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Ask an Expert: Spotting and handling signs of LSD use

Q. My son said there are rumors that a kid we know is getting high and using acid. I am not friends with the parents though I know them. I’m not sure if I should let them know when there is no proof. This kid is a sophomore in high school.

A. First, it is quite a compliment that your son feels comfortable sharing this type of information with you. Congratulations on your open lines of communication! It leads me to wonder what your son would like you to do with the information. I assume you will discuss your options with him.

Acid is one of the street names for lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) – also known as “blotter” and “dots.” LSD is a synthetic hallucinogen with no legitimate medical use. It is very potent. Only microgram amounts are required to produce overt hallucinations, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2009, 779,000 Americans age 12 and older had abused LSD at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. The most recent Monitoring the Future study, released in February, reported that 1.2 percent of eighth-graders, 1.9 percent of 10th-graders, and 2.6 percent of high school seniors had abused LSD at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. So, if the student you reference is using acid, it is of great concern.

It appears to me that you have a number of options. Here they are:

  • You could call the other child’s parents and report the rumors to them. On the positive side, they might believe you and thank you for caring about their child. I am sure you have already considered the possible negative consequences of reporting the rumors to them. They might not believe you and/or your son might object to his identity being revealed. Chances are when confronted by parents about possible drug use most students will deny the use. This option might not lead to the student getting the help he/she needs.
  • Option two would be for either you or your son to contact a guidance counselor or administrator at the school and ask him/her to follow up on the rumor and protect yours and your son’s confidentiality. Some schools even have a “referral box” where students can relay information to guidance personnel when concerned about a fellow student and protect the identity of the person reporting.
  • The third option is for you or your son to report the concern to SAFE2TELL. This is an anonymous tip line (with anonymity guaranteed by Colorado legislation) designed to help any student, parent or community member anonymously report any threatening behavior that endangers a student, his friends, your family, or your community. SAFE2TELL will then contact the school so that the proper staff members can follow through on the tip.

In the case of possible criminal activity, SAFE2TELL will also contact local law enforcement along with the school. According to SAFE2TELL statistics, there have been nearly 10,000 information and educational calls, with 3,433 Safe2Tell reports resulting in investigation, early intervention and prevention as of January. Of those 3,433 reports, calls have come from 163 cities and 59 counties across Colorado.

For more information, call SAFE2ELL at 877-542-7233 (877-542-SAFE).

If the rumors are true, I think it is admirable that you and your son want to be sure this student receives the help he/she needs. I wish you well.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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