Back to school for teens can mean back to stress, back to deadlines, and back to peer pressure.
“New opportunities, new friends, see who could get what,” said Jack, a 21-year-old recovering drug addict who declined to give his last name. “From pills I went on to heroin and crack but I tried everything else in between.”
The Long Island native started using drugs when he was just 15 years old and a freshman in high school. The beginning of the school year, Jack said, is when teenagers, especially new users, experiment with drugs.
“It can be any kid, it can happen anywhere," Jack said. "I didn’t plan on this.”
While the dangers of heroin, prescription pills, and bath salts are well known, Jack said parents should be aware of the latest trends, like huffing freon gas from air conditioning units, to using Nutmeg, something that can be found in most kitchen cupboards.
“I found out about the nutmeg and I just went and bought it and you have to eat lot of it and you get very nauseous and it’s horrible,” Jack said.
Dr. Jill Backfield, executive director of clinical services at the New York Center for Living, said the beginning of the school year means parents must be educated in not only the trends, but the techniques young people use to keep their drug use hidden.
“Kids also have very novel ways of hiding drugs in the house," Dr. Backfield said. "I’ve seen drugs in lipstick tubes. I’ve seen it hidden in electronic equipment.”
Dr. Backfield, who helps local families heal from the destruction of addiction, said kids are getting ideas for new ways to get high from their peers and through social media.
“Kids are getting formulas on how to how to hide drugs, use drugs, which drugs to use, it’s almost like they can just access it anytime they want,” Dr. Backfield said.
Experts say parents should take inventory of items in their house, know how many prescription pills are in a bottle and even how much nutmeg is in the cupboard.
At the Phoenix House on Long Island Jack has been on the road to recovery for months. He said he chose to share his story in the hopes that he could spare at least one life and one family from the pain of addiction.
“I’m really happy to be clean,” Jack said confidently.