Since Sheriff Ron Freeman took office in January, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office has made a point to emphasize the county’s drug problem and what’s being done to combat it.
As part of that campaign, the agency has worked to bring awareness about what drugs are prevalent in the county and in Forsyth schools, and following in line with that message, the agency held a drug awareness class Wednesday at Fowler Park, where Deputy Kevin Ferraro presented common myths and facts about drugs and what to look for, as both parents and citizens.
One of the most perpetuated myths, he said, is that Forsyth County does not have a drug problem and that addiction can only happen to certain socioeconomic classes.
“Drugs do not discriminate,” he said. “If you went into our jail right now, we arrest as many people who look as professional as anyone out there in corporate America as we do the person with meth mouth, as we do the person who has the perception of what we think a drug user looks like.
“[On the] socioeconomic scale, it’s from the richest rich to the poorest poor and we see it in all walks of life.
“In Forsyth County, we think we live in this bubble where nothing comes into the county. That is not true and we’ve got to burst that bubble and come to reality. There is no force field keeping criminal activity out and keeping drugs out.”
Ferraro stressed while it may be impossible to keep drugs out of the county, education is key — both for parents and children — about the dangers of drugs and how quickly an addiction can form.
That education included warning the community that while heroin is not the most prevalent drug in the county, it’s one of the deadliest.
“[Heroin] is [often] cut with something else, and right now, fentanyl is cheap,” Ferraro said. “Fentanyl was originally developed as an elephant tranquilizer; that’s what it was. If you think it can take down a 3,000-pound animal and we’re putting it into our body — it’s 50 times more potent than heroin — it’s [deadly.]”
He also emphasized that parents should know what to look for, simply because many are unaware their child is doing drugs.
“Some parents don’t realize how bad the facts truly are,” Ferraro said. “Ninety percent of all people in treatment for addiction started [using] between the ages of 12 and 18. They’re kids. Does a kid decide one day, ‘I want to be a drug addict?’ That is not how it happens, that is not reality.
“Now, they do get roped into it with peer pressure, with their friends; they’re at a party and they do put themselves in situations, but no drug addict that I’ve ever met in my life, recovering or not, wakes up one day saying, ‘I want to be a drug addict.’
“It’s a habit that forms because of situations they put themselves into, and again, we’re talking about our kids.”
Ferraro said drug use starts with alcohol and marijuana, and though he said it’s been debated as to whether marijuana is a gateway drug, in his opinion, “it absolutely is.”
“Not every kid that tries marijuana is going to move on to bigger and badder [drugs,]” he said, “but this is what leads them in to the illegal drug activity. Kids aren’t afraid of [marijuana] anymore.
“Even being the best parent, I want you to not be naive, and understand you cannot be with them 24/7. You do have to trust them and you do have to cut the umbilical cord at some point and they will be away from you overnight, no matter when it is, so what you have to do is educate them and let them know the dangers.”