Illegal drug use can have side effects that last a lifetime was the message communicated to Ponoka’s secondary school students in a recent presentation.
In an effort to educate youths on the negative effects of illegal drugs and what they look like, RCMP school resource officer (SRO) Cst. Jackie Tessel, spoke with Grade 7 to 9 students at Ponoka Secondary Campus Friday, April 29.
Students have been asking questions about what to look out for and Tessel was able to provide answers to those questions, proving the benefits of having a SRO on site.
“Knowledge is power. The more you know the better you’ll be,” said Tessel.
She suggests it is better for youths to understand the inherent risks associated with drug use rather than going in without any knowledge. One example is if teenagers go to a house party and are offered something illegal such as methamphetamine or cocaine, “They know why they should be saying ‘no.’”
Tessel presented a slide show of some of the different types of drugs and their effects but took more time answering questions and helped clarify misconceptions.
One drug that continues to be a problem is methamphetamine, which is a synthetic drug made up of antihistamines and other substances such as acetone products, commonly found in paint thinner and camp fuel. Making meth also creates toxic waste and is highly flammable during the production process.
Tessel says with increased meth use comes an increase in crime. The drug is a stimulant for the central nervous system that also causes paranoia and violence. Meth users are always chasing their first high, said Tessel and tend to increase how much they take as time goes on. The drug is also relatively easy to make.
“It’s actually gotten to the point in some places that they hide the medication,” she said, explaining concerns are growing that illegal drug production using over-the-counter medication is becoming commonplace.
Side effects are somewhat obvious for investigators who find when people use the drug they are jumpy, skittish and constantly picking at their face. “It causes your skin to crawl.”
Sleeping, eating and personal hygiene become secondary for people who are involved in drug abuse and there are instances where people have been found to be awake for 21 days. “That’s when psychosis starts settling in,” said Tessel.
Understanding drugs not only helps students realize the scope of damage but also investigators when dealing with users. There are certain ways drugs will affect a person: as a stimulant, as a depressant and as a hallucinogen.
Tessel says investigators generally look at three charges for individuals with drugs: possession of drugs, possession for the purpose of trafficking and manufacturing.
Each one comes with potential fines, probation and jail time.
To help students understand what to look out for, Tessel showed sealed samples and answered questions of youths.