RUTH: I'm a functional junkie. And then your sloppy gutter drunk-type junkie are the ones who don't care anymore about anything, that are not really educated people. I've been doing heroin since I was 19.
CORINNE: My daughter, she was born addicted to heroin and methadone, and so I am dealing with that, first of all, the guilt, and second of all, it's really hard. It's really hard. She's--She's going through a lot.
GAVIN HESS: I had a full-ride scholarship to the University of Hawaii, and, I was there for a year-and-a-half. When I was living in Hawaii, I started to smoke crack cocaine for the first time. And two of my older brothers, who, were alcoholic and drug addicts came over to live with me. They were both there about six months, and in that six months, I ended up flunking out of college, losing my scholarship, and all three of us had to come back to Salt Lake from Hawaii, and it was very, very traumatic on my family and myself.
SUE HESS: He lost all that. He lost everything. And he also lost the respect of his family and his brothers and sisters, and that was really difficult, really hard for him-- when his own sister said, "I don't want you around my children."
GAVIN HESS: I remember my dad picking me up from the airport and taking me to get a cheeseburger, and the disappointment on his face, I'll never forget.
CHANTELLE GILESPIE: I was homeless for a year-- almost a year, and, I was living in a wrecking yard out in Kearns and shooting up dope and sharing needles and digging food out of garbage cans and living this just horrendous life-- something that I had never imagined and something that, I had created. Nobody had made me do this. I did it on my own.
SANDI DAOUST: He was 15 when he was introduced to heroin, and he was told by some older kids that if they snorted it, it wasn't the same. It was just like the pain pills, it was all opiates, that they wouldn't get addicted, it wasn't a big deal. And Rob told me that he didn't want to do it. He had this little war going on in his head, and part of him was saying, "I'm really scared. "I don't want to be trying this." But the bigger voice in his head was, "I need to be cool." I need these guys to think I'm cool. They're gonna think I'm a wuss. So he did, thinking he'd just do it a few times with the boys, they'd see how cool he was, and then he wouldn't do it anymore. But it doesn't work that way. He was hooked almost immediately.
NARRATOR: Substance abuse is not a pretty picture and is by no means an easy subject to understand, define or explain to others. That is because when we speak of drugs, we tend to lump them into a shared vision that combines drugs with the drug problem-- something for the individual or society to fix. In fact, society has tried. As early as 1974, the Nixon administration heightened efforts to stop the flow of illegal drugs entering the United States. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan gave face to the effort, calling it "The War on Drugs." Today, Americans spend more money on illegal drugs than on cigarettes. The war on drugs has been a very expensive failure. Few can deny that drugs are tightly woven into our everyday lives, and it makes sense. After all, drugs used for pleasure, treatment of mental disorders and relief from pain and the mundane have been around since the beginning of time. We are a pill popping, quick-fix culture wanting feel-good answers to complicated problems. We are a society ready to medicate our minds at a moment's notice. Yet when we hear about adolescents, teenagers and young adults abusing narcotics, prescription medications, and alcohol-- substances that are often addictive and cause adverse ripple effects to the users and their families, the wall goes up. We close our eyes to the problem. It becomes their problem, not ours--even in Utah.
CHIEF LLOYD EVANS: My observation is that until a parent actually has their child involved in a narcotic-type incident, they are somewhat, uh, uninterested, or disinterested, I guess I should say, in what's-- what the issues are, but once their children beome involved, then they want to know-- what are the cops doing? What's the community doing? What's the school doing? You know, what's happening? Why did my kid end up in this position?
SANDI DAOUST: When Rob first came to us about his addiction and it was confirmed, I called almost every parent, and said, "I'm not accusing your son, "but Robby's an admitted heroin addict. "Your son is with my son all the time. "I would start checking these things out." And almost every single one of them said, "No, not my son. "He's in the priesthood. "He goes to church regularly." My son went to church regularly. My son came from a good family.
TIM WHALEN: I think that, uh, especially in Utah, because we are a conservative culture, we have a strong church presence in the LDS church and we embrace those values, we have a strong family value in this state, that a lot of people assume that there isn't alcohol and drug issues, especially with our youth. And that's just not the case.
JOHN MELVILLE: I think that if parents don't think that things are going on, they're very blind. We were shocked when we found out. Uh, we come from a very, very, very good, solid family, but things do happen. And it happens to the best kids; it happens to the worst kids.
SANDI DAOUST: And he said, "Mom, I have to tell you, "I'm using drugs and I can't stop." And I just felt like someone kicked me in the gut with a boot, but I wasn't really comprehending still how serious this was. And I said, "OK, what are we talking about--drugs?" And he said, "Heroin."
NARRATOR: For the best, the brightest and the troubled, kids generally start getting into drugs and alcohol during adolescence. The average age a child smokes his first cigarette is 12, the average age to drink alcohol is 13, and 14 to smoke marijuana. Today, next to marijuana, alcohol is the second most popular drug for teenagers. In fact, one-fifth of 12-year-olds in this country have already tried alcohol.
RECOVERING ADDICT: Drinking was the first, substance I used. I think I was about 14 years old, and that was at a party with-- a small party with my brothers and I probably drank three or four beers.
NARRATOR: What is especially alarming is that kids are drinking at an early age at teen parties, sometimes with the parents at home, sometimes not.
LEIGH VANDENAKKER: Kids are teaching kids how to drink. Kids are drinking to get blitzed. What we're seeing is they don't know how to social drink. They don't understand the responsibility that goes behind drinking and the drinking laws, so instead they just drink till they're unconscious. And what we have with that, then, is a very risky behavior-- more date rapes, more crime, more accidents because more driving...
NARRATOR: Not only does binge drinking cause crazy behavior and vulnerability, but when the party breaks up, the teenagers hit the road, often in a car whose driver has also been drinking. Alcohol-related car accidents is the number one cause of death for teenagers. Underage, binge drinking is a dangerous and potentially deadly game.
MATT NANCE: I started getting into drugs, and alcohol was the first drug of choice for me, and it was when I was 15 years old. And, I pretty much got into it by curiosity.
KELLY LUNDBERG: Well, I think there are several key factors that drive substance use. I mean, certainly curiosity is a piece of that. People are curious. We also, especially in the United States, have a desire to look for a better state of mind through drugs, if you think about that, through pharmaceutical drugs. And that's not a new trend in our society.
NARRATOR: Abuse of alcohol and drugs is epidemic in Utah. Recent studies indicate one out of 20 Utahns has a substance abuse problem needing treatment. That's roughly 100,000 people, with one-fifth of them under age 18. Although women are quickly catching up, the average Utah addict is: Substance abuse starts early-- usually out of curiosity. But there are other reasons as well.
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: I think people use drugs as kind of a way to feel happier about their lives. Some are experiencing really hard problems and they just believe the drugs will numb their brain, and they do, but then they realize in the end that it's just worse than it was before. They also use it mainly at parties-- people partying, and drugs are just handed to you, so just kind of to be in with the crowd 'because everyone wants to be accepted. No one really wants to be the loser that's not doing drugs over in the corner.
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: I think high school kids do drugs because maybe they're a little insecure about themselves and they want to fit in; or maybe they have, you know, problems that they want to forget about; or in some cases, they're just looking to have a good time.
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: You know, they just want to see what's it's like. It's an experiment. We always hear about how bad it is, but then you always hear how good it feels, so people want to try it and see for themselves.
SANDI DAOUST: It's so hard to know your children are using, and it's not the first thing you'd think of, especially if you don't know anything about it because teenagers are moody. Teenagers go through a lot-- they break up with girlfriends, they have these little traumas and dramas in their life. And they do get defiant; they find their voice. And so I-- I think I did think a lot of that was just teenage. They--I saw more of it, though, during detox that would give me the flashbacks of what I saw earlier. During detox, they feel so awful and they're very irritable and they're short-tempered and they're not sleeping enough. And I would look back and think that I've seen that behavior. But I didn't connect the dots.
