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Drugs: The Problem Is Now Said To Touch Every Social, Racial And Income Group

Drugs: The Problem Is Now Said To Touch Every Social, Racial And Income Group image Drugs: The Problem Is Now Said To Touch Every Social, Racial And Income Group image Drugs: The Problem Is Now Said To Touch Every Social, Racial And Income Group image Drugs: The Problem Is Now Said To Touch Every Social, Racial And Income Group image Drugs: The Problem Is Now Said To Touch Every Social, Racial And Income Group image
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Advisor reporter Peg Kay spent close to five months interviewing youngsters, public service officials and others who have first-hand information on drug use in the Arm Arbor area. What follows is a two-part series in which Mrs. Kay will attempt to answer some basic questions about drug use and offer a full listing of widely-used drugs and their éffects. The second installment of the series will appear in next week 's Advisor. One of Mrs. Kay 's conclusions is that the ex tent of drug use among local young people has been both overstated and understated over the past year or so. The fact is that no one is certain of the exact extent of drug use in the Ann Arbor area, although there is evidence to suggest that it is dramatically on the rise. "I got married not too long ago and I H tell you ' something. When we have kids, I'm leaving Ann Arbor. A kid doesn't stand a chance in this town, the way drugs are running free. " A former "hard drug" pusher, March 1970. # ". . .There have been fewer than ten cases confirmed where a child has been under the influence of drugs within the last year. " Ann Arbor Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Scott Westerman, Feb. 1970. The drug scène in Ann Arbor isn't as bad as the first quote states. But it isn't nearly as minimal as the second quote implies. In fairness to Dr. Westerman, hc went on to state that the schools really have no idea how bad the -Officials at the Crisis Walk-In Clinic, an arm of the Washtenaw County Mental Health Association, state that drug crisis calis rose from 29 during the last half of 1969 to 65 in the first half of 1970. In addition, information and referral calis have more than doubled during the same interval. - An adolescent psychiatrist at Mercywood Hospital in Ann Arbor cstimatcd that thcir in-patient adolescent service accepts between eight and ten drug-related cases per month. - Youngsters interviewed at the Juvenile Detention Home had wildly varying estimates of drug usage in Ann Arbor and Ypsüanti junior high schools. The guesses as to the number of children involved at least minimally in the drug sccne ranged between 35 per cent and 75 per cent. -Todd Woolery, director of the Juvenile Detention Home, states that about 30 per cent of the youngsters detained were "into drugs". -The Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti pólice departments, combined, received reports of about one runaway per day. David Bowman of Ozone House, a private Ann Arbor runaway center, says that between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of the runaways usc drugs. -A room mother at one of Ann Arbor's junior highs telephoned the parents of a dozen ninth graders. She discovered, in the course of her conversations, that of the 12 people interviewed, 10 of them had a child (not necessarily the ninth grader) who had been using drugs. Whatever the exact number may be, we can assume that it is a lot. And it touches every social, racial and income group. The reactions of middle class white parents progress from disgust with a "ghetto problem" to alarm when they discover that a friend's child is "into drugs", to __rmnic when thev' realize their own chüdjias been touched. . WHO IS TAKING WHAT? 3 According to Mr. Woolery, the lower and lower-middle ■ class white youngster on Ypsilanti's east side is most apt ■ to be sniffing solvents or drinking alcohol. The black kids_ I in Ypsi also drink a great deal of alcohol, but are quite likely to be shooting speed, smoking marijuana and, when they get a bit older, to be using heroin. In the more affluent sections of Ypsilanti and all of j Ann Arbor, Mr. Woolery states, the breakdown is not one I of Black-White, but of junior high-high school. The junior high school kids smoke marijuana and hashish. They are j heavily into amphetamines and hallucinogens and something called "Christmas trees" which are a combination of virtually everything. They occasionally sniff solvents, when nothing else is available. The drop-outs quickly find heroin. As the youngster gets into high school heroin becomes more common and, since April of this year, cocaine is becoming less rare. The youngsters we spoke with about this were all in their early teens and were all involved with drugs. They had a somewhat different point of view than did Mr. Woolery. They noted that kids are taking to drugs earlier now than they did last year. The consensus was that a large number of