Boise police to parents: Educate yourself now about drugs

If you don't talk to your kids, the streets will do it for you, police say.

cmsewell@idahostatesman.comNovember 20, 2013 

  • POP QUIZ ANSWERS: KNOW WHAT THE WORDS MEAN

    Cups: Everyday innocuous items, such as plastic cups, can have a different meaning within the drug culture. Two Styrofoam cups - also called "double cup" - means cough medicine. It's often mixed with soda and then sipped. Red plastic cups have become ubiquitous symbols for drinking alcohol.

    Bath salts: Synthetic drug engineered to mimic the effect of cocaine or amphetamine. Sold in small foil packets or containers resembling traditional bath products and labeled "not for human consumption" to avoid FDA regulations. Can be swallowed, snorted, smoked or injected.

    Ice: Crystal meth. Pure form of methamphetamine. Clear, crystal chunks are usually smoked, sometimes snorted or injected.

    Krokodil, zombie drug: Desomorphine. A homemade, heroin-like drug made of codeine, gasoline, paint thinner, oil and alcohol. When injected, it destroys tissue and turns the skin scaly and green like crocodile skin. The drug became popular in Russia about 10 years ago.

    DXM, dex, robo, Skittles, triple C, tussin: Dextromethorphan. An ingredient found in a variety of over-the-counter cold and cough medications.

    DMT, businessman's trip: Dimethyltryptamine. Hallucinogenic found in a variety of plants and seeds; it can also be produced synthetically. Generally sniffed, smoked or injected.

    Ecstasy, E, X, XTC, Molly, Mandy: MDMA. Hallucinogenic drug popular at rave, techno and underground parties. Comes in colorful tablets stamped with fun symbols.

    Hand sanitizer: With an ethyl alcohol content of 60 to 70 percent, abusers drink it straight or distill the alcohol from the gel. It's more difficult to extract alcohol from foam sanitizers.

    Butane hash, dabs, wax, budder: Hash oil. Most potent form of marijuana, created by using butane to extract the plant's resin, creating a wax or oil. Can be smoked or vaporized, called dabbing. Boise police made their first confiscation this week.

    Inhalants: Ordinary household products - model airplane glue, nail polish remover, cleaning fluids, hair spray, gasoline, aerosol whipped cream, spray paint, fabric protector, air conditioner fluid, cooking spray, correction fluid - inhaled to get high.

    K2, spice: Synthetic marijuana typically marketed as not-for-human-consumption incense or potpourri.

    Special K, vitamin K, jet: Ketamine. Anesthetic used on humans and animals. Odorless and tasteless, its effects are similar to PCP or LSD. Can be snorted or swallowed.

    25i, smiles, N-bomb: NBOMe. Synthetic drug that mimics the effect of LSD. Can be inhaled, injected or snorted; can come on paper tabs placed in the mouth. Boise's first reported overdoses occurred last month. DEA declared it and two variants illegal this week.

    Pharm: Prescription drugs. "Pharm party" refers to kids collecting various prescription drugs and then randomly ingesting them. Commonly abused: codeine, OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Xanax, Valium, Ritalin, Adderall, dexedrine.

    Salvia divinorum: Psychoactive plant that is ingested or smoked. Not a federally controlled substance, but about 20 states (not Idaho) have passed laws restricting or banning it.

    Sources: Boise Police Department, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, drugfree.org

  • ADULT MISPERCEPTIONS ABOUT DRUGS

    The Statesman talked to three college-bound high school seniors to find out how much kids who don't use drugs know about slang, paraphernalia and trends. They agreed to talk if we didn't use their names. Here's what they say adults get wrong:

    Methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine are the drugs parents should worry about.

    "The worst problems are with alcohol and prescription drugs."

    "Thousands of people die from alcohol–related incidents and no one talks about it, but two kids die from this crazy new drug and it is like, 'Oh, my God, all the kids are going to die.' "

    "The most common drugs now are Ritalin and Adderall. Molly (ecstasy) is pretty common, too."

    Pop culture and music influence drug use.

    "The strongest influence is not a rapper saying 'Pop a Molly.' It's your friend with two tablets of Molly. That is what is going to make you do drugs. The strongest influence is your peer group."

    Teenage drug users are partiers who do poorly academically and come from low-income families.

