Pubdate: Sat, 16 Aug 2014
Source: Hanford Sentinel, The (CA)
Copyright: 2014 Lee Newspapers
Author: Dennis Beaver


Part 1

If given the option of making an arrest or helping a family deal with
a child's involvement with drugs and the wrong people, to Narcotics
Officer Frank Martinez of the Hanford Police Department there is no
real choice at all.

"Dennis, we find elementary school children in possession of
marijuana, and often, weapons. Drugs are an equal opportunity
life-destroying evil, not confined to 'those' people who live in
blighted neighborhoods.

"There are signs that parents need to look for -- behavior which is a
tip off that something is wrong, that their son or daughter might be
using drugs. For cops it is the greatest feeling in the world when you
can help to open their eyes - and that is literally where to begin,
knowing what to look at, what to look for and how to interpret your

Trust your sense of sight and smell

"As most parents know their kids--how they react and behave--seeing a
material change is a fire alarm sounding," Martinez observes.

"The type of behavioral and physiological changes depend on the drug.
With opiates - typically prescription pain mediation-the most common
signs include:

A diminished ability to be alert. Dilated pupils, wearing sunglasses
at odd hours or indoors.

Zombie-like behavior, withdrawn, lethargic and nodding off as if about
to fall asleep. This is referred to as 'the nods.' Acting as if they
just want to be left alone all the time.

"However, someone on marijuana will radiate a sense of not just not
caring. They will still have that fight in them, so that if you argue,
they will respond unlike opiates, where they are so withdrawn that
they just will usually not respond or engage in the argument.

"Meth-which is a powerful stimulant-has a constellation of symptoms
including inability to sleep, staying up for days on end, fidgeting,
scratching, picking at their skin, extreme carelessness about
appearance, loss of interest in school or regular activities, and
aggressive behavior. It is a horrible drug which destroys lives unless
help comes quickly.

"All of these drugs have different smells, and typically a kid high on
weed will have a telltale smell. Marijuana, heroin and meth have their
own distinct odors, ranging from vinegar to nail polish remover.

"Once you have experienced the odor of burnt or unburnt marijuana
you'll know. Drug enforcement officers will tell you that even before
a little kiss and hug from your spouse when coming home, if you've
been at a marijuana grow earlier that day, standing orders from the
Home Commander are to 'Jump into the shower, now!' Martinez observes
with a broad smile.

Theft from the home strongest indicator - Begin a dialogue

"Typically kids in school do not have a job, and if they have
developed a real habit, they need money, and consequently theft from
the home is the #1 indicator of drug use with a juvenile. Add to that
coming home with the behavior of someone who just doesn't care - these
are strong signs that drugs are involved and requires

"At this stage, you absolutely must establish a dialogue," Martinez
stresses. "You need to know what is going on with your child and it is
up to you to start that dialogue. Some children will not be
comfortable in talking with parents but might with a mental health
professional. My point is that dialogue is simply critical-these are
potential life threatening issues.

"Tell them what you are seeing. It must be made clear that the
behavior is simply unacceptable, that you are concerned. For example:

- - These are my observations: you are stealing from the house, you are
coming home late, you are hanging around with very suspicious people.
You come home smelling like weed and I think you are smoking marijuana.

- - I want to know why. Is there a problem? Is there something going on?
I am very disappointed that you are using marijuana (alcohol, drugs,

- - I am so disappointed and feel betrayed by your deception , seeing
you come home drunk and especially when the police show up at our
house. Do you have a problem, or can you admit to having one?

"Success will in part depend upon getting a buy-in from your child.
You can ease that process by acknowledging, 'As a kid, I also made
mistakes, and know that I am not perfect - no one is. Together we can
move forward. I need your help.'

"Remember," cautions Martinez, "In dealing with children-of all
ages--they will minimize what the truth actually is. They may tell you
half-truths, not the whole truth."

The Hanford Narcotic Officer knows of only one way for a child or an
adult to change course. Next time we'll tell you what it is.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt