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Date: Tue 14-Jul-1998



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Date: Tue 14-Jul-1998

Publication: Bee

Author: STEVEB

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Newtown's Rate Of Drug Use Remains High


The existence of drug use in Newtown would probably come as little surprise to

most parents. But they may be shocked to learn just how many local kids are

touched by illegal drugs.

According to Social Services Director Karen Hoyt, Newtown ranks first for

heroin use in the region in a study based on population.

"The drug of choice in this town is heroin," said Mrs Hoyt, who announced

Newtown's dubious number-one ranking at a July 8 Health and Human Service


The figures were provided to social services by the mental health department

at Danbury Hospital.

Another study, conducted by Bridgeport Hospital, indicated Newtown's drug use

was "in-line" with Waterbury and Danbury.

Town officials warn parents not to let Newtown's straight-laced appearance

fool them. There is much that goes on beneath the surface.

"People should be aware that this is still a problem," Mrs Hoyt said. "This

sort of thing hits the headlines every once in a while and people say, `Oh,

how awful.' But they forget after awhile. The problem still exists, it's just

not making the headlines."

Said one parent at a recent substance abuse awareness program, "I think many

people in Newtown refuse to believe that there is as much drug and alcohol

abuse as the facts show there is. They don't want to admit it."

Why is drug use more prevalent in Newtown over other similar-sized towns in

the area? One reason may be its direct line to Bridgeport, where it is

reportedly very easy to get drugs. Route 25 takes you straight in to the Park


Mrs Hoyt said she remembers former Newtown Police Chief Mike DeJoseph saying

several years ago that heroin was for the over-35 crowd.

"It was used by the older crowd. Now it's the younger ones," Mrs Hoyt said.

Newtown has lost a few young people to heroin overdoses in recent years. There

are even more who have overdosed and managed to survive, according to Mrs

Hoyt. Often, these stories are not reported in the newspapers because police

tend to protect the privacy of the individual.

While social services keeps figures on the number of people it provides

assistance to, there are still myriad cases that go unreported. Getting true

numbers is just about impossible.

"We see people who have probably lost their jobs and have no financial

resources. They come to use for help," Mrs Hoyt said. "There are lots of

others we don't see."

Another disturbing statistic brought out by Mrs Hoyt was that Newtown ranks

third in the region in the number of AIDS cases per capita.

Town officials and concerned parents established the Substance Abuse Task

Force in Newtown back in the early 1990s in response to the growing number of

teens who were using drugs.

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