By Emily Bialkowski
At the urging of local EMT Patty Goetzinger, Tim Irwin, a local police officer, offered a training session on alcohol and drugs for parents and other interested community members Feb. 12.
Irwin is a part-time officer in several Houston County communities and is also a former Coast Guard chief. He has been called on in many instances to offer training on anything from weight ban enforcement to emergency management training.
Goetzinger said she personally wanted more information on drugs because she never knows what’s she’s going to come upon as an EMT. “It is dangerous going on a call and not knowing,” Goetzinger said.
“The state has a lot good stuff on drug impairment issues for cops, and I adapted it for moms,” Irwin said. “I thought it went well.”
He covered topics such as alcohol impairment, drug impairment, date rape drugs and raves.
“Traditionally it was alcohol impairment and now we’re seeing more and more drivers impaired from prescribed medications and a heck of a problem with heroin and methamphetamine,” Irwin said.
“Then we talked about the traditional nemesis, which is marijuana, especially with the way it is grown right now.”
Irwin said the joint smoking high of the 1960s is nothing like what’s being inhaled today. He said the ingredient that gives people a high feeling — THC —used to be very mild, and now people are smoking products that are 25 to 26 percent THC. “What we’re seeing is people are getting super stoned and that’s a problem,” Irwin said.
Also problematic and prominent in college towns are date rape drugs. The substance is often slipped into a female’s drink when she’s not looking and immediately impairs the victim. She often wakes up feeling incoherent, with disheveled clothes, in a strange place and feeling that physically things are not right. The drug inhibits the victim’s memory, and, “It’s a mess if they don’t go to the hospital and see the right type of nurse,” Irwin said.
The situation is quite difficult to prosecute.
College-aged females are not the only victims of such behavior. Irwin said oftentimes upperclassmen on college campuses will slip freshmen something they describe as ecstasy to see how outrageous the victim can become. The substance is actually a weird concoction of ingredients, including highly addictive methamphetamine, and the victim immediately becomes hooked.
And that’s a point Irwin emphasized. Oftentimes kids get involved in a situation way above the “experimentation” level to no fault of their own. “There’s all sorts of pranks and it all takes a dark turn. These kids don’t want to get hooked on this stuff, but they do,” he said.
“The best thing I tell parents is to keep their kids involved in church, community and sports programs. A busy kid is a happy kid, and a tired kid is probably not a stoned kid.”
Goetzinger said she would organize another such session if there was enough interest, and Irwin said it does help parents stay a step ahead and informed on “what’s out there.”