Atlanta Youth And Drugs

youth and drugs

A look at the drug use in Fulton and DeKalb counties

WHO IS USING?

Teenaged boys were arrested for drug possession 24 times more than their female counterparts in DeKalb county, while in Fulton county, the gap degreases to just 10 males arrested per female. The reckless nature of teenage boys may be the reason for their higher drug use, or it could simply be that girls are much better at hiding their use, and are therefore less likely to be arrested. Overall, 181 juveniles in Fulton and 100 in Dekalb were arrested for drug possession, not including those arrested for possession with intent to sell.

WHAT ARE THEY USING?

Based on arrest statistics from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the drug most widely used and sold by youth in Fulton and DeKalb is marijuana. The drug with the next highest use in these two counties is cocaine, however the US Department of Justice lists it as seventh of eleven drugs used by teenagers. According to the National Youth Anti-Drug Campaign, the most common drugs are found within the home. They say that illegal use of prescription medications is on the rise nationwide, but there were only two arrests in both counties for illegal possession of prescription drugs. The juvenile drug use trends in these two Atlanta counties deviate strongly from the national averages with much higher use of cocaine and significantly lower abuse of prescription drugs.

WHAT DOES MONEY HAVE TO DO WITH IT?

These drugs aren’t cheap. At $100 per gram of cocaine or ounce of marijuana, buyers need a decent flow of cash to experiment and even more to support a habit. Simply put, teens whose parents make more money can afford more drugs. According to the 2000 US Census, the median per capita income for DeKalb County was around $24,000, and about $30,000 in neighboring Fulton County. There were 1.8 times more arrests for juvenile drug possession in the more affluent Fulton County than DeKalb during the same three-month period.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

Certain groups advocate awareness, claiming that adolescents will make the correct decision once they are informed about the dangers of drugs. One approach from England’s The Daily Mail, suggests that parents limit their children’s pocket money to reduce their purchase of drugs. Whatever preferred method parents choose, the first defense is always at home, according to The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. Parents should always be on the lookout for signs that their child is using or abusing drugs.

The Rise of Prescription Pill Abuse

prescription pill

The Basics Behind Non-Medical Use of Pills and Remedies

According to the National Institute survey, prescription drug use is an “area of concern” for teens, and 15.4 percent of high school seniors report using prescription and over the counter drugs for non-medical purposes. In other words, a teen is just as likely to get drugs from the family medicine cabinet than a dealer on the street.

“I started abusing pills when I was just 13,” reports one addict, who is currently living in a sober treatment facility after seeking help for a ten year addiction. “I found so many ways to get high around the house. Diet pills, cough syrup, Oxycontin, Xanax. It was easy to steal the pills and get high.”

Commonly Abused Medications

  • Opiods. Prescribed as painkillers, these include medications with codeine, oxycodone or morphine, such OxyContin, Perocet, Percodan and Vicodan. Abusing these pills brings on a feeling of euphoric pleasure.
  • Sedatives and Tranquillizers. Often prescribed for sleeplessness or anxiety attacks, abusing drugs such as Xanax, Valium, and Nembutal produces a general feeling of peace and well-being.
  • Stimulants. Includes diet pills and ADD/ADHD medications, including Ritalin and Adderall. A user will experience a fast, “speedy” feeling, as well as increased heart rate, from taking these pills.
  • OTC, or Over the Counter medications. Popular choices include medications, such as cough syrup, which contain dextromethorphan, or DXM. Other choices include large doses of diet pills, sleep aids, or motion sickness medication.

Pill Accessibility

Often, teens abuse prescription and OTC medication because they’re easier to buy than street drugs, as well as more socially acceptable. Sources include:

  • Medicine cabinets of family and friends. One quick trip to Grandma’s bathroom can turn up all kinds of items for a resourceful user.
  • The Internet. Type in “Buy Oxycontin” on a Google search and 1.3 million sites will surface, as well ways to isolate DXM in cough syrup.
  • Doctor shopping. Users either lie to doctors to obtain more or different drugs, or visit multiple doctors to insure a steady supply.

Prevention

While teens face pressure from the outside world, parents can make home a safe and inviting environment. Other tips for preventing prescription pill abuse include:

  • Remove old medication from cabinets. If there is no longer a medical need, there is no need for the pills.
  • Keep medications locked up, and monitor the levels of pills/liquids in the bottles.
  • Talk to your kids. Opening lines of communication, even about uncomfortable subjects, will allow the best opportunity to defuse potentially dangerous situations.

If the possibility of prescription pill abuse is already there, seek medical help immediately. The abuse of pills, especially the mixing of different pills or with alcohol, could have deadly consequences.