The enormous burden of drugs: enforcement officer sees it all


The recording Jimmy Nichols plays of the 911 call is one of the few moments of humor in his hour-long presentation:

911: What is the nature of your emergency?

Caller: My wife is being attacked by wart hogs. It’s really bad. She needs an ambulance.

911: What is your address?

Caller: 401 Eucalyptus Avenue?

911: Can you please spell that?

Caller: (Long silence). “Uhhh, I’ll just drag her over to Oak Street and you can get her there.”

“They were on the third floor of an apartment building,” Nichols says. “He was so stoned on drugs, he was hallucinating wart hogs attacking his wife.”

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Nichols, who is training officer for the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, and has 26 years of service in various enforcement/training capacities, does not encounter much humor in his work. Rather, he sees crime, ruined lives, and an enormous economic and societal burden.

The presentation he did for the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting, and variations he does at schools and for various groups throughout the state, is not a pretty one. Much of it is gruesome, stomach-churning.

And while the majority of us go about our daily lives and routines little aware of the multiplicity of drug problems that exist around us — from schoolkids to senior citizens, from doctor-prescribed drugs to horribly dangerous drug cocktails — it’s something he and other enforcement officials see on a daily basis.

And the fallout reaches into every corner of society.

As sad as drug addiction is for an adult, it is infinitely more so for the countless youngsters whose lives are ruined, or ended.

A 2011 survey of Mississippi high school teenagers ranked prescription drugs second as the most-abused substances. That year, there were 173 deaths due to drug overdose, 95 percent directly related to prescription pharmaceuticals — which, often as not, were snitched from medications prescribed for their parents: from tranquilizers such as Xanax to pain meds such as Percocet, Lortab, Tylenol 3, and on and on.

Read also: Drug screening could save lives

Many of the abused medications were prescribed to kids for attention deficit disorder, anxiety, or behavior conditions. Enforcement officials say it is not uncommon for these drugs, which producing a mellowing effect, to be traded and sold among students in schools all over the state.

Toss into that mix the usual marijuana, crack, meth, Ecstasy, spice, and the temptations are many for youngsters who haven’t the experience or maturity to recognize the danger.

The professionals’ advice: Don’t be naïve. Keep track of your meds. Be aware of your kids’ activities. Recognize major mood/psychological changes.  And most importantly, talk to them — often and frankly— about the risks and dangers of drug use.

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