Straight Talk Advice

Vaping “dabs” at school, latest way to OD on THC

Feb 24, 2015

Illicit drug trade, not education, thrives on high school campuses

Dear Straight Talk: I'm a sophomore writing to complain about the open use of drugs at my school. Kids are vaping "dabs" [ultra-concentrated hash oil] with their e-cigarettes in broad daylight on a daily basis. Those boys sleeping in class? They vaped dabs during gym. Teachers and faculty are clueless and should be required to take classes on the new drugs, paraphernalia and lingo so students aren't constantly exposed and pressured. —Trying to Get an Education in a Drugstore, Sonoma County, Calif.

Icis 16, Detroit, Mich. Ask me a question

Classes for teachers on new-era drugs would help the obliviousness. According to the CDC, 1.8 million middle/high school students used e-cigarettes in 2012. Almost everyone I regulate with has attempted marijuana in some form. Students leave class to get high in the bathroom while the instructor remains silent! I've been offered cough syrup and soda in school more times than I've been to church!. The accessibility of these damaging substances to juveniles is unlawful. “Trying to get an education in a drug store”, I'm in the aisle with you.

Lisa 21, Eugene, Ore. Ask me a question

E-cigarettes have become very popular at parties so it’s not surprising kids are vaping at school. I totally agree that teachers should become aware of current trends. Many teachers turned a blind eye to constantly-high students. Drug education needs reform, too. Pre-high school, my school's drug curriculum focused only on tobacco and nicotine. In high school, it focused on hardcore drugs like cocaine and crystal meth. However, the vast majority of students use alcohol and pot and we hardly talked about these! Many young people won't smoke tobacco but insist pot is almost healthy, or they think e-cigarette vapor isn’t dangerous like smoke! Scare tactics obviously aren't effective, drug education should focus on healthy choices.

Justin 17, Brentwood, Calif. Ask me a question

Teachers are clueless. I'm not a user, but many students go by the idiotic acronym “YOLO” [you only live once]. Sadly, smoking weed is almost the norm at my area schools. It's normal for someone you just met to ask if you smoke or want to smoke. You can find any drug you seek on campus. I've gotten Facebook messages asking if I want to buy “dro” [extra-potent weed]. I agree that teachers should become educated because it's not only affecting users, but all of us.

Samantha 23, Toledo, Ohio Ask me a question

I support medicinal use and have a medical-marijuana pain prescription from Michigan following three car accidents.That said, I'm aware of the complications for young people — especially with high-THC dabs. Vaping is sneaky. If you know someone vaping dabs at school, tell a teacher or administrator and encourage friends to do the same. Teachers need help learning the many new ways kids get high (but, sniffing human feces?). Stay focused on YOU. Make good decisions and surround yourself with people who do the same.

Dear Trying to Get an Education: I couldn't agree more. Readers: We've gone from dumb to dumber to psychotic, literally. Dabs, earwax, budder — this so-named butane-produced hash-oil product, which runs about 80 percent THC, is resulting in a surge of THC-induced psychosis. For comparison, sinsemilla marijuana is 16-20 percent THC (up from 8 percent in 1985). E-cigarettes, aka “trippy sticks”,  look like pens, emit a faint non-cannabis odor, while dabs look like earwax — voilà, campus invisibility.

Drugs are rampant in our public schools (private schools generally less so). While education plummets, the drug trade thrives. Availability, relatively unrestricted trade, and peer pressure drive younger and younger use. The top-down “war on drugs” has failed miserably and districts shouldn't wait to try new approaches. A student-and-teacher-empowered approach, training popular students and popular teachers around drug-free emotional wellbeing, similar to what has proven effective with bullying (see last week's column), is a real solution.

Editor's Note: Today's topic really has me stirred up. The purpose of drug culture in the 60s and 70s generation was to expand consciousness, to break the chains of the super-ingrained oppressive society of that time. the must-believe-all-authority-figures, must-die-in-a-senseless-war mentality. It went way beyond that: Men had short hair and wore pants, women had long hair and wore dresses and hose. Period. Everyone was supposed to eat white bread and iceberg lettuce, believe what you were told on the two TV-station news programs, and a woman sure better enjoy vacuuming and ironing or there was seriously something wrong with her. Eastern thought was just breaking through, the birth control pill had just been invented, the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated and mistrust of government was rising from the ashes. Before this time, alcohol and nicotine were pretty much the only mainstream drugs and an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, even a divorced woman, meant a woman hung her head, went into hiding, or worse.

But the drugs and free sex that that generation used to shake society to the core and break the chains of oppression were supposed to do just that — not become the new chains!

Today, drugs and easy sex are the norm, all getting stronger and weirder by the day, steadily encroaching upon early childhood. The level of oppression today is huge and oddly covert. Lives of seemingly free expression are programmed with nonstop commercial media, the ability to think and concentrate has slipped, for men, it's taking away your libido, for women it's taking away your natural beauty and power, you're back in the 50s in reverse, thinking you're liberated.

