FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Hundreds of concerned parents attended the second Forsyth County Drug Awareness Summit on Feb. 25. (SCROLL TO BOTTOM FOR VIDEO)
Law enforcement brought out actual drugs and paraphernalia to show parents exactly what to look for at home.
The new information was presented with the purpose of empowering parents with knowledge about the types of drugs children are doing and share resources available for those who have already become addicts.
“Parents want to help their kids,” said Cindy Jones Mills, who founded the Forsyth County Drug Awareness Council. “The kids are educated, but it’s the parents, they don’t know what to look for, they don’t know that the residue around the computer could be black tar heroin.”
Mills, who is a Forsyth County Commissioner, helped put the event together after she became aware of the growth in drug-related deaths. There were 19 overdose deaths in Forsyth County in 2013.
She and other county leaders formed the Forsyth County Drug Awareness Council to promote prevention programs and providing resources for residents.
In November, the first drug summit started the discussion, but there were many unaddressed issues, Mills said.
“Through doing this, I’ve been so touched by the people who have shared their story and unfortunately for some many, they’ve lost their child,” Mills said. “We’ve had people from all walks of life that drugs have had such a negative impact. It has not only taken their family, it has destroyed their family.”
Forsyth County Solicitor General Donna Gopaul encouraged parents to snoop on their children’s social media accounts.
“If your children are seeing pictures of other teens using drugs they are more likely to use drugs or try,” Gopaul said. “You as parents are a powerful influence on these children.”
Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputies Sgt. Richard Thompson and Deputy First Class Tom Little made an impactful presentation showing what law enforcement has been trained to spot illegal substances affecting mood or behavior.
The deputies’ presentation covered marijuana and synthetic marijuana, methamphetamines, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and prescription drugs.
Little, who specializes in DUI training, said the information was so parents can more confidently spot when their children are using drugs.
Thompson showed parents apples, soda cans and other items that were warped to be used as pipes.
“A lot of the things we showed were the required parts and pieces so when parents come across this stuff they’ll say ‘I’ve seen that before it’s not good, it belongs to something, let me get on the internet and do a little more research,’” Thompson said.
The deputies shared drug nicknames, how they can be consumed and signs of drug manifestation.
Tables were set up with additional information and some held private discussions with law enforcement and addiction recovery centers.
“It has heightened my awareness” said a parent after the summit. “This is what kids are doing. Even more to be concerned about is prescription drugs.”
Find more information at www.forsythcountydrugawarenesscouncil.org.
Aldo Nahed is a member of the Forsyth County Drug Awareness Council.