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Local News

Binge Drinking & Drugs Endanger Spring Breakers

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Depending on the school, spring break is either here or just around the corner. Many hitting the beach and other locales could end up victims of so-called “date rape” drugs or underage drinking.

Sneaking something into a drink is nothing new. “Mickey Finns” were around when our great-grandparents were spring breakers.  Denise Manassa, at the Community Drug and Alcohol Council in Pensacola, says these days date rape drugs are known as “roofies” and other names.

“Ecstasy or GHB, which is a liquid form of ecstasy, or ‘Molly,’” said Denise Manassa with the Community Drug and Alcohol Council in Pensacola. “These drugs are man-made so we never really know exactly what’s in them. And that enhances the dangers.”

The drugs can be liquids, powder or pills. They’re odorless and tasteless for the most part, which means they’re tough to detect when slipped into most drinks: both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. The symptoms can be very distinct, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure.

“Generally with these drugs you also see muscle tension, a clenching of the teeth that sometimes can last more than one day, nausea” Manassa said. “And we also associate decreased inhibitions, which can create other issues with unsafe sexual behavior.”

The best self-protection begins with ordering your own drink and watching it being poured. Manassa says if you get a canned beverage, a beer, soda or energy drink, be sure to open the can yourself.

The dangers of club drugs and booze are exacerbated when mixed together. Alcohol is perhaps the bigger