According to Fexas, the rise is heroin abuse, which was at its height in 2008, stemmed from its accessibility and inexpensiveness. While an 80 mg oxycodone pill could cost between $80-90 on the street, a bag of heroin would cost about $4. “It was cheaper at one point to buy a bag of heroin than a large drink from Starbucks,” she said, adding that heroin no longer requires a needle to be used, it can be snorted or smoked now, which adds to its appeal.
In recent years, the abuse of prescription pills has also increased, Fexas said, due to doctors writing more scripts for the medication. With more scripts being written, the price on the street for the pills came down, she added. The average script gives someone a 30-day supply of pills, she said, but usually that many pills aren’t needed and they sit in the medicine cabinet. Once there, high school-age children can access the pills.
School board member Neil Schloth, who works in Nassau County District Court, said he has seen a number of young people from the East Rockaway community arrested for drug possession.
“We have to be vigilant and we have to be [proactive],” Schloth said. “You can’t just say, ‘well, it’s not my child’ and ‘it’s not my problem.’ If you see something that’s not right, reach out to somebody that could help, reach out to the parent that could be involved, but don’t just let it continue.”
Fexas also said that many students are using ecstasy and a new synthetic drug called methylone, which will become officially illegal in December.
According to MaryKate Lynch, coordinator of the Coalition for Youth in East Rockaway, organizing the presentation took several months and added it’s important for parents to know what situations their kids may find themselves in.
“We, as a school district and as a small community,” Lynch said, “need to find ways to educate parents and protect our children from senseless decisions and keep dangerous drugs out of their hands.”