Drug use, abuse signs vary

During a recent presentation held at St. Marys Area High School geared toward informing parents about current drug trends, Heidi Aikens, Prevention Supervisor for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, Inc., discussed some of the many signs of drug use and abuse. "There's really no way for us to stand up here and tell you absolutely every sign for every drug that you could possibly use or abuse," Aikens said to the attendees. "This is a general overview and gives you some ideas of things to look for. Because this is a parent presentation, it's really geared toward parents looking at their students; however, a lot of these can be used for anyone."While many of Aikens' remarks focused primarily on students who are abusing drugs, she also informed parents that students using their own prescriptions to gain money or friends is also becoming an alarming trend. She cautioned parents to become suspicious if their child has a sudden need to see the doctor because they claim to be having trouble focusing or staying on-task. "This is becoming a new trend that kids are finding ways to fool the doctor into getting some Ritalin and then not using it the way they're supposed to. There are actually some kids who will be able to fool the doctor into giving them some kind of a medication for like ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) and it's not really for themselves. It's a money-maker or a friend-maker," Aikens said. Aikens remarked that there are a lot of children who will do whatever it takes in order to fit in at school. "As crazy as it sounds that they would be willing to come to school and sell pills to make friends, it's real, and it happens in this area," Aikens said. Along with this, Aikens also cautioned parents to be aware if their child, who has already been prescribed a medication by a doctor, is actually taking that medication, especially if it appears that it is no longer working as well as it should.Most importantly, Aikens reminded parents that they know their children better than anyone else. "You know better than anybody else what's normal and what's not for your kids. Keep an eye on it. Keep track of it," Aikens said. "Keep a little notebook. Talk with your spouse. Talk with your mom or your dad or your friend who spends a lot of time with your child as well and just bounce things off of them."