Student Support Services
It has become more difficult as parents to be aware of all the substances that can be abused by youth. Most of these new substances are an attempt to sidestep traditional drug testing techniques so that even if these substances are tested for, they cannot be detected. These new substances are often sold as “legitimate” products.
Two that appear to be on the radar and have caused intense emotional and physical reactions are “bath salts” and “synthetic marijuana” (spice, K2).
Synthetic stimulants that are marketed as “bath salts” are often found in a number of retail products. They are chemicals which are synthetic derivatives of cathinone, a central nervous system stimulant. Many of these products are sold over the Internet, in convenience stores, and in “head” shops.
Bath salt stimulant products are sold in powder form in small plastic or foil packages under various brand names. Mephedron is a fine white, off-white, or slightly yellow-colored powder. It can also be found in tablet or capsule form. Bath salts are usually ingested by sniffing/snorting. They can also be taken orally, smoked, or put into a solution and injected into veins. Young people are using the white-powder as fake cocaine and many of them are ending up in emergency rooms and mental hospitals.
People who abuse these substances have reported agitation, insomnia, irritability, dizziness, depression, paranoia, delusions, suicidal thoughts, seizures, and panic attacks. Users have also reported effects including impaired perception of reality, reduced motor control, and decreased ability to think clearly. Cathinone derivatives act as central nervous system stimulants causing rapid heart rate (which may lead to heart attacks and stroke), chest pains, nosebleeds, sweating, nausea, and vomiting.
Spice, K2 and several other products are a type of synthetic marijuana. The drug consists of plant material coated with synthetic chemicals meant to produce a high similar to marijuana. It is a toxic chemical that can be sprayed onto anything that burns. According to research presented at the American Psychiatric Association meeting, Spice can cause a lengthy bout of psychosis in some users. Symptoms include auditory and visual hallucinations, paranoid delusions, and thoughts of suicide.
The Safety Wellness Advocacy Community Coalition (SWACC) Parent Awareness Collaborative hosted three forums titled, “How to Protect our Kids from the Dangers of Synthetic Drugs.” Forums were held on January 25, 2012, at Rancho Bernardo High School Performing Arts Center, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.; February 1, 2012, at Del Norte High School Theatre from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.; and February 15, 2012, at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
There are also resources available online at
The Student Support Services Department will be sharing information through school newsletters to help raise awareness in the areas of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use (ATOD) and violence prevention. This first article focuses on Oxycodone products since the abuse of prescription drugs has been rising at an alarming rate. According to data collected by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the abuse of prescription drugs is occurring in children as young as age 12. This dangerous and potentially fatal trend is at the forefront of concern for parents, school officials, and community members.
As a parent, you may have spoken to your child about illegal drugs and their harmful effects but did you know that legally prescribed medications are the number one choice of drugs for youth today? The easiest way for youth to obtain prescription medications are from their friends or their parents’ medicine cabinets. It is so common that it may even happen in your own home.
OxyContin is a very powerful time-released medication that is to be taken under close supervision of a physician. It is prescribed for high to moderate pain relief. Using the drug without the supervision of a physician or for the purposes other than its intended use can lead to serious and adverse consequences, including death from accidental overdose. When abused, tablets are crushed and snorted, chewed, injected, or smoked. Most individuals who abuse OxyContin and other Oxycodone products, including Percocet, Tylox, and Percodan, seek to gain euphoric effects. As with most opioids, these drugs are classified as narcotics, are highly addictive, and have a high potential for abuse. Sadly, nearly one in five teens report abusing prescription medications to get high, according to the National Council on Patient Information and Education.
While it is important to properly secure prescription drugs that are currently being used by family members, it is equally important to conduct a periodic review of medicine cabinet contents to identify out-dated or unnecessary prescriptions. To address the disposal issue, the San Diego Police Department and Sheriff’s Department provide drop off sites for unwanted medicines. Residents can take their old or unused prescription drugs to designated law enforcement drop off stations and deposit the medications into a secure lock box.
Talk to your children about the serious effects of prescription drugs. Remember that this is NOT about children mistakenly taking the wrong prescription medication or the wrong dose. This is about children intentionally using prescription drugs to get high. Listen to what your children have to say, and listen closely. You will learn a lot about what they think and already know about prescription and other drugs. Learn as much as you can about the abuse of prescription drugs. It is okay if you do not have all the answers. The most important thing is to have an open dialogue about all drugs and your expectations regarding their use.
There are many sources of good information and websites available such as Drugfree.org; oxywatchdog.com; www.family.samsha.gov; and others. For more information on “What Parents Need to Know” and “What are some the Physical Warning Signs?” visit the PUSD website and click on Raising Awareness (See boxes above).
As much as parents may not like to think about it, the truth is that many kids and teens try alcohol during their middle and high school years. Some teens try or use alcohol for a variety of reasons, including to reduce stress, to feel grown up, to fit in, because it feels good, because their parents do, out of curiosity, and because it is easy to obtain. It is difficult to know which teens will only try alcohol once, which will use casually, and which will develop serious alcohol addiction and related problems later in life. Although experimentation with alcohol may be common among kids and teens, it is not safe or legal. Additionally, students do not realize when alcohol is consumed; it is absorbed into the bloodstream and affects the central nervous system which controls all body functions. Some of the risks of alcohol abuse include: difficulty walking, blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times, impaired memory and blackouts, mental confusion, difficulty with muscle coordination, persistent learning and memory problems, liver disease, unintentional injuries, and impaired judgment.
A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that 709,000 youth ages 12 to 14 in the United States are drinking beer, liquor and other alcoholic beverages.
Surprisingly, many of these underage drinkers are not just getting a friend to buy a six pack or smuggling alcohol out of the family liquor cabinet, some are getting the alcohol directly from a parent, guardian or relative. According to SAMHSA, the past month alone, more than 200,000 kids were given alcohol by a parent or other adult family member. "People who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are six times more likely than those who start at age 21 and older to develop alcohol problems. Parents and other adults need to be aware that providing alcohol to children can expose them to an increased risk for alcohol abuse and set them on a path with increased potential for addiction," said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde, in the report.
Alcohol related car accidents are a leading cause of death for teenagers and young adults. Alcohol is the drug of choice among teens and many teens abuse alcohol as early as seventh grade. With spring break approaching, we are reminded to keep our kids safe. Poway has had some sad and devastating examples of teens driving while intoxicated so please talk to your kids and teens about the effects of alcohol. It is important to start discussing alcohol use and abuse with your children at an early age and keep talking about it as they grow up. The younger kids are when they begin drinking, the greater their chance of becoming addicted to alcohol. In addition, research shows that the younger children and adolescents are when they start to drink, the more likely they will be to engage in behaviors that harm themselves and others. There are excellent resources available and also tips for parents from preschool to teens - KidsHealth.org; www.SAMHSA.gov; www.DontServeTeens.gov; www.youthbingedrinking.org; www.niaaa.nih.gov/ and others.
Please help us keep your children safe and healthy. They are our future.