different,” according to Rubenstein, the parent liaison for Hatboro-Horsham School District’s substance abuse awareness program, Be A Part of the Conversation.
“People kind of avoided me before, but now they seem to want to talk about it,” Rubenstein said.
So, what’s the “it” that Rubenstein references?
Following recent deaths of several Hatboro-Horsham alums, including JR Pollock, who would have turned 24 last month, the drug seems to be on the minds of many in the community.
That’s why Rubenstein put together a team of panelists, including a heroin treatment professional, law enforcement, at least one person in recovery, clergy and the school district’s student assistance program coordinator to present “A Conversation About Heroin” on Monday at Keith Valley Middle School.
“In general, our community has a sense that they’re hearing more and more about heroin use and abuse,” Rubenstein said. “This isn’t something that’s unique to Hatboro-Horsham, but the difference is we’re addressing it.”
Since launching Be A Part of the Conversation more than two years ago, the district has hosted what may otherwise be uncomfortable talks on teen drug and alcohol use, bullying and other topics and encouraged the community to get involved along the way.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, heroin is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment for people in Pennsylvania.
Statewide, 1,812 people died in 2007 as a direct result of drug use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number is higher than the national average, and outpaces the number of deaths caused by vehicle crashes (1,604) and firearms (1,325) in the same year.
“We’re focusing on heroin because it scares us,” Rubenstein said. “But, it never starts with heroin.”
Rubenstein suggests that parents find those “teachable moments” with younger children to try to explain the dangers of substance use and abuse.
To help combat teens’ progression from drugs and alcohol to deadlier substances like heroin, Rubenstein said the community as a whole needs to be firm in what is and what is not appropriate behavior.
“Stop accepting that it’s ok for parents to host parties with alcohol,” Rubenstein said. “It’s sending the wrong message.”
If you go
“A Conversation About Heroin” will be held Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Keith Valley Middle School, 227 Meetinghouse Road in Horsham. The discussion is free and open to the public and may include candid discussions about heroin addiction from those in recovery. Discretion is encouraged for younger people in attendance. Rubenstein recommends that children be at least 13 years old. Click here for more information.