NARRATOR: To use or not to use-- that is the question facing many adolescents, teenagers and young adults. George Orwell once said, "On the whole, humans want to be good, but not too good and not quite all the time." For kids today, it comes down to having a choice, making a decision and accepting the consequence.
SANDI DAOUST: And it was that Easter Sunday was our last day with him. And as a family, we went to church. We all met for brunch. And my daughter just kept saying, you know, "I've got my brother back. "It's so nice to have Robby back in the family." So to see, you know, our family together, I was just so happy. Rob went golfing that afternoon because it was a beautiful, sunny day and that was behavior we supported. That's healthy activity. That's awesome, you know. And he went golfing... When he came home-- he got home kind of late, but he told me that he'd been watching basketball with friends on TV and that's why he came home late. But he also said he had a really bad headache. I suggested he take some Advil. I didn't think much of headache. I get headaches; he got headaches. I thought maybe he was just coming down with something. He took the phone up to his bedroom to talk to his girlfriend like he did every night. At 10:00, I stuck my head in and said, "Honey, you might as well better get off the phone "and get some sleep." And he's like, "Yeah, OK, Mom, love ya," you know, and I went to bed. I did hear him about 2:00 in the morning throwing up really bad. And after about the third time, I got up with him and just said, "Honey, are you OK? You sound awfully sick." And he just said, "This is the worst headache "I've had in my life." He never said anything else, and I tried not to bring up suspicions without some kind of foundation because he was doing so well and I was working on building the trust and his self-esteem. And, you know, it did cross my mind, you know-- What if he used yesterday and today's he's sick because it wore off. But I didn't say anything, and he didn't. He just said, "I think I'm getting something." And I just said, you know, "Don't take anymore Advil. "Just go lay down and be quiet. "Be still." You know, "Can I get you anything?" And he just felt bad he'd woke me up-- "Mom, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. "You've got to work tomorrow. "Just go to bed. I'll be fine." Which is what I did. The next morning there was a note by my coffee pot because he knows that's the first place I go-- straight from bed to the coffee pot, you know, saying not to wake him up till 8:45 because he had an appointment. So I tiptoed around thinking-- Well, that's good he's sleeping and that's what you should be doing for a headache. So just before I went to work, I stuck my head in there and he didn't look right. He was sleeping in an odd position. His eyes were rolled back in his head. And I--I screamed his name and there wasn't any answer, so I went over and grabbed his chest and shook him and yelled his name and he didn't answer and he felt cool to me. I felt his pulse. I couldn't feel a pulse, and I couldn't feel a pulse in his arm, so I pulled the pillow out and tilted his head and tried doing CPR. And, you know, part of me, I think, knew and part of me didn't. I remember screaming at him, "Don't you do this to me. "You're well now. "Don't you do this to me."
NARRATOR: Robby Nunes--the all-American kid who lived down the street, never made it to the golf course that Easter Sunday. Instead, he met his heroin connection in Salt Lake City. Robby didn't plan to die early. He had plans, hopes and dreams for the future, just like all of us.
[ School Bell Ringing ]
NARRATOR: In schools across America, anti-use messages ring loud and clear. Students learn not only the risks and dangers associated with tobacco, alcohol and drugs, but other behaviors and risks that could harm their bodies. But, do they internalize it? What about these prevention programs? Are they working?
LYNNE DURRANT: I think one of the major problems that we have in drug prevention-- although we're changing-- I think people are getting the message, is that we've always thought that universal prevention-- you know, the Just Say No; and Hugs, Not Drugs-- is really effective. It makes everyone feel good. You know, you go to a little elementary school and the kids all hold hands and say they're not going to do drugs and everybody feels good and that's great. But research has shown that that kind of prevention is only effective with non-users! They are kids that will probably never use. And I think we need to do some of that. I mean, we need to keep the message out-- you know, a drug-freer community, and that-- denormalize drug use. You know, it's not the cool thing to do and most people don't do it. But, what we're missing are the high-risk kids. So during the assembly, they're out in the parking lot doing drugs.
NARRATOR: Prevention Dimensions is the statewide educational program that teaches the consequences of using tobacco, alcohol and drugs to students from kindergarten through high school.
KAY QUEALY AND STUDENTS: We've talked a lot about Prevention Dimensions. We've talked about marijuana, we have talked about inhalants, we have talked about what else? What is another big gateway drug?
PAT FLEMING: Prevention Dimensions is our base bedrock for prevention services in this state. It's a school-based prevention program. The reason that we focus on school-based prevention services is because the literature tells us that most young people-- or most people start using drugs between the ages of 14 and 16. So we get in there and we try to intervene before that starts to happen. We try to prevent that from happening. If we can prevent that from happening, we're not going to have them as adults in the treatment system.
NARRATOR: The reality, however, is that prevention programs only begin to counter the real education kids get on the street from their peers and popular culture. References to drugs, alcohol and tobacco reach kids through movies, television, music, advertisements, on clothing and over the Internet. While these sights and sounds don't actively promote drug use, they can reinforce a child's impression that drug use is a normal part of growing up-- a rite of passage.
BARBARA HARDY; Many studies are starting to document that kids are constantly being bombarded with pro use messages. Kids typically watch two to three movies a week, and if you look at recent box office hits, 85% of those have some type of tobacco, alcohol or illicit substance portrayed in the movie. And, unfortunately, most of those movie portrayals show the drug in a positive light.
KELLY LUNDBERG: I think the impact of the media is kind of a dual-edged sword. On one hand, because we see so much of it, it's so hard to watch television on any given night without seeing some kind of reference-- either subtle or incredibly overt-- to drugs or alcohol. So on one hand, you have this desensitization that takes place in our culture where kids aren't shocked about these kinds of things. On the other hand, because of that, there are lots of opportunities on any given night to be sitting with your kids and have some reason or have something happen that you watch on television or you see on the news that is a good opportunity to strike a conversation about alcohol or drugs.
BARBARA HARDY: Lured by brighter prospects and the promise of newness, the brain, as the command center of our bodies, is a dynamic work in progress. The brain learns through repetition. If memory is to be retained, it needs to be reinforced. Every twist and turn of experience is finely etched into our brain's processing systems. This is especially interesting in light of how the brain develops, generally in stages from back to front.
BARBARA HARDY: Most logical, rational, reasoned thinking happens in the frontal lobe of the brain, and unfortunately, that's the last part of the brain to develop. So, impulsivity, the ability to understand consequences of behavior, reasoned thinking, logical data gathering-- those are some of the last skills that are developed.
GLEN HANSON: So being able to learn, being able to retain information, comes before being able to figure out how to use that information appropriately, and that's what decision making's all about. That's what executive function or cognition is all about. And that really comes into play once you reach adulthood-- when you get into your 20s. So you've got this period where you've got knowledge and information, but you don't know quite what to do with it or how to use it properly.
BARBARA HARDY: Adolescents are actually functioning from a different part of the brain, and it's called the limbic system. It's right around here, and it's tied into the reward system of the brain. It's also tied in with the emotional part of the brain. And so whereas as adults we're using this logical, rational, reasoned-type of thinking from the frontal lobe, kids are operating more from the emotional, gut response part of the brain.
NARRATOR: The science of the brain may help to explain what makes teenagers tick. While hormonal fluctuations were once thought to be the primary cause of unpredictable, high impact, thrill-seeking behavior, we now know it is only half of the story. Teenagers think, act and react like--well, teenagers, instead of like adults because the logical thinking, consequence-accepting part of their brain is still under construction.
[ School Bell Ringing ]
NARRATOR: From the wonder years to the unpredictable, kids often move from the comfort of elementary school into 7th grade not completely equipped for the choices, decisions and consequences they are about to face.
