Police: Teens are using chemical sprays, roadside weeds to get high

From huffing chemical sprays to smoking poisonous roadside weeds, nothing seems to be out of the question for teens looking to get high, police warned parents this week.

Displaying an array of spray cans, including body sprays and dust removers, drug paraphernalia and other chemicals sold over the Internet — Glendale Police Officer Joe Allen told parents at a meeting on Tuesday night that the items were just some of the drugs of choice these days among teens.

Allen bought most of the items from a 99 Cents store, taking some parents aback as they looked on during the informational drug meeting at the Crescenta-Cañada Family YMCA.

“It’s our job as parents … to get them to understand that using [drugs] has negative consequences,” Allen said.

Parents asked Allen to talk to them about the latest drug trends among teens, so that they can better nurture their children, said Susan Dubin, a member of the Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition.

Teens who are withdrawn are more likely to use depressants, while teens who are outgoing often go for stimulants, Allen said.

Some of the popular methods of getting high include huffing — or inhaling chemicals such as gasoline — using designer drugs, he added.

Common are powerful, mind-altering chemicals that are marketed as “bath salts,” which are illegal in California.

While designer drugs are trending worldwide, Allen said local teens are mostly drinking alcohol and using marijuana and prescription pills.

Worries about drug use heightened among parents about two years ago, when Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa spoke out about a five-year increase in heroin use among local high school students and young adults in North Glendale. At the time, he attributed the rise to a local gang supplying the drugs.

But the increased drug use had already caught the attention of local parents and community members who formed the prevention coalition in late 2009 after they noticed some teens were using illicit drugs, as well as taking prescription pills.

Soon after, the coalition, which Allen helped establish, and law enforcement officials began focusing on educating parents and students about drug use.

“I think we have had a strong effect on new people using [heroin],” Allen said.

Still, he said some local residents are struggling to fight their addiction to the powerful drug — part of the recovery process.

“You’ve just got to accept small setbacks,” Allen said.


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