Program Educates The Public About Drugs
(Editor’s note: This is part one of a four-part installment from this program designed to help educate the public on drugs and their abuses.)
An informational drug program was held Thursday at New Martinsville School. The program was presented primarily by Sistersville Police Chief Rob Haught, who remarked that it was encouraging to see so many parents and children, approximately 20 total, in attendance.
Haught stated he has presented the program in Wetzel County and other places “probably 10 times.” New Martinsville School Assistant Principal Shawn Coen also spoke at the program, as well as Deputy Roger Spragg of the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office. After the presentation on drugs, Spragg, along with K-9 Titus held a demonstration.
“I would be willing to say that a large percentage of law enforcement agencies’ focus is drug addiction and the arrest of drug offenders and traffickers,” Haught remarked. “It used to be we all thought we were immune to this problem. Like most of you, I’ve lived here all of my life. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would see heroin on the streets of New Martinsville. I never thought it would happen.
“We like to say drugs take lives,” Haught stated. “People become obsessed and addicted and do anything to feed that habit-lie, steal, and kill.
“Our number one thing in Wetzel County here is prescription drug abuse, like the rest of our state . . . Little West Virginia, rural West Virginia . . . leads the nation in prescription drug abuse. We are number one. Maybe we would like for our football team to be number one, but this isn’t a number one statistic we should be proud of.”
Haught stated that those who traffic drugs are referred to as “Pillbillies.”
“Most abused prescription drugs come from the home medicine cabinet,” Haught remarked. “The reality is, they don’t come from someplace else. They come from the medicine cabinet. It used to be Little Johnny would raid Mommy and Daddy’s liquor cabinet, but now they are doing it with the pills. The most abused types of prescription drugs are the opioids and the painkillers.”
“Pain is a subjective thing,” Haught remarked. “You can’t really quantify how much pain a person is in. There’s not a good sliding scale to measure that, so they use pain medication.”
Haught presented a slideshow presentation that highlighted the different types of pills that are abused, including depressants, stimulants, and opioids.
Depressants are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders, but are abused because of their sedating properties. Stimulants are generally prescribed to reverse the effects of mental and physical fatigue; they are prescribed for ADHD, narcolepsy, and obesity, but are abused to reduce the appetite, prolong wakefulness, and increase performance.
Opioids are used for the relief of mild to severe physical pain, but are abused for their euphoric and sedative effects.
Assistant Principal Coen remarked that street terms are used for many prescription drugs, such as terms like “reds,” “red birds,” “X,” “tracks,” “stop signs,” “octagons,” “hearts,” “speed,” “crosses,” and “Vitamin R.”
“There is so much that you hear your kids talk about that you don’t think anything of,” Coen stated. “Then you come to these presentations and read something and realize, ‘Oh my gosh, I just heard them talking about that.'”
“If you are a good parent and monitoring internet use and realize they are using terms like this, that would be a red flag to you,” Haught added.
When discussing opioids, Haught mentioned fentanyl, which comes in a patch and is prescribed to cancer patients. Haught stated that drug abusers will take the patches and “squeeze the gel out of those and eat it . . . it tastes terrible, but they will ingest that, and it’s designed to be a time-lapse absorption.” Haught remarked that in the local area a man ingested fentanyl and later died in his truck.
Not only does West Virginia lead the state in prescription drug abuse, but it also leads the nation in prescription drug overdose mortality, which is the leading cause of accidental death in West Virginia. Haught remarked that eight out of 10 accidental deaths in the state involve prescription drug abuse. Haught stated that the number of drug overdose deaths has increased by 605 percent since 1999.
More drugs were discussed, but they will be highlighted in subsequent articles in this series.