JACK PLUMB: Junior High certainly is a key point. Uh, from our observation, I think kids realize that they've reached another level, that they're kind of feeling a little more bold, perhaps. A little more willing, if you will, to be more influenced by peer pressures and being in the right crowd and what they perceive to be the right clique and being acceptable. Now they're out being able to stay out a little later, and there's more opportunity for somebody to make suggestions.
TRACY MELVILLE: On the Junior High level, most of the contact is made with kids that are either-- they're either using or have siblings who are using. And on a Junior High level, the offer is free. You can have anything you want for free. And the idea there is that if we can get the kids started on it reasonably early, get them hooked or get them addicted or get them used to the products and the fact that it's not that bad, then we'll have customers as they go through the high school setting.
LYNNE DURRANT: I had a kid at one of my schools who came to my class stoned, and I asked him about that, and he said, you know, he said, "#1, I cannot face the day straight." He said, "I can't. "I can't get through." He said, "The pain is too great." Which was pretty sad coming from a 7th grader.
BARBARA HARDY: In elementary school and younger, parents are the most important part of any kid's life, and they listen to their parents and they take their parents' comments at face value. Starting about 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, there is a transition so that parents, religious leaders, coaches start to fade in importance, and peers become even more important. And so that's why there is sometimes a perception that there is an increased vulnerability during the Junior High years. It's because kids are turning from listening to their parents and they start listening to their friends.
NARRATOR: While the debate goes on as to whether students today are more emotionally fragile than their predecessors, few can deny that students feel the effects of an era of economic uncertainty, global terror and increased parental expectations.
GAVIN HESS: I put a lot of expectations on myself to win. That's all I ever did was played athletics from the time I can-- My earliest memories were playing football or t-ball or some sort of athletics. And as I got older, I felt more of an expectation from my parents and my family and my friends to be the best. And when I wouldn't achieve that, I would feel like I let them down and I would let myself down, and that's when I started to use drugs and alcohol to not feel those feelings.
NARRATOR: The State Division of Substance Abuse reports overall use of drugs and alcohol has decreased over the past 25 years, yet in spite of improving statistics, the problem is not going away.
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Drugs are very available. Uh, you can get them pretty much whenever you want. You know who to find. I think everybody knows who to find if you want them.
KELLY LUNDBERG: One of the things that we know about kids is that their #1 drug of choice is marijuana, and part of the reason that that's the #1 drug of choice is because it's the easily obtained drug. It is the easiest drug for kids to get. So all they have to do is ask somebody if they have it, and somebody probably has it in the locker. Whereas with alcohol, they'd have to hang out around the 7-11 to find somebody with an ID who will buy for them or they'll have to get into their parents' supply. They have to take more energy. Somebody probably doesn't have it in the locker as readily as marijuana. So marijuana's probably the easiest drug for kids to get. So all they have to do is ask around. It really is as simple as that.
NARRATOR: Marijuana's role as a gateway to the use of other illegal drugs is an issue surrounded by controversy. On one hand, you have the pro-cannabis faction arguing that marijuana should be legalized to normalize its usage. On the other hand, critics say smoking pot lowers inhibitions and may lead users to try stronger, more addictive drugs. What is evident is that like in the 60s, it is still a familiar part of youth culture.
KELLY LUNDBERG: What we need to keep in mind, especially about marijuana, it's not the same marijuana that we were smoking 30 years ago. It's different. The THC content is much higher than it used to be.
CHRIS: They'd say that you cannot get addicted to marijuana, but, you know, I definitely was dependent on that. It was something that I felt like I had to do every single day all the time. I didn't really know what it was like to be without it, and once you get into doing any particular drug or group of drugs, you forget what it's like be a normal person, and I think that's a big part of the addiction itself.
NARRATOR: Getting drugs into the hands of users is the crucial link between its production and consumption. 55% of marijuana is imported from Mexico, with 98% arriving by car. In America, it is the #1 cash crop, yielding $32 billion per year.
SAM PLUMB: It--It is easy to access, whether people say it is or not. There will be somebody waiting for you-- for you to give them your money. I mean, that really is all it's about.
GAVIN HESS: Well, they are really easy to get. I mean it's such a lucrative business for the drug dealer and the person picking up the drugs because there's so much money to be made.
NARRATOR: Addiction can be a very real and frightening result of what started out as simple curiosity. Even though all human beings have the potential to become addicted, few think it will happen to them.
CHANTELLE GILLESPIE: I started taking prescription pain pills when I was about 20, and I would do at first one pill a day. It's a progressive disease, and after awhile it was-- it was two pills a day and then three pills a day. And, at the end of my pill use, I was taking just phenomenal doses-- 15 Percosets a day and 25 Somas just to function, just to feel normal. And from there I went to the street drugs. I went to methamphetamines and heroin. I had credit cards and I was married and he supported my habit and didn't know he was supporting my habit. I was a master manipulator. I could control my environment. I was homeless for a year, almost a year, and I was living in a wrecking yard and shooting up dope and sharing needles and digging food out of garbage cans and living this just horrendous life. I never envisioned myself sharing needles. That's not where I thought I would be. But you come--you know, you're over here and then you're over here, but it's not just overnight. It's progressive, and after awhile you just don't care. Or I should personalize it-- I just didn't care, and so that's how I ended up, on the street sharing needles and just literally wanting to die.
LYNNE DURRANT: You know, no kid smokes a joint or starts using any kind of drug with the idea of becoming a drug addict! They don't say, "OK, I'm gonna become addicted to heroin and die in the gutter. That's my plan." Every single one off them believes that it won't happen to them.
NARRATOR: Mixed messages about drugs abound in our society. Seldom does a day go by that we don't see potentially addictive, yet legal drugs like caffeine, alcohol and tobacco. We open our medicine cabinets to find prescription and non-prescription pain relievers, cold remedies or allergy medications. Regardless of whether a drug is considered legal or illegal, its intent is to change the way we think, feel and act. These substances can enter the body by smoking, ingesting, injecting or snorting.
GLEN HANSON: The brain isn't designed to deal with drugs of abuse. They weren't designed to deal with methamphetamine and cocaine and marijuana and heroin, and so when the brain sees these drugs and their reward systems gets activated, it just interprets it like it does other behaviors-- Oh, well, this behavior must be important. And so that feeds into the process of addiction. If it's so important, well, let's create a behavior track that will cause us to go back to this activity that will drive the reward system. And so you go back and you do it over and over and over again, and now it becomes a compulsive behavior. And it really doesn't matter whether the reward system's linked up anymore. It has been hardwired into your brain to go after and use these drugs. Now you've got addiction.
MICHAEL CROOKSTON: Basically, it's being out of control and using a substance compulsively and craving it. And the person who is addicted may spend extraordinary amounts of time and effort and money in order to get that drug or substance and to use it and then to recover from it.
RUTH: You're like a walking time bomb. OK, my life is I wake up-- I wake up 5:00, 6:00 in the morning and all I think about is having to get my money so I don't get sick. I try to stay ahead of the game because with heroin you've got six to eight hour time frame to work with before you start getting sick.
CHARLES WALTON: If you can imagine needing to have a fix of some kind every few hours, round the clock. You know, it doesn't go away at night. It doesn't go away on weekends. It's around the clock.
GLEN HANSON: The drugs actually chemically change the way the brain functions. And someone talked about drugs hijack brain systems. And what they were trying to say with that expression is that they feed into the natural systems that are there, systems that prioritize behaviors and say--this is an important behavior, this one's not such an important behavior, this is a problematic behavior. The drugs come in and they hijack that system so that now the behavior that goes after the drugs and self-administer the drugs, take precedence over other behaviors.
