How do you know if someone you love is on drugs? - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

How do you know if someone you love is on drugs?

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SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

Whether it is a snort of cocaine, a puff of pot or popping pills from a prescription bottle, one out of every 14 people in the United States used an illegal drug or abused a prescription medication last month. That staggering statistic is from the National Institute for Drug abuse.

Picayune Assistant Chief of Police Jeremy Magri said, "It only takes some narcotics one try and the next thing you know they are addicted for the rest of their life."

Magri said drugs are a very dangerous habit.

In Pearl River County last year 19 people died from drugs. In Hancock County, there were 38 drug deaths and in Harrison County 50. Often times people do not know if a loved one has a drug problem until it is too late.

Magri said prescription drugs are the most commonly abused because they are so easy to get.

The DEA is calling it the new crack cocaine.

"Crack cocaine took over in the 80s, and now we are looking at prescription medicine," Magri said. "You got several Oxycontin, hydrocodone is usually what they start on."

What is tough about prescription meds is different ones will have different effects on users. But Hancock County Narcotics Director Jeremy Skinner says there are some signs that should raise a red flag.

"Some of the easy signs you can see is loss of weight, change in eating habits, change in demeanor, sleeping habits, loss of productivity, even the absence at work or school," Skinner said.

Cops say Meth is another drug of choice in South Mississippi. Most of the time it is made in someone's home.

"You can find everything you need here locally and it's not an expensive process and a lot of people know how to make that," Skinner said.

Magri said, "The chemicals used to produce Meth is unreal. I had printed out a list in some of those things I dealt with over the years, Drano, lithium batteries, cleaner, camp fuel, phosphorus, lye, just chemicals they use to produce this any one of them you took they would kill you."

Those who use Meth have been known to stay up for weeks at a time with no sleep and little food and their appearance drastically changes.

"They will have sores on them people call bugs. They will itch and pick it and you will see sores on their face and arms where they constantly pick at it," Magri said.

Cocaine is an extremely addictive drug, officials say is also very popular. In 2009, 4.8 million Americans abused cocaine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

"They put in a jar and it actually looks like cookies and it turns into that and they break it up into smaller pieces and that's what they call a crack rock," Magri said.

Users feel energetic and often have bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, nose bleeds and cannot sleep.

Marijuana is another drug of choice. Magri says while pot may be legal in some states, it is not a drug that should be overlooked.

"Some parents might think, 'Oh it's just marijuana.' But marijuana can lead to Methamphetamine, could lead to crack, could lead to heroin and the next thing you know you have a deceased child."

Marijuana has a distinct smell and users often have red eyes, are relaxed and slow.

If you notice any of these signs in someone you love, officers say you should confront them and try to get them help, before it's too late.

Spice and bath salts are newer drugs that are also popular. Here are some websites to learn more about those drugs and others:

http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse

http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/ondcp-fact-sheets/synthetic-drugs-k2-spice-bath-salts

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