Parents told ways to join drug fight

Published 6:00 am Friday, April 1, 2005

Parents were given some helpful advice in fighting the war ondrugs Thursday evening during an awareness program at Mullinsschool.

John Douglas, a narcotics agent and member of the SouthwestMississippi Narcotics Team, presented the program, sponsored by theparent’s center at Mullins school.

“I used to think the most important part of my job is arrestingpeople on the streets,” Douglas said. He said he now considerseducating children and parents about drugs to prevent drug abusefrom happening is equally as important as making arrests.

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The program was presented to help parents and teachers be ableto recognize drugs, drug paraphernalia and symptoms of drug use.Douglas showed photos and also showed parents actual paraphernaliaand drugs.

“Kids know that drugs can produce a pleasurable feeling. Wedon’t want to deny that,” Douglas said. “What we do want to tellkids about is the pleasurable feeling they get now, compared to thedamaging effects on their body and to their life in the longrun.”

Douglas presented a slide show of photos of drugs found in theBrookhaven area and warned parents to look for the side effects andsigns of drug use. He said marijuana, cocaine and methamphetaminesare among the most common problems in the area.

Douglas also showed parents some store-bought products that canbe abused. He said these products are not illegal to buy, possessor use.

“The only thing I can do is talk to parents to let them knowwhat’s going on and what to look for,” he said.

Some drugs are stimulants, and users will show signs of beingapprehensive and nervous. Others are depressants, causing users toact tired and seek to be alone.

Douglas said one of the tell-tale signs of drug use is a suddenchange in their lifestyle.

“Change in their personality, personal life and habits is awarning sign,” Douglas said. “Teens who abuse drugs may lie aboutwho they’re with and where they’re going, so you need to follow upon them. If there is any direct change in their personal lifestyle,you need to look into it and find out what’s going on.”

Douglas advised parents to keep abreast of their children’sactivities.

“Know your children’s friends, and know your children’s friends’parents,” he said. Douglas also told parents to go through theirchildren’s rooms to know what they have.

“Yeah, it’s invading their privacy,” he said, “but if it’s goingto keep my kids from using drugs then that’s what I’m going todo.”

Douglas said law enforcement officers are always available tohelp parents be informed.

Mary Wilson, the parent of an eighth-grade son, said sheappreciated Thursday’s program.

“I think this is very helpful,” Wilson said. “Sometimes parentsdon’t know what to look for.” She added that the program helped herto know how to spot drug use.

Douglas said that kind of parental involvement is critical.

“Don’t leave your anti-drug program up to the schools,” he said.”Get involved.”