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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Hypodermic Needles, for Kids?

With Halloween around the corner, many people have already started working on their costumes and decorating their homes with frightening objects. The holiday is a time for young people to stock up on candy, and for adults to feel like a kid again. Every year, costumes and accessories are made available that some might deem controversial, such as salacious outfits.

This year, for people in the addiction recovery industry, the controversy is tied to something closer to home. Both addiction experts and parents alike are up in arms about pens being sold as Halloween novelty items, the Associated Press reports. The pens resemble hypodermic needles and are labeled as appropriate for ages 4 and up - they include a plunger and dose measuring lines.

“I think it’s an incredibly bad idea,” said Celeste Clark, Director of the Raymond Coalition for Youth, an organization in New Hampshire that works to reduce substance abuse. “Given today’s epidemic that our state is in, it just seems like a no-brainer that something like that shouldn’t be on the shelves.”

“It’s exposing kids to hypodermic needles when we really should be raising awareness to their danger, especially now when they’re finding them in parks, on walking trails, on biking trails,” Clark said. 

The country is in the grips of prescription opioid and heroin epidemic that has led to thousands of overdoses and the spread of infectious disease. Keeping that in mind, it would seem that companies would have the wherewithal to refrain from selling products that send the wrong message to children.

“I think that it is the most societally outrageous marketing scheme that I’ve seen in a long time,” said Jack Wozmak, New Hampshire’s Senior Director for Substance Misuse and Behavioral Health. “I’m not sure that people will understand that it’s a toy at age 4 and up or whatever the age range is, and I’m not sure they’ll know that the hypodermic needle they find on the playground is not a toy.”

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