Drug counselors and Columbia County school officials warned parents last week that teens are more clever than they realize in finding ways to obtain and use drugs.
School administrators said during a substance abuse forum held Thursday at Grovetown Middle School that they have caught students eating vodka-soaked jelly beans and using ink pens converted into marijuana pipes to elusively use drugs at schools.
Terry Childers, an administrator with Bradford Health Services, said he has counseled teen addicts who read newspaper obituaries to target potential theft victims.
“They would look for people who died of something like cancer, knowing their houses probably had a lot of prescription drugs in them,” said Childers. “They they’d wait for when the funeral was being held and rob the house.”
The Insight Program Senior Counselor A.J. Creswell, a recovering addict who also lectured at the forum, said he probably stole $2,000 in change from his parents during his years as a teen user. Stealing is a primary sign parents should look for if they suspect their children are abusing drugs, Creswell said.
Other signs include lying, disruptive behavior, arriving home late and declining grades.
Childers added that physical signs of drug use include red or gray eyes, dilated pupils, and if the teens emanate a sweet odor, which can be a sign of Spice use.
Spice increasingly is becoming the drug of choice among teens as it is legal in many states. The drug just became illegal in Georgia this month, but remains legal in South Carolina, Childers and Creswell said.
A synthetic marijuana developed by a Clemson University scientist, Spice first grew popular in Asia, Childers said.
In the U.S. the drug is sold in tobacco shops for smoking. Childers said Spice also is sold as incense and even can be sprayed
Longtime use of Spice can result in psychosis, added Creswell.
Despite the growth of Spice, prescription medications remain the No. 1 drug choice of teens.
“They’re becoming more and more accessible to teenagers,” Creswell said, adding that many children simply take their parents’ prescription drugs. “They don’t even bother asking what’s in them. They have no idea what kind of dangerous stuff might be in those pills.”
Childers said that 70 percent of the prescription drugs used by teens came from a friend or relative.
A popular pastime among teens today, Creswell said, are attending “cocktail” parties, where children take unidentified pills from a bowl as a game.
“The kids who come through my program are some of the smartest I’ve ever met,” he said. “Drug dealing isn’t just some guy on a street corner. Kids are getting them from friends, at home, even at gas stations.”
Childers said parents must talk to their teens about drug abuse. They need to make teens understand the consequences.
“If we’re not on the forefront, if we’re not educating ourselves and them, (teens) are learning it from someone else,” Childers said.