POMEROY — School employees from all three districts attended a training on signs of drug abuse on Wednesday at Meigs High School.
The Operation Street Smart event was sponsored by the Meigs County Community Prevention Coalition. The speakers at the training were Sgt. Michael Powell and Capt. Shawn Bain, both retired from law enforcement and now work with the Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).
During the training, Powell and Bain told school employees about the new trends in drug and alcohol abuse. The goal of the program is to educate and inform people on what to look for and how to help the situations they find.
Powell and Bain also showed the audience several ways that drugs and alcohol are hidden. Many of the objects used are everyday items in most households, cars and purses. The different containers — including name brand peanut butter jars, bottles of over the counter antacids, batteries, etc. — are called “safes” and they often have “false centers” where the drugs are stored.
The safes are normally used continually, which will give the common containers a distressed look. Bain said the safes are legal to purchase because they could be used to store other things — such as money or jewelry on vacation.
Bain explained the importance of knowing the street terms for drugs, because often times, people are talking about the drugs in front of other people, but they’re using terms like “spice,” “spike,” “sidewalk,” “fire,” etc. Bain said he researches street names on websites like urbandictionary.com, erowid.org, and bluelight.org.
According to information provided by Powell, Bain and Ohio HIDTA, West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania were the top three states, respectively, for provisional drug overdose deaths in 2017. In that year, Ohio had 4,854 deaths due to drugs.
Overdose deaths involving methamphetamine increase from 2016 to 2017, as well as those involving cocaine and fentanyl. However, the deaths caused by prescription drugs and heroin are declining.
Powell and Bain stressed the importance of speaking up if you suspect drug or alcohol activity. Powell said people should seek help while in “stage one” of drug abuse, rather than waiting until stage three or four.
Kayla Hawthorne is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.