By: Maria Rudesill
Note from Marilyn L. Davis: When we sanitize the shocking, we can end up not letting people know the extreme measures our children and grandchildren are taking to get high.
Some advocates and speakers with valuable information end up feeling frustrated and stymied when they can’t be as forthcoming as they would like to help people understand the epidemic of addiction.
Addiction is on Main Street
I can remember when it was appalling to think of an individual inserting a needle into their arm to get high. We thought that was the epitome of desperation. Recently, our children and grandchildren have found even more reckless and dangerous ways to get high, and if we are not forthcoming with this information, many parents and grandparents won’t understand the extreme, and sometimes, undetectable ways our loved ones are using.
In recent years, I have been speaking to families and children that are or have been affected by addiction. Much of my motive stems from losing my father to heroin. I understand the heartbreak, frustrations, fears and anger of families.
Therefore, I speak at schools, seminars, meetings or wherever I can to educate about this epidemic that is killing our loved ones. With an estimated 23.7 million people addicted to drugs and alcohol, that’s a population equal to the state of Texas. Of this population, only one in ten receives treatment, leaving more than 20 million people under-served.This is a staggering number.
Addiction Education: Not Enough and Not Always Accurate
Recently, I was at a local high school speaking to families and their children about this epidemic. This specific seminar was based on Heroin and what other substances that lead up to heroin use. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was a very well done presentation. Besides myself, our District Attorney, Detective Chris Kohl, Waukesha Co. Drug Force Unit, Dr. Chris Drosdick, Medical College of Wisconsin and families that either lost a loved one to addiction, or have a loved one in recovery were also there to speak.
There are a few things regarding these presentations that frustrate me. I know there must be a time limit set for the presentation as a whole, and a time limit for each speaker. The problem with this is that there is so much information to give, that each subject that gets touched on is shortened and the families aren’t able to get the full spectrum.
In these presentations, we are also limited and restricted as to what we can talk about. I personally feel there should be no restrictions due to the fact that parents need to know the raw truth about what is available, and what out teenagers are really doing. I believe that addiction does not discriminate and you never know when it can come knocking at your door.
It Can’t Be Addiction, It’s Just Pot
High schools everywhere, from the poorest of neighborhoods to the richest. Again, addiction does not discriminate. Some of these things will be hard to read. You will probably need a minute to process these things. Again, it is the raw truth, and if no one takes the time to educate the public, the numbers of addicted teenagers will continue to grow and overdoses will happen more frequently.
No one knows what they are really buying from dealers. Our children think they are just buying old school marijuana. They don’t know if it’s synthetic or laced with another drug. Yes, they will tell you in a heartbeat how they know the difference. They will tell you they can tell just by looking at it. Well, you can’t.
The pills out there now are being made to look like one pill when actually it’s something completely different, most likely more potent. Pills are being made to look like kid’s vitamins. Pills are being coated with other substances or chemicals.
Afghanistan is now the largest producer of heroin. By the time it gets from there to Chicago, to my home state of Wisconsin, it will be cut to increase quantityand therefore, sales of the product on the streets. Part of the problem today is that no one knows what is used to increase the quantity. It may be baby powder, rat poison, sleeping pills or Fentanyl. All deadly combinations.
I think that families find false comfort in the term, “on the streets”, because if their children don’t live on the streets, their children are safe. The reality is that, they may not be living on the streets, but they are visiting with increasing frequency.
Our children know exactly which streets to frequent to find drugs.
Even when they aren’t frequenting the streets, kids are finding ways at home to be more reckless and devious at the same time.
It comes down to the desperation and cheapest way to get high.
- Females and males will soak a tampon in alcohol and insert it into their rectum to get an instant high. They also do this because you cannot smell any alcohol coming from them.
- Another way of getting high is called “Butt Chugging.” This is where someone will do a headstand against a wall and another person will insert the tip of a cough syrup bottle into their rectum and fill it with the cough syrup, or use flexible tubing.
- They are filling up water bottles with vodka, mixing it with soda and drinking it.
- They will also soak gummybears or worms in alcohol and eat them.
- They are drinking hand sanitizer.
Desperation is Sometimes Depression
I also like to touch on the subject of Mental Health. This is another subject that many people don’t want to hear about or discuss, especially when it comes to their children. Today, children have many more pressures than we did. Parents have to be more aware of their children’s actions or non-actions.
We as parents just can’t say, “Oh, it’s just a phase,” or “They’re just teenagers.”
Yes, in some cases it is just that simple. However, depression and anxiety are real and are seen more and more in our children. I feel when it comes to drugs and alcohol with children, it is not just experimenting, or peer pressure anymore. Children are turning to drugs and alcohol to try and cover up the pain they are feeling inside. They are trying to numb what they don’t even understand they are going through. And we need to be mindful that teenagers might exhibit different behaviors and symptoms than adults when they are depressed. Some of the differences are:
- More angry outbursts rather than sadness.
- Extreme sensitivity to criticism.
- Withdrawing from some, but not all people.
- Aches and pains with no diagnosed physical ailment.
What Can We Do?
Narcan will also be talked about briefly at these seminars. There needs to be more information on Narcan. There are free educational classes offered in some states. My question is, how many people actually attend them. Now that it is being sold over the counter, anyone can buy it.
Often Pharmacists do not give any instructions, or give any information on where to get educated. The Pharmacist hands the box that contains minimal instructions to the person. I have spoken with people regarding their knowledge on Narcan. It is sad to me because the majority of people responding is misinformed.
Narcan does not take the drugs out of the person who is overdosing. Narcan blocks the effects of opioids and reverses the overdose. It should also be known that if the person in the state of the overdose does not start to wake up after 5 minutes, that another dose should be administered. The requirement for repeat doses of NARCAN (naloxone) will also be dependent upon the amount, type and route of administration of the opioid being antagonized.
Narcan typically wears off in 30-90 minutes, and the person can stop breathing again. 911 should ALWAYS be called when Narcan is being administered no matter if they wake back up or not. There is always a possibility for the person to still overdose after Narcan has been administered.
There was a commercial on television years ago that asked parents if they knew where their kids were.Today, we can install devices that monitor their driving speeds and whereabouts. Parents can set limits and receive a text or email if their children are driving too fast, or in particular neighborhoods.
Too many parents and grandparents get a prescription for pain medications for a legitimate physical injury. When they do not take all of their prescriptions, they simply put the bottle in the medicine cabinet for, “in case”.
Unfortunately, kids will steal this unused medication and either use it or sell. The most common drugs are:
- Sleep Aids
- Cough Medications
Talk to your children and if you suspect that their behaviors are different, don’t be afraid to talk about the changes.
Get an assessment. Kids will sometimes open up to a stranger faster than they do their parents or siblings. A good therapist can help your child with their feelings and offer guidance to parents as well.
We can and will do something about this epidemic if we continue to recognize it, take remedial measures and require out states to make treatment available.
About Maria Rudesill
Maria is very passionate about addiction and recovery. As an adult child of two addicted parents, she know first hand the harm that drugs and alcohol can do. She is also mindful that addiction runs rampant in her family. After losing her father to his addiction, Maria felt it was time to take things a step further. Seeing how her story was touching others, she decided this was her real passion in life.
Maria specializes as an Outreach Coordinator, NCRC (Nationally Certified Recovery Coach), and in Intervention. She works with the law enforcement, governors, and city officials. She helped a neighboring city get a law changed. Instead of sentencing addicts to jail, they will be sentenced to treatment.