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Panel, parents discuss drug trends among teens

Janet Tyson • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:24 AM

An audience of about 60 parents and educators from the Tri-Cities, Muskegon and Holland listened intently and asked questions during the program, which was organized by the Ottawa Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.

Panelists were Cynthia Spielmaker, treatment services manager for the 20th Circuit Court/Juvenile Services; Roger Skorupski, parent of a Grand Haven High School sophomore; Molly Peek, a high school senior from Grand Haven and a recovering addict; Julie Wentela, Peek’s mother and an adult graduate of the Juvenile Drug Treatment Program; Karen Miedema, training senior attorney for the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office; Sgt. Glenn Bo of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety; Detective Corey Allard of the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department; and Deputy Sara Fillman of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department and school resources officer for Spring Lake High School.

Stephanie VanDerKooi, health educator for the Ottawa County Health Department, moderated the panel and presented a brief slide lecture.

Since passage of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, teen use of the drug has increased significantly, presenters said. At the same time, many young people seem to think that marijuana is no longer dangerous.

“The big problem is, it’s more potent than ever — but kids are looking at it like it’s no big deal,” Miedema said. “And it’s getting expensive — but, somehow, kids are getting the money.”

Easy-to-obtain alcohol remains the top drug of choice among area high school students, VanDerKooi said. Marijuana ranks second — while synthetic marijuana, also called Spice or K2, places third. Tobacco is fourth and prescription drugs are fifth.

The most commonly abused prescription drugs in Northwest Ottawa County are the stimulants Adderall and Ritalin, and the painkiller Vicodin. 

Also of growing concern are so-called bath salts, which can induce reactions ranging from chest pains to nose bleeds to violent paranoia. 

“Some of the stuff that’s coming out now, it’s crazy that kids and adults are willing to use it,” Bo said.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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