MARYLAND

Heroin Action Coalition wants teen drug abuse program reform

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"It's more than anger, its more than frustration, it's are you kidding me? It's are you for real?," Lisa Lowe said.

Lowe's son is a heroin addict.

He became addicted as a teen. She has spent the last three years fighting to get him into rehab, at the expense of jobs, homes and a normal life.

Lowe explained, "Parents feel helpless. They all feel angry. It's like beating your head against a wall."

And that's why she founded the Heroin Action Coalition, a group dedicated to raising awareness about teen drug abuse.

"He didn't want this. None of them want this," Lowe added.

Teen drug use is growing in Maryland. From 2008 to 2010, the number of teens in treatment for Oxycodone use jumped 77 percent in the state. The use of other opiate painkillers jumped 35 percent, according to the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration (ADAA). The reason - those drugs are easy to find.

Dr. Peter Cohen, the medical director for the Maryland ADAA, said, "What happens a lot of times is people, kids, will get them from their families. They'll visit grandma and grandpa and raid their medicine cabinet."

About 75 percent of users will relapse at least once after rehab.

"We don't expect a cure, wish we could. But, we're not there in terms of our treatments," Cohen added.

The state runs outpatient programs, but offers less than 100 long-term treatment beds for adolescents.

Lowe argues that's not enough.

"We're here to tell you that what we have in Maryland doesn't work," she said.

Lowe want more funding, beds and doctors for long term care. Recently, the Heroin Action Coalition presented a list of legislative suggestions to the Montgomery County Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Council, prompting leaders to start a summer task force focused on teen drug abuse.

Lowe said, "We want this to help other parents avoid nightmares that I have had to go through."

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