Former law enforcement officer shares warning signs, insight into changing drug trends at Hannibal High School

The forms drugs take and they ways they are consumed constantly change in communities across the state and nation — and Hannibal is no different.

Jermaine Galloway a law enforcement officer from Indiana since 1997, visited Hannibal High School for two presentations Wednesday, Feb. 7, to offer teachers, administrators, parents, caregivers and other loved ones the tools they need to engage in productive conversations and to spot potential substance abuse among young people. He encouraged audience members to be attentive to changes in a young person's behaviors, encouraging them to engage in honest discussions without beginning with an overload of information. For his “Tall Cop Says Stop” presentations, Galloway stressed that “knowledge is power” in his proactive approach to the drug use epidemic.

“My goal is to help people stop before it gets to law enforcement, before people go to jail, before lives are ruined,” he said.

Galloway said he enjoyed when educators, parents and other audience members tell him they were unaware of a topic he shared; the audience members used the content of his presentations for preventative training at home, school and other community locations. He encouraged the audience members to let youth lead the conversation, and to be prepared with educated followup questions. He put it bluntly — if caregivers don't talk with children, drug dealers are ready and willing to talk to them.

Galloway showed that everything from bumper stickers to popular clothing can offer clues that a young person might be using drugs or alcohol. Illicit drugs are constantly evolving: marijuana-based beverages, powders and glazes and candies include the active chemical compound in marijuana, known as THC, and they look just like normal food items. “Dabs” are an example of changing trends in drug use. A dab refers to a small amount of a waxy substance created with butane, extracting THC from plant-based marijuana. The resulting product looks like a honey-colored wax, containing a concentration from between 30 and 90 percent THC — compared to THC content levels of 15 percent for marijuana on the drug market today and six percent for the same drug in the 1960s.

Countless substances within the home can also be abused — Coricidin Cold and Cough medicine, Delsym, Mucinex and other common over-the counter drugs contain dextromethorphan (DXM). In extremely high doses, the cough suppressant can cause hallucinogenic effects similar to that of strong illicit drugs like PCB and acid (LSD). Slang terms for using DXM-containing products include Triple C (for Coricidin Cold and Cough), skittling, Dexing and Orange Crush. Galloway also said that “Molly” on clothing often refers to ecstasy, which is scientifically known as MDMA.

Young people have direct access to drug deliveries right from their smartphones, and Galloway pointed out that many drugs are made in labs in China — where the ingredients and concentrations are often unknown. He said a drug known by the slang term NBOMe is a synthetic form of LSD, and the lethal drug can cause users bodies to overheat. The extremely powerful opioid fentanyl shared a common theme with drugs like NBOMe, THC-containing products and items with DXM — users might not find out the extent of the side effects until it is too late. Fentanyl-laced marijuana is turning up across the country, and the equivalent of five to seven grains of salt can be lethal.

Galloway said that sex, drugs, alcohol and explicit language go hand-in-hand. He said “man caves” at home can inadvertently minimize the dangers of drug use, alcohol abuse and other behaviors because young people normalize what they see at home.

Galloway reminded audience members how to approach the topics of drugs, alcohol and their behaviors with an example involving small nitrous oxide canisters — which are sometimes abused through huffing.

“What is this,” the parent would ask.

“It's for my Airsoft gun,” comes the response.

“Where is it?”

Galloway told the parents and other guardians in attendance that they are “the only ones holding them accountable,” and he invited everyone to stay curious and perform research on search engines to help keep up with changing trends. For more information or to send an email with a personal question, visit the website https://www.tallcopsaysstop.com.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com