Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Heroin Disguised as Candy Becomes Latest Attempt to Hook Kids

Parents and children in Central New York are being urged to keep an eye out for heroin and fentanyl disguised as candy.  It’s turned up in the southern tier, where police have issued a public health warning about the drugs that look like sweet tarts candy.  The latest attempt to get kids addicted has the Prevention Network’s Beth Hurny almost speechless…

"It's sick.  I can't even...I'm so angered by the whole thing."

She says it goes beyond just hiding the drug.

“It's to access young people and get young users because if you get young people hooked early on, then they become customers for life.”                                                                          

Hurny says raising awareness and educating the community can hopefully keep kids safe.

The old adage, don't take candy from a stranger, but even more than that, in terms of not accepting anything from anyone you don't know that's not in a package.  We're actually working right now on prevention tips for parents.”                                                 

She says marketing to kids in the form of candy or other products is not a new concept.

"We actually have a poster in one of our offices that shows many, many different types of drugs disguised to look like kid-friendly products.”                                     

Hurny recalls when energy drinks, even those with alcohol, were targeted to young people.  And who could forget candy cigarettes in cool, appealing packaging?  She says this latest tactic reminds her of so-called “pharming” parties, where a young person’s ticket for entry was to bring prescription drugs which were placed in a large bowl.

"Think about it:  A bowl that looks like of m and m's and skittles, mixed with anything, God knows what, and taking handfuls and swallowing with alcohol.  It's just lethal right there," Hurny said.  "It's the same type of trend rearing its ugly head right now with heroin and fetanyl.”                                                                

Hurny urges parents to call the Prevention Network, poison control, law enforcement or a treatment center for help.  

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at