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Share the facts: Speak to your kids honestly and openly about drug use

Opinion / Letters by: Guest writer Linda Oristano, October 22, 2022

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid with lethal power, is being made into brightly colored pills that look like Sweet Tarts. Photo courtesy NENDATF.

There is no doubt that over the years Halloween has changed from the way it used to be.

This year, there are many controversial reports coming out about the threat of fentanyl in candy. Whether or not we will be impacted, the Northport/East Northport Community Drug and Alcohol Task Force (NENDATF) is asking parents to continue to be vigilant of the candy that their children are getting from others.

Rainbow fentanyl is a real threat, and while we are skeptical that people are giving it out as Halloween candy, it is important to know that drug dealers are now specifically targeting our youth. Rainbow fentanyl is a synthetic opioid made in a lab. It is not grown from a plant like heroin. It is far easier to produce, and multiple times stronger than heroin. It is often laced into other drugs, and overdosing is far more likely. Legally, fentanyl is used for the management of pain. Illegally, fentanyl is being made into brightly colored pills that look like Sweet Tarts and can kill.

Did you know that children who have conversations with their parents, caregivers or guardians are 50% less likely to use drugs and/or alcohol? Did you know that demanding that children listen and just saying “No, don’t do it,” doesn’t work? Having the conversation shows the importance of sharing your values and what your expectations are. It encourages smart decisions.

Sharing the facts with your children is so important. They need to hear that fentanyl is dangerous, that it can stop their breathing, and it can be mixed into other pills and other drugs without them knowing. Discuss what they can do if someone offers them drugs/pills. Let them know they have choices, that they can say no, or change the subject or most importantly, just walk away. Letting your children know this and telling your children you care and love them goes a long way. We know that parents are the primary teachers of their children. The NENDATF is here to support and provide parents with helpful tools when they need them.

Linda Oristano is the program coordinator for the Northport/East Northport Community Drug and Alcohol Task Force. One of the main goals of the NENDATF is to provide education and prevention and to empower parents to be able to have a conversation with their children about factors that increase risky behaviors and ways to decrease them. If you have a question, a concern or need information, email Linda at info@ndatf.org, or call 516-361-6540. For more resources and information, visit www.ndatf.org.