When it comes to figuring out if a child is involved in the drug culture, Jermaine Galloway says look beyond the obvious.
Galloway, a former police officer in Boise, Idaho, brought his Tall Cop Says Stop drug and alcohol awareness program to Astoria Wednesday.
“Your drug users do not look a certain way, they do not act a certain way,” Galloway told an audience at Clatsop Community College.
He told people to look for the red flags of drug culture — Rastafarian-themed clothing, tie-dye, references to marijuana-smoking holiday 420, hash oil slang 710 — but to avoid immediate assumptions and instead ask questions about the meaning of clothing and other possible drug identifiers. “Half the time they’ll just tell you,” he said.
Galloway described an ever-evolving drug market, with narcotics laced with any number of substances, consumed in every imaginable way and concocted into synthetics that can prove deadly after a single use.
“We’re seeing more potency, more potency, more potency,” he said, pointing to the development of marijuana buds into exponentially more potent oils, hashes and waxes.
Synthetic additives like the cough suppressant Dextromethorphan, the opiate fentanyl and psychedelic NBOMe are further increasing the danger.
People need to look beyond the cliches of drug users, he said, and realize that anyone can fall prey to addiction. Galloway cautioned against telling kids too many specifics, lest they get new ideas on how to abuse substances. But he urged parents to stay educated about current trends in the drug culture, form groups, share information and communicate with children about what they’re seeing.
“Nobody is going to raise your kids for you,” he said.
The event was organized by North Coast Prevention Works, a Clatsop County coalition focused on preventing youth drug and alcohol abuse.
The event was funded through a grant from community wellness program Way to Wellville. It was also sponsored by Jordan’s Hope for Recovery, a nonprofit recently set up by former Astoria High School secretary Kerry Strickland, whose son died of a heroin overdose.