Here’s a primer on illicit drug use

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Lorna Marquardt, Leader Columnist

When I attended high school, a few of my classmates smoked cigarettes. Sometimes, I heard there had been a beer party in a woods or gravel pit. I never heard anything about illegal drugs. Maybe I was just oblivious to it, but I knew nothing about drugs during my teen years.

In fact, I am still pretty naïve when it comes to drugs. However, I know it is a growing problem not just here, but also nationwide.

Wanting to write a story, but with limited knowledge about the subject, I asked our local law enforcement agencies for some information I could share with you readers. It certainly was eye-opening to me, and it may be to you as well.

I learned most of the common drugs have street names so they can be referred to during normal conversations without raising suspicions.

Methamphetamine (meth) is a highly addictive drug that stimulates the nervous system. It is a high potency, hardcore and violent drug. It is the most used drug in western and central Shawano County. Law enforcement is starting to see more meth in the eastern part of the county, and the city of Shawano is also seeing meth on the rise.

The average cost of meth is $100 a gram. Depending on tolerance, a user generally gets about 10 to 20 highs on a gram. It can be smoked, snorted, injected or orally ingested. After the initial “rush,” there is typically a state of high agitation that in some individuals can lead to violent behavior.

Meth is made in different ways with a variety of ingredients. Meth that is called soap dope has a pink tint to it. Lemon drop is meth with a yellowish tint. Green meth is referred to as holiday meth or Christmas tree meth. Other street names are crank, crystal, ice, speed, getgo, jib, tina or trash/garbage.

Street names for heroin are smack, H, skag, brown sugar, horse and black tar. Heroin is a highly addictive drug that is processed from morphine, which is a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. It can be injected, snorted/sniffed or smoked. It enters the brain very quickly. Health risks include fatal overdose, high risk of infections such as HIV/AIDS, collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, and liver disease.

Heroin costs $125 to $150 a gram. Depending on tolerance, a user can get about 20 to 30 highs on a gram.

Opioids are substances that act on opioid receptors to produce morphine-like effects. Medically they are used for pain relief to include anesthesia. Continued use and abuse can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms.

Some of the well-known brand names include Robitussin A-C, Tylenol with codeine, Empirin with codeine, Roxanol, Duramorph, OxyContin, Vicodin,Percodan, Percocet, Tylox and Dilaudid. A few of the street names include captain, cody, schoolboy, pancakes and syrup, loads, Apache, China girl, Miss Emma, monkey, oxycat and juice. The cost is generally about $1 a milligram.

If your doctor prescribed one of these medications, use as directed and keep your medications out of the reach of others.

Fentanyl and car fentanyl are powerful synthetics. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl on the street poses a significant threat to public health and safety. Sometimes fentanyl is mixed with heroin. Heroin overdose is deadly; fentanyl is even more deadly. Recently there was a news article about an officer in Winnebago County who was exposed to fentanyl and had to be given Narcan to overcome the effects.

There is still usage of marijuana and synthetic cannabinoid in the area. Usage of pills and marijuana is seen starting at the middle school level.

Meth and heroin users are predominately between the ages of 19 and 26 in our area.

Cocaine, also known as coke, is a strong stimulant used as a recreational drug. It is snorted, inhaled as smoke, or as a solution injected into a vein. Usage can produce a fast heart rate, sweating and large pupils. After cannabis, cocaine is the most frequently used illegal drug globally. Street names include candy, snow, rock, blow, toot and Charlie.

Illicit drug users make over 527,000 costly emergency room visits each year for drug-related problems. Drug offenders account for more than one third of the growth in the state prison population. More than 75 percent of domestic violence victims report their assailant had been drinking or using illicit drugs at the time of the incident. Substance abuse and addiction are treatable. Forty-five percent of individuals with an untreated substance use disorder commit suicide.

Help lines are available. If you have an addiction, seek help.

Answer to last week’s quesiton: Pam Kuck won a contest naming Huckleberry Harbor because of its location on Sawyer Street and its reference to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

This week’s question: In the 1980s, Shawano had a motto. What was it?