This morning, The Partnership at Drugfree.org President and CEO Steve Pasierb co-hosted a working group session with Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. The session brought together officials from the public and private sector to share information regarding the emerging threat of synthetic drugs and coordinate the Federal, state and local response.
Often marketed as legal substances, synthetic drugs are sometimes labeled as “herbal incense” or “bath salts” and sold in small pouches or packets over the Internet, in tobacco and smoke shops, drug paraphernalia shops, gas stations, and convenience stores.In December, the National Institute on Drug Abuse released new information indicating that one in nine high school seniors had used “Spice” or “K2” over the past year, making synthetic marijuana the second most frequently used illicit drug, after marijuana, among high school seniors. Poison Control Centers operating across the Nation have also reported sharp increases in the number of calls relating to synthetic drugs.
Pasierb also introduced a kit for parents and adult influencers at a media briefing following the group session. The kit houses the tools parents need to talk with their teens about this emerging threat and recognize the warning signs of use. It includes a slidecast about synthetic drugs and a printable guide so parents can present details on what to look for, what the street names are and what the effects of these substances are to others in their community. It is available on the drug guide of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids website and is part of a “Parents360” community education program funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance.
“Synthetic drugs like Spice, K2, and ‘bath salts’ are a serious threat to the health and safety of young people throughout America,” said Kerlikowske. “We will continue to coordinate a comprehensive government-wide response, but we cannot do this alone. Parents and adult influencers must understand the serious threat these drugs pose and act today to talk to teens about the serious health and safety consequences of drug use – in whichever form it may come.”
“The drug scene is constantly changing and we’ve seen this firsthand in calls to our Parents Toll-Free Helpline and reflected in the facts, numbers and stories presented this morning,” said Pasierb. “This is a serious ‘wake-up call’ for everyone about the extent of synthetic drug use among kids, and that’s why it’s so important for parents to educate themselves about changing drug trends so they’ll know what to look for. the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids’s new information kit is just one critical way we’re increasing awareness among parents about the dangers of these new substances, as well as giving them the accessible, understandable tools they need to talk with their kids about the risks of using synthetic drugs.”