Teens speak out about drug use
This is the first of a two-part series that explores local teen drug use.
Two teenagers, who agreed to talk openly about drugs, sat down at the table, appearing a bit apprehensive or even anxious. And for the next couple of hours, they talked to an adult about things they usually keep to themselves or between each other, and discussed myths that they say are often associated with teens and drugs.
Altogether, five high school students ‘ three from Harrison County and two from Crawford County ‘ agreed to be interviewed. Their real names are not used.
Two of the teens, a 17-year-old female we’ll call ‘Beth’ and ‘Ryan,’ a 15-year-old male, have been in trouble for using drugs in the past few months and have completed a term of probation and attended a special program to get back on track and return to regular high school.
When asked if there were several types of drugs available in their community, the teens rolled their eyes and laughed.
‘If you want to find a particular drug here, you can find it,’ Ryan said. ‘That’s never a problem. If you have money, you can get drugs.’
According to the teens, prescription drugs have grown in popularity. They are easy to come by and a person can buy one pill or 20.
‘But even if you only have a few dollars, you can still get high by buying one or two pills,’ Ryan said. ‘But the most popular, by far, is weed (marijuana). A lot of people smoke weed. It’s not the big deal people make it out to be. It relaxes you and makes you feel good …
‘But a lot of kids use other drugs instead because weed stays in your system longer ‘ about three or four weeks ‘ but other drugs, even meth, doesn’t,’ he said. ‘So, if you’re tested for drugs, they can’t detect pills or meth after a few hours. That’s one of the reasons so many kids are using pills.’
‘But meth is the worst,’ Beth added. ‘Three years ago or so, meth wasn’t as big with kids as it is now. Kids my age are doing it, and they’re not ashamed of it. … ‘
‘Kids say they won’t do it,’ Ryan said. ‘But, then, they’ll run into someone who has it, and they’ll do it. You can snort it, smoke it or shoot it up. Meth is ugly, and people who use it are not in a position to follow boundaries.’
The students talked about Oxycodone, a pain medication often referred to as ‘hillbilly heroin.’
‘Oxys are about $60 a pill,’ Ryan said. ‘People used to put it in a spoon and hold a lighter under it to make it liquid and then shoot it up. But it’s been changed now and doesn’t work that way. You used to be able to crush it up and snort it, but now it just makes your nose bleed.’
Both teens said they have seen heroin but that it was too expensive to buy and they’ve never tried it. They admitted they have seen pills, including Aldoril, Ritalin and Xanax, bought and sold by kids their age. But the teens kept steering the conversation back to meth, as if to put emphasis on why it is so bad.
‘People who do meth, their eyes are dilated and beady,’ Beth said. ‘And they look sick. They bite at their lips, and their hygiene is bad, they smell bad, kind of a sour odor. You can actually smell a meth user. Their eating and sleeping habits change.’
One of the teens eventually opened up about family life.
‘My dad and mom were both meth addicts,’ the teen said. ‘I saw it when I was really young but didn’t know what it was. My mom had six kids and was doing meth. But she was careful not to let us see. She’d lock herself in a room and do it. But we figured it out.
‘We had very little money, but there was always money for her meth. We resented that. If she went several hours without meth, she’d get angry. And sometimes she’d go for days doing meth. …
‘My mom has been drug-free for about five years now, and we get along great. … I see meth in a different light. It sucks the life out of people. Even the strongest man, it’ll just suck the life out of him. Something really bad has to happen to open their eyes.
‘People like to get a buzz of some kind; they always have. That has made Budweiser rich. But alcohol is almost as addictive as meth. I think they should completely abolish meth and legalize pot. It’s a safer buzz; it’s never killed anyone. I believe a large percentage of people would give up other drugs if they could get pot legally. But look at what alcohol and meth has done to people.’
‘Corey,’ an 18-year-old student, contributed to the interview.
‘I don’t want my face messed up,’ he said. ‘That’s what meth does. Some people say that only happens when you use dirty meth, a bad batch. But all meth is pretty bad stuff. I know people who cook meth, mostly for their own use ‘ they may sell a little ‘ and they’re a mess. You can tell by looking at them that they’re meth heads. And meth heads are always your best friends, when they need to be. But they’re the worst.’
When asked why teens do drugs, Corey quickly responded, ‘When you come from a family that’s messed up, you go to drugs, to keep your mind off what’s going on. Kids need attention, and a lot of them aren’t getting it. And if they’re sad and depressed, they’ll do drugs. A lot of my family has done drugs. My mom even attempted suicide, and we don’t talk much anymore.’
Corey admitted that he was 12 when he first tried marijuana.
‘I smoked weed before I smoked cigarettes,’ he said. ‘It was easier to get than cigarettes. And weed isn’t really addictive ‘ I can take it or leave it ‘ but once you smoke a pack of cigarettes, you’re hooked. It’s like heroin; you can’t quit. And when you first begin smoking, the nicotine buzz is awesome. After a while, you don’t really get a buzz any longer, but your body still craves it.’
Corey went on to describe the ‘buzz’ of pills. He named the ‘best’ pills, insisted that ‘girls really like pills’ and talked about how heroin was available ‘just down the street.’
‘I know places where you can get coke (cocaine), too,’ he added. ‘But kids can’t afford to buy it; it’s too expensive. And alcohol is everywhere. I love it. I used to get drunk almost every night. I was 15 or 16 when I first got drunk … but my favorite is weed. It gives you a body high with a little bit of euphoria. There’s so many strains ‘ Blueberry, White Rhino, OG Kush, Granddaddy Kush ‘ and a lot of others. You can buy a joint for $5, a quarter bag for $25, or a half bag for $50. Pot should be legal. It’s not hurting anyone. Not like alcohol, with the car wrecks and fights and people beating up their wives.’
