Pubdate: Mon, 13 Mar 2000
Source: Nevada Appeal (NV)
Copyright: 2000 Nevada Appeal
Author: Kathy Robinson


Editor's note: In its 1999 survey of students in grades 9 through 12,
the Nevada Department of Education reported that half had used
marijuana at least once, and about one in 10 had tried some form of

The Nevada Appeal asked Kathy Robinson, a Carson High School senior
and Appeal employee, to assess drug use among Carson high-school age
youths by talking to students, school officials and local experts.

Names of students quoted in the article have been changed to protect
their identity.

Shannon started doing drugs when she was 12. She started out with
marijuana, then went on to mushrooms and acid. Shannon is a
17-year-old senior at Carson High School.

"I went to crank (methamphetamines) when I was 15," she said. "I've
never done heroine, but when I was really messed up on all these other
drugs, someone tried to force the needle into my arm. I stopped doing
drugs because when I was at a party one day I did a little too much
crank and I overdosed. I almost died and it scared me."

Shannon has been clean for six months. She hasn't had any alcohol in
two months.

- ------

Every school has a drug problem of sorts; some schools more so than
others. Carson High Principal Glen Adair said that Carson High is no
worse, maybe better than any other school in Nevada.

But how bad is the problem that every school has? Carson High has
three safety enforcement officers and one uniformed policeman on duty
at all times during school hours, and a security system which includes
dozens of cameras around the school and its grounds.

However, the eye of the law can't see all, and the students of Carson
High have real problems on and off campus. Every school has a "few"
people who smoke marijuana. The students of Carson High say that drugs
can go much farther than just a joint every now and then. Drugs change
lives, drugs can end lives, and the children of Carson City want their
community to know what's really going on with them.

Tilisa May, director of the Ron Woods Family Resource Center, deals
with children who are considered "high risk," which means they have
trouble with attendance, fights, grades, family and drugs.

May said 63 percent of the high-risk students who come through her
center use tobacco products, 55 percent drink alcohol and 43 percent
use one or more illegal drugs.

"I don't think it's any better or worse than other communities," May
said. "Kids have got a lot of stuff to deal with today. We see a
certain core group, but kids are still kids."

The Ron Woods Center, as well as the Boys & Girls Club, offer several
programs such as anger management classes which are designed to keep
teenagers off drugs.

- ------

"I'm high right now," said Norman as he sat in the high school
cafeteria. Norman's uncle started him on marijuana. "I was like 9. He
was talking about (Viet) Nam and pulled out a 'fat bong.' I got a
contact high. That was the first time I learned to take a hit off a

Norman smokes weed, and said he does some "acid here and there, crank,
cocaine, 'shrooms, 'ludes ...."

"I was at a party one time and I was messed up and I told Dr. Seuss to
(expletive) off for like two hours. I was carrying a trash can around
and puking in it."

The day that Norman shared his story, he got in trouble for drug use.
He came to school the next day with a haircut, dressed in slacks, a
white shirt and a vest. Some people didn't even recognize him. He said
he's got to start turning his life around.

- ------

"Carson High is a well-run school that is populated, for the most
part, by outstanding men and women," Adair said. "We try and stand, at
least as the high school in town, not only for what's legally right,
but for what's morally right."

Orlandon Sanchez, a safety enforcement officer at the high school,
said he doesn't see a major problem.

"As far as busts, we don't get very many. Those things are a real
minimum. We just don't see it that much," he stated.

Sanchez said that the public, law enforcement and school officials are
not ignorant to what goes on in their community and their schools. He
said they address all of the issues that "concern all of us with our
young people" in a proactive manner.

"You can always improve on the programs you have, and we continually
do that. There's a constant growth," Sanchez said.

- ------

Michael, another senior, said he brings marijuana to school almost
daily and smokes it at school every chance he gets. He smokes it at
least four more times after school before he goes to bed.

"No one does it on campus anymore," he said. "They do it during
school, but not on campus," an assertion that some disagree with.
Michael said he smokes weed a bit too much.

"It is a waste of money, but if I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't do it.
I've already quit three times, but I've smoked weed all my life. I've
done acid and 'shrooms since freshman year. I tried crank, but I
didn't like it."

Michael thinks that people who do drugs are unfairly blamed for Carson
High's problems. "Everyone says that people who do drugs bring bad
(expletive) here. We're the ones that are laid back. We don't start
fights and stuff. I've got more endurance than most people. I run, and
work out a lot."

- ------

"I certainly think drugs are an issue," said Carson City School
District Superintendent Jim Parry. "You see that through children
demonstrating use of drugs in their lives. Whether it's at a football
game, a school activity or privately in their homes. Some parents
condone it."

Parry said that while any and all drugs are probably available in
Carson City, alcohol seems to be the drug of choice among high school

"I think it's clear that a significant number of Carson City high
school students have issues with drug use. Everything you suppose
about drugs is true," he stated.

Parry also explained that the community is taking action to deal with
students who have issues with substance abuse whether it be to help
them, arrest them, or both. He said that there are several steps to
take in dealing with drug abuse. They include identifying the problem,
rehabilitation, and in some cases sanctions.

- ------

Mary, a sophomore, said she started drinking, doing acid, crank and
pot when she moved to Carson two and a half years ago. She quit three
months ago.