CHANTELLE GILLESPIE: Addiction is horrendous. Along with addiction comes the fear and the shame and the guilt and it's hell. It's the worst possible thing that could happen, I think--addiction. It's like you're in prison literally. I mean,there was not a day when I was using that I could go without using because I would get sick. And just to be in my own skin sober... I had no idea what it was like to be in my own skin I would be crawling. It's not a not a fun place to be. It's a nightmare.
GAVIN HESS: I stole money and lied and manipulated my parents and brothers and sisters the most. I would steal from my parents on a daily basis to get drugs.
SUE HESS: A normal, regular, even, you know, teenager, regular person would not steal from their mother. They wouldn't do that. But the conscience-- The drug addiction takes away conscience. It's so strong that it overrides those normal feelings. And they'll do things, and you can't even imagine that they would do them. So you don't believe it. You don't believe it. And they can tell you the most outlandish stories and, you know, you kind of believe it because it's your son and you want to believe it.
GAVIN HESS: I was kind of like a tornado coming into people's lives. If you were-- If you were standing by, you'd get hurt because, you know, for me I was going to get high one way or another, and if it meant lying or manipulating you or hurting you, I was going to do it because I-- I really didn't care about anybody but myself.
SUE HESS: I don't think I ever lost my love for him because I know his heart and I know who he really is because I raised him. And I know who he really is, but I knew that was not him anymore, and so I just abhorred the disgusting behavior, could not tolerate the disgusting behavior, but at the same time, you kind of like put the love on hold, and that's what kind of carries you because the behavior can just get so disgusting, it's more than you can bear. Breaks your heart, kind of rips your heart out.
JACK PLUMB: He started with marijuana and, uh, and in a way, a little bit of the wrong crowd kind of thing. I guess you could say as a parent it's easy to look and say, "Those aren't the kids really I want my son "to hang around with." However, you try to be respectful and realize that we all have different tastes in people. But as time went by, his grades slipped. He was always a very energetic kid, a kid that everybody liked to be around, a very handsome kid. But signals were being sent, and not being really aware of what those were until, as time went by, things such as money missing, uh, his inability to want to get out of bed, his inability or his desire-- lack of desire to go to school. So certainly we knew something was amiss. We then started with the process of trying to determine what the problem was. And even though I think we kind of in our hearts we knew, we would take him to the doctors and have a urine test done to try to identify the fact that in fact, there was a problem-- that he just wasn't a teenager who was tired. And once we found out that there was in fact use, then you become-- you start a whole new challenge and that is, what do we do about it and what do we do to help him and what do we do to get him to stop? And that's when we found we were totally ill prepared. And as time went by, it became more and more challenging and more and more difficult because he, uh-- When he was sober, he was a delightful person to be around; when he was using, he wasn't. And, uh, so there was this personality change all the time and it was frustrating for the family, and it also took a lot of energy from the rest of the family. We had finally gotten to the point that we realized we weren't helping him by having him in our house, and we asked him leave. And he felt, at that time, that he could be strong enough, and I think on one side wanted to prove that he could do that, and on the other hand, he-- he continued to make poor choices and surround himself with people that weren't good friends and were users. And as it turned out, the day of his overdosed, there were three or four other people in the room and, uh... After he had overdosed, they picked up all the paraphernalia, all the drugs, any remaining money and they left. They left him there to die. My daughter, who graduated a master program, had to go by herself because it was the day we were burying her brother. It's hard to imagine that we have that ability in our personalities to allow that to happen to someone. We would probably stop to attend a stray dog on the side of the road, but it's an example to me how overpowering these kinds of drugs can take over a person's personality and also their lack of compassion for one another. So, you know, that's a place we don't like go very often-- thinking what could have, would have, should have. I think we have to say that he made a choice, and unfortunately, the people around him made a choice, and it didn't work out for the best.
TRACY MELVILLE: My son began using prescription painkillers. He had a friend that gave them to him. He was actually diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and uh, he had some friends that offered him-- in school, offered him pain killers. And they were very easily obtained, not easily seen or smelled-- there's no paraphernalia. So the use of prescription painkillers was pretty easy and pretty-- well, pretty easy to hide. We did not know anything about it; didn't know that there was any kind of a problem at all.
MICHAEL CROOKSTON: One of many factors that can increase a person's risk of becoming addicted is having some other mental health problem, whether it's depression or anxiety or past traumatic experiences or other mental health disorder. That predisposes a person to become addicted, and then the addiction makes the original disorder worse.
NARRATOR: The disease of addiction also takes into account an individual's genetic makeup.
MOTHER OF RECOVERING ADDICT: My husband's family has had addiction problems throughout their history-- I mean, grandfathers, aunts--way back. I knew that; I didn't realize how powerful that gene could be. I knew that my husband's siblings had had some problems with drug addiction. I guess I thought that was kicking up wild heels because they were raised somewhere out of Salt Lake, but by a very active LDS family. I didn't embrace what it meant to have a genetic component in addiction. I will now, and my whole family will.
Jack PLUMB: There isn't anyone that doesn't have someone in their family, immediate family, even through a brother or a cousin or a nephew that doesn't have a challenge with something having to do with drugs or alcohol. You'd be dishonest to yourself to say that you didn't know anyone.
NARRATOR: One of the many realities of feeding an addiction is that it takes a tremendous amount of time, effort, deception and money-- in fact, a lot of money. Feeding a cocaine habit costs anywhere from $80-200 per day; for methamphetamine, about $50 a day; heroin, $60-120 per day; and prescription drugs, much more. Sometimes, however, prescription drug addiction begins innocently when drugs are prescribed for pain.
TODD: I had back problems and a lot of-- a lot of pain in my back and my neck, and finally went in to see a specialist, and the specialist didn't really understand what was going on. And he said, "Well, we need to see how this goes "over a few months, so let's keep you comfortable. "We're going to give you 90 Lortab a month. "Here's a big prescription--- these are pain killers; "they're narcotics, "but they're going to do great on pain." And they do. When I got out of surgery, they gave me enough Oxycontin and Lortab to last six weeks-- four weeks for pain and two weeks to wean myself off, which is near impossible. And at the end of three weeks, my pills were gone. I was taking 10-15 Oxycontin a day and 10-15 Lortab on top of it a day. And after three weeks, I called and I said, "You know, I'm still in pain and I just had neck surgery. "I had a herniated disk. "I've got a plate with screws in my neck. "I need more pain killers." And they said, "No. "We've given you enough. "You need to go detox." You know, a month after I detoxed, all the stress of Christmas was coming up; I had just gone back to work; I had a lot of pain in my neck; felt really horrible, and I thought, "Well, you know, those pain killers "sure did make me feel OK. "Uh, I just need enough to get me through Christmas." So I started going to Instacares. I told a thousand lies to a thousand doctors and dentists trying to get these drugs. And about three or four months later, my wife caught on and she said, "Look, you need to get this problem taken care of. "You're a drug addict." And I said, "I'm not a drug addict!" "You know, I'm 31 years old; I have a wife and family. "I have a house; I have a car; I have a great job. "You know, I have a good life. "I'm not a drug addict. "Drug addicts are the people who are hanging out, "you know, at Pioneer Park with needles in their arms. "I am not a loser!" And it took a month and I said, "OK, I'll quit. "I'll stop. I'll quit. "'Cuz, I'm not a drug addict and I'll just stop." So she let a month go by and she found out that I was using and she came home one morning, and she threw me out of the house. Here I am in my parents' basement. I'd lost it all. I had no money, I had no wife, I had no kids. I was banned from seeing my kids. A year ago, I started to crave the drug just to feel normal. I wanted to feel like everyone else. You know, I'd drive home from work and see people playing in their front yards with their kids and putting up decorations for Halloween or raking leaves, and I could not do that. I was so depressed, and so I started, you know, doing what's called doctor shopping. And I had done this a couple of other times, but I really got heavy into it. I was going to a different doctor's office or a different dentist's office every single day. And it no longer took me three, four, five pills to get high-- it took 20 to get high; 25 to get a great high; and if I got 30, fantastic. I would usually try to say, "OK, I've got 15 for two days. I don't have to work tomorrow." And my work was getting these pills, and it was work. And I spent probably 80% of my day thinking, worrying, getting these pills. And when I was using, I just felt so hopeless, so helpless because I was at the mercy of this drug. It controlled me. It--It had me in its grips. It was Satan himself. I could not escape this.
