Teens & Drugs: Part 2

Drug culture marketing encourages teen experimentation and can lead to addiction and abuse. So, what drugs are teens using these days?

By Ginger Kadlec — get free updates of new posts here.

Sheriff Mike Nielsen holding a bong mask sold at a local head shop.

Sheriff Mike Nielsen holding a bong mask sold at a local head shop.

Continuing my crash course on the drug culture that permeates society today, Boone County, Indiana Sheriff Mike Nielsen showed me just how easy it is for kids to get their hands on drug paraphernalia.

Not even five minutes from the Sheriff’s office, we stopped at a local convenience store, also known as a head shop. There in the corner of the store was a colorful display of all sorts of bongs, pipes and other drug paraphernalia.

“Of course (these stores) say they sell these items for tobacco,” Mike shared, noting that many of these items are intentionally designed to market to children. Loaded on the shelves were colorful glass pipes and even pipes in the shape of animals and smiley faces (see photo below).

Available for sale on the top shelf, the convenience store even sells bong masks (see Mike holding one in the photo – left). Mike noted these items aren’t illegal to sell…but are used for more than just plain ‘ole tobacco.

Mike graciously offered front-line insight into the war he and other law enforcement officials around the country are fighting to protect kids from drug and alcohol abuse.

“There are no socio-economic boundaries for this issue,” Mike reflected.



“Tobacco” items for sale at a local head shop. Note the smiley face and beer can paraphernalia on the shelf to the left.

Teen Drugs of Choice

So, what are the drugs of choice for kids and teens? Here is a crash course for parents who are in the same boat as me, trying to keep-up on the latest drugs to which kids are exposed.

Electronic cigarettes: As noted in Part 1 of this series, Mike strongly believes that much of teen drug addiction starts with smoking – and electric cigarettes fall in that category. In fact, as of August 2016, the Food and Drug Administration begin to apply and enforce key provisions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act as it relates to the sales, marketing and manufacturing of e-cigarettes. (Source: American Lung Association)

Heroin: Classified as an opioid, DrugRehab.com says,”Heroin abuse is one of the fastest growing and deadliest forms of drug abuse in the United States. After declining in the ‘80s and ‘90s, rates of heroin abuse have been steadily climbing for the last decade.”

Hookah (aka “vape”): Again… drug abuse often begins with smoking. The CDC shares, “Hookahs are water pipes that are used to smoke specially made tobacco that comes in different flavors, such as apple, mint, cherry, chocolate, coconut, licorice, cappuccino, and watermelon.” Vaping can include inhaling vapors that contain no nicotine, or some level of tobacco.

IMG_8259Hydrocodone: From Drugs.com, “Zohydro ER and Hysingla ER are extended-release forms of hydrocodone that are used for around-the-clock treatment of severe pain. Extended-release hydrocodone is not for use on an as-needed basis for pain.”

Methamphetamine: This highly addictive, crystal-type substance can be taken in several different forms including smoking, swallowing, injecting or snorting. Mike says of meth, “We don’t see whole lot of methamphetamine manufacturing in this county, but rather see it coming from Mexico,” Mike said and added, “Most is Mexican cartel driven.”

Marijuana (aka “pot”, “weed”): From the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Marijuana use remained steady among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders over the past 5 years despite softening of perceived risks.” Mike shared that there is a string of marijuana coming from Mexico that is especially potent and is causing devastating side effects among those unwittingly using it.

Methadone: Another opioid, methadone is used for pain relief as part of drug addiction detoxification and maintenance programs and is only available from certified pharmacies. It is a protected substance and one in which parents or other adults to whom this drug is prescribed should keep it out of the hands of kids.

Opioids: Opioids are a classification of drugs that help reduce pain. From the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Medications that fall within this class include hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza), codeine, and related drugs.” Regarding addicts use of opioids vs. heroine, he remarked, “A hydrocodone pill on the street will cost $15-$20, but a hit of heroine you can do for $10.”

Spice (aka “K2”): Also referred to as “synthetic marijuana”, spice is now illegal. Mike says of spice, “I’ve seen people who’ve smoked spice are totally out of their mind…its that bad.” DrugRehab.com says about spice that it’s, “A chemical-rich marijuana substitute (that) helped marijuana fans get high without the fear of failing a drug test. But teens began filling hospital beds after smoking it, and the government cracked down on its distribution. Reports show that people who smoke spice have an alarming risk of addiction.” Mike added that even though spice is illegal, it is still sold in some head shops.

For more information

There are some terrific online resources parents, teachers and others who care for youth may want to check-out to learn more about teens and drug usage. A few include:

  • DrugRehab.com offers additional information about each of these and more addictive substances, including street names, physical and psychological dependence, legal status and more.
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse details various studies and trends in drug usage
  • Drugs.com offers insight into all aspects of a variety of types of drugs be it prescription, non-prescription or illegal. This site makes it easy to use an alphabetical search to find information about specific drugs.

Part 3 – next week!

Mike discusses life-saving drugs for addicts, as well as what parents can do if they suspect their child is involved with drugs.

About Mike

Nielsen New PicSheriff Mike Nielsen has been in law enforcement for over 30 years. Amazingly, his career as a police officer began after a traffic stop where the road officer, after talking with Mike for a bit, asked him to step out of the car. Impressed with his polite demeanor and impressive 6’7″ stature, the road officer invited Mike to think about joining the force. At the time, Mike was an electrical engineering manager with Fishers Control International, but was compelled by the opportunity to help others and eventually decided to become a law enforcement officer. Since joining the force in 1983, Mike has earned numerous distinctions and accreditations such as graduating from various law enforcement academies, including the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, in 2010. He has served as the Indiana President of the FBI National Academy (2015), sat on the board of directors for the Indiana Sheriff’s Association and is a certified crisis hostage negotiator among other numerous boards and association memberships. In 1999, he received the Richard Brown Memorial Award and was named “Police Officer of the Year,” and then in 2003, was named “Victim Rights Officer of the Year” by the Boone County Indiana Prosecutor’s Office. Mike serves as a fellow board member with Ginger on the Boone County Child Advocacy Center Board of Directors. Connect with Mike  at the Boone County Indiana Sheriff’s Department, on Facebook at the Boone Co. Sheriff’s Office page or on Twitter @nielsen4sheriff.

About Ginger

Chance and GK 2013-04-26Raising awareness of the world-wide epidemic of child abuse has become Ginger’s life mission. An impassioned child advocate, trainer, speaker and trained child forensic interviewer, Ginger regularly blogs about child protection issues. Along with her husband John and pets Lexi and Chase, Ginger enjoys traveling, skiing, hiking, brisk mornings, colorful sunsets and just hangin’ at home with “the Pack”.


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3 thoughts on “Teens & Drugs: Part 2

    1. I’m so glad this information is helpful, Connie! Sheriff Nielsen certainly educated me… And I have so much more to learn.


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