In 2006, a new and deadly drug appeared in U.S. Middle Schools. Kids are becoming addicted in astounding numbers. In some states, the usage is growing at an alarming rate. Cheese, as it is coined by the kids, is thought to advance the progression of addiction faster onto heroin and cocaine.
Cheese is made from common cold medications, and many kids combine it with heroin to make the brown powdered substance. It’s a very cheap drug, and delivers a high especially when sniffed through an empty ball point pen container. It is highly addictive and withdrawal symptoms can begin within 6 hours after use.
Parents are becoming frantic trying to find treatment for their teen and pre-teen children. Some parents are left to helping their child though withdrawal at home, because rehab facilities are not available due to an overwhelming number of kids affected. If a parent finds themselves in that situation, they must contact their family doctor or a health care professional for advice and directions as to what medications can be given to the child to help control the withdrawal symptoms.
We know that repeated drug exposure affects areas of the brain that enables control over desires and emotions. This might explain why it is so difficult for an addict to maintain abstinence. We know that it also affects areas of the brain that are responsible for the perception of pleasure and punishment, learning, and behavior. Addiction is a complex disease of the brain. It is not a moral imperfection, and sobriety cannot be forced.
There are some who cannot buy the concept of addiction as a disease. They feel it removes the responsibility from the addict. There has been resistance, in some communities to offer treatment instead of incarceration when an addict is charged with a drug related crime. The sad fact is, we are building more and more prisons, and fewer treatment centers.
I have been speaking out about kids and drugs for more than ten years. The “War on Drugs” has failed many of our children. We need comprehensive, long term, treatment programs that can address all of a child’s needs. Not just the addiction, but the mental, physical, and spiritual as well. Parents, too, need counseling during this time, and should be embraced by the drug treatment professionals as part of the team to rehabilitate their child from the throes of addiction.
Nearly every week I am contacted by a parent whose child has died from a drug related death. They come from all over the world, all wanting to know "why." I have no real answers, except to say the drug war isn't working, it never did. We must find ways to raise our voices so our leaders will hear us. We save the owls, we save the whales, we must save our children!