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Spike in drug use among Virginia teens

By Lyndsey Price, lprice@wcyb.com
Published On: Sep 18 2013 04:50:47 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 18 2013 08:27:12 PM CDT

There are spikes in drug use among teens in Virginia. One group is trying to teach parents, law enforcement, and educators about the drugs and give them the tools needed to fight the problem.

ABINGDON, Va. -

There are spikes in drug use among teens in Virginia. One group is trying to teach parents, law enforcement, and educators about the drugs and give them the tools needed to fight the problem.

Drug use in teens is on the rise and that's why the group SAVVY, which stands for Substance Abuse Awareness Vital for Virginia Youth, is informing the community about the increase. 

They held a conference to educate teens and adults Wednesday in Abingdon. "We are seeing some spikes [in drug use]. We are also seeing some spikes in things like prescription drug abuse, meth," says Virginia secretary of public safety Marla Decker.

SAVVY is a part of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's initiative. That's why people like Connie Mann, a nurse in the Washington County Virginia School System, want to learn as much as they can about the drugs youth are using. "It is alarming. There are a lot of substances out there that are available that can cause a lot of harm and I don't think our students are aware of all the risks of that," adds Mann.

Mann tells us she wants to make sure she is able to help any student if they need it. "To help them know where resources are for drug and alcohol abuse and help us understand signs and symptoms and the risks that our students face," says Mann.

We learned along with prescription drugs and meth other drugs are becoming a problem. "One of the biggest things we've seen in the last five years is the steady increase of heroin cases in Southwest Virginia," says state forensic scientist Chris Bryant.

Bryant tells us they are also seeing an increase in synthetic drugs like bath salts. Another drug Bryant warns parents about is 'molly', because it can be mixed with just about anything. "Molly could just be a term for anything that's considered a hallucinogen that's been stamped into a tablet, but we've also had some powder that's considered molly," adds Bryant.

Meanwhile, Mann tells us she wants to be sure the students are warned and know what these drugs can do. "We want to bring this home to them and help them understand it better," says Mann.

SAVVY is working on a website that will detail the drugs including what they look like and provide information for parents.

In the meantime they have a Facebook page set up to provide information -- click here for a link.