Local Drug Use Exceeds National Average

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Knoxville (WVLT) - New statistics about the growing drug abuse problem in the United States suggests it may be coming from south of the border.

A new report issued today by the national drug intelligence center shows that although meth production in the US is finally down, production in Mexico is gaining strength.

Heroin from Mexico is also showing up more in the southeast, also up, ecstasy production, though not from Mexico.

Meanwhile here in Tennessee, new numbers show drug use among children is on the rise, sometimes higher than national levels.

Volunteer TV's Stacy McCloud brings you a closer look at the scope of the problem and how one mother is fighting back.

Over one hundred parents and community leaders sat, many in tears, as they listened to Donna Forstrom's heart breaking story.

Three years ago her 17-year-old son Clayton went to bed looking and feeling totally normal, but the next morning she found him dead.

"He was experimenting for a recreational purpose and it took his life," she says.

Toxicology reports show he died of an overdose from the pain medicine phentenol.

"It's so scary because if this could happen to Clayton it could happen to any person," she tells the group.

Community leaders hope Forstrom's story forces more parents to get involved in their children's lives.

But if it doesn't, these new statistics should.

While marijuana and cigarettes are still way too popular, the survey found usage of heroin, ecstasy, and drinking while driving in ninth to twelfth graders is at levels higher than the state and the nation.

Other areas of concern, 50% of Knox County teens are engaging in sex, and 50% of those sexually active, say they don't use any form of protection.

Mental health behaviors are also an issue.

Nearly 35% say they had felt sad or hopeless in the past two weeks, with 16% considering suicide.

"We're tired of it and we want to do something about it and we want people to get the info they need to make a difference," says Catherine Brunson, from the Metropolitan Drug Commission.

Forstrom hopes her story will do more than that, she hopes it scares parents into reality, that without education, prevention and hope, these numbers will continue to rise.

"One time is all it takes to lose your life," Forstrom says.

The survey shows improvements in the areas of inhalant use, alcohol use, and binge drinking.

The Metropolitan Drug Commission plans on holding another community training event, January 16th.

Looking for study results from your county? Contact your local health department or the State Department of Health

Interested in attending the Metropolitan Drug Commission Seminar in January? January16th
Sarah Simpson Center
Tipton Avenue in Knoxville

Spaces are already filling up fast. Call MDC at 865-588-5550 to reserve your spot.

The MDC as well as Claytons mom Donna give a list of things they believe parents now need to be aware of:

1. Watch for the "Triple Threat": Is your child stressed, bored, or have more than 25-dollars spending money each week. If so then they are twice as likely to try drugs or alcohol!

2. Do your children have new friends? The MDC says this should be the number one red flag for a parent to start asking questions.

3. Aside from looking out for all the signs and symptoms parents have already been told about (see a list of these at www.metrodrug.org), Donna recommends that parents lock/hide/secure all prescription and non-prescription medications. If you find anything, ask questions immediately!

She also suggests using scare tactics, she says the reality is that most kids try drugs as a "recreational use", to try to look popular, cool, or to fit in with the group of friends they are with. She says parents MUST stop their children from ever wanting to even experiment to begin with.