The New Picture On Local Drug Abuse: Drug Prevention Summit Wrap-Up

   

 Local EMS Doctors relay their daily experiences with drug addicts .   Photo: Madison County Chamber

   Intersect Inc. and the Madison County Chamber hosted the business community for the Madison County Drug Prevention Summit September 12th and 13th, for what became a strong wake-up call for many of our community members. Stories of national and local drug abuse gave attendees a stern look and began exposing some of the trends they will need to tackle in their own arenas.

   We are now living in the days where drug driving fatalities have surpassed drunk driving fatalities for the first time in history. Driving high is on the rise, and the drug culture is becoming more present in our daily lives, many times right in front of us. Indiana is awash with drug paraphernalia, as a recent community scan by Officer Jermaine Galloway, the Tall Cop, our featured speaker at the Summit revealed.

   “…what I ran into was popular marijuana products, you see that a lot, and you see that at convenient stores around the United States, too. Popular marijuana products, I ran into some butane being sold which is very popular for butane hash oil extraction, extraction tubes, pipes, bongs, meth pipes- a pipe that can be used for methamphetamine- and things like that.”

   For an area long plagued by serious heroin abuse, the news of a seedier kind was not welcome. The marijuana culture has been present and active for years now in our county, and recent fears of laced and extracted marijuana has become more prevalent as substances become more dangerous and unpredictable. A Madison County’s Sheriff’s department officer left the Summit abruptly Wednesday to arrest a belligerent driver on possession of marijuana. While it isn’t clear what strain and if that was the only drug present at the possession, it certainly prompted more questions about what drugs we are facing here in Madison County.

Faith-based  community leaders speak on drugs and treatments options in the area.    Photo: Madison County Chamber

    “Do not isolate any one drug and only talk about any one drug. You can’t. We are seeing through results of toxicology and toxicologist’s results multi-drug use in multiple individuals. We are not just seeing people sticking to this one drug”, said Officer Galloway of the trend. It certainly was made clear that many addicts are happy with any high they can get, prescription, opioid or synthetic.

   Local ER doctors exposed the careful balance between prescribing and overprescribing abusive substances. Caution and collaboration with law enforcement, pharmacies and regional health providers is required to be certain patients aren’t abusing the system and the drug. Stories from emergency medical providers on their interactions with addicts and the knowledge many shared proved a popular question among treatment specialists and educators; many of the highs present in our community are available between $5 and $20, making the only true limitation access.

  How difficult is it to access these substances? Officer Galloway outlined a host of ways anyone could gain access on public websites, social media and international web hosts. Many substances can be ordered as easily as a few clicks. And what of pipes or bongs? If they aren’t available locally, they can be purchased online under the guise of science, health or recreational equipment, shipped discretely from out of the country. In truth, access is becoming less and less of a barrier.

  As our heroin and marijuana concerns grow, the growing danger of opioid-spiked substances is growing. Fentanyl is proving deadly for police and emergency services personnel across the country, as less than a penny’s size of the substance is lethal. The more aggressive carfentanil is also growing in popularity for its hyper-addictive qualities; typically doses of carfentanil are given as an anesthesia for large zoo animals such as elephants. At 10,000 times the strength of morphine, a single grain is deadly to humans.

  What are some takeaways for the educator, parent or community member? “Your instincts are there, you just have to trust them”, says Galloway, calling for people to ask questions and know how to educate yourself. “Try your best to educate yourself, you’re always going to be behind… educating yourself means knowing resources like me, or your local coalition or your health department or local school resource officer you can talk to “. He also recommended you simply take to the web for answers. Not only are prevention experts available around the world, many times you can find info straight from drug dealers and addicts on sites like Reddit.

  Social media and websites growing the drug culture behind parent’s backs has led to numerous tragedies in communities across the country. Galloway recounted a case from February of a student from Ottowa found dead of Fentanyl overdose who thought they obtained Percocet. Cheap drugs from China and increasing access to supplies means more dealers cutting drugs with more addictive or dangerous substances. Growing popularity of e-cigs and fake inhalers for marijuana and other substances adds to the heap; what do our children have access to, and how long before it becomes deadly?

   Officer Galloway left with a sobering thought on the pervasive nature of the drug culture and if evidence of any exists, the likelihood of increasingly dangerous forms grows. “You don’t ever want to close it off to say, “that’s not here”; those are the worst words you could utter.” So then, how do we equip ourselves? What resources are available in Madison County to aid in preventing the next generation of drug users?

Intersect Inc. with their new Hidden In Plain Sight Exhibit for educating adults on teen drug culture trends .   Photo: Madison County Chamber

   Our event presenter Intersect Inc. works to offer programs to families and individuals in support of prevention efforts. They are a great resource for information, as well as connecting individuals with the services they need to fight addiction. They recently created a mobile exhibit for increasing awareness with parents and parent figures called Hidden in Plain Sight, which they are ready and willing to offer to the community in cooperation with the Madison County Sheriff's Department. You can learn more about Intersect by visiting them at http://intersectinc.org/ or reach them by phone at 765-683-0452.