NARRATOR: From pills for pain, to medication to treat the common cold, there is no denying that teenagers have found many other uses for the so-called legal drugs like prescription medications.
GLEN HANSON: So the attraction of the Oxycontin was that you had large quantities of drug, but the product was designed to release slowly over long periods of time. Well, people have discovered that they can play with this, so now they get rid of the sustained or slow-release property, and they have lots of drug that they have access to, and they administer it, they administer it quickly and it gives this big bang when it gets into the brain.
TODD: I've seen doctors that are very strict; I've seen doctors that will just hand it out. As far as the younger kids getting into it, it's dangerous because Lortab, Percoset, Ocycontin-- all of this stuff is heroin. It's a derivative of heroin. It's all heroin.
KOBY TAYLOR: We've seen an increase in high school kids who abuse over-the-counter medications to the point where we have to move them behind the counter to help control who gets them, and one-- so they're not stolen, and two-- that they're not abused. Kids will come in and want Coricidin Cough and Cold, HPB for the Dextromethorphan that's in it. They take the entire box. There's 16 pills in a box; they take it all in one dose. They think that it's safe. Kids do end up in the hospital because of it. They end up in the hospital if they get the wrong product or they don't take it, they're more sensitive to that medication or whatever. But it's--it's a growing problem you see in high school kids abuse.
LEIGH VANDENAKKER: Right now what we're seeing more and more of are the drugs that they can buy at the store, and they are Red Devils-- that's the street name for Coricidin; and then that's not enough, so now let me go to Dramamine, and Draminine, they feel, gives them the high of acid. The problem is they have to take so much Dramamine they kill themselves-- they'll seizure. That's Dramamine. Then we're still seeing Oxycontin. Be very careful if you have any of that around. Take it and then get rid of it. Now we're seeing Ambien. We're still seeing Dusters. We're seeing--Dusters' easy. You go to Home Depot, you can get ten cans. So any of those kind of aerosol sprays.
GLEN HANSON: The use of inhalants-- an inhalant is a compound and sometimes not even a drug in the sense that it's something you normally would put inside your body in order to accomplish, whether it's therapeutics or some kind of an affect... These things are usually solvents. Oftentimes, they're gasoline or a petroleum product, and they're around the house so you don't even have to go out and buy them in the street. They're not illegal. They're readily accessible, and so as a result then, most of the family members, even young kids, are exposed to them. And what you do-- what these kids do is they inhale those fumes, and so that's why we call these things inhalants, 'cause they're not taking them orally; they're not injecting them. But they're introducing them through the nose, it goes into the lungs. So you're introducing chemicals into your body that were never meant to be there and these are poisons. The attraction is that they also foul up brain chemistry. They cause all sorts of weird experiences because of what it does to that chemistry. Now, for most of us this isn't very appealing. For a young kid that's not doing a lot of really good decision making, may do it just because the friends are doing it or they want to see what it's like. They just want to see what it's like. Unfortunately, this little experiment, self experiment, can cause some severe damage to the heart, severe damage to the brain, to the kidneys. These drugs really can be very potent toxins. They can kill, or they can cause permanent damage that an individual never does recover from.
NARRATOR: The trends of substance abuse change often and are largely dictated by supply and demand-- much like other commodities.
KELLY LUNDBERG: Currently, what we're seeing is a trend of stimulants with the methamphetamine. That is one of our biggest problems that we're facing right now is methamphetamine. It's a highly addictive drug; it's an incredibly destructive drug. We also still see marijuana, although methamphetamine for the first time in Utah's history has replaced marijuana as the illegal drug of choice among adults. We've never seen that before. Alcohol has been alive and well for many years, and it's one of the primary drugs of choice, especially among men. In comparison, club drugs is very low on that spectrum.
NARRATOR: Although usage trends for synthetic designer or club drugs like Ecstasy, GHB, Ketamine and Ruffies are down in Utah, the supposedly safe smoke and alcohol-free RAVES and transmission parties were at one time a big hit across America.
NICHOLE HANSEN; Early this summer, when I was 17, a lot of my friends started getting involved with Ecstasy. You know, there were outdoor RAVES, it was the summertime, and they had brought up that option to me to go with them their first time, and I declined because, you know what I mean, like I had smoked marijuana, but to think of moving past that was a really big deal and I didn't know what was going on. But after six months goes by, I hear more about it, and I didn't hear any negative, you know, anything negative about Ecstasy. So finally that fall is when I tried it, and it was just kind of downhill from there. It wasn't so much the physical, addiction as it was a mental addiction because the connections I made with people and because of the, you know, the way that it made me feel because all of the sudden I felt so happy and I hadn't found that happiness in anything else. And so I had made that connection. But, you know, once a week of using Ecstasy turned into three, four, fives times a week, and then after awhile, Ecstasy wasn't good enough, so it went to Special K, it went to mushrooms, it went to, you know, cocaine and mixing drugs and flower flipping, and, you know, just combining because you can't get the same high with Ecstasy as you did before, you know, just because you have less Serotonin in your brain. So as that progressed, my life, you know, just slowly was turning into a big mess basically. I was fighting with parents, so I moved out, hoping to, you know, gain some independence. And one night I was off my guard, you know, because I was always very, very careful. But I was off my guard and I ingested GHB out of a Red Bull container, and that's literally the last that I remember of that entire evening. I mean, even that is very vague. And I ended up being driven to the emergency room by two young men who had to give me CPR the whole way to the car, and ended up being listed as Jane Doe in the hospital because, you know, everyone's afraid of getting in trouble, and everybody's your friend, but... And it's hard for me to say that I would have done anything differently if the tables were turned because I would have been just as scared to get in trouble. I remember waking up from the coma and my ears were ringing and I was just in a white room and I started choking, so I tried to reach up my hand to pull out whatever was in my throat, and I realized my arms were both strapped down and my legs. I completely panicked. All the sudden I see nurses rush in, holding me down, trying to calm me, you know, because it was the life support that I had down in my throat and in my nose.
NARRATOR: Methamphetamine became the primary drug of choice in Utah in 2001 and is especially popular with women. Although it has been around for years, methamphetamine is a devastating substance that is taking Utah by storm.
PAT FLEMING: Methamphetamine was basically a drug that was invented back in about the 1930s, and, during World War II, the German soldiers were given these recipes that was very easy to cook up in the field. Many historians will say that the Blitzkrieg was really, uh, fueled by methamphetamines. The aura of the German soldiers-- the storm trooper. They were invincible; they could not be stopped; they did not sleep; they kept going. Mainly, it was because they were high on crank, or methamphetamine at the time. And they'd cook it up in the field, and then towards the end of the war, they were living on this. They had depleted their armed forces and they were basically living on methamphetamine. So it was given on purpose to try to keep them up because that's what it does-- it keeps you up. You're up all the time. Crank--the term crank came back from the biker culture in California back in the 60s. They start using it, and what they did is they would hide it in the crank case of their motorcycle, and that's where the term crank came from. Then it hit middle-class America back in the '60s after the war. Uh, there were a lot of housewives that were using it, uh, and it was out there. Uh, the whole craze back in the 70s around the amphetamines-- they were very, very common. Doctors were handing them out like crazy for weight loss and for students to be able to study in school, in college. I mean, it was out there, and I don't think it was until the 80s that we really started to see this is not good stuff, and it can become very addictive. And it has. It has hit Utah very, very hard.