    "I know some really stellar kids who do it to blow off steam. It is not a bunch of burnouts."

    "There are smart kids doing drugs. Adderall and Ritalin - kids do that for tests and to study. It is a performance drug. It is academic steroids."

    "You hear about kids taking Adderall and then taking the SAT and doing 100 times better. There is so much pressure to get into good schools. You need these absurd scores."

    'Just say no' works

    "Of course parents are telling their kids 'Don't do drugs,' but kids are still doing drugs anyway. … Where there are people, there are drugs."

    "No one ever buys into, 'This is your brain on drugs.' "

    The students cited personal reasons for avoiding drugs, such as wanting to do well in school or not wanting to emulate a parent who did drugs.

Parents, it's time for a pop quiz:

1. Do you know the meaning of "dabbing," "double cup" or "pharm party"?

2. If your kid wears a T-shirt asking "Where's Molly?" or "Got kush?" do you know what they're talking about?

3. Why is hand sanitizer causing trips to the ER?

If you are stymied by these questions, welcome to the ever-changing drug world.

If you are a parent and don't know these terms or trends, Boise Police Alcohol Compliance Officer Jermaine Galloway has some advice: Educate yourself now.

"Your kids already know more about what is going on than you do," he said. "You need to engage."

TALK TO YOUR KIDS

Parents who think they don't need to talk to their children about drugs because they believe they'd never use them, or are waiting until their child is well into their teens to have the talk, are making a big mistake, Galloway said.

"That is the worst choice you can make," he said. "You are already second in line. You are already behind the curve."

If parents do not tell their kids about drugs, others will, he said: "The streets are more than happy to educate your kids."

Galloway suggests talking to kids as young as age 10 or 11, and even younger if they have older siblings. He suggests frequent and informal conversations, not a once-a-year don't-do-drugs speech. Parents must listen carefully, he said.

He recommends asking a child's thoughts on song lyrics, movie scenes or pop culture references. "Let them do most of the talking, then build your talking points off what they say," he said.

Parents need to check their kids' rooms and monitor social media accounts and computer use for signs of substance abuse, he said.

"Parents need to be the first line of defense. The more you catch in your home, the less stuff I have to catch on the street," Galloway said.

Even kids who vow to stay away from drugs are aware of and exposed to the culture. Between the Internet, social media, music, videos and movies, teens are inundated with drug-culture references.

"You will be shocked at how much they know," Galloway said.

WHAT PARENTS SHOULD WORRY ABOUT

Despite the long list of available illegal drugs, alcohol and prescription drugs — legal and easily obtained — are most popular among local teens, police say.

Alcohol and prescription drug abuse lead to the most ER visits, said Dr. Eric Elliott, Saint Alphonsus emergency room director. But the hospital has seen overdoses on less common drugs, such as the designer drug 25i and "whippits" — inhaling the propellant in aerosol whipped cream.

Elliott's advice: If you know someone who has a problem with substance abuse, take them to a hospital emergency room.

"People who come here for help, we get them help. We have the resources to connect them with help," he said.

COMING TO IDAHO: NEW DRUGS

Idaho might be rural, but it's not immune to new or hard drugs, Galloway said. Also, Idaho lies between two states that recently legalized marijuana (Washington and Colorado) and is adjacent to three others (Montana, Nevada and Oregon) that allow medical marijuana. That means a lot of pot-related traffic moves through the state. New drugs tend to originate on the West or East Coast, and then work their way to the opposite coast.

"If it is not here now, it is going to be," Galloway said.

One example is 25i, a synthetic that first appeared around 2010. The drug made its way to Boise this fall, leading to six overdoses, including two teens, since September.

Also new: Liquid and wax forms of marijuana Boise police discovered when they raided a house near Boise State this week. The highly potent cannabis concentrate, called hash oil or dabs, can be vaporized using devices similar to electronic cigarettes.

The latest bad idea? Drinking hand sanitizer. "They have high levels of alcohol in them — 70 percent alcohol," said Galloway. "That's 140 proof."

Just keeping up with the latest drugs and trends is a task. The laws have to catch up to designer drugs. Slang is amorphous and varies from place to place, generation to generation.

And everyone can learn about drugs on the Internet. "If you see a term or hear a term you do not know, Google it," Galloway said.

Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428

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