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Communities That Care Coalition: Underground Drug Culture Hides In Plain Sight

There is a widening generation gap that most parents are unaware of, one that has little to do with shifting world views or social values. It does have plenty to do with drugs and alcohol, however, and how, in today’s teenage and young adult world, those substances are found and consumed. In fact, there is an underground drug culture hiding in plain sight within that generation gap.

That culture continues to rapidly evolve, according to Jermaine Galloway, a veteran Boise police officer and popular North American speaker on the topic of teen drug and alcohol abuse. He spoke in a rapid-fire, eye-opening detail Thursday night in front of about 45 parents and local educators at the Sandpoint High School auditorium, outlining teenage influences that range from the legalization of marijuana to the transparency of the Internet.

And the primary barrier that stands between teens and that culture are parents. “It’s your job to raise your kids,” Galloway, a commanding figure at 6-foot, 9-inches, said. “Be an active parent. Talk to your kids.” But that will take some work, self-education, and communication between teenagers and parents, he said.

Teenagers today face a litany of challenges, many more than today’s parents faced at their age. Kids live in a transparent world of unlimited information access, social pressures, and near-constant targeted advertising carefully crafted to entice them.

Take marijuana: it’s not that leafy, hippy-grade stuff anymore. New methods of extracting tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active psychotropic ingredient in marijuana, have raised its potency from around 15 percent to as high as 90 percent. Extraction is so easy, a 14- year-old could do it, Galloway said.

The extracted oils, or a substance known by street names such as wax, dab, or honey for its wax-like consistency, can be smoked or cooked into “edibles” — candy, cakes, cookies, anything really — sometimes with tragic results.

Digested edibles take longer to absorb into the body, and the high lasts longer, a potentially bad combination. In one example presented by Galloway, a young teenager consumed an entire batch of edibles meant for several people because he didn’t think his single serving was getting him high. He did eventually get high – too high — and jumped to his death from a building. In another example, a man killed his wife after consuming an oil-laced edible. Legalized marijuana laws like those in Washington and Oregon are seeing marijuana extracts creep into the Gem State. Idaho, Galloway pointed out, is the only state whose entire western border abuts two states with legalized recreational marijuana laws.

Another rising problem is electronic vaporizing devices, or e-devices. A new phenomenon primarily used with flavored liquid nicotine, the devices can also be used to smoke raw marijuana,
or extracts. Some devices are sophisticated enough that there is no odor, and they’re in the schools. “You don’t smell anything,” said SHS principal Tom Albertson, who attended the presentation.

Drug abuse isn’t restricted to the illegal variety in Idaho, however. Potential trouble can lurk on the grocery store shelf or the bathroom cabinet at home, where dextromethorphan, the active ingredient in cough syrup — with street names like DMX and Triple C can be accessed. “People can have hallucinations if they drink enough,” Galloway said.

And right next to that bottle of cough syrup might be a brown bottle of prescription drugs. A March survey of 907 Lake Pend Oreille School District teenagers conducted by the Community Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention, the sponsor of Galloway’s presentation, found that 13.4 percent of respondents admitted using prescription drugs not prescribed to them. And 32.3 percent of the students, ranging in ages from 12 to 19, said they knew a friend who abused prescriptions. Where did they get them? From friends, according to 57.9 percent, while 36.3 said they acquired them from their parents.

For More, Please Read The August 12 Edition Of The Nashville News.

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