Parents are soldiers against drugs

“You’ll always be my son” is a phrase my grandmother reminded me of nearly every day as she raised me as a single parent.

Although there were times I felt she was in my business too much as a teenager, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank her for what she did for me.

My Nanny has been gone for nearly seven years, but her words of wisdom echo in my mind each day I wake up, put on my badge and go to work. Nanny was nosy, asked a lot of questions, and held me accountable the “old school” way.

My Nanny even disciplined me while I was on leave from Marine Corps boot camp. Sure, I was 18 years old, and technically property of the U.S. government but there were rules to follow as long as I was under her roof.

Throughout my career at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and most recently as the Commander of our Drug Enforcement Task Force, I have seen many families go through unnecessary hurt because of a lack of discipline by parents.

Parents will tell me their children have a right to privacy in their room or car. Unfortunately, I am usually hearing these excuses from a mother or father whose child is in jail or on the way to the hospital due to an overdose. I must warn that each parent, guardian or custodian of a child not only has a right to govern and discipline their children, it is their duty, both morally and legally, under the laws of this state.

Here are some suggestions for what parents should do:

-Search your children’s rooms frequently. Kids are innovative and will not hide things they know they should not have in their sock drawer. A thick book can easily be carved out to house narcotics, as well as a shaving cream can with a false bottom or shoe soles that can be removed. Ask yourself, “Where would I hide X from my parents?” Narcotics can be very small, such as a pill or a gram of heroin. You have more authority in this area than law enforcement.

-Befriend your children on social networking sites, such as Facebook or MySpace. You would be surprised what goes on within these sites. They should know that employers also now research these sites to find out about prospective employees.

-Ask the tough questions and demand they listen. I would venture to say your child knows more about drugs than you do. You will not offend them or tell them something they haven’t heard before by asking about who is doing heroin or selling pills at school. Statistics tell us that the average parent talks to their child about drugs by the age of 14 years old. Unfortunately, someone that is selling drugs or trying to get your child involved in drugs has talked to them by the age of 11 years old.

-Use an Internet search engine to start your search for illegal drug knowledge:

— Pill cocktail parties — Each person that comes to the party brings different pills (some of which they took from your medicine cabinet), puts them in a bowl, and ingests them.

— Brown tar heroin — Much more pure and deadly. Learn the dosages and how it is ingested.

— Serenity or fake weed — These substances were recently ruled illegal in Alabama, but store owners have already found a way to get around the law. Only five chemicals make the product illegal. The primary dangers are that we do not know the long-term effects.

— Meth or meth labs —Zerometh.com is a good starting point to learn about the uses of meth and what it does to users.

I want to end by reminding you that each of us is the child of someone else and your children will always be your children. In October of last year, we lost three young people between the ages of 20-25 years old within a ten-day period to heroin overdoses. Become knowledgeable about what is out there. The Internet is full of information to arm you with the knowledge to identify indicators of drug use.

Adopt my Nanny’s philosophy: “You’ll always be my son,” no matter how old your children are.

Chris George is the commander of the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force. He can be reached at 670-0436 or at cgeorge@shelbyso.com.