If you want to rebel today, fall in love with someone who's in love with you and commit (how novel). Be yourself, without drugs or alcohol, or media (I wonder if you can? That was John Lennon's line). Find out who you really are outside of the fog. Find out what's going on with your country. Learn a non-technological skill. Go outside, read books not sound bites, stop eating crap just because it's there, stop watching porn and fapping just because it's there and you can, stop painting your nails and hair with carcinogens and dreaming about injections and implants just because everyone else does. Drugs, porn, and sodas the size of toilet bowls are the new white bread that's killing you —  and what you're supposed to be rebelling against! We rely on each generation's young to break through, not dive deeper into the sludge they've inherited. That kids are vaping 80 percent THC dabs at school, and this is cool, is the oppressor's dream. I don't usually go on such a one-sided rant, because we all got here together, and I'm totally generalizing; one of you did write in complaining, after all. But I sure would like to see youthful rebellion against that which oppresses, not a deep-dive death wish against your own humanity.

I do have a theory on it, actually, and it will be YOUR kids who will be sick of it enough to rebel. But some of you will start it... are starting it. Bravo!

Timothy Leary, Harvard psychiatrist who turned LSD guru of the 60s-70s, advised young people to turn on (to drugs), tune in (to spiritual awakening, mainly eastern thought), and drop out (of mainstream oppressive society). The new slogan could be drop in (to who you really are, without drugs), turn off (the constant electronics) and tune in (to nature, your culture and the world). —Love, Lauren

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  1. By Cindy, age 16, from Huntington Beach, CA on 02/24/2015

    Vapping also goes on at my school which is in a very affluent area.  I don’t believe that the teachers and administrators are clueless to what is going on and don’t really think that having them go to classes about this would help.  They can’t help but know what is going on and seem to feel helpless to stop it.  At my school it’s worst in the bathrooms and you can’t avoid getting vapped second hand unless you can go all day without going to the bathroom which isn’t possible and I sometimes come out of there light headed.  In addition, my stepsisters vap in their room that I have to share with them during visitations.  They spray air freshener to try to cover it up, but I don’t see how their mom and my dad can’t help but still smell it, since I certainly can, but they don’t seem to have a clue or maybe they feel helpless to prevent it like at school, but I’m not going to make trouble for myself by telling on them when I’m going to be sharing a room with them every other weekend for at least another 2 years.

    Cindy

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  2. By J.M., age 19, from Monterey Bay, CA on 02/24/2015

    This is also rampant on college campuses.  At least it is at my school.  Unfortunately, I’m stuck with a roommate who is hooked in vaping, and she’s very hard to live with, and she’s not the only one on my dorm hall who does this.  When she vaps, she goes back and forth from being sky high and totally hyper, to being lethargic and and depressed when she comes down.  When she’s high, she sometimes claims that she’s “burning hot” and strips off all her clothes.  I’m not a prude, and don’t have a problem undressing in front of other girls or their undressing in front of me.  However, I still find it very uncomfortable and embarrassing to have to look at her this way so much.  It also means that I can’t have my boyfriend come to our room and am even reluctant to have female friends come.  Another girl I know who is just as much against this as I am are looking at moving out of the dorm and getting an apartment next year.  Even a 1 bedroom apartment will be more expensive than the dorm, but we think we can convince our parents that it is worth it.  I was really looking forward to living in a dorm, but the drug use has ruined it for me.

    J.M.

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    1. By A.J., age 19, from Fullerton, CA on 02/26/2015

      Vaping and other drug use is also rampant in my dorm.  I really wish they could have drug free halls for those of us who do not use, but that would effectively be admitting that drug use is officially sanctioned everywhere else.  Not everyone uses drugs, but enough do to make living here a very unpleasant experience.  Fortunately for me, my roommate is also a non user.  If it wasn’t for the drug use, we would prefer to live in the dorm, but we’re seriously looking at getting a small apartment to share next year.  I couldn’t wait to go away to college and get away from having to share a room with my little brother who is a real pest and was also starting to get too interested in looking at me when I was undressed which was making me uncomfortable.  I was looking forward to living in a dorm and sharing a room with another girl and not having to be uncomfortable when I undressed, and I am comfortable with my roommate seeing me nude (MUCH more comfortable than with my brother, obviously).  However, living with the drug use all around me is spoiling things for me. 

      A.J.

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    2. By N.K., age 19, from Rohnert Park, California on 03/01/2015

      This also goes on in my dorm.  In fact, lately they have been having vaping parties.  It is done openly, so the dorm administrators cannot help but know about it, but are allowing it.  In fact, some of the student resident assistants who are supposed to assist in enforcing the rules are among the worst offenders.  My roommate had always been drug free like I am.  However, she was pressured into going to one of these parties by a guy she was dating.  Someone brought her back to our room totally incoherent.  Like others have described, I had to help her undress.  She needed to go to the bathroom, but was so out of it she didn’t even know how to get there, so I had to take her and help her on and off the toilet and bring her back.  I come from a large family and grew up sharing the bathroom with my sisters even when we were “using the facility” and undressing in front of each other and seeing each other nude, so it didn’t really bother me to help my roommate and see her this way.  However, it was very disturbing to see her so messed up. 