Corey has had several run-ins with the law and has spent time in jail.
‘I never did anything really bad,’ he said. ‘Not too long ago, I was sent to jail for stealing a box of fish hooks. People believe that jail makes you want to give up drugs, but it makes you want to do more. Jailers call you names, make you feel like a piece of crap, makes you feel like a criminal; it actually turns you into a better criminal. They put me in with rapists and killers. It doesn’t do anything to help. You can make better hook-ups (drug connections) there. You’re not in jail with priests.’
‘Mark,’ an athlete, comes from a family that is involved in his life and takes an interest in his well-being. He has experimented with drugs but more for entertainment than for being depressed or neglected.
‘I was caught at school,’ he said. ‘I failed a drug test and they called my parents and told them. I wasn’t addicted to anything, just having a good time. I tried morphine one time. That’s the hardest drug I ever did. But I did about four different kinds of pills, like Xanax and Hydrocodone, mainly because of the ability to get them. The first time, the pills were free. And then I started doing them about every other weekend. I dropped a lot of money on them. I got in with the wrong bunch of kids. Actually, I guess I was transforming them, too.’
Mark said his first drug was marijuana, and that it was his drug of choice.
‘Pot is the least drug you can do. … I would probably have never tried anything but pot, but it’s more risky because, when you smoke it, you’re more likely to get caught. It stays in your system longer and can be detected in drug tests. All the other drugs are out of your system in a couple of days, so they have become more popular with kids. I’ve never tried meth. I’ve never even seen it. If I wanted to, I certainly could have, but I’ve always had my limits.’
He went on to talk about a speech he gave about legalizing marijuana.
‘Almost anyone who has smoked pot knows the war on drugs is a huge lie that has cost the country billions of dollars and has put countless people in jail for nothing,’ he said. ‘Now, meth has come along and there should be a war against it. But they’ve already lied so much, people don’t believe them. … ‘
Mark also indicated that it was a good thing he was caught with drugs in his system.
‘I used to like taking Hydrocodone before a practice,’ he said. ‘My legs didn’t hurt, and I felt great. Even though I’d just take one every once in a while, my heart could have stopped. And if I had kept going, I’d probably been kicked off the team the rest of the year.
‘I may smoke a joint sometime in the future, but I’m against all other drugs. I’ll never touch pills again. I don’t like the taste of alcohol, but it’s used by more students than anything else. Just a small percentage of students are into the really bad stuff. But we all need our diplomas, and we need to go to college. We can’t let drugs or anything else interfere with that. You have to look at what you have and what you can lose.’
‘Sophie,’ a high school senior, has lived with the curse of meth for years. Her mother used to make meth and was caught with it in her possession more than once.
‘My mom just got out of prison a few months ago,’ Sophie said. ‘She’s doing better now. She’s on probation, but she’s going to classes, and I’m proud of her. But she neglected us for years. She made and sold meth; that was her job. Meth has torn my family apart. My sister’s dad got busted twice and more after he left us. And he’s in prison now.’
Sophie talked about her dad and how he used to be an alcoholic and could be violent.
‘My dad smoked pot his entire life,’ she said. ‘He smoked outside, but I knew what he was doing. It didn’t really bother me. But when he was drunk, he could be mean to us, and even beat us. … ‘
Sophie said her older sister introduced her to ‘getting a buzz.’ They would sneak out of the house and take Xanax that they got from an aunt.
‘We were curious,’ she said. ‘Then, we would drink alcohol when we did Xanax, and it would make me black out. And I did Ecstasy one time, and I was off in my own little world. But it freaked me out. It really scared me.’
Sophie said she was keenly aware of how meth could take control of people. She watched as her mother changed into someone she hardly knew.
‘I wondered what it was about meth that could do that to someone, why it did that to my mom,’ she said. ‘I tried it just to find out. And I found out, even though I liked the energy it gave me, it just wasn’t worth it.’
Sophie said she doesn’t use meth or pills but admitted she still likes to ‘smoke a joint occasionally.’
‘I know what drugs do to people. And from what I’ve seen, I think if pot was legal, there would be less use of more harmful drugs. There would probably even be less alcohol abuse. I see where my mom has been. She missed out on her children’s lives. … But I’ve accepted all that. I’m a strong person. Mom has a house now, and my dad is doing great. He’s got his act together. I have hope now. I have a good frame of mind. I want to be somebody. I want to go to college. And I’m not going to let anything change my mind.’
Corey doesn’t have plans for the future; he just wants to have a good job and ‘make a decent living.’
‘Kids who have been in trouble don’t have a lot of hope,’ he said. ‘And it’s kids who pay the biggest price for drugs. Like K2, it’s a lot more dangerous than people think. Sure, it gets you higher than pot, and it makes your heart beat faster. But pot isn’t killing people; K2 is. It’s adults who are making it and selling it to kids. But the kids get arrested for having it, and the adults keep on making money. They don’t care.
‘Adults can make a big difference in a kid’s life. If my dad had said, ‘Hey, let’s go do something together’ instead of, ‘I’m tired and I’m going to bed,’ things would have been different for me. The only time they want to talk to you is when you’re in trouble.
‘You need your parents to be parents. If I could have done stuff with my dad, if we could have gone places together and spent time together, I probably would never have tried drugs.’