The New Reality; Progression of Dangerous Drugs
and How our Children Navigate Detection
By Carmen Morrow, ISD 423 Chemical Health Intervention Specialist
The most frequent question that I get asked is, “Are there drugs in our town and if so, what kind?” Unfortunately, we have many different types of drugs in McLeod County. These drugs are more than the usual experimental types and are very different from years past.
Every day I hear and see the damage that illegal drugs are causing our local community as well as the effects they have on our children. I have had in-depth conversations with students who are currently struggling with life as a drug user. It is my conversations with these students that help me find insight into the drug culture in our community. It is that insight, directly from users, that I am sharing with you here.
In a few cases, they have become addicted and are known as an addict. These addicts come from a variety of homes, social classes, ages and sex. Addiction does not discriminate. Kids from “good homes” are not exempt. These students don’t appear to be concerned about the social, emotional and legal consequences of their use any more than addicts from any other social class. According to many of the users, their parents have not taught them the consequences of illicit or experimental drug use. They also agree that parents often ignore the signs that their child and/or their friends are using. The users agree that the worst thing parents can do is ignore the signs or even downplay the evidence of use.
There are real emotional health issues that our children are using drugs to medicate. Drug use is often a cry for help in managing/coping with life’s pressures. Pretending there isn’t an issue allows it to become more serious. Some local parents feel it’s fine to provide a place for underage parties. They have even been reported to hang out with the teens as they use, which gives children an enormous mixed message.
You may be wondering why students might start using. Boredom, curiosity, and escape from mental health issues like anxiety, depression and stress are the main reasons for starting drug use. This drug use becomes a way of life to medicate their feelings, to relax or “feel good,” to “get high.” Sadly, these users strongly believe that in today’s society they are no longer being taught proper coping skills. There’s little face-to-face communication, instead technology has become the focus of their interactions. They feel there’s no time to slow down and relax, so drugs are being taken in order to “keep going.” Rather than being taught coping skills, children are learning how to suppress their feelings. Fatigue, stress, depression, and every other “bad” emotion is being suppressed with drugs because society has decided that those emotions are not for public viewing.
An important factor to note is that over the years, especially over the last 15 years, the progression of drugs has become extremely alarming due to the increase in the potency, types, and availability. These are not the drugs that we as parents and grandparents grew up with. They are extremely dangerous and addictive. There is a consensus that feel drugs are very accessible if you want them. Popular drugs for our children like alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, are not too surprising. However, hearing that cocaine, prescriptions, marijuana candies, synthetic marijuana K-2/Spice, Dabs (high potency marijuana wax), meth, E-cigarettes with candy flavored nicotine e-juice (Vaping), shrooms (psychedelic mushrooms), synthetics (man-made recipes to mimic drugs), and Acid/LSD, are popular might be a surprise to you. Unfortunately, to everyday service men/women (police officer, EMTs, etc.), as well as chemical dependency counselors, and many other professionals that work closely with drug users, this is NOT a surprise. According to our heavy users, a lot of times these harder drugs are easier to get than marijuana. Drug dealers and users are well hidden, as they are not someone the average person would stereotype as such. Occasionally, they are the students with the labels of athlete, “popular,” “most likely to succeed,” and/or even the honor students.
Abuse of prescription opiate drugs is now considered a nationwide epidemic due to users being addicted to the “pain killing” drug. Our children have access to these too, and many times they are taken out of medicine cabinets. However, prescription meds are harder to find than heroin, which is cheaper. Heroin has progressed to stronger and deadlier synthetic versions called Carfentanil and Fentanyl (Carfentanil is an analog synthetic version of Fentanyl, created to be more potent, and cheaper. It is believed to be 10,000 times more potent than morphine, 4,000 times more potent than heroin, and 1,000 times more potent than Fentanyl). The users have good news, these extremely potent drugs are not popular or easily found in McLeod county.
There are several cases of synthetic drug use among our children that have resulted in trips to the emergency room, as well as serious, long-term health issues. These results happen when our children unknowingly or knowingly take a synthetic drug. Locally, we are primarily seeing synthetic LSD, marijuana (K2/ Spice), and meth. A variety of synthetic drug recipes can be found on the internet and can be easily made. What you may not know is that dealers will use/sell synthetic drugs instead of the original drug, as they are usually cheaper, easier to get, and can be man made locally. Unfortunately, you never know the dosage.
Worse yet, the ease of getting these drugs in your hands has changed over the years. We still have our drug dealers, but they’re no longer walking among our community. The dark web is a direct line that they use to get drugs. Forget about making your own Dabs or taking the pills from a family member’s medicine bottle, it can be easier and cheaper to order the drugs. The odds that you get caught are a lot less too. Even the technology to make drug connections has changed. Today, the seller and buyer make a connection by using several of the functions on their cell phone. Snapchat, which cannot be traced as easily as text messages or emails, can send pictures and/or texts that disappear in a selected amount of time. Snapchat location will show where the dealer is and even what roads are being taken to meet up. Facebook messenger is also used to go incognito in order to hide contacts and messages. No need to send a traceable message that can be used to incriminate them.
So with the growing amount of drugs to choose from, the ease of availability, and the ability to hide conversations, what can parents do to protect their children?
- Be proactive and talk often to your children throughout their childhood years about drug use. Helping them develop respect and a healthy fear for the illegal, emotional, social, and physical consequences that drug use brings.
- Be a role model: Identify and expressing feelings appropriately. Regulating stress by role modeling healthy coping skills. Children learn how to regulate their emotions which in turns develops healthy children.
- Keep them involved and fill their time with positive activities.
- Know their friends.
- Be an active citizen of McLeod county and report suspicious drug activity/concerns to the child’s parent and/or law enforcement.
- Don’t ignore the problem. Address it with the appropriate support level needed to help your child stay chemically free and develop health coping skills for life’s success.
As parents and citizens of McLeod county, we can assist in getting these drugs out of our community. By becoming emotionally healthy ourselves and raising healthy children, their will less of a demand for drugs in our community.