NARRATOR: Methamphetamine is widely abused because it is relatively inexpensive. It can also be manufactured almost anywhere, and is perceived to be a weight loss tool; hence the name Jenny Crank. The reality of meth is that it is almost instantly addictive.
SUSAN MITCHELL: Very infrequently would you talk to anybody that would say, "Yes, I just started using methamphetamine." We talk to a lot of people who are users, and very, very frequently they have used marijuana before. They have experimented with cocaine or LSD or mushrooms or something of that nature, and eventually get to methamphetamine. Frequently, people say that when they use methamphetamine they're addicted from the very first time that they use, even if they've had a long history, maybe ten years of using other drugs. Methamphetamine use is a huge problem among women with young children, and I think it initially gives them energy, it medicates depression, it helps them lose weight.
PAT FLEMING: They generally have got a child or two. They generally don't have the kind of vocational skills that they need to be able to go out there and be self-supporting. They're hooking up with a male, and they use that male, basically, to help subsidize the livelihood and the food on the table for their kids. Well, that male expects them to go out and party, expects them to be with them all the time, and then she's got to still go home and try to keep a household together, she's gott to try to take care of her kids, she's gott tto work. And so, all of the sudden she discovers meth and she goes, "Wow! This is the miracle drug for me. I can go out and I can party. It makes me feel good. I can get home and I can get the kids off to school. I can be a..." She thinks she can be a good mother. She thinks she can be a good employee. And then very shortly what starts to happen is all of that starts to crash.
MARJEAN SEARCY: You can imagine how it just takes its toll on its body. It destroys your bones. The things in methamphetamine-- heat, acetone, iodine-- all those type of things are not meant for our bodies, so they really take a toll on the body. And then you see the marks on the face, and it's not like normal acne. It's oozing sores. And what people will do when they're on methamphetamine is they'll pick at it. Another sign is that they smell funny. You know, when you put those types of chemicals in your body, your body gets rid of the chemicals through the sweat, and so you have the funny smells.
NARRATOR: In spite of law enforcement's efforts to shut down many of the small home labs, narcotics officers maintain the Wasatch Front still has at least one meth lab in each ten-block neighborhood. Add to that, Mexico and the Orient now operate large-scale methamphetamine factories that helps supply Utah's growing demand.
UNDERCOVER NARCOTICS DETECTIVE: We see all kinds of folks. Just recently last week we had two different homes where, I mean, the piles of clothes, the piles of garbage... You walk in and it's very strong, and they collect everything, especially meth homes. And they're tweekers, and so they have tweeker crap everywhere. They'll have 20 computers and they have all the computers torn apart, maybe have one working. And they just have these all piled up in their home. Then they have all these other piles of junk and different things throughout the home as well. Like I said, I mean, there's food sitting all over the floor. Sometimes we'll come in and we'll find the kids-- their feet are just black because the carpets have never been cleaned or the floors have never been cleaned.
KAREN BUCHI: The police will tell you the typical profile of the heavily-using methamphetamine home, especially if there's cooking involved is that there is a high degree of paranoia, and so, uh, they have-- of being caught, and so they have lots of guns around. And what's often found are loaded guns in easy access to children, again exposing them to potential harm that way.
MARJEAN SEARCY: If somebody has methamphetamine and they're selling it, you'll see a lot of traffic until that methamphetamine's gone, and then it'll be calm. Other things that you would see is people awake 24 hours because people who are on methamphetamine don't sleep or they'll sleep at odd times. Another way that we oftentimes find methamphetamine labs is if kids are unattended, they're out wandering. They seem like they're too young to be out on the street or they're not dressed properly. Some of those issues will alert us to a lab. But people who use methamphetamine-- methamphetamine or even other drugs-- the drug becomes the most important part of their lives, so other things tend to go by the wayside.
NARRATOR: By its very nature, the lifestyle of a meth addict is one of living for the moment, but the consequences can be long term.
GLEN HANSON: The long-term consequence component is particularly frightening to us, especially with drugs like methamphetamine, for example. We know that these drugs have the ability of damaging certain brain regions, and it comes back to the dopamine system. The dopamine system is important for reward, it's important for a lot of all these cognitive and decision-making processes. The same system that's damaged in Parkinson's disease is the dopamine system, and it's vulnerable to damage by drugs like Methamphetamine. So now, what is the consequence if the drug, Methamphetamine, has altered this? How does that affect behavior? Well, we know that it can probably affect memory. We know that it seems to affects decision making, so on the one hand, you make bad decisions because you're an adolescent; on the other hand, you start making bad decisions because of what the drug is doing to your brain. And even when you stop using the drug-- you get treatment and you stop using the drug-- now you may continue to make bad decisions because a part of the brain has been damaged that's critical to that process.
NARRATOR: The disease of addiction can cause addicts to go to extreme lengths to support their habits. In fact, substance abuse contributes to, if not drives, most criminal activity in Utah. An addict will do whatever it takes to find the money to buy drugs.
UNDERCOVER NARCOTICS DETECTIVE: A lot of the drug users-- they have to support their habits, and so they're the ones that are doing a lot of the other crimes, as well. The car prowls, the shoplifting... I talked to several individuals. They were stealing anywhere from $50-150 a day at Sears just so they could support their habit. They would turn around, take those items and then they'd return them, or they'd go ahead and change the barcodes-- they'd return them that way. There's all kind of scams that they have going. Another guy told me that he had a buddy who would go out and do car prowls every night and mostly look for tools because most people aren't going to have those engraved. He'd take them to the pawn shop. He said he was hitting the pawn shop every day, his buddy was, so he could support his habit. So, you know, you look at that aspect, and it's such an ongoing problem and it's such a grown problem.
RECOVERING ADDICT: Near the end when I was getting really bad, money was always on my mind-- how I was gonna get money. I had a job, but I burned my bridges with my job because I needed more money and I ended up stealing, so...
JUDGE DENNIS FUCHS: Alright, you guys are all doing really great. Let's give the all a hand.
NARRATOR: Kicking a drug habit is rarely possible without treatment. When addicts break the law, simply locking them up is not only very costly, but it's rarely the best solution. Drug Courts are one of many methods used to successfully treat drug addicts.
JUDGE DENNIS FUCHS: Addicts go into prison addicts and they come out the other end, addicts. If they're not treated, nothing changes in their lives.
PAUL CUNNINGHAM: The Salt Lake County jail right now is $71 a day to incarcerate a prisoner. And total for the 2000 prisoner capacity that we have, our budget is almost $50 million a year to incarcerate people in the jail. That's a huge, huge burden on the taxpayer. It represents right now about 10 or 12 percent of the entire county general fund.
NARRATOR: Drug Courts are based on an understanding that substance abuse is a chronic, progressive, relapsing disorder that can be successfully treated. There are currently 22 drug court programs operating in Utah.
JUDGE DENNIS FUCHS: The whole idea of drug court is forced treatment. It was determined that if we could keep people in treatment and we could somehow give them strict supervision and constantly monitor whether they were going back to using drugs again or not, we'd have a better success in treatment.
KARY HOWARD: There's no fooling the program here. You either do it or you don't, you know.
NARRATOR: With treatment programs, there is no one size fits all, and like other chronic diseases, treating addiction can be costly. Another option for treatment is a program that started in 2003-- the Cottonwood Family Treatment Center. Its focus is as a progressive, holistic recovery approach-- one where methamphetamine- addicted mothers can also be with their children.
SUSAN MITCHELL: What we ask them to do is come here with their children and work on their parenting skills at the same time that they work on being in recovery. All of that is foreign to them. They've had no structure. People that use drugs are sometimes up all night and sleeping all day, and so punishing them just makes-- I mean, that doesn't make sense when really what you need to do is help them to figure out who they want to be. On the first level of treatment, we have them look at their self-esteem and look at themselves honestly as a person that has an addiction-- we don't gloss that over-- and how they've hurt themselves and hurt people around them.
