Health & Safety

May 24, 2012

Students learn dangers of legal highs from devil dogs

Cpl. Aaron Diamant
Desert Warrior Staff

For years, the Corps has been working to educate Marines on the dangers of the so-called ‘legal high’ produced by the drugs Spice and Bath Salts.

The station’s Drug Demand Reduction Program to that knowledge outside the gates to educate nearly 300 local youth on what the Corps has known for years.

Virgil Tapispisan, DDRP manager, and two substance abuse control officers, Sgt. Austin Wethington and Sgt. Miguel Cervantes, spent two days educating Yuma High School students on just how dangerous these drugs can be.

“With their summer vacation coming up, we wanted to make sure they know to avoid these drugs while they are out of school,” said Tapispisan.

Many of the freshmen- aged students the group talked to knew about Spice, showing the prevalence and availability of the synthetic cabanoid. However, many of them were unaware of just how dangerous the drug can be.

“First and foremost, there have been a lot of reports from ERs all over the country that they have been getting patients who are overdosing on Spice and bath salts, and most of them are teenagers,” said Tapispisan. “They are very accessible because they can be purchased almost anywhere. Being a new phenomenon and marketed as a ‘legal high,’ the community doesn’t really know the dangers associated with them, so that’s why we go out there to educate them.”

“They are taught the dangers of other illegal drugs, but their knowledge of spice and bath salts are very limited,” said Tapispisan, referring to the programs taught to students about illegal narcotics.

The potency levels of Spice vary from bag to bag, and sometimes can be as much as 500 percent stronger than marijuana.

“People have died from smoking Spice,” Tapispisan told his audiences. Many of them had shocked expressions on their faces. “Some of them have even died from the first time they smoke Spice.”

Education and training is designed to increase awareness of the physical and emotional consequences of synthetic drug use. Targeting high school and middle school students would likely yield the beginnings of positive changes within the community at large.

Military children also attend local schools and are positively or negatively impacted by the outside influences of community school norms. By joining with the Yuma community, MCAS DDRP can provide both military and civilians a sense of common cause and purpose. Most importantly, this education and awareness campaign will provide students within the schools the opportunity of hearing fact-based information regarding synthetic drugs.

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