Growing Number Of Drug Cases Worry Parents - - The News for South Mississippi

Growing Number Of Drug Cases Worry Parents

Angie Johnson is rather matter of fact when she talks about her son Derek.

"My son shouldn't have died to drugs," she said.

Yet three years ago, the 19-year-old overdosed on methadone. Mrs. Johnson has Derek's picture on her desk. She also wears an angel pin given to her to honor her son. Both are reminders of what this mother lost -- and what she's committed to find.

"I don't think any child should die to drugs," she said.

Angie Johnson is chairman of the Long Beach Substance Abuse Task Force. Since Katrina, her organization has noticed an increase in the signs that point to drug abuse. There's more stress, more anger, and more frustration at hurricane battered homes around the city.

And according to police, there are more drugs floating around the region as well. Chief Harley Schinker's department has made 330 drug arrests in 2006. Two dozens of those drug cases involved teens under the age of 18.

"It's a concern to me. I'm concerned that they're infecting the community," the chief said.

Mrs. Johnson is aware of the statistics.

"I'm very concerned. I just think our children need to be a lot more aware," she said.

And that's what the substance abuse task force attempts to do -- make children aware of the dangers lurking away from school.

Amanda McKenna thinks it's working "very effectively." The Long Beach senior is a student representative with the drug fighting organization.

"I'm on the task force because I'm sick and tired of seeing my peers on alcohol and drugs. I want to see them living a life without that," McKenna said.

But she admits with so much stress and peer pressure hanging over classmates, keeping them away from drugs is tough.

"If anything, I say there is something else out there that will make them feel ten times better than that ever could," the senior said.

From what McKenna can tell, her anti-drug message seems to be getting through to her classmates.

by Brad Kessie

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