JAMI: Well, I think if I had structure, things would have been a lot different, 'cause, I mean, I'm getting structure where I'm at now, and just like I love it all, you know, 'cause it's all new to me and it's just so awesome.
REBECCA: This has been the most difficult thing I've ever done in my whole life. I mean, I've been on the streets where I've had to dig out of dumpsters, work the streets as selling myself. I did prison time. I've been beat up. I've been raped. I've been through a lot, and this has been the most hardest time of my whole life.
NARRATOR: Another example of treatment is the Haven, a residential treatment facility for adults.
DAVID FELT: Our main focus is letting the-- having the person focus or learn how to function as a responsible member of a group, carrying their share, taking responsibility for their actions, and then learning how to turn to other alcoholics and addicts to get the help that they need, because very often, you know, they've gotten to be experts at conning the therapists and conning the counselors, and there isn't, you know, any one of those folks, given enough time, can learn how to con me or you or any one of us, but it's tough to con a group of other alcoholics and addicts. And so they have to learn how to be responsible and get confronted by that group. We do a family program, and what we do is primarily didactic, you know. It's pretty educational. What I try to do is I try to do a lot of educating of family members to let them know about the disease, and then we talk about denial. But we're not only talking about the disease of addiction in terms of how it affects the alcoholic and addict. We know the average alcoholic and addict negatively impacts 14 people, and those 14 people... When you're living with somebody that's acting irrationally, they start to become affected in the way they live their lives. And so one of the things we really work hard with the alcoholic and addict families is to take a look at how the disease of addiction has affected them. We find an incredible amount of denial in family members-- "Oh, he can't be alcoholic. "He's not like that..." And a lot of denial about how it's affected them.
NARRATOR: Treating opiate-addicted individuals requires yet another type of treatment, usually with medicine to help take away the drug craving. Opiate addiction comes from abusing heroin and prescription medications like Oxycontin and Lortab.
CHARLES WALTON: Patients have had to come to a clinic everyday to get their methadone or lamb. Can you imagine how complicated your life would be if you had to, you know, stop off at the clinic before you do anything else, and then go about your day's business, and plan on the next morning when you get up-- I gotta be to the clinic again. And that goes on for at least the first month or two that they're in treatment with methadone or lamb.
MICHAEL CROOKSTON: About a year ago, a new drug was released that has been phenomenally helpful in treating opiate addicts. It's called buprenorpnine. The brand name is Suboxone. It can be compared to methadone. We've had methadone for a few decades now, and methadone has been, bar none, the most successful treatment for opiate addiction.
TODD: I came into Discovery House and they started me on Suboxone. My life was changed instantly. I never got high off of it, but I felt normal. I felt like what I perceive everyone else to feel like-- normal, functioning, and wanting to do things.
NARRATOR: Studies show an investment of one dollar in prevention and treatment saves society seven dollars. Unfortunately, however, there is a huge gap between those in need and the services available.
PAT FLEMING: In Salt Lake County right now, we have got about 36,000 adults that need to be in treatment. We've got capacity for about 7,000.
LUCIANO COLONNA: There are a lot of treatment facilities out there that if you have very good insurance or a lot of cash, you can get in there tomorrow. You can get in there this afternoon. Unfortunately, uh, we know that addiction, uh, disproportionally affects those that are in the low socio-economic bracket of society and they do not have the funds to get into treatment, so they have to rely on the state to help them. And we just don't have enough treatment facilities available. There are long waiting lists.
SANDI DAOUST: Most young adult addicts have gone through their money. They don't have money. They don't have jobs. So what do we--do we just leave them on the streets? You know, what do we do for them? Nothing.
NARRATOR: Regardless of an individual's social standing, religion, or grasp of right or wrong, most young people are going to make a decision on whether to use drugs or drink alcohol.
PARENT/TEENAGERS INTERACTION: And where are you going again? Tyler's house. Are there any parents home? Yes.
NARRATOR: It then becomes a parent's responsibility to pay attention to the signs and intervene when necessary. Some of the signs to look for are if your child seems withdrawn, depressed, tired and careless about personal grooming. Or your child is hostile, uncooperative and breaks curfew. She begins hanging around with a new group of friends. His grades have slipped and he's sluffing school. He's no longer interested in hobbies, sports or favorite activities. His sleeping patterns have changed. She has a hard time concentrating. Her eyes are red-rimmed and her nose often runs. Household items and money begin to disappear.
TRACY MELVILLE: It's amazing how quick you have to become educated about substance abuse and about the kinds of things that happen. I got extremely good at being able to detect behavior and also to search rooms, backpacks, lockers, cars. Uh, found that kids are very clever, but very lazy about where and what they hide.
SUE HESS: Oh, I missed everything. I was so close to it I couldn't tell-- I couldn't--I couldn't even begin to realize what was going on, and he couldn't tell me. He was so into it he couldn't tell me. I thought he was having a nervous breakdown.
TRACY MELVILLE: If you are a parent looking for some kind of a stash or if there are telltale signs, as far as where they would hide it and how they would hide it, the best and easiest thing to do is to go into your kid's room, flop down on the bed, and anything within arms reach-- anything around the bed, around the sides, underneath the bed, under the bed-- anything within arm's reach is where you start searching first. Now, they'll get really clever about it. For instance, one telltale sign is canisters-- film canisters with little lids. Look for those. They will hid and stash stuff in that, and they'll have film canisters in all kinds of crazy places. Don't assume that just because you find a little container and it looks like something that's familiar to you that there isn't something in it. Another thing you want to look for are little tiny plastic bags-- the kind that you might find jewelry in. Those are also-- They can get those. Boy, they know how to distribute and market like you can't believe. And if you're looking and you're finding these little plastic bags, empty or not, around, those are also a telltale sign. They're not going to hide it in a place that's easily visible from the beginning. For instance, if you're looking in a backpack, you're not going to find it in the front pocket or in the main pocket, but you're going to find it inside the binder in one of those little film canisters that's stuck down in the ring of the binder. Or you're going to find it in the top of a permanent marker. They have those little knobs on top, and they're just the right size to stick one or two pills in there. Kids will oftentimes hide it on themselves, on their person. They don't usually carry a lot with them. Even the dealers don't. The kids skate shoes that they like to wear-- skateboarding shoes. They're big and thick and puffy, and the kids will either cut out a little hole on their shoe on the inside, flip up the covering, cut the hole and put something in there to hold it, and then put the covering back down. Or there are actually skate shoes that have zippers in the tongues or little snap pockets in the tongues that they can hide them in there. Kids will take pills and slip them down the inside of the zipper of their pants. They'll hide them just about anywhere. If you're searching in a car, I'd be looking for the same types of little containers, but look in places, again, that are within arm's reach of the driver's seat, and they will be places that are cut out or pulled out, like the interior fabric of the roof. You can pop that out. In the gearshift of a car, there's that kind of flexible boot that goes over it. You can pop that right up. They stick a lot of things down in there. And another thing to be careful about, or to be on watch for are, smelly things-- if they're using a lot of candles, incense, cologne. Dryer sheets-- look for dryer sheets. They'll just stick dryer sheets in different places or they'll have them in their car or in their room so they can just rub it on them so that they don't smell. That's particularly if you're using illegal substances.
NARRATOR: And, pay attention to how your teenager uses the cell phone and pager. Today's technology makes drug distribution a whole lot easier.
CHRIS: When I was dealing drugs and the group of people that I was dealing with, we had a list of codes, and you put the code in and then you didn't have to call anybody back or talk to anybody on the phone; you know, you just knew what to bring, where and when.
