OLD TOWN, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- Three police departments held a community meeting today in Old Town to talk about ways to keep kids drug free. The forum at Leonard Middle School in Old Town was put together to educate parents about how to recognize drug abuse in their kids, and how to prevent that abuse.
The prevention of drug abuse in teens is is something local authorities take very seriously. But it's not the police or a child's teacher that can be the biggest influence on a child to not do drugs- it's the parents.
Tonight police explained to parents what to look for and how talking to their children can be the difference between using drugs and choosing not to.
"One of the most common things that we've seen changed here is that there's no age limit and there's no economic boundaries. People who abuse substances come in all shapes and sizes," said the Chief Deputy of the Penobscot County Sheriff's Department, Troy Morton.
Parents gathered at Leonard Middle School in Old Town to listen to members of the local police department speak on drug use among young people in the community. Officials say the illegal drug industry is evolving and so are the drugs. Users are not easy to spot.
"Sometimes it's difficult to tell when a teenager is are using drugs by simply looking at their appearance or their behaviors. Those are absolutely indicators but that's not a tell all. One the things for sure is that somebody who is using substances or is using substances will have paraphernalia," Deputy Chief Morton said.
Drug paraphernalia is anything that can be used to hide or use different drugs. From a pipe for smoking marijuana, to an empty shaving cream can to hide cocaine. Many items look like everyday objects. But parents shouldn't be fooled.
"These some items that we've actually picked up from homes that were right in front of parents that they didn't really realize that such a small statue like this was actually used as a pipe," Morton said, referring to several drug paraphernalia items in front of him.
During the Forum, police also discussed newer drugs on the street called synthetic drugs like bath salts and synthetic marijuana as well as slang used to refer to illegal substances including K-2 and Monkey Dust. Parents said they were grateful for the education but were also shocked at what they learned.
"I think about the easy access whether it's to drugs, alcohol, and also the cost of drugs," said Tamra Montgomery, a parent who attended the forum.
Authorities at the meeting said the most effective way to stop your child from abusing drugs is to talk to them about it and be involved in their lives. It's not butting in, it's showing you care about their safety.
"The real important part is parents being involved in their children's lives, knowing what's going on in their lives, asking those questions," said Sargent Lee Miller of the Old Town Police Department.
The police at tonight's event said that even if parents have no suspicion of drug use in their child's life, it is important to talk to them about the dangers regardless because at some point in their lives they will most likely face the pressure to use.