Project DEAP, which stands for Drug Education Awareness Program, is a free program aimed at helping parents and relatives of young people recognize the signs of opiate and prescription drug abuse before it's too late.

(Getty Images)

"Very often it's very hard to tell, and especially in their own kids. We're more inclined to say, 'No, this couldn't happen to my child,'" said Jackson police Lt. John Convery.

With the heroin epidemic more prevalent than ever, organizers of Project DEAP felt the need to present the program in a format that parents could understand.

"Obviously, knowledge is going to be the most powerful tool they're going to have," Convery said.

Parents are taught what behaviors to look for, how to detect drug residues and the types of materials used to make and use drugs.

Small zip lock bags, white powder, and drastic changes in appearances are indicators of possible substance abuse, Convery pointed out.

"Signs associated with heroin are needles, and yes those are still out there, but they're ingesting it in multiple ways now, too. Sometimes just as simple as eating it even, snorting it," said Convery.  Another sign he noted is when a usually honest person suddenly starts stealing.

Convery pointed out that it only takes one bad peer to influence a teen, even those who were raised by good parents, and it only takes one time to get hooked on drugs.

"It's a sad commentary, but yes it does happen. We've seen very good kids go wrong with this," Convery said. But he added some of them can be brought back from drug addiction.

"The goal is to stop that behavior before it becomes an addiction, and even better yet, stop it before they even try it," Convery said.

The Jackson police PBA 168 and the Jackson Rotary and Kiwanis clubs are sponsoring Project DEAP on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at Jackson Liberty High School, 125 North Hope Chapel Road, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Due to the sensitive nature of the topic, organizers have asked parents not to bring children to the event. No pre-registration is required.

Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com.

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