Drug Use and Abuse: Perspectives of A Teen User Part 2

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    This is part 2 of an interview with an 18 year old drug user. Jane talks about drugs she has done, and tells the story of a friend who overdosed on heroin. She presents some solutions, and I add in some resources for supporting families dealing with these issues. This is not a comprehensive overview of adolescent drug abuse, just a snapshot into one human experience.

    Drug Use and Abuse: Perspectives of A Teen User Part 2

    Jane mentioned many drugs in our interview, so I wanted to give you a quick, reliable reference to look them up. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has all of them listed on a website in alphabetical order - just click on the drug you are interested in to learn more.1Jane cursed a lot, and mentioned a lot of names and places, so I have changed a few things to protect her, and YOU (from the cursing) and added details in parenthesis.

    I first asked her about pills, thinking that drugs like Oxycontin would be popular with kids (that's what the NIDA website reports, so it must be true), but she said, "It's not as popular as Xanax, and it is so easy to get ripped off - people (who sell it) don't know what they are talking about (they lie)- it's more popular in middle school, kids are like, yeah, I got some pills - they don't know what they are taking half the time. It's easy to sell fake ****."

    Jane brought up a drug called Molly. Molly is a type of 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) that alters mood and perception, with both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties.2Molly is slang for "molecular MDMA", referring to the supposed pureness of the crystalline powder form of MDMA. The problem is that much of Molly contains cocaine, ketamine, methamphetamine, over-the-counter cough medicine or synthetic cathinones ("Bath salts").3According to the DEA, in 2013 only 13% of the Molly seized in New York State in a four year period actually contained MDMA.2Jane says, "I have done it quite a few times now, and it is super inebriating. You can't operate a vehicle. It is gnarly to get addicted to. I have taken peyote and mescaline (mescaline is derived from the peyote cactus - it's a hallucinogen)1. I felt like I could turn them off. With Molly you think you are ok, but you are doing stuff that is weird."

    "When you are rolling (slang for doing Molly) you start to bite down on your jaw, to grind your teeth. (To prevent this) people chew gum, ginger chews, whatever. My friend gets it really bad. She completely, unknowingly chewed the inside of her mouth open. She couldn't eat or drink - it has happened 3 times - it happened when she did Coke (Cocaine) as well. She had to get this medical grade stuff used for canker sores to numb her mouth so she could eat."

    Another problem with Molly that Jane spoke of is something called "suicide Tuesdays." This is a phenomenon that occurs after kids take Molly all weekend. By Tuesday, once all of the drug has finally left your system, depression can occur, with suicidal ideation.4

    Jane adds, "The first time I did molly, it was actually meth - this guy who gave it to me ended up going to jail for child molestation, and he got me to do stuff for him."

    "Any guy who gives you alcohol or drugs, they expect sex. I have had some pretty bad experiences. I had some horrible experiences; I didn't immediately remove myself from those situations. It was more about the people and not what we were doing (meaning the drugs). My friend who did heroin, I felt safe with him for a long time, he never asked me for anything and I felt safe with him, but it turns out he wasn't safe."

    I asked Jane if she wanted to talk about sexual assault and she declined. I promised her mom I would follow up with Jane about her experiences- I want to make sure she is ok deep down, and not just on a superficial level. For now, she reassures me that she is "fine."

    Changing topics, I asked, "How easy is it to get? If I wanted to get something right now - how easily could I find it?"

    Jane: "I can get anything here - I can even get crack. It's probably even easier (out west). It doesn't matter where you are, you can find it in five minutes. Tourists come up and ask me about drugs all the time because of the way I look (read part 1 for a description of Jane)."

    We talked about how funny it is that people still think there is a certain typeof person who does drugs. We agreed that if you really want to sell drugs and not get caught, it makes way more sense to NOT look like a drug user!

    I also asked about cost - how do people, especially kids without jobs, pay for their habit?

    Jane: "My friend who died - he ended up selling it because his addiction got so bad. I always wondered how people got the money? When he used to sell heroin - this adult man - one of his main patrons would spend $400 in a day for heroin -he was only a house painter - how did he get that money?"

    Me: "Have you ever taken heroin?"
    Jane: "No and I never will, I know I will like it and I don't want to go there. It is nasty ****."