youngsters smoke their first marijuana joints when they are between the ages of nine aad eleven. At age ten they try LSD. By the time the child is thirteen or fourteen he is into amphetamines. And a fifteen year old heroin addict is no longcr a rarity. There doesn't seern to be any general "type" of youngster who gets into drug trouble. Years ago we could generalizc. It would usually be a youngster trom a 'oroken home. Or a youngster whose mother spent more time with her bridge club than with her children. Or a youngster whose parents leaned on the "adult" drugs. Or a youngster whose parents fought continually and bitterly. These generalizations don't hold any longer. As the room-mother discovered in the course of her phone calling, the families had no common denominator. There were broken families. There were close-knit families. There were religious homes. There were atheistic homes. The parents were permissive. The parents were tight disciplinarians. The only thing they had in common was that they had a child in trouble. WHAT ARE THEY TAKING? Marijuana: The most common drug, by far, is marijuana (slang-termed pot, grass, reefers or, archaically, tea). This is made from the leaves and flowering tops of Indian Hemp (Cannabis sativa). The active ingrediënt, THC, varias from tjknt_to nlant. but usually provides ajnüd t the diagnostic techniques necessary to teil when a child's erratic behavior is caused by drugs. Dr. Westerman more recently told this reporter that he now feels that the school figures may only be the tip of an iceberg. The fact is that no one has any reliable statistics concerning the use of drugs in Washtenaw County. In this article and the next one, we will try to pin down some of the myths and truths about our drug culture- Who is taking the drugs? What are they taking? Why are they taking them? How are they getting them? and What can we do about it? We should admit at the outset that we haven't found any answers to the hardest questions: Why are the kids taking drugs? and What can we do about it? After five months of talking to kids, psychiatrists, social workers and policemen, we find that we know more than we used to about kids, psychiatrists, social workers and policemen. But we still have no answers to the difficult questions. Perhaps there aren't any answers. The drugs we are going to consider are the hallucinogens, the amphetarnines, the narcotics, the barbiturates and cocaine. We will not discuss alcohol, which is the most abused drug in society, not because it isn't important, but simply because space forces us to select our topics. Some years ago, a female anthropologist studied a certain African tribe. Because she was a female, she was not permitted to witness the various rites which are only open to males. This was an inconvenient situation and, in order to facilítate her job, the tribe voted to make her a male. The lady was henceforth referred to as "he" and her research progressed. A similar state of affairs exists in the Federal Narcotics Laws. Certain drugs, notably marijuana and cocaine, have been designated "narcotics" when they are no such thing. Various dangerous drugs, such as alcohol, are left off the list altogether. But for convenience sake, we will follow the guide of the Federal Dangerous Drugs and Narcotics Act. The drug scène changes rapidly. It changes far too rapidly for any article which is researched and written over a period of time to be wholly accurate. We therefore apologize in advance for those sections which have become obsolete before we could get them in print. THE EXTENT OF THE CRISIS Last April Ann Arbor Mayor Robert Harris noted that the drug problem in his city had reached "crisis proportions". Just how big a problem is a "crisis' was not spelled out. But we can get some idea of the extent of the problem by considering the following: While all of the drugs are all over, there seems to be a general pattern in the concentration of types of drugs. "high" which lasts between three and five hours. (Continued on page 24) tog?: tTOWem d to ta7all ffl-oups iContinued from page 3f lts effects begin within a tew minutes ot ingestión. Because research was prohibited for some 30 years, we don 't know very much about it. But as the newly legalized research results come in, it looks as if marijuana acts very much like alcohol. You have happy drunks and maudlin drunks. You have passive drunks and aggressive drunks. And it would seem that marijuana has the same unpredictable effects-which is probably why a chart reproduced in the New York Times in 1968 Usted it as a stimulant. a depressant and an hallucinogen. Aside from the psychological "high", marijuana can produce some physiological symptoms. PupÜs are dilated and the eyes redden. There is no evidence that marijuana causes any long term effects, although there is some reason tovbelieve that it may contribute to chronic bronchitis or asthma. There is certainly no physical dependence on the drug and no reliable testimony that there is a psychological dependence. There