“We got problems” Meth, opioid, vaping use exploding in city, county

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Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2019 3:00 pm

Law enforcement, school officials, substance abuse counselors and a doctor held a public forum Nov. 25 to discuss local drug problems. The forum, co-sponsored by the Elk Point-Jefferson School District and South Dakota Resource Hotline (SDRH), was held at the school.

SDRH Representative Michele Majeres talked about the increase of opioid use in the state and presented some available resources.

SDRH’s Hilary Larsen presented information on vaping, describing the different terms used to describe it, as well as specific devices used to deliver the nicotine. She pointed out that many people, especially teens, think that vaping involves just water vapor. Few users realize the range of heavy metals, and cancer-causing particles contained in that vapor, in addition to nicotine. The vapor is especially harmful to adolescent lungs and can cause bronchitis, asthma and chronic cough.

The nicotine in e-cigarettes is contained in pods. The most popular pod has a nicotin level equivalent to one pack of cigarettes. Larsen said some teens use up to four pods a day. But she said there’s an additional concern – because the pods can be refilled, many teens are adding extra substances. Larsen has heard of alcohol and THC use through the pods.

Parents would have no idea their teen was consuming more than just nicotine.

David Brown, a recovering addict, shared his story of opioid use. He talked about his 16 years of drug use and how he got onto the road to recovery. He had 11 surgeries and was prescribed opioids after each surgery. After his third surgery, something clicked and the drugs became more important than anything else in his life – wife, children, job, home.

See full story in this week’s Leader-Courier.