WANT TO KNOW IF YOUR KID IS DOING DRUGS?
Here are signs:
If you overhear your child brag about robo-tripping, getting “crunk” or hanging out with Molly or Stacy, you are probably long overdue for a heart-to-heart talk.
Those are euphemisms for getting high or experimenting with hard drugs.
Experts say the signs of possible drug use in young people are fairly easy to spot — if you know what you are looking for.
A review of Springfield school incident reports involving drug use during the 2014-15 year show students allegedly under the influence of drugs or alcohol often have glassy eyes, sluggishness, slurred speech and a sense of being “out of it.”
In nearly every case where drugs were found, there were other telltale signs: Rolling papers, Cigarillos, cash, lighters and a lot of Ziploc bags. The most serious offenders also, typically, carried grinders, pipes or scales.
“I’d encourage parents to stay involved with their kids, continue to communicate, all through school,” said Parkview High School Principal Eric Ramsey, who says he often sees parental involvement drop off as a child grows older. “There are a lot of things parents can do.”
Learning the drug slang — and the shorthand used in texting — is a good place to start, experts say.
But, if you don’t want to memorize all the terms, you can look up words, as they come up, through online dictionaries including NoSlang.com.
Ramsey, a school administrator for nearly two decades, sees hundreds of teens every school day. He said when a student starts using drugs, regular grooming habits can become less important. Parkview had the most drug-related incident reports last year.
“Hygiene is a big one,” he said, noting it’s not unusual for a student experimenting with drugs to wear dirty clothes or the same outfit for two days in a row. “To me, it’s one of the biggest indicators.”
Others include big changes in after-school habits and routines. He said parents must pay close attention to their kids’ friends — and what digital tools they use to communicate.
“The biggest thing with this generation is they have to stay in tune with their social media,” Ramsey said. “They (often) have two accounts, the one with the good stuff and the one with the bad stuff.”
Davis said it’s not too late for parents to become educated on what drugs are available, and it’s never early to start talking to young people about the dangers of drug use. He said the type of conversation needs to be age-appropriate.
Citing national studies, Davis said the average age a person who tries tobacco is 12, and marijuana or alcohol is 13.
Asked to describe the biggest youth drug problem in the Springfield community, Davis said it remains alcohol. He pointed out many families have alcohol in their homes and may not keep it in a locked cabinet.
Davis said while studies show youth alcohol use has decreased since the mid-1990s, the danger remains. For middle and high school students, he said: “It takes as little as six months to become addicted to alcohol.”
Marijuana, which has been around for a long time, is also growing in popularity. Davis said the legalization of marijuana in a few states has created a misconception that it is safe for everybody.
“It’s probably our biggest worry with youth because we see that (public) perception of harm going down,” Davis said. He said accessibility is also a factor.
Davis added that parents who may have experimented with marijuana in their youth and, as a result, may not perceive it as a huge threat, likely do not realize that today’s marijuana is “so much more potent.”
Justin Herrell, executive director of student services for Springfield Public Schools, said use of alcohol and marijuana, which often carries a strong odor, is easier to spot in youths than prescription drug use. “That scares me as a school leader,” he said.
Rikki Barton, director of CPO’s regional support center substance abuse and violence prevention division, said pills are “easily available” and highly portable.
She said prevention experts believe prescription drug use can be a gateway to heroin, which is available in pill form. “That is one of our main concerns,” she said.
“Vaping” or inhaling vapor through a personal vaporizer, including electronic cigarettes, is also on the rise among young people, she said.
“That is one we are trying to keep our eye on,” Barton said.
Experts said not enough attention is paid to why young people are using drugs and alcohol. Experimentation and peer pressure are only two of the possible reasons.
“A lot of these kids are self-medicating,” Barton said. “They might not be aware that’s what they’re doing, that they’re dealing with a trauma or stressor.”
Decoding drug use
The website WebMD provides a dictionary of drug terms for parents. Here is an abbreviated version of general terms:
•Antifreeze — heroin. Synonyms include Big H, brown sugar, dope, golden girls, H, horse, junk, poison, skag, smack, sweet dreams, tar and train.
•Candy flipping — high achieved by combining LSD or acid with ecstasy
•Cheese — hazardous mix of black tar heroin and Tylenol PM (or other medicines containing diphenhydramine). It looks like grated Parmesan cheese.
•Crank — stimulant methamphetamine. Synonyms include meth, speed, chalk, white cross, fire and glass. It can be injected, snorted or taken as a pill.
•Crunk — verb that means to get high and drunk at the same time.
•Dexing — abusing cough syrup. Synonyms include robo-tripping or robo-dosing because users tend to chug Robitussin or another cough syrup to get high.
•Dextromethorphan, or DXM — drug contained in over-the-counter cough suppressants. In high dozes, it becomes a hallucinogen. Synonyms include Candy, Dex, DM, Drex, Red Devils, Robo, Rojo, Skittles, Tussin, Velvet, Poor Man’s X, and Vitamin D.
•GeorgiaHomeBoy — gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, a central nervous system depressant that can produce euphoric, sedative, and body-building effects. Other synonyms include Gamma-OH, Grievous Bodily Harm, Liquid Ecstasy, Liquid E, Liquid X, Organic Quaalude, and Scoop.
•Kibbles and bits — Ritalin, a drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is sometimes also referred to as pineapple.
•Roofies — rohypnol or the “date rape drug.” Synonyms include the forget pill, La Rocha, Mexican valium, R-2, rib, roachies, roofenol and rope.
•Snow — cocaine. Synonyms include Charlie, crack, coke, dust, flake, freebase, lady, nose candy, powder, rock, rails, snowbirds, toot, white and yahoo. A stimulant, it can decrease appetite.
•Special K — medicine used as an anesthetic in humans and animals. It can cause hallucinations and euphoria in higher doses. Synonyms include vitamin K, breakfast cereal, cat valium, horse tranquilizer, K, Ket, new ecstasy, psychedelic heroin and super acid.
•Triple C — Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold. In high doses, it can be a hallucinogen. It is also called skittles.
•X — ecstasy. Synonyms include Adam, E, bean, clarity, essence, lovers speed, MDMA, roll, stacy and XTC.