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By LeAnn R. Ralph
BOYCEVILLE — Do you know drug paraphernalia when you see it?
What about those markers in your teenager’s bedroom? Are they really markers, or do they have a hidden compartment?
What about that can of Coke? Is it really soda pop? Or does it feel “solid” when you pick it up?
What about that bottle of hand sanitizer? Is your teenager health-conscious? Or could he or she be ingesting it to get high?
Sheli Jo Metzger, a drug counselor with Arbor Place, showed parents around a mock drug bedroom set up at Boyceville High School April 23.
Boyceville Police Chief Greg Lamkin and an undercover deputy with the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department had additional items of drug paraphernalia set up in the hallway.
Metzger is in recovery from methamphetamine addiction.The perception that people cannot be in recovery from methamphetamine is not true, she said.
Many items are manufactured to look like common items but actually have hidden compartments inside for hiding drugs. The items are easily purchased at smoke shops or on the Internet, Metzger said.
Water bottles, for example.
“You can buy these — and this is the way mine was — it was a big water bottle, and the top part came off and slid back in like a sleeve. It was a blue bottle, and it was sealed on the inside. When you took this off there was a big, huge spot to hide your dope or a spoon and a needle. You could hide the whole rig,” she said.
“I would put my meth in it, throw it in the back seat, and it would lay on the floor like anybody’s water bottle. They would never question it when they saw it. Just sayin’ — it was crazy,” Metzger said.
Another item to be on the look-out for is a product called “Ozium.”
Ozium is readily available at Walmart and is an air freshener. It does not have much scent, “maybe just a little bit of a ‘clean’ scent,” Metzger said.
Metzger spritzed some into the air. “That’s just a little bit, but it works to hide the smell of [marijuana] smoke,” she said.
“It’s not very expensive. But, it’s also an aerosol, so you can huff it, too,” Metzger noted.
“There are a million things you would never guess,” she said.
A new cap your teenager just brought home could have a hidden compartment inside the brim, Metzger said.
Also beware of over-the-counter cold medicines, such as cough syrup. Teenagers will drink a whole bottle of cough syrup to get high, Metzger said.
“I used to hide my dope in the outlet. I would take the [cover] off and put my dope inside the outlet. Normal people are looking behind things, like pictures on the wall,” Metzger said.
Hand sanitizer can be ingested for a high because it has alcohol in it.
“When I worked in Stillwater, we had to rush a guy to the ER [who had ingested hand sanitizer],” she said.
Many items that can be used to achieve a high — markers, hand sanitizer, air freshener — are readily available at stores, such as dollar stores, and do not cost very much, Metzger said.
And what about that Coke or Sprite can sitting there in your teenager’s bedroom?
If you pick up it, and it does not feel normal, no sloshing of liquid, check to see if has a hidden compartment, Metzger said.
The compartment inside is not terribly large, “but if you are a meth head or coke [cocaine], that’s a lot. You can fit quite a bit in there,” she said.
Little round rubber containers can be used for THC “dabs.”
THC is the active ingredient in marijuana.
The container “prevents any smell from coming out of it. It can be baked and it won’t smell,” Metzger said.
“If you go on Amazon, you can find I don’t know how many things with marijuana in it, THC,” she said.
Tampons also can be used for alcohol or THC oil.
“You can soak the cotton tampon in alcohol, such as vodka, insert [into the vagina] and you can get drunk quickly because it’s a soft tissue, or soak it in THC oil, which you can get for vape pens, and have it absorb that way,” Metzger said.
Tampons that come in plastic applicators also can be useful to the drug addict.
“Take the tampon out, and you can carry dope in the plastic case,” she said.
A toilet paper tube or any cardboard tube with a scented dryer sheet attached over one end with a rubber band can be used as a filter into which to blow smoke from cigarettes or marijuana, Metzger noted.
If your teenager has a bottle of eye drops or a bottle of the antihistamine diphenhydramine — brand name Benadryl — both also can be an indication of drug use because both can be used to treat red eyes, Metzger said.
Diphenhydramine can be used to get high too.
“Most people get sleepy. I get jiggedty-wiggedty,” she said.
“If you see some of this stuff in your kid’s room, pick it up … a lot of this stuff could just be sitting around in your kid’s room,” she said.
Metzger has set up mock drug bedrooms a number of times to help raise awareness among parents.
“When people go through, they’re like ‘What?!?! Are you kidding me?!?!’ No, I’m not kidding,” Metzger said.
There are also e-cigarettes that look like a computer flash drive.
“A kid can take one and put it in his hand and walk around and take a hit off it. You can get THC oil to put in it too. The oil they take out of marijuana has no scent,” Metzger said.
“This ain’t your momma and daddy’s marijuana anymore. It’s some pretty serious stuff,” she said.
Teenagers “use differently” in different areas, but Metzger said she suspects in the Boyceville area the drugs of choice are methamphetamine and alcohol, with prescription drugs close behind, “except those are so expensive, unless they are getting it from a prescription of a family member.”
Metzger said her drug of choice initially had been cocaine “because I like to go fast. But it’s a short-lived high. With meth, the high lasts a lot longer. You get more bang for your buck.”
Being a drug counselor “was not my job of choice,” she said.
“I wanted to be a nurse. But I’m a convicted felon. Where am I going to get a job?” Metzger said.
“But guess what? It’s not what I thought. I really like this,” she said.
Metzger has been a counselor since 2011. Arbor Place produced a brochure about methamphetamine recovery, and she is pictured on the brochure.
“They asked if I would be the ‘face of meth recovery,’ and I said, ‘sure, why not? I went to treatment here,’” Metzger said.
Additional items of drug paraphernalia were set up in the hallway by the Boyceville Police Department and the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department.
One item looked like a music CD, but when the cover was opened, it was actually a scale for weighing drugs.
Many of the items are available for purchase at the smoke shop in Menomonie, said Police Chief Lamkin.
When asked how it is legal to sell those items, the police chief noted that until they are used for illegal drugs, they are not drug paraphernalia.
“I could be buying this [a modified soda pop can with a hidden compartment] to hide my keys,” Police Chief Lamkin said.
Arbor Place has produced a handout listing a variety of Internet websites with information on e-cigs, alcohol, bullying, social medial and its potential effects on youth, and connecting with your kids.
If you would like the handout e-mailed to you so you can more easily link to the resources, you can contact Kathy Asper, Manager of Prevention Services at Arbor Place, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 715-235-4537, extension 220.