    I asked Jane to tell me more about her friend who sold heroin. "I was at his house with a bunch of dudes, and everyone was high on heroin, except me, and it was just horrible. His lips turned white, and he was foaming at the mouth. He started turning blue. No one wanted to call the ambulance because they were afraid of them finding all the heroin in the house, and also it's really expensive - it costs, like thousands of dollars for them to come. None of them had Narcan. I finally drove him to the hospital, I was 17 and I hadn't ever been there before. At first one of his friends tried to drive, but he was too high, so I took over. I can't believe I didn't get pulled over by the cops. It was 6 or 7 pm and still light out. I had no idea where to go, where to park, what to do. He was in the backseat with our friend, who kept slapping him and telling him not to go to sleep. If you go to sleep then it's like, bye bye, off to dream land and you die. I parked the car and left the keys in it. I was like, 'this guy is not going to die on my watch!' I carried his feet and the other dude got his upper body. Once they got him in there they gave him Narcan and he woke right up, but the drugs they gave him to reverse it really ****** him up."

    Me: "so he lived."

    Jane: "Yes, he lived, he didn't die until a few months later, when he overdosed again. I wasn't there"

    Jane told me so many stories of kids overdosing - it's heartbreaking, and terrifying because we don't seem to be doing anything to prevent it.

    I asked Jane about options. "Do people who want to get clean have options? What do they do if they want to quit?"

    Jane: "Moving is a wonderful thing to do. Leave. Run away from your problems. It worked for me. My hometown is a vortex - people get stuck here, addicts get stuck - like 80% of the people I know here in this town are stuck. I worry about this town - the spiral of nothingness that it is. It's like the movie Spirited Away-the parents are eating dinner, and it looks really good, but then they turn into pigs and keep eating for eternity."

    "I had a friend who was addicted to whippets and he wanted to stop, but he didn't do anything about it, but he just ran out of money and had to stop."

    Me: "Did you have any therapy or counseling for the things that happened to you?"

    Jane: "My parents sent me to therapy - I just wasted their money - I was so stubborn. It's just too hard to say those things out loud when they have just happened. They paid $80 for 50 minutes, and I would just sit there and stare at her with death eyes."

    I told Jane about some alternatives to psychotherapy/traditional talk-therapy - you can learn more about them in my allnurses.com blog on Emotional Freedom Techniqueand Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.

    I asked Jane about solutions.

    "Eradicate the fentanyl and the Molly cut with meth and research chemicals. Get a handle on your sons. It's a huge part of it. The males are more to blame than the females - they pressure us with that kind of stuff. We need safe drugs - drugs that are what they are supposed to be. More education. A lot of my little brother's friends come to me with questions, I am their 'weed mom' - they have no idea what they are doing, and nowhere to go for information."

    The National Institute on Drug Abuse has excellent resources for the specific treatment needs of adolescents.5As I said in the summary, this article isn't meant to be a comprehensive discussion of teen drug use or treatment, but a small snapshot of one young adults' views on the subjects. The NIDA website lists many treatment options, including: 1) Behavioral approaches, 2) Family-based approaches, 3) Addiction medications and, 4) Recovery support services. Many barriers exist to solutions, including lack of treatment facilities, access to resources, the high cost of treatment, and most tragically, those kids who cycle repeatedly through treatment centers and therapies, but continue to relapse - often succumbing to death by overdose despite the best efforts of those who love them.

    References
    1. List of commonly abused drugs and how they work: Page not found | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
    2. MDMA/Ecstacy (Molly) - NIDA: DrugFacts: MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly) | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
    3. Nine things to know about Molly: 9 things everyone should know about the drug Molly - CNN
    4. More info about "suicide tuesdays": The Unspoken Danger of Molly Abuse: Suicide Tuesdays - Forums
    5. National Institute on Drug Abuse: Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: What drugs are most frequently used by adolescents? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
    6. Link to podcasts of interview: Safety Rules by Kristi Miller, RN, PhD, CPPS, HNB-BC on Apple Podcastsand Safety Rules by Kristi Miller, RN, PhD, CPPS, HNB-BC on Apple Podcasts
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    Dr. Kristi Miller is a mother of four who loves to write so much that she would probably starve if her phone didn’t remind her to pick up her children. Her work experiences as a hospital nurse make it easy to skip using the bathroom to get in just a few more minutes at the word processor. Please read her blog, Safety Rules! on allnurses.com, and listen to her podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. In the guise of Safety Nurse, she is sending a young Haitian woman to nursing school and you can learn more about that adventure: https://www.youcaring.com/rosekatianalucien-1181936

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