As parents, we all try to watch over our children and protect them from the dangers of the world. But, when it comes down to it, how much do you really know about what your children are doing?
What if I told you that we seized over $31 million worth of drugs in Denton County in 2013? Would that surprise you? We have to know what our children are doing at all times, if we are going to protect them not only from drugs, but also from the other dangers and predators that seek to do them harm.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health: “Illicit drug use in America has been increasing. In 2011, an estimated 22.5-million Americans, aged 12 or older (or 8.7-percent of the population) had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication (such as a pain reliever, stimulant, or tranquilizer) in the past month. This is up from 8.3 percent in 2002.” (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
In Denton County, the single biggest drug problem we have today is with a drug called K2, or Spice. It’s a synthetic substitute for marijuana, also called “fake weed,” which can cause seizures or even death. One of the main reasons it’s taking over as the number-one drug-of-choice in Denton County is its availability and seeming legality. The problem with that assumption is that K2 is not actually legal. Since it is a synthetic, manufacturers can change one chemical, removing it from current the banned list; so it can again be sold legally until that version is discovered and banned. Law enforcement has a long list of variations of K2 that have been banned, but the drug dealers keep changing it up. This also means there is no way to know what possible reactions to any particular version of the drug will be.
In addition, since K2 is a synthetic, distributors of K2 can put it on any ingestible substance, because it’s actually a liquid that is sprayed on the item. It could be tobacco, cabbage, or any substance that can be ingested. People have committed horrendous crimes on it and people have done harm to themselves while using K2. It also causes hallucinations, vomiting, agitation and other dangerous effects. It has caused long-term mental issue; there have been deaths.
K2 has been sold since 2006 labeled as incense or potpourri for about $30 to $40 per three-gram bag, which is comparable in cost to marijuana.
Dr. Anthony Scalzo, a professor of toxicology at Saint Louis University, says: “K2 may be a mixture of herbal and spice plant products, but it is sprayed with a potent psychotropic-drug and [is] likely contaminated with an unknown toxic substance that is causing many adverse effects.
“Advertised as a ‘legal’ alternative to weed, it’s [K2] often sold as incense or potpourri and in most states, it’s anything but legal, or safe. Synthetic marijuana was linked to 11,406 drug-related emergency department visits in 2010, according to a first-of-its-kind report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This is when it first started showing up on health providers’ radar, as the Drug Abuse Warning Network detected a measurable number of emergency visits.” (CNN)
One of the best ways to make sure your children are not using drugs is to know where they are and who they’re with– always. Monitor their electronics use whether it’s phones, computers, or games. Know what your kids are doing. This is the only way you, as a parent, can come close to being sure that your children are safe.
Drugfree.org says: “Parents have more influence over their child than friends, music, TV, the Internet and celebrities. Kids who learn a lot about the risks of drugs and alcohol from their parents are up to 50-percent less-likely to use than those who do not.”
Several tips about how to talk to your children, in addition to a ‘toolkit” parents can use to prevent drug use, are available at: www.theparenttoolkit.org, which offers tips for talking to your kids at any age from elementary school through high school.
Help your teen stay safe and make healthy choices by: talking and listening regularly; being directly involved in your child’s everyday world; making it clear that you do not want him or her drinking or using drugs; and setting limits.
What it comes down to, is that you need to be a real part of your children’s lives. You need to know who their friends are on social media. You need to know whose phone numbers are in their phones, and who they’re texting. You also need to know what applications are on their phones. Ask yourself if you know all of your children’s friends. If not, get to know them. Know what the expectations and rules are when your children are visiting at their friend’s houses.
Do you know your children’s friend’s parents? Get to know them as well. Only when you know these people and know who your children are connecting and hanging out with, can you even begin to know what your children are really doing; and that is the only way you can protect them. It’s a matter of their health and safety.
In addition to the general dangers from K2 and the other illegal drugs that our youth have access to, drugs in general are more dangerous to teenagers and children than they are to adults. They are still growing, and their bodies and brains are changing rapidly. As parents, we see these changes, but our children don’t notice as it happens to them.
Teenagers who take drugs are at far greater risk than adults to suffer long-term damage due to drug use and abuse. In addition, teenagers, who have little experience with life and death, are more likely to take risks, because they don’t have a true understanding of exactly what risks are involved. Teenagers often choose their friends based on factors other than good judgment, and this can lead to risky behavior once drugs are in use. Teens don’t realize just how much drugs and alcohol can lower inhibitions and decrease impulse control until it’s too late.
The long term effects of K2 are not yet known– and cannot be known– because the distributors keep changing the chemical-makeup of the drug. We do know that the long term effects of many of the other drugs available are more harmful to teens and children than to adults. It is up to us as parents to know what our children are doing and with whom they are doing it. We are our children’s best hope to avoid drugs.