Ten rules for dating my teenage

Few people are talking about the fact that many teenagers here are still using heroin and that the problem is quietly spreading to other suburbs around the Metroplex: Garland, Richardson, Carrollton, Grapevine, Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Arlington, North Richland Hills, Haltom City, and as far north as Denton.

“When you used to page a dealer, he would meet you in ten minutes,” one nineteen-year-old told me.

They are problem solvers—corporate executives and mid-level managers who believe that each problem must have its logical solution, that with some elbow grease and determination and a well-thought-out plan, they can rid their community of even this most unimaginable of scourges.

“Our purpose here tonight,” a minister told a crowd of 1,800 at a standing-room-only town hall meeting about heroin use in November 1997, “is that our fear might be calmed and wisdom might prevail and that we might claim our city as a shining example of what people working together can do.” They have waged an impressive fight, mostly in a series of elaborate stings—including a seven-month undercover operation by a 28-year-old police officer who posed as a high school senior—carried out by the narcotics department Sergeant Paul heads up and which coincided with a sweeping federal investigation.

If you live in Plano, one of Texas’ toniest suburbs, they may be strung out on heroin somewhere. Plano Police sergeant Aubrey Paul had driven north along Texas Highway 289, where Plano’s gated communities and mirrored office parks abruptly give way to unruly stretches of buffalo grass, to check out a call he had received the day before from a detective in the neighboring town of Frisco.

It has optimistically broad streets and oversized cantilevered homes with cathedral ceilings that soar skyward, and it is flanked on both sides by symbols of industry.

The youngest to die was a seventh-grade soccer player whose body was found in a church parking lot.

What is astonishing, however, is not how many lives heroin has claimed here but how few, since a staggering number of people—more than one hundred, by one emergency room doctor’s estimation—have been admitted to the city’s hospitals in the past two years while overdosing.

And no death toll can convey the other devastations: the twenty-year-old doctor’s son who sits in the Dallas County jail because an elderly woman died of a heart attack while he was robbing her for drug money, or the eighteen-year-old son of a J. Penney Company executive who was revived after falling into a coma but suffered such severe brain damage that he can no longer speak or walk.

The residents of Plano are well-meaning and hard-working people with no patience for fatalism or even pessimism about their ability to win this battle.

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