is also no reliable evidence that marijuana, in and of itself, causes the user to "gradúate" to harder drugs. But, as Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney William Delhey points out, there is a relationship between marijuana and the hard drugs in cross-use. That is, when there are marijuana and hallucinogens in a community, the hard narcotics quickly move in behind. A great deal of the Washtenaw County marijuana is home-grown-wild around the railroad tracks, on out-ofthe-way farms, and as house plants. But most of it, the "good stuff', is smuggled in from Mexico. This is much stroneer than the U.S. variety. Hashish: "Hash" is the brown resin which collects on top of the Indian hemp plant. It is about five times stronger than marijuana and generally comes from the Near East, rather than Mexico. It is distributed as a brown block, something like chewing tobáceo, and is usually smoked in a special little pipe. The use of hashish has erown enormously within the past few months. Mescaline: This comes from the top of the cactus Anhalonium lewinii. The favorite method of ingestión used to be a simple nibble on the plant itself, but the active ingrediënt has now been isolated. It is usally distributed in capsule or tablet form and "dropped", that is, swallowed. It can be taken intravenously, but this is rare. Mescaline is an hallucinogen. lts effects, which last from 10 to 12 hours, begin with some initial anxiety and some very unpleasant nausea and vomiting. These effects recede after about an hour and are replaced by a feeling of exhilaration. Hallucinations, described in terms of intense color, oceur and the user's time sense slows down so that events which take just a minute to pass seem to last for hours. There are occasional long-term effects. Hallucinations can continue long after the drug has run its course and once in a while a paranoid state can result that may last for a week or more. Psilocybin: This is the "mapc mushroom" which can be either eaten or brewed. The effects of psilocybin last between four and twelve hours. Within an hour of ingestión, the user gets a feeling of unreality, accompanied by decreased ctmcentration and acutely sharpened hearing. At the same time, he may feel nauseated, dizzy and "achy". Within two hours there is a sense of euphoria and hallucinations. After the effects of the drug wear off, the user usually has one big headache. Not much is known about psilocybin. There is no physiological dependence and there is no evidence pointing to psychological dependence. There is no information on long-term effects. LSD: Slang-termed "acid", LSD is a semi-synthetic Drugs: the problem is said to touch all groups (Continued from page 24) made from the natural lysergic acid found in the ergot fungus. It is a very powerful hallucinogen, 100 times stronger, by weight, than psilocybin and 7,000 times stronger, by weight, than mescaline. "Acid" is swallowed, usüally with a sugar cube used as a vehicle. More rarely, it is injected. The duration of an LSD "trip" is from eight to twelve hours. ín schizophrenics, there can be either no effect or the effects can be extremely prolonged. Shortly after "dropping the acid", the user has some anxiety and may feel nauseated. Soon there are vivid visual hallucinations- colors intensify dramatically and shapes distort rather like a surreal painting by Dali. One user described the sensation as "forming a four dimensional perspective". This is accompanied, and often preceded, by tactile hallucinations. Texturoo liift and change. There is often a seixse of unreality. One young man said, "I had no physical rapport with reality. I moved from upstairs to downstairs but I couldn't teil that I was walking". There are often long-term effects which manifest themselyes as "return trips"- that is, the hallucinations recur days, or even months, after the LSD is taken. Additionally, LSD may intensify existing psychoses and can cause panic reations. A few years ago, some clinical experiments indicated that LSD could cause chromosome damage. This damage would cause children born to the users to be malformed. There has been considerable controversy over these chromosome-damage experiments and whüe it remains a possibility, it is unproved. The LSD experience is not always pleasant. A "bad trip" is a frightening experience. The user is in a state of panic. The hallucinations are terrifying and, without help, suicide or attempted suicide is not infrequent. These "bad trips" usually occur when the user is emotionally unstable or when he is in a particularly unsettled frame of mind when he takes the drug. As one user put it, "Nothing happens that isn't in your head already. If you're a beautiful person, you have a beautiful trip. If you 'freak out', you were freaked out anyway." One of the White Panthers even accused the newspapers of causing bad trips. "Man", he said, "the headlines can scare you into a 'bummer'". s One of the major purposes of Drug Help, Inc. is to talk a youngster through a "bummer". The