The Poynette School District wishes to have a conversation, one that may perhaps save lives now and in the future.
Current Drug Trends: A Community Conversation is a presentation that will be held at Poynette High School in the library at 6 p.m. on Dec. 6. It is sponsored by the School District of Poynette, the Poynette Police Department and the Columbia County Sheriff’s office.
Presenters Detective Lieutenant Roger Brandner and Sergeant Mike Haverly, who both work for the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department, will educate the public not only about current drug trends, but how adolescents can be at risk for drug usage, what signs point to addiction and the types of paraphernalia that can be found in the home.
What the research and numbers say
“It is important to state that most teenagers in Columbia County are not using alcohol and other drugs,” wrote Paula Enger, Prevention and Response Columbia County coordinator in an email. “But for those that do, we see age of onset usually in middle school, with use increasing through high school.”
Enger said her organization knows through research that youth who start using drugs at age 15 or younger are more likely to develop an addiction that those who wait until adulthood.
“The human brain is thought to be developed by age 25, so drug use before that has the potential to change (that course of development),” Enger wrote.
Enger outlined some of the signs that point to usage or addiction as well. She said they include changes in appearance, changes in friend groups, withdrawing from usual activities and more that will be explained at the presentation.
According to Haverly, there were 84 drug-related overdose calls in 2016, while there were 94 in 2015. Additionally, there were 15 drug overdose deaths in 2016 and 12 in 2015. The majority of overdoses were related to the usage of opiates and opioids, like heroin and morphine to name a few.
Haverly said to note that the data was only recorded when an ambulance was dispatched to the scene. The numbers don’t include hospital visits by other means of transportation, meaning the they could be higher.
“Now it’s getting even more interesting because the heroin is being tested and they are finding traces of fentanyl,” Haverly said.
Fentanyl is an opioid pain medication with a rapid onset of effects, which are similar to most narcotics, though this particular opioid is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, according to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
At the community level
Poynette Police Chief Eric Fisher said while Poynette parents may not be aware of the signs their adolescents may exhibit, they have to do their due diligence to educate themselves.
Fisher said drug trends are always changing. A lot of what is seen at the national level can is currently being seen in Poynette, he said. He has seen the opiate epidemic rear its head in the community.
He said he has also seen the usage of Adderall in local students to help them focus and cough syrups and Sudafed to achieve a high.
“We want to try and educate as many as we can,” Fisher said. “It’s an extremely informative presentation.”