BLANCHARD — Community members, parents and caregivers are encouraged to attend an emerging drug trends presentation at 6 p.m. today in the Montabella High School gymnasium. Many neighboring communities are hosting similar events to educate people of the effects of the latest substances being used as drugs.
Edmore Police Department and Drug Free Montcalm will offer information on bath salts, synthetic marijuana and other substances that are becoming increasingly popular among youths.
New drugs hit the market every day, most of which are legal and have no purchase age limit. With these new drugs come varying side effects and health problems. Kids that use them may be totally unaware of their dangers.
Keeping these dangerous substances off store shelves is difficult when manufacturers change product names and chemicals to bypass government bans. Altering the chemicals in these substances makes their side effects unpredictable. Seizures, numbness, hallucinations, panic attacks, vomiting and death are all reported side effects associated with the use of synthetic marijuana.
Awareness among parents is essential, according to Drug Free Montcalm Coalition coordinator Lynn Cooper. It’s important to learn how to identify these drugs, recognize their effects, and prevent them from impacting families.
“The presentation will discuss the influences that are shaping children’s decisions with their choices of partaking in these substances that are unhealthy, unsafe and unacceptable,” Cooper said. “Parents need to be parents, be informed, not only about these substances, but also about their children — their friends, their feelings, their whereabouts. They need to have expectations, follow through and be an example.”
Alcohol and tobacco are so-called “gateway drugs.” Recent studies show that the earlier children use tobacco or alcohol, the more likely they are to move on to other drugs.
“Alcohol and tobacco are still the drugs of choice,” Cooper said. “If parents’ attitudes are lax on these substances, and they (children) think they are acceptable prior to being of legal age, youth take that as other substances are acceptable, also.”
Cooper said children are very impressionable at all ages. Packaging on many emerging drugs is misleading. It can be perceived as candy with cartoon characters, bright colors and graphics. The packaging says “not for human consumption,” so parents may think their child has it for incense.
“Parents as well as the general public need to express to the store owners that we do not appreciate these substances being available for purchase,” Cooper said.
Drug Free Montcalm provides educational resources to help prevent substance abuse. For more information, contact Lynn Cooper at email@example.com. Drug Free Montcalm will present this same information at Tri County Area Schools May 10.