kid will cali in for aid (761-HELP) or walk in, if he can (900 Lincoln, Ann Arbor). Trained personnel, almost all of them young, will be waiting for him. They will sit him down and try to talk him through it. If medical aid is called for, a doctor is no farther away than a telephone cali and can get to the tripper in a matter of minutes. The kid will some times be unable to teil his benefactor just what is going on in his (the kid's) mind. Occasionally he will just sit there, fists clenched, and repeat, "Like I don't like it, I don't like it". When he calms down the staff will try to find out just what he took and when he took it. It is reassuring for the youngster to find out when he can expect the trip to end. After a while the youngster will relax and will often talk with the staff about his experience with the drug and the problems that caused the experience. If the problems seem serious, and the youngster is willing, the staff will then refer him to professional help. One would think that after an experience of this sort a youngster would forsake acid forever. Not so. The staffat Drug Help told me that kids repeat and repeat. One young man has called in five times, initiating the conversations with "Well, I did it again". The staff speculates that the kids want someone to talk to and use the drug experience as an excuse to contact a sympathetic listener. Before Drug Help set up walk-in headquarters two months ago, the kids could contact them only via the telephone. Now the kids can, and some do, walk in before they take the drug and allow themselves to be talked out of it. About two years ago, when reports of damaged chromosomes were given wide publicity, there was a sharp drop in the use of LSD. As doubts were cast on the validity of the experiments, usage increased again. Then, this year in Washtenaw County, LSD usage dropped once more as the hard drugs moved in and the kids moved up. There is no physical dependence on LSD. Whether or not there is a psychological dependence is unknown. DOM (slang, STP), DMT (Businessman's high), etc: These are among the synthetic hallucinogens which can be swallowed or injected. In common with the other hallucinogens they produce euphoria and hallucinations. There is no knowledge of their long-term effects. The hallucinogens are an integral part of the drug culture. They provide the ingredients of a special code, the understanding of which proves acceptance into the "in group". Rock groups are often named after the paraphernalia (a "Jefferson Airplane", for instance, is a type of marijuana pipe). One of the songs of a few years ago, "Love Special Delivery" has LSD as the first letters of the title words. Another song, "Acapulco Gold", is a slang term for Mexican marijuana. The drug terms are almost like the secret code rings that the over-30's used to find in their breakfast cereal boxes. It is remarkable that youngsters, who won't trust their parents, who won't trust "The Establishment", who won't trust anyone over 30, place the most implicit trust in their "pusher". It is often a tragically misplaced trust. The hallucinogens can be laced with almost anything. The samples that The Advisor had analyzed contained everything from dangerous amounts of arsenic and strycchnine to nothing mentioned in the Federal Dangerous Drug and Narcotics Act. Three or tour years ago some "orange wedges", purporting to be an hallucinogen appeared on the black market. They turned out to be a combination of strycchnine, cocaine and belladonna. Manufactured in California, they were sold throughout the country and caused any number of tragedies. In Ann Arbor, the pusher was arrested not too long after he began peddling those wares (he was well aware of what the "orange wedges" contained). Long after his arrest, occasional "orange wedges" turned up. The last ones seen by the Ann Arbor pólice were uncovered about nine months ago. There are other orange pills stül on the market, but they are not, so far as we know, that particular combination. The White Panthers regard the hallucinogens as "life drugs", as opposed to the hard narcotics and amphetamines which they term "death drugs". The Panthers maintain that the hallucinogenic experience is no riskier than life jtself and, if one "relates well' to the drug, it can illuminate life. Most researchers dissent. It is an artificial illumination, they say, an instant Nirvana that is as distorted as the hallucinations themselves. And the damage that can be done-even disregarding the possibility of chomosome breakage- is severe and possibly irremedial. All of the hallucinogens, even the comparatively innocuous marijuana, will intensify any neurotic tendencies in the user. And, says one psychologist, "You can define an adolescent as a neurotic young person. The drug interferes, perhaps disastrously, with his normal growing-up process." Next week we will discuss the amphetamines and the "hard stuff' and try to shed some light on why the kids take drugs, how they get them, and what we can do about it.