The war on drugs begins at home. That’s the message a Valparaiso man whose 20-year-old daughter died of a heroin overdose in 2002 shared with a group of community members yesterday in Marshall County. Mann Spitler III became a certified prevention professional and discontinued his podiatry practice in 2006. Manna was his only child. He says she succumbed to peer pressure as a teenager and started using heroin. Spitler urges parents to take note of changes in their child’s appearance. He says bloodshot eyes, contracted or dilated pupils are signs of opiate use. Cocaine can also cause pupils to dilate. So can marijuana, but the whites of the eyes will be bloodshot as well.
Spitler says changes in behavior are also a sign of trouble.
“Skipping classes, declining grades, missing money, valuables and prescription meds – remember what I said before to follow the money. So if that’s happening you’d better look into that. Uncharacteristically isolated, withdrawn, angry or depressed. I know teens go through different mood swings, but we’re talking about things that are consistent now. They’re happening every day for weeks at a time.”
Spitler says youngsters who drop one group of friends for another and are secretive about their new peer group also bear watching.
“If your child has got a friend that never comes over to your house, but your child is always going to their house, you’d better check into it. Know who the parents are. Go over and introduce yourself to the parents. See if you can invite yourself into the house. Sometimes parents are very open about their own drug use, and all of the paraphernalia and the drugs are sitting right out there.”
Spitler urges parents to start drug testing their children at age 10 to send a clear message that drug use will not be tolerated. Find more information on his website, http://mandasstory.com/.