Dillies. Red birds. Candy. Tranks. Pharm party.
These are some of the terms introduced to parents during a program at the Springhouse Middle School aimed at helping parents recognize whether their teens are using illegal drugs.
Sponsored by the Parent Teacher Organizations of Springhouse and Orefield middle schools, the presentation focused on types of drugs, how to recognize if someone is using drugs, and today's slang for popular drugs.
The presentation was led by Orefield Middle School's guidance counselor Linda Strohl and Lehigh County Juvenile Probation Officer Gary DeLong.
Besides alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, heroin and inhalants, Strohl said three types of prescription drugs most used by teens are opioids, central nervous system depressants and stimulants.
She explained them as follows:
* Opioids, generally used for pain relief; time-released.
How taken: Ingested, diluted and snorted or smoked; when crushed, the rush is immediate.
Common names: Vicodin, OxyContin, Darvon, Dilaudid, Demerol and Lomatil.
Street names: Hillbilly heroin, percs, juice and dillies.
Effects: Can lead to physical dependence and addiction; can cause drowsiness, constipation, depressed breathing, nausea, confusion and coma.
* Central nervous system depressants
Common Names: Barbiturates -- Nembutal; benzodiazepines -- Valium and Xanax.
Street names: For barbiturates -- barbs, redbirds, reds and phennies; for benzodiazepines -- candy, downers and tranks.
Effects: Slow brain function, especially when combined with alcohol and other medications that cause drowsiness; can dangerously slow heart rate and respiration.
Common name: Dexedrine, Ritalin and amphetamines.
Street names: Vitamin R, the R ball, the smart drug, bennies, black beauties, speed and uppers.
Effects: Taken repeatedly or in high doses, can cause paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures, irregular heartbeat, seizures.
Of great concern, Strohl and DeLong said, is kids' improper use of items that are legally marketed as bath salts, plant food and herbal incense. Those items are treated with chemicals that can be harmful if not used properly. Common slang names include blue silk, charge+, ivory snow, wave, ocean burst, pure ivory, purple wave and snow leopard.
“The problem,” said DeLong, “is that kids don’t know what they’re using -- with what they’re treated,” and that can result in different symptoms and health hazards.
Symptoms include agitation, intense highs, euphoria, extreme energy and hallucinations, the presenters said.
Also gaining popularity, said Strohl and DeLong, is Salvia, also known as Sally D.
According to statistics presented at the program, 5.7 percent of all high school seniors have admitted using Salvia in 2009.
According to the presenters:
* Salvia, originated in Mexico and South America, now thriving in the United States. It looks like a purple flower, which grows wild in fields and along roads.
How taken: Users can ingest fresh leaves, drink extracted juices from the plant, inhale its vaporized fumes or smoke its dried leaves in a bong.
Effects: Can result in hallucinations, psychedelic-type changes in visual perception, mood swings, feelings of detachment and a highly modified perception of reality.
According to statistics from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 56 percent of teens obtain their drugs from either family or friends.
Strohl and DeLong explained that easily obtained prescription drugs from the home could wind up at a “pharm party” and described a typical scenario: everyone attending brings a drug or drugs from the family medicine cabinet, and they’re thrown into a bowl. Participants grab a handful to swallow, mixing medications and not knowing exactly what they’re ingesting -- a life-threatening risk.
DeLong and Strohl stressed the importance of keeping drugs in a locked medicine cabinet, noting that making them inaccessible is a step in the right direction.
Strohl also emphasized that if a parent suspects his or her teen is using drugs, a sit-down with the child is imperative. And, she said, a soft approach will not work: the conversation must stress the dangers of drug use and the importance of ceasing use immediately.
Symptoms commonly associated with drug use follows. Strohl cautioned, however, that the symptoms may not mean a teen is using drugs; they are meant to be warning signs for parents:
- Changes in friends, unknown friends, association with known drug users
- Always going “nowhere special”
- Secretive phone conversations, callers who refuse to identify themselves, hang-up phone calls
- Constant lying
- Overt hostility and outbursts
- Withdrawal from family
- Stealing of small items, often borrowing money, unexplained influx of money
- Personality changes, mood swings, irritability, secretiveness, over-reaction to criticism
- Confusion, anxiety, paranoia
- Unpredictable or uncharacteristic behavior of individual’s personality
- Lack of ambition, apathy
- Change in appetite/erratic eating habits
- Slurred speech, loss of coordination
- Inattention to dress or appearance
- Weight loss
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Dilated or constricted pupils
- Loss of memory
- Needle marks
- Disappearance of drugs from medicine cabinet
- Drug paraphernalia, drug-oriented magazines
- Smell of marijuana, smell of alcohol on breath
- Truancy/skipping class/constantly late
- Loss of interest in school/poor class conduct and attitude
- Dropping out of activities
- Dropping out of school