Parents given lowdown on a variety of drugs that threaten children

With the theme “What we don’t know could hurt our children,” the New Buffalo, Bridgman and River Valley school districts teamed up to sponsor a Parent Drug Awareness Night on Wednesday, March 19. “No community is safe or isolated from these issues,” said New Buffalo Middle School Principal William Welling. During the presentation, it was mentioned that all of the abuses covered in the talk were familiar to area teens. Armed with information on emerging drug trends in West Michigan and related resources for parents were Stephanie VanDerKooi, prevention coordinator with Lakeshore Coordinating Council for Prevention & Addiction Recovery Services, and Kelly Laesch, crime prevention coordinator for Berrien County Sheriff. Acknowledging that alcohol and marijuana continue to be the top substances abused by kids, VanDerKooi spent the bulk of her presentation in the New Buffalo Middle/High School Media Center on the new drugs being abused which she said are primarily prescription drugs, including Adderall and Oxycontin, plus the use of inhalents and cocaine.

First on her list was Molly, a slang term for Ecstasy powder, being popularized by recording and rap artists and other teen idols. When snorted, swallowed or eaten, Molly increases energy, changes moods and produces euphoria. Detrimental effects include anxiety and paranoia, increased body temperature, headaches, dizziness, depression and even death. Other new trends covered by VanDerKooi include: • Smoking Alcohol or AWOL (alcohol without liquid) by pouring dry ice (readily available in local grocery stores) and inhaling it directly or through a straw. This is extremely potent because it bypasses the stomach and liver. • Huffing, or using inhalants, including volatile solvents, fuels, aerosols, anesthetics and nitrates. Even though the substances are legal, if they are used for illegal purposes, users can be charged with breaking the law. • Hookah pipes and Hookah Lounges are regaining popularity because the flavored tobaccos are cheap and are not regulated. Hookahs can produce the same effect as smoking 100 cigarettes at one time. • E (electronic) Cigarettes, which still have the additive nicotine present and have become a huge business. They are being bought by teens to smoke marijuana, heroin and Ejuice. Schools and public places are being urged to ban them as part of their smoke-free policies. • Prescription Drug Abuse is on the rise, particularly with seventh to tenth graders because of their easy access in medicine cabinets found at home, friends and relatives, particularly

grandparents. Popular drugs include strong pain relievers, stimulants and sedatives or tranquilizers. • ADHD Medications, such as Ritalin and Adderall, are popular with many for weight loss. They are hard to detect in school and are often shared at test time. They improve focus but their side effects include anxiety, mania or psychosis. • Prescription Oxycontin is frequently over-prescribed for pain relief after surgeries but is being crushed and abused by snorters and is highly addictive with severe withdrawal symptoms. • Heroin,which today has 40 to 50 percent potency compared to the heroin used in the 1970s with 5 percent potency. It is highly addictive and inexpensive, compared to Oxycontin. • Sizzurp/Purple Drank, Lean are names used to describe drinks make with promethazine with codeine cough syrups along with fruit flavored sodas and teas, Jolly Rancher and other popular ingredients. VanDerKooi also covered drug culture clothing, such as Hot Topic or Pac Sun, Seedless and Diamond Brand clothing and slotflops or stash-it flip flops with hidden pockets. The drug counselors both stressed the need to watch for signs of drug abuse among their teens, to talk about drugs during “teachable moments” using everyday topics and to teach their kids to say “no” and also how to say “no.” Among the website resources listed were:;;, and the teen-based A complete parents’ guide can be found at website: “Set boundaries and give them your expectations. Discipline is tough but we’ve got your backs. We’re always here for parents,” Laesch said.

Source:  Wednesday, March 26, 2014

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