"I got arrested twice in one day, so I quit everything except
alcohol," she said. "It's very rare for people to quit and not go back
within six months. I'm still going to counseling. Everybody in my
house does drugs."

Mary said when she got arrested she was on crank and had been awake
for three weeks. Crank causes sleep deprivation and

"I had been up for so long I was hallucinating. I weighed less than a
hundred pounds. Sitting in the holding cell was very scary."

- ------

June James, juvenile probation officer, described the penalties for
underage alcohol and drug abusers. Minor consumption, possession and
purchase of alcohol are all the same. The first offense is a six-hour
drug and alcohol education class conducted two nights a week by an
attorney and a drug and alcohol abuse counselor. Parents must attend
classes with their children. A second offense would result in a 90-day
driver's license suspension, and a third offense would be punishable
with eight hours of community service and a $50 fine.

Sheila Banister, senior probation officer, said that the punishments
and fines become more severe as the offense becomes more serious. If a
problem continues it will end up in front of a juvenile court judge, a
drug and alcohol evaluation will be conducted, and the offender could
be placed on probation.

"You don't have to be holding a beer to be charged with possession."
said James. If two people are at a party and a beer is sitting between
them, they could both be arrested for possession. Sometimes everyone
at a party where underaged drinking is involved can be arrested.

"First offense, marijuana, is automatic probation," stated Banister.
The probation can last six months to a year, or even up the the
offender's 21st birthday.

The juvenile Probation Center offers outpatient counseling for
substance abuse, and depending on the seriousness of the problem, they
even have a residential rehabilitation program. They offer a class for
offenders, which is part of a 12-week program in which certified
substance abuse counselors meet with offenders from 9-noon on
Saturdays at the Juvenile Detention Center.

Juvenile probation also offers recommendations to private counselors.
James said that parents can have drug tests done on their children
through private doctors if they suspect a problem.

- ------

"I have pleurisy," said Don, a senior. "I used to do drugs every day.
Pot, crank, heroine, LSD, 'shrooms."

Pleurisy (pleural effusion) is a condition in which excess fluid
builds up in the pleural cavity, or the space between the membrane
around the lungs and the membrane covering the ribcage, according to
the Carson Tahoe Hospital Medical Library. Depending on the
consistency of the fluid, the condition can be very painful.

Don said that his condition is mostly due to crank, but "everything
I've done has taken a toll on my lungs and my life. I went on a
three-month binge with crank. I ran away from my house. I was gone for
three months. I went to sleep in Juvie (juvenile detention) and woke
up three days later. I didn't know where I was or who my parents
were." He quit doing drugs because of his parents, and because he was
on probation.

- ------

Deputy Chief of Police Scott Burau stated that in 1998 there were 33
children between the ages of 10 and 17 arrested on narcotics charges.
In 1999 there were 26 narcotics arrests. Burau said that the primary
function of the sheriff's department is to enforce the law.

He said that offenders who come to their attention are arrested and
then propelled into the justice system where judges, probation
officers, counselors or other officials decide where to go from there.
The Juvenile Probation Department handles the offenders after the fact.

All the students who do, or at one time did drugs, had one thing in
common. They all said that getting drugs in Carson City is not difficult.

"I just called people on the phone" said Shannon.

"This is a 'tweaker town,'" stated Michael, "It's full of crank. It's
easier to get crank than to get weed."

Don said, "all you have to do is ask and show money." Pot is $60 for
1/4 ounce, crank is $100 for one gram, $25 for a "teener." "That's
like three rocks," said Don. "Ask around. You'll get a name. Find the
person and ask them. They'll either give it to you there or get
someone else to. You can buy runners to give or get the drugs for you."

"I know more people who don't do drugs than people who do," said
Christine, a senior. "I know people who do drugs, but I don't think
they're bad people, they just make bad decisions."

Cat, also a senior, said she knows several people who do drugs, but
most of her friends and the students she knows have never even tried
them. "I smoke, but I don't do drugs," she said. "I've heard people
make plans to get drugs, and make plans to do them. I've seen people
smoke weed out at Smokers (Corner). A friend of mine offered me a hit,
but he didn't pressure me when I said no."

Cat said she doesn't understand why people think they need to do drugs
to fit in. "Most people I know who do drugs have a lot of respect for
the people who don't, and they don't try to get people started. I
won't even give a cigarette to people who don't smoke. I would hate to
get someone else started on that," she said. "I just never wanted to
try drugs," said Christine.

Adair said that the faculty of Carson High is trying to arrange a
conference for March or April to be attended by students, parents,
staff and world-class "facilitators" - paid professionals who are
called in to organize the meeting - to address school safety, drugs
and alcohol.

"This is probably one of the largest undertakings of it's kind, not
only in this state, but probably in America," Adair stated.


If you, your child, or someone you know needs help or counseling
regarding drug or alcohol abuse, you can call one of the following:

The Life Stress Center in Carson Tahoe Hospital: 885-4460

Crisis Line: 885-8866 or 1(800) 283-7671

Ron Woods Family Resource Center: 884-2269

Community Counseling Center: 882-3945

Crisis Call Center (Reno): 784-8085

Carson Mental Health: 687-4195

Carson Professional Group: 887-1313 (The Carson Professional Group provides
four certified alcohol and drug abuse counselors, three of whom speak

Juvenile Probation: 887-2033
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake