News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 24, 2013

Creative tricks help hide drug use: counselor

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Fad drugs change quickly, and some oldies take on new twists.

Area youth workers learned Tuesday at a workshop in Brazil about which new drugs are available to kids during an Indiana Youth Institute forum that explored drug impact on children, and the growing number of designer drugs.

Noah Coley, a counselor at Hamilton Center Inc., said he has learned a lot by speaking to youths who seek help because of their drug use, and he has found that it is relatively easy to purchase some of the new synthetic drugs simply by going to a convenience store.

“This is happening in Clay County and the Wabash Valley a lot,” Coley said.

He said he has learned of students creatively bringing marijuana to school in their lunches by hiding it inside snacks. Another trick is to soak certain candies in alcohol for several days, then to bring the intoxicating candy to school to enjoy throughout the day, along with a buzz. The same can be done with alcohol-soaked tampons, since the body will absorb the alcohol into the bloodstream.

A University of Michigan study from 2012 shows that 36 percent of high school seniors have used marijuana in the past year. Synthetic marijuana — such as Spice, K2 and Mad Hatter — had been used by 11 percent of seniors during the past year. Bath salts, which are a cousin to methamphetamine, have also become common because the vendors frequently change the name and the chemical makeup of the drug to circumvent legislation against the substances.

Prescription drugs are also sneaking in, Coley said, either in home-baked brownies, in specially labeled store-bought brownies or by being absorbed into candy.

Of 16,000 youth surveyed, 20 percent reported abusing a prescription drug, Coley said. The most commonly abused are oxycotin, vicodin, xanax, valium, adderall and dextromethorphan. The statistics show that prescription drug abuse is most common among white students -- 23 percent -- followed by Hispanics at 17 percent and African-Americans at 12 percent. Prescription abuse was also most common among seniors  — 26 percent — and least common among freshmen at 15 percent.

A scary drug with gruesome side effects has not yet reached the United States, but it is being seen in Russia and Eastern Europe — Krockadil, pronounced the same as crocodile.

Coley said the drug is eight to 10 times more potent than morphine, and is notorious for producing severe tissue damage, phlebitis and gangrene, sometimes requiring limb amputation. The drug eats away at fingers and toes from the inside out, slowing progressing toward the torso as it destroys arms and legs.

Salvia, also known as sage or garden sage, is an illegal drug in Indiana. It can be easily found, easily ingested, but its side effects can cause life-altering and life-threatening damage.

Coley said that the first and sometimes most obvious warning signs for young people who are abusing drugs can be found in the eyes of a young person. The eyes can be glassy and red, with contracted or dialated pupils, watery and with impaired vision. Physical change in a young person using drugs is often apparent, but Coley cautioned that some people might prefer to attribute a change to “those awkward teenage years.”

That is a mistake, he said. It is easier to assume the worst and talk to the young person about drug use and choices, but then retreat if that is not a problem the teen is experiencing, he said.

The synthetic drug problem is expected to be tackled again this summer by the Indiana legislature in its study period. Bath salts — which contain chemicals identified as mephedrone, methylone and MDVP — have already been targeted by a 2012 law signed by President Barack Obama that places those chemicals on the Schedule 1 controlled substance list, which prohibits their sale or prescription.

Detective Steve Lockard of the Vigo County Drug Task Force told the Tribune-Star he hopes state legislation on sythenic drugs will give police more teeth to enforce laws and discourage businesses from selling items such as Spice, K2 and other synthetic marijuana.

Many of the drug abuse problems described by Coley have been seen in the Terre Haute area for years, Lockard said, but many are also such quick fads that don’t make it to Indiana. Still, area police are constantly training about the latest drug fads.

“Hopefully, we don’t see them, but we do want to be prepared if we do,” he said.

More than 40 area youth workers from Clay, Vigo and Putnam County attended Tuesday’s Youth Worker Cafe, which was intended to build relationships and inspire collaborations that will benefit children. The event was supported by Hamilton Center, Clay Community Schools LEAAP Center and IYI.

For more information, go online to the Indiana Youth Institute website at

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.