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Parents, community members get firsthand look at drug culture

Raising a 12-year-old girl can be difficult enough, grandfather Dan Branson says. Doing so in one of the most drug-infested neighborhoods in Bellefontaine is even more challenging.

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FRONT PAGE PHOTO: Franklin County Sheriff’s Lt. Shawn Bain, right, shows a pipe to Bellefontaine resident Dan Branson, who said he is raising a 12-year-old granddaughter in a drug-infested area of Bellefontaine, prior to Thursday evening’s Operation Street Smart program. ABOVE: Local residents examine various pieces of drug paraphernalia during Thursday evening’s Operation Street Smart program. (EXAMINER PHOTOS | REUBEN MEES)

That is why he and his wife, Elise, attended Thursday evening’s Operation Street Smart event at the Bellefontaine High School designed to educate parents and community members about the growing drug problem in Logan County.

“It scares me how out of tune we are,” Mr. Branson said after listening to Franklin County drug detectives Lt. Shawn Bain, retired Sgt. Michael Powell and Lt. Steven Tucker present information and pass around items related to the variety of drugs on the streets, how youths refer to them and signs that drug abuse is occurring.

“I’m learning a lot of the slang kids are using and I’ve heard some of it before,” Mr. Branson said. “It’s opening our eyes to a lot of things around our own house. Seeing all this scares me. I guess I’m out of it.

“But we live on north Detroit Street and it’s a whole different world up there. It’s crack central. We’re considered the oddballs in our neighborhood.”

It was a similar story for Lori Rose who leads a youth group and has children of her own.

“I thought I knew enough, but I don’t,” she said, noting that some of the youths she deals with have shared accounts of their drug experiences.

“They are very honest and open up with me, but I’m finding out that what I’m being told is not always the truth,” she said referencing some of the youth’s statements that the synthetic marijuana known as K2 was not harmful. “It’s really opened up my eyes.”

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A variety of drug slang exists with various words indicating different drugs or ways of using those drugs. Here are some examples offered during the Operation Street Smart program.

Marijuana: weed, tree, blunt, bud, herb, bill, dank, kush

Synthetic THC (tetrahydrocannabinol): K2, K3, Spice, Spike, Serenity, Black Mamba, Dead Man Walking

Huffing/bagging: Glading, Whipits, dusting

Decongestants and cough syrups: DMX, Coricidin, Triple Cs, robo tripping, cough syrup, purple drank, sizzurp

Prescription drugs: Ritalin, Adderall, Xanax (zannies or zannie bars), Oxycontin, Vicodin, pharming, trailmixing parties

Opiate withdrawal management drugs: Methadone, Suboxone (subbies)

Heroin: hair-on, boy, tar, mud, dogfood

Cocaine (powder form): soft, white girl, white lady, teenager (1/16th ounce), eight ball (1/8th ounce)

Crack cocaine: hard

Bath salts/MDPV: ivory wave, vanilla sky, bong cleaner, glass cleaner, plant food, insect repellent, super coke

Methamphetamine: meth, crystal, crank, ice

Ecstasy: X, E, biscuits, Adam, essence, double-stacks, rolling, candy-flipping, Molly

GHB/Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid: date rape drug, G, liquid G, Georgia home boy, juice, goop, soap

Steroids: test, deca, gear, stuff, sauce, juice

Salvia divinorum: Salley D, purple sticky, 5X, 10X, 50X

Psilocybin mushrooms: ’shrooms, magic mushrooms

PCP/Phencyclidine: angel dust, angel death, dummy dust, rocket fuel

LSD/Lysergic acid diethylamide: acid, trip, blotter, window pane, dica, ’cid

The law enforcement officers began the session by passing around a wide variety of items that resemble normal household items but are used for either ingesting or concealing drugs.

Take for an example a .50-caliber bullet or tube of lipstick that can be turned into small pipes. Or jars of peanut butter and cans of coffee with actual product and hiding compartments in the bottom or center, wall safes that look like electric outlets or hollowed out bolts with reverse threaded secret compartments — all of which can be used to hide drugs.

And all were bought legally at “head shops,” which are stores that sell drug paraphernalia under the pretense that it will be used for legal purposes, the law enforcement officers said.

Then they went into a discussion of a variety of different drugs, beginning with alcohol and moving into marijuana before proceeding to a wide variety of legal and illegal substances that youths are using to get high.

While most parents were familiar with alcohol, the drug experts pointed out that new products are on the market that are designed to attract young drinkers.

See DRUGS on Page 2

Among the most recent trends in alcohol abuse were the flavored 12-percent alcohol energy drinks that were like drinking four beers in a cup of strong coffee. Although those products were forced to stop including the caffeine and herbal mixtures that kept drinkers awake, new products such as alcohol-infused flavored spray cans of whipped cream or shots of 12-percent alcohol that are packaged to look like jars of nail polish are now on the markets.

And since they don’t require refrigeration, they can be hidden easily by youths.

And on the marijuana scene, attendees learned how the concentration of the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has increased from small quantities in naturally occurring plants of years past to rates approaching 50 percent in modern hybrid strains with names such as kush, purple haze, chronic or British Columbia bud.

They also demonstrated new smoking devices such as flavored cigar wrappers available in many convenience stores, complex vaporizer units and honeybee extractors marijuana users are using to ingest the drug.

“What’s interesting is how high tech the smokers are getting,” Lt. Bain said, while demonstrating a portable vaporizer that could be recharged at a computer.

The detectives discussed a variety of designer drugs, inhalants and over-the-counter medication, such as cough medicine or decongestants that are also being used by young people to get high.

New designer drugs include synthetic marijuana, known by hundreds of different names such as K2, Spice or Spike, or bath salts which were created as a formerly legal substitute for methamphetamines.

They shared a story of a 14-year-old boy who died after putting a plastic bag over his head to inhale canned air duster. According to information in a packet handed out with data from 2010, inhalants were popular among eighth-grade students with 8.1 percent having tried them within the prior year, which was higher than all other age groups.

Over-the-counter medication include the drug Coricidin, or Triple Cs; and cough medicines that are being popularized largely by musicians that refer to the drug sizzurp, which is made by mixing cough medicine with Sprite or another soda and usually Jolly Rancher candies.

The detectives also discussed the variety of prescription drugs now being abused, such as Ritalin, Adderall, Xanax, Oxycontin and Vicodin, as well as drugs that have been around for decades, such as cocaine and crack cocaine, methamphetamines, lysergic acid (LSD), psilocybin mushrooms and ecstasy.

But one of the main reason members of the local law enforcement, judicial, mental health and business communities came together to sponsor the event was to address the growing trend in abuse of opiate painkillers and its eventual lead to heroin use.

In statistics comparing local overdoses, substance abuse referrals, family court parenting rights issues and other categories, Margaret Appel of the Logan County Drug Free Youth Coalition said it shows a dramatic increase in all categories since 2008.

“It’s important to share as much information as possible with the community because this is not just an issue that affects the law enforcement, judicial and counseling communities,” Logan County Sheriff Andrew Smith said.

“We want to educate the public about what we are seeing out there on a daily basis and spread the word on how the dangers of drugs affect people’s daily lives,” Bellefontaine Police Chief Brandon Standley said. “We’re definitely seeing that pill abuse and opiate abuse seems to be the single biggest element that leads to heroin use.”

And that leads to property crime and lack of productivity in the workplace.

“From an economic development standpoint, the impact on the workforce and local companies is significant,” Logan County Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Paul Benedetti said.

“We have to get smarter about drug users and educate ourselves about their lifestyles so we can control crime and the drug problem,” Chief Standley said.

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