Former DEA agent shares views on drugs and their impact on the community

Following appearances at all 10 of our local school districts sponsored by the Lassen County Office of Education, former Drug Enforcement Agent Rocky Herron presented his anti-drug message to a small group of citizens at Middleton Hall after they enjoying a free, catered Mexican dinner at the LCC Cafeteria Friday, Dec. 8.

Patty Gunderson, superintendent of Lassen County’s Office of Eduction, introduces former DEA Agent Rocky Herron in Middleton Hall at Lassen Community College,

Herron, with 31 experience as a DEA agent, retired in 2021 and accepted a position as the Alcohol and Other Drug Ambassador for the San Diego Office of Education.

According to Herron, drug prevention begins by showing students their potential and how every decision they make shapes their lives.

Rocky Herron said students make choices regarding drug use that may set the course for the rest of their lives.

Billed to offer an address on fentanyl, Herron’s presentation focused more on the need of young people to make drug free decisions rather than suffer the consequences. of drug addiction.

He said fentanyl killed about 20,000 Americans in 2000. Today, that number has soared to more than 107,000 in 2020-2021. He lamented some Americans want to blame the Chinese or the Mexican drug cartels, when the real problem is that Americans are buying and consuming these drugs.

While Herron said the drug problem today is bad, he expects it’s going to get even worse in the future. For example while a fatal dose of fentanyl is only 2 mg, a fatal dose of a new, more powerful synthetic opioid called carfentanil is only .02 mg.

He wondered, “When do we stop tolerating this loss? Where is the outrage? What can we do differently?”

He said the secret to stopping our drug problem in America is to effect a change in society by addressing our drug crisis right here at home.

Failing to address the drug crisis compounds the teen mental health crisis by creating home failure, school failure, adolescent suicide, juvenile crime and a path to homelessness.

And he said almost every significant social ill in society had a direct connection to substance abuse — crime, poverty, broken families and child abuse.

And this, according to Herron is “where the tragedy happens” because recreational use leads to self-medication which leads to addiction.

“Social media exposes teens to unfiltered toxic influences, and changing behavior and that is causing huge increases in depression and anxiety in them,” he said.

He noted the three laws of substance abuse: 1. Substance abuse almost always starts as a choice; 2. All users eventually experience negative consequences; and 3. Those negative consequences never, ever, just affect the drug user.

Focusing on marijuana, he said the common signs of THC use include slower reaction times, in accurate perception of time and sound, memory and learning problems, lethargy and fatigue, poor judgment, panic attacks, suspicious or distrustful thoughts and hallucinations or other signs of psychosis.

The problem with marijuana today is that more teens vape or smoke THC in concentrated form that actually smoke joints. He said the THC potency in concentrates can be as much as 90 percent higher or more. And he noted the average THC potency was only 4 percent in 1980 while it’s 25 percent today.

He said many students come to him after his presentations to share their personal stories regarding drug abuse in their families. He said they may not act on his suggestions, but the kids hear him just the same.

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