Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Chasing Dark: Signs, tips and resources


In recent weeks, the Keizertimes has run a Chasing Dark series, looking at the growing heroin epidemic in Keizer.

Links to full stories will be in a special section of the Keizertimes website (www.keizertimes.com this weekend.

Throughout the series of stories, parents and law enforcement personnel alike have shared advice, tips and resources to help families. Here is a recap of some of that information:

Signs your child could be doing heroin

• Bottles disappearing from the medicine cabinet

• Items around the house suddenly disappearing or money missing from purses/wallets

• A sudden withdrawal socially from the family

• Messages on social media about drugs. The problem is most of the times the messages will be private.

• Those going through withdrawals will be extremely weak and unable to keep food down.

• Excessive drowsiness

• Losing track of time

• Excessive use of cotton swabs

• Pick marks around the face

• Weight loss

• Dark circles under the eyes

• Lack of smiling

• Dirtiness, especially under the fingernails

• Parents and authorities alike agreed those who are caught in an addiction need to feel free to talk openly about what they are going through, without feeling judged. Building trust is critical.

• Jeff and Hollie Crist, whose son Brandon died of a heroin overdose in September, said if parents suspect something is going on, trust that instinct.

What to do

• Benton County offers a needle exchange program; such a program isn’t offered in Marion County. Information about the Benton County program and other harm reduction programs:

• Bottles of old medications can be turned in at the turn-in receptacle at the Keizer Police Department, no questions asked.

• Sometimes drug court programs are utilized, forcing users to stop doing drugs. The problem, many involved in the series agree, is users need to make the decision themselves to kick the habit. Forcing someone to go through treatment before they’re ready to face up to the problem typically leads to the problem continuing.

• A Washington-based website has information:

• There are several treatment facilities. For example, ADAPT Oregon has several locations around the state, mostly in the Roseburg area. More information is available at

For Elizabeth Smith, she found Balboa Horizons in California ( helped her daughter. Other options include the Hazelden Treatment Center in Newberg (, Astoria Pointe (, facilities in Eugene ( or Klamath Falls (

Reports/other media

• In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted a briefing about the heroin epidemic. That briefing can be found here:

• In 2014 the Oregon Health Authority published a report about drug overdoses:

• In November, the Drug Enforcement Administration published a study about the increase in drug use. A summary can be found here: The full report can be found here:

• In the summer of 2013, Oregonian investigations editor Les Zaitz wrote an in-depth story about drug cartels in Oregon:

• In August 2011, NBC News did a story about addictions being a brain disorder:

• This fall, a link was shared by KGW with Alicia Cook writing about losing her cousin to a drug overdose:

• The police department in Gloucester, Mass. has a program designed to combat opiate overdoses.

• In July, Seattle Weekly did a story about heroin: