By Navar Watson
“Dad, I’ll see you later,” was the last thing Avrey Rose said to his father before heading to a friend’s house April 1.
The next morning, Jeff Rose saw his 18-year-old son on the floor of the friend’s house with paramedics doing chest compressions. Avrey died later that day from a brain aneurysm, triggered by hallucinogenic mushrooms.
“You don’t want that image stuck in your head the rest of your life,” Rose said.
Rose joined Senator Jim Merritt and special agent Louis Arona at the Dangerous Teen Trends public forum May 26, organized by the sheriff’s office to address the growing drug problems in Hamilton County.
Between Jan. 1 and May 1, the sheriff’s office responded to 60 drug-related calls, 11 more calls than the same time period in 2014.
Sheriff Mark Bowen said heroin use was perhaps the most prevalent issue in Hamilton County, in terms of overdoses and fatal consequences.
However, synthetic drugs are on the rise, especially among teenagers. These designer drugs, like Bath Salts and “spice” (synthetic marijuana), dodge the law and don’t show up in random drug tests.
The solution, Rose said, does not lie in the hands of politics, rather than parents and friends.
“We need to help our children make good decisions,” he said. “Will they continue to make bad decisions? Yeah. Just don’t make a bad decision on top of a bad decision.”
This second bad decision would be to do nothing after an incident occurs, which the state hopes to prevent with the Indiana Lifeline Law.
This law, Merritt explained, excuses prosecution to the person who reports an underage drinking or drug problem, even if he or she was partaking in the activity. This protects students who are too afraid to contact help in a bad situation.
This “get-out-of-jail-free card” should also be applied in the home, Rose said.
He said if teenagers are in a bad situation but scared to tell their parents, they should be able to call home and get picked up without repercussions.
“If you are in trouble, you call me, and we will not have another conversation about it,” he said, asking parents to do the same.
One of the next steps, Merritt said, is creating more safe places for drug abusers to get help. Otherwise, they’ll end up in jail—a place that, according to Arona, should be reserved for dealers, not users.
Arona, who works with the Drug Enforcement Administration, gave parents several signs to watch out for if they suspect drug use at home—from burnt/missing spoons to several used razors and cotton balls.
He also said parents should look out for the Tor browser on a child’s computer. Tor, which has an onion icon, allows access to risky websites Google and other browsers prohibit.
Regardless of what parents might find, Arona stressed drug abuse does not make their child a “bad person.”
“It is not a character flaw,” Merritt said. “It’s a disease. It’s an illness.”
Those who need help in confronting a child or friend’s drug addiction can start by contacting Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.