"Spice," also known as "K2," is one of the new drugs teens are discovering. These and others will be discussed at the town hall meetings next week.
Teen drug abuse
Town hall meetings to address youth substance abuse
Two town hall-syle meetings will be held simultaneously on Tuesday, April 24, in Lakeville and Dansville. Both will address the issue of adolescent drug use and addiction as understood by a panel of experts.
The Lakeville meeting will be at the Chip Holt Center at Vitale Park; the Dansville meeting at the 7-12 High School cafeteria, both beginning at 7 p.m.
The meetings are open to anyone in the Livingston County community who has a desire to learn how drugs and alcohol are affecting local youth. Parents and teens are especially welcome.
With a grant form the Underage Drinking Prevention Group, the meetings are sponsored by the Livingston County Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse and Healthy Communities that Care, and being held in conjunction with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration coordinated activities taking place throughout the United States during the Alcohol Awareness month of April.
Subject matter will include the recent phenomenon of young persons obtaining so-called bath salts and ‘K2 spices” which contain yet-to-be-banned chemical hallucinogens, which takers ingest, snort or smoke. The active ingredient is a synthetic imitation of the active chemical in marijuana.
Ironically, K2 users don’t have to hunt down a dealer in some dark ally. The drugs can be legally purchased through the Internet. They are also sold in ordinary retail convenience stores and smoke shops in Livingston County to persons over age 18, marketed as upscale potpourri with the label “not for human consumption,” a code phrase telling teens, “Try me if you dare.”
The poisonous content will affect users in different ways. There have been reports of car crashes, self-mutilations, suicides, and homicides linked to the use of these drugs.
“I’ve seen kids in the clinic with an extreme reaction, to the point of having seizures and needing hospitalization,” Community Prevention Specialist and Chemical Dependency Councilor Dawn Landon related. “Kids are turning to these in droves and a lot of parents don’t know anything about them.”
Producers of the K2 family of chemicals stay one step ahead of government regulators by making subtle and insignificant changes to the molecule, then re-patienting their “discovery” as a new substance which will in turn require a new law to make illegal.
Hazardous use of marijuana and alcohol by young people will also be topics of discussion. Research indicates that the earlier a young person starts using alcohol, the more likely he or she is to become dependent on it.
The Dansville meeting, being organized and facilitated by Landon, will feature a panel with drug clinician Dr. Norman Wetteru; Amy Schiavi, Dansville Central director of pupil personnel services; Steven Todisco, Livingston County youth coordinator through Hillside Children’s Services; Mark Weber, pastor of Dansville First Episcopal Church, who also has background in law enforcement; and Cassandra Myles, a parent.
The Lakeville meeting, being organized Community Prevention Specialist Susan Bell, is being facilitated by Avon Central councilor and Violence Prevention advocate Liz Griswold. The panel will include York Town Justice Walter Purtell; Livingston County Undersheriff James Szczesniak; Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse director Chris Taylor; Stuart Akin of Rochester Legal Aid Youth Advocacy; Dr. Thomas Walters, MD, who works with CASA clients, and Colleen Vallone, a community member and public health educator who has been involved in youth work.
The meetings will be formatted with panel members making brief individual presentations. Then a film will be shown on the subject of bath salts and K2, after which the meeting will be open for questions and comments from the public.
“We’re hoping there will be good discussion with some community action ideas,” Bell said.