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Seminar spreads drug awareness

January 24, 2001

Seminar spreads drug awareness



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer


There is no one sign that will tell your child is using drugs, according to local health professionals.

"It's a combination of things. You have to put it all together," said Courtney Washington of the Washington County Health Department Division of Addictions and Mental Health Services.

Washington discussed the signs and symptoms of drug abuse during a public drug awareness seminar sponsored by the HotSpots Communities Initiative Tuesday evening.

Representatives from Hagerstown City Police, Washington County Hospital and the Washington County Mental Health Authority also addressed aspects of drug use and addictions during the meeting at Christ's Reformed Church in Hagerstown.

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Parents should pay attention to their children and take notice if they are possession of pills, capsules or white or brown powders in small quantities and if they use perfume, deodorants or air freshners to mask the smell of drugs in a room or on a person, said Washington.

She also suggested taking note of how much money a child has. If a child works few hours and has an excessive amount of money or works long hours with nothing to show for it, he or she could be using drugs, she said.

Drug paraphernalia can include cigarette rolling paper, small pieces of foil, small mirrors, razor blades, milk, sugar, pipes, hypodermic needles, ether, a small pipe, strange smelling sculptures, small scales, unusual chemicals or small spoons.

Washington provided behavioral signs for which to look, including a sudden shift in work performance or friendship groups, emotional highs or lows, open defiance, isolation from family or friends and constant phone calls from callers who don't leave names when asked.

Physical indications of drug use are often red or bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, over-reaction to bright lights, flushed face, excessive hunger, track marks, sudden and severe weight loss, heart palpitations, runny nose, insomnia, constant licking of the lips and slurred speech.

Hagerstown City Police Officers Gerry Kendle and John Murray provided information about the stimulant ecstasy.

Kendle said ecstasy has been found at RAVE parties in the Baltimore area and is rising in popularity in Hagerstown.

He said the aspirin-size drug takes about 20 minutes to take effect and the high lasts about three to four hours. One pill can cost pennies to produce but sells for as much as $30.

He said side-effects of the drug are a need for physical contact such as rubbing, an increase in heart rate, dehydration, jaw clenching, eye twitching and ultimately brain damage.

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