OSSINING, N.Y. -- Keeping kids away from illicit substances is as difficult a job as ever.
Several community organizations, including Ossining Communities That Care and Putnam's Drug Crisis In Our Backyard, came together to host Setting Our Kids On A Substance-Free Path: An Evening Of Prevention For Rivertown Parents at the Ossining Public Library Tuesday night.
Dr. Rachel Schoolcraft of Phelps Hospital said teenagers are susceptible to drug addiction.
"They create an extreme occurrence and your brain seeks to repeat the experience," Schoolcraft said. "Your brains are continuing to develop."
Schoolcraft said not everyone who tries drugs will become addicted and there are various things, including metabolism, tolerance and environmental factors that could determine if someone if someone becomes a drug addict.
"Someone could have a negative experience and never want to do drugs," Schoolcraft said."The novelty and newness of trying a substance may cause someone to turn to other substances to find something more interesting. For some people it's an impulse."
At Phelps' treatment center in Ossning, Schoolcraft said they see patients 16 and older. Twelve percent of their patients are younger than 21.
"The average age keeps getting younger and younger," Schoolcraft said.
Steve Salomone of Drug Crisis In Our Backyard spoke about his experiences with his son, Justin, who died of a heroin overdose in 2012.
Salomone formed Drug Crisis In Our Backyard with another family after his wife, Susan, wrote an editorial detailing their experiences with their son's addiction.
"Many people had the same issue but most were afraid to talk about it," Salomone said. "We missed a lot of signs and signals. We're sharing them with you so you don't go down that same path."
Salomone said the greatest issue against fighting addiction is denial.
"Most people do not accept that this could happen in their homes," Salomone said. "If that was the case, all these seats would be filled. We should have a standing room only crowd and it's not. When you leave here, tell four people and get them on board."
Justin tried to be clean for six years but never could kick his addiction, Salomone said.
"It was destroying his life but he couldn't stop," he said. "That's how bad this is. Prevention is more powerful than recovery."
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