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Armstrong County focuses on drug dangers

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Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Armstrong County District Judge Gary DeComo believes that preventing youths from using harmful drugs starts in the family home but that support from the community is key to success.

That's why he is devoting a week to visiting schools, the YMCA and the county jail to speak to young people about how drugs kill dreams.

DeComo spearheaded drug awareness and prevention events in the county in 1994. Since then, he has planned programs with support from ARC Manor, Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi, ACMH Hospital and Foundation and through funding from Rosebud Mining Co. and Snyder Brothers.

Last week, the Armstrong County Commissioners declared the week of Jan. 12 as Drugs Kill Dreams week.

“It continues to take an entire countywide prevention effort to protect our youth,” DeComo said in a recent letter to area clergy.

According to DeComo, many heroin addicts are first addicted to prescription pain relievers.

He noted that prevention efforts include keeping prescription pain medication in a secure area and returning all unused or expired medications to any Klingensmith Drug Store next week.


This is the first year the Drugs Kill Dreams program has joined forces with the Y, DeComo said.

The drug prevention week kicks off from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday during a free event in the Richard G. Snyder YMCA Campus at 1150 N. Water St., Kittanning, for fifth-grade through eighth-grade area students.

Drug prevention discussion and information will be offered to youth and adults in separate areas. Scheduled activities include swimming, games in the gymnasium and a pizza party.

Participants will have a chance to win prizes including autographed Steeler footballs, an autographed section of the Civic Arena roof, Y youth memberships and gift cards.


Next week, students ages 10 and older will have the opportunity to participate in an interactive event in the Armstrong County Jail.

It will be the first Drugs Kill Dreams jail experience of the year, depicted by actors, held on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

According to information provided by DeComo, the jail experience is intended to depict the dangers and consequences of using drugs and will show the realities associated with addiction, including arrest and jail time.

Issues concerning drug overdose will be addressed.

Drug and alcohol counselors, medical professionals, members of the judicial system and drug users and their family members will be available to speak with participants.

Pre-registration is required, and the cost is $5 per person. To register, call 724-548-3209 or visit

Additional Drugs Kill Dreams jail experience events have been planned for April 15, Aug. 12 and a later date yet to be determined.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or

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