MOTHER OF RECOVERING ADDICT: I would not hesitate to walk into a child's room and look around. And you're going to find things not in your ordinary spots. These kids are masters at hiding it in speakers, hiding it in little corners. You have to be creative. Think like a kid and be creative to find it.
CHIEF LLOYD EVANS: The day you find a piece of paraphernalia, like a pipe, in your child's possession, is the day you need to realize that they're farther into this drug scene than you could ever imagine, because it's not usual for somebody just starting out to have their own paraphernalia.
SANDI DAOUST: And I remember my husband and I just for several weeks saying, "Didn't we used to have more spoons than this? I know we had more spoons." And we'd go to get a spoon for something else, like, "OK, where are the spoons." We'd ask the kids-- "I don't know. We don't know." We got down to where we did not have one spoon in our house. My husband and I-- we were getting kind of ticked, like this is the stupidest thing. Why would we have no spoons? What are these kids doing with spoons? And, of course, nobody would own up to the spoons. But it wasn't until after going through this with Robby that he finally fessed up, you know, well, they cook it in the spoon and they hold a match under it and they melt the powder and put it in the syringe. So they were throwing away the burned up spoons and taking spoons to parties with them, throwing them in their pockets.
NARRATOR: It's probably never been more difficult to be a teenager than now. Adolescents, teenagers and young adults are exposed to decisions most parents never imagined in junior high, high school or college. While many parents continue to scratch their heads and wonder what to do, some schools, like Judge Memorial, have made a bold and somewhat controversial decision to test students for substance use.
JAMES HAMBURGE: If you ask the question-- What's a human life worth? Or what's the potential of a teen worth? Is it worth a few drug tests? I say yes. It's truly expensive to take this stand, but in all honesty, there's nothing more valuable than that young teen and their future and their life. We don't line up each and every one of our students, but every single student knows that they could be either chosen at random, or they would be chosen out of concern.
NARRATOR: If a parent suspects there is usage, it is time to take action.
IVAN BARNES: Well, I think it was hard for her mother to do that. It wasn't hard to me, because I knew ultimately that it was what needed to be done, so, you know, it wasn't-- I mean, it was hard for me in that Ashley was very upset at me and, you know, called me every name but "white," but, uh, that was OK too.
ASHLEY ESPER: Throughout my drug use, I feel like nobody could have stopped me. I feel that that's not a safe thing to go that far. If I could tell anybody anything, it's not worth it.
KARI BARNES: When I tried to put my foot down, it was awful. I mean, she would throw fits, throw fits. I mean, she's cut herself, and I had to take her to the hospital, and then I felt bad for her and it was just like circle. It was--It was a circle, or what they call a triangle.
ASHLEY ESPER: When I went into high school, I was pretty depressed, looking for acceptance to friends, to find friends, and I got in with the wrong crowd-- the crowd that did drugs, went to RAVES, sluffed school, went to parties all weekend, didn't care about their lives, didn't care about school.
KARI BARNES: I don't know any reason-- could not push my kids, you know, to call the cops. I did call the cops a few times, but I could not do it. I just--oh, well, maybe we'll let it go this time. Maybe, you know, I'll tell them not to do that and it will be better the next time. I could not, whatever you call it, discipline or whatever, my kids. I knew they were doing wrong, but I just could not-- I could not be that parent that was mean.
IVAN BARNES: Tough love.
KARI BARNES: Tough love is what they call it. I could not do the tough love thing.
IVAN BARNES: I think you've got to do what's in the best interest, long term...of the child regardless of how upset they may be right now or in the short term. You've got to do, you know, you've got to do what you've got to do, as tough as it may be. And you've got to at least try. Not that there aren't going to be failures. You're not going to probably save all of them, but you've got to, in my opinion, you've got to at least make the effort, and that's what we, you know-- Basically, I told Kari, "We've got to at least try "or Ashley is either going to be dead "or in jail the rest of her life."
KARI BARNES: It was just hard. It's a hard thing, but I know it's the right thing.
TIM WHALEN: One of the problems that you have with action is that though parents tend to over-react. We all do. As a parent myself, if I were to find drug paraphernalia or drugs in my child's room, the first thing is, you want to kind of, in a sense, lock them up. Get them away from the problem. Keep them safe. I think that's a strong emotional component. I think the best thing to do, even backing up a step, is to talk with your-- talk with your kids.
LUCIANO COLONNA: You have to, uh, create an environment in your home where your child feels safe, uh, calling you and, uh, confiding in you. And I only think that you're going to be able to create that environment by talking to them honestly.
LEAH VANDENAKKER: Parents need to ask more questions. Parents need to try their hardest not to judge, not to give advice, but to ask questions. Questions-- "Tell me where you are." "Tell me what's going on." "Is there something I can do "that's going to make this a little easier for you?" "I can see you're having a bad day. "Maybe you don't want to talk to me about it now, "but is there something I can do for you in the future?"
LYNNE DURRANT: You know, and if your kid is experimenting with drugs, or if not, we also need, I think, to talk about harm reduction. You know, we need to say, "I don't want you to use drugs. "Drugs, in the long run, "are not gonna be good for your health. "You're taking a risk there. "But, if you do, don't be stupid about it."
NARRATOR: As a society, we need to move away from the shame and blame that gets passed around and start to treat substance abuse and addiction like any other chronic disease.
GARY LEONARD: My daughter's been in drug court for, uh, over a year now; in and out of jail several times. She has two small children. We're the grandparents. We've been raising these children for almost three years now, and it's been a roller coaster ride. We've seen improvement. We've seen her slip back. The last 5 months have been a steady improvement for her and we're very hopeful. Today she finished her GED. That's a very good sign. A very good sign. And we're hopeful. We're always hopeful. But we've been hopeful before, so cautiously optimistic,
PAUL CUNNINGHAM; I would say. I think from a law enforcement perspective, at least my personal opinion is that we will never eliminate drugs. We've had drugs all through the history of mankind. Prevention would be the best solution. We're all realistic. You know, there are certain kinds of criminal activity that aren't going to go away. There's too much profit motive.
JACK PLUMB: Throughout this journey, one of the key-- the key words I've learned is the word choice. Every moment we make a choice, whether it's not necessarily just to use-- Are we going to drive our car here? Are we going to go to the store here? Are we going to get up? What am I going to wear? What am I going to do to myself today cosmetically or with what I'm wearing? So I found it to be one of the greatest words we have really is the word choice.
NARRATOR: Along with choice is hope.
SANDI DAOUST: He was a sweet, loving, caring kid, and he was a different person when he was using. But when I would get glimpses of my son again, then that hope comes back-- yeah, he's gonna make it this time. He's gonna make it. And I never lost hope, and I didn't up until I lost him.
JACK PLUMB: People ask me on occasion, when they have the nerve, what this means to me about this loss of my son. And I said: you know, the loss certainly is irreplaceable, but what we really lost was that hope. We lost the hope that he would get it-- that people have to look within themselves and make those decisions within themselves. And I go back to the word choice. I do not have the capability to change anyone, and that, I think, in a nutshell, is the long and short of treatment, is if you can get someone that's willing to want to look within themselves and make that change, and not for mom and not for dad, but for themselves, then you've got hope.
ASHLEY ESPER: I've lost--I lost my life for a long time. I mean, these kids have no idea how important it is to be a child, just to grow up, go to school dances, just to have little boyfriends, you know, have friends that are positive, go to movies. I never had any of that and I can't go back and have it. I've lost it. It's something that I will never have in my life.
CORRINE: I didn't know what people did in normal life, you know, and now that's-- that's what I'm learning. I've got money saved and, you know, I'm able to buy things for myself and my kids, and so, you know, just--just finding myself. You know, it's been a long time and I've never really been an adult, but yet I was a kid trying to be an adult, and it just-- it just doesn't work.