Spotting Teen Drug Trends

CARSON CITY, NV – When surveyed in 2013, 8,000 Nevada kids reported they had used illicit drugs in the past month. For parents looking to prevent their kids from becoming a statistic, there are plenty of things to look out for including warning signs, paraphernalia and new designer drugs.

Drugs cross all demographics. Whether it’s marijuana, prescription pill abuse, or new synthetic drugs, there is no particular group that is exempt from abuse.

“It can very much destroy a family on the long term, absolutely,” said Sgt. Daniel Gonzales with the Carson City Sheriff’s Office.

Gonzales overseas the Sheriff’s SET or Special Enforcement Team, which focuses on current drug trends. He says one of the major problems right now is how rapidly the drug culture is adapting so people don’t get caught.

“There is a whole market out there of concealing and how to conceal your drugs and how to conceal you using the drugs,” said Gonzales.

A test of that theory last week. At a Douglas High basketball game an anti-drug group wanted to see if parents could identify drug paraphernalia. Parents were brought in and shown various items that look like they belong in a teen’s bedroom.

“There are many things out there to trick parents and our youth are very very smart and they are able to find any of these things on the internet,” said Linda Gilkerson with Partnership of Community Resources, a Douglas County anti-drug group.

The ‘Teen Bedroom’ has several things that look like items a teen would have in a bedroom, but they are really used for drugs. There is a flashlight that breaks down into a marijuana pipe, a highlighter that has a pipe hidden inside, and even a bracelet that is a wearable way to smoke and store marijuana.

“When we educate parents it helps them to know that their children are getting into things that they shouldn’t be,” said Gilkerson.

Beyond actual ways to use drugs, teens are creative in hiding them. Fake skateboard wheels or false soda cans can be places to stash drugs.

Certain clothing can be a dead giveaway that teens are using. Experts say a company called ‘Seedless’ promotes marijuana use. Clothing that has the number 710 on it is a reference to hash oil, because if you turn 710 upside down it spells ‘oil.’

“It’s like a little red flag for parents to take a look, a little bit closer look,” said Gilkerson.

As difficult as it may be to impose on a teen’s privacy, parents have the responsibility to know what their children are doing.

“You have to act before it becomes a problem, not when it becomes a problem,” said Jennifer Synder, Executive Director of Join Together Northern Nevada.

So what drugs should you look for? Aside from the normal ones, there is hash oil, which is a marijuana concentrate often used in e- cigarettes. Spice is a synthetic marijuana that is basically oregano that has been sprayed with chemicals. One of the biggest problems right now is the abuse of prescription drugs.

“Prescription drugs are on the rise and heroine. The two go together because they are both opiates,” said Snyder.

Kids experiment with Oxycontin and when they can’t find it anymore, they switch to harder stuff to get their fix.

“Their body becomes dependent on that opiate base. When they can’t get it at home any more or through a friend, then they are looking for the alternative which is heroine. Which is some nasty stuff,” said Gonzales.

There is a simple solution to all of this: opening a dialog about drug dangers at an early age and maintaining that dialog throughout the teen years. It’s never too early to start talking to your kids about drugs.

“I would say if you have a middle school child and you have not talked to them, you need to talk to them,” said Snyder.

Just how important is it to talk to your kids? Most teens report the reason they didn’t try drugs was because they knew it would disappoint their parents.

For more information on how to spot or prevent drug use, click the link at right for Join Together Northern Nevada, a KOLOCares pillar partner.