Parents, teachers urged to seek signs of youth drug abuse in unexpected places

Open a youth’s locker, backpack or bedroom door and you could find bottled water, canned soda, Oreo snack cups, canisters of Pringles chips and school supplies like magic markers, any of which might actually be a secret hiding place for illicit narcotics.

“Kids are always looking for new ways to stash drugs,” said Jeff Templeton, president and founder of Staying Positive Equals Amazing Kids (S.P.E.A.K.).

He was delivering a “Drug Awareness Presentation for Parents & Teachers” session during Thursday afternoon’s meeting of the Northwest community’s Equal Partnership In Change (EPIC) stakeholders at the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Technology (PCAT) in West Oak Lane.

The presentation

He explained that variants of those common household products have false bottoms that screw off, and can easily be purchased at smoke shops, flea markets or online.

In fact, Templeton said the “enemy among us” internet enables kids of any age to easily research how to use or even manufacture drugs, and also how to conceal their stash.

Templeton said he hopes that S.P.E.A.K.’s year-old drug-awareness presentation will bring heightened awareness to parents and teachers; knowing what to look for can play an important role in preventing drug addiction, he added.

Keeping up

S.P.E.A.K. also strives to educate adults about the different types of drugs popular with today’s youth, including homemade recipes. Over-the-counter cough syrup can be mixed together with Jolly Rancher candies and lemon-lime soda. The concoction is known as “Purple Drink,” Templeton said.

A home’s medicine cabinet is a primary source for experimentation, he said. Partnership at Drugfree.org estimates hold that one in four children have abused prescription drugs; of those, one in five did so before they turned 14.

Templeton said alcohol remains the top experimentation choice, with children hiding their consumption by soaking Gummi Bears in liquor, injecting alcohol into fruit or mixing it into sports drinks.

Kids are also smoking marijuana at younger ages and the drug, methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA aka “Molly,” is rising in popularity, he said.

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