      Unlike others, at least she learned her lesson and promises to never do this again and has broken up with the guy who got her into this.

      N.K.

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  3. By A.M., age 17, from Carmichael, CA on 02/24/2015

    My younger sister’s boyfriend got her into vaping dabs and I’m really worried about her.  She’s totally different than what J.M. describes and doesn’t get hyper at all.  She just gets totally spaced out and it’s like she’s not really there.  She used to be an excellent student with great college prospects, but now her grades are really suffering.  Some mornings, I need to literally drag her out of bed and into the bathroom and onto the toilet and then put her in the shower.  We’ve always been close and have always shared a room and the bathroom, so it doesn’t bother me to see her nude or on the toilet as I’m used to that, but it DOES really bother me to see her so spaced out that I need to help her do these things.  It’s like I’m her mother and she’s a small child! Our mom is a hospital aid who works the graveyard shift and we hardly see her as she’s usually either sleeping or at work when we’re at home and awake, so we’re pretty much on our own most of the time and she doesn’t know what’s going on.  I know my sister needs help, but I don’t know what to do.

    A.M.

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    1. By LAUREN, from StraightTalkAdvice.org on 02/25/2015

      A.M.—You need to tell your mom. Dabs are running around 80% THC and some kids are having psychotic breaks because of the high dose. This isn’t your parent’s pot, or even the pot of 5 years ago. It’s also very addicting at these concentrations and kids can’t get out of the downward spiral. Your sister needs help FAST. If you’re having to help her on the toilet you should have no problem justifying “telling” on her. This is beyond ridiculous and you have every reason to hold your head high and look her straight in the eye is she accuses you of “ruining her life.” You can expect some of that at first, but she will thank you when the nightmare is over and she is back on track. She very likely will need outpatient treatment (which includes psychological counseling as to root causes of why she went down this road in the first place). Your mom should call Recovery Happens, it’s an incredibly enlightened center right near you in Fair Oaks, Calif. Check out their website at www.recoveryhappens.com. Look at their newsletters about dabs or earwax. She’s your sister, you’ve gotta help her. Let us know what happens.—Love, Lauren

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      1. By Glory, age 17, from Santa Ana, CA on 02/25/2015

        Lauren’s right.  You must tell your mom.  I was also strung out on drugs and our mom didn’t have a clue since she was hardly around.  But my sister couldn’t help but see since we lived in the same room.  There were times I was also so strung out that she had to help me undress and even use the bathroom.  She finally told our mom and I was mad at her at first since in addition to making me get help, she wouldn’t let me see my boyfriend anymore since he was the one who got me on drugs and was supplying them to me.  But now I’m really glad that I got help and I also realize that my boyfriend who I thought was just the greatest was actually the worst thing that ever happened to me.  Even if your sister’s mad at you at first and she probably will be, she will be grateful and thank you in time.

        Glory

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        1. By S.H., age 16, from Petaluma, CA on 02/27/2015

          This is easier said than done.  I know that my stepsister vaps and that she gets the dabs from her boyfriend who also sells them.  However, I know that I’ll just make trouble for myself if I say anything, so why should I?  She’s already hates me because she was forced to share her room with me when I was sent to live with my dad and stepmom after CPS took me away from my mom for reasons too complicated to go into in this comment.  The situation isn’t my fault, but she takes it out on me anyway.  I can’t even get undressed without her laughing at my somewhat overweight body which is very humiliating.  I can’t have friends over either, since she also puts them down and makes things difficult for them. 

          I know that everybody writes in Straight Talk that you should tell someone when you know that a friend or family member has a problem with something like drugs or anorexia.  But why, exactly, should I when I know that it will only make a bad situaiton even worse for me?  I am going to just let it be her problem.

          S.H.

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          1. By C.J., age 16, from Sylvania, OH on 02/28/2015

            I tend to agree with you.  Our stepsister who shares our room on visitations has told my sister and me that she has been vaping dabs and how great it is and that we should try it.  We’re smart enough not to listen to this. However, she doesn’t do it when she’s here so we’re not exposed to it, so we don’t see a reason to rock the boat by butting in and telling on her.  We know it’s harmful, but feel that it’s her business.  We didn’t get along with her at first and it took time to develop a good relationship with her.  It wasn’t a real problem with me, but my sister’s very shy about anyone seeing her nude except for me, our mom, and her best friend, so it took her some time to get comfortable undressing in front of her, but she’s OK with it now which is good since it’s hard to avoid when you have to share a room.  Everything is going fine with us now and we’ll be sharing a room with her on visitations for at least another couple of years, so we don’t see a reason to get her in trouble, and based on what she’s told us about her mom, she would be in major trouble if we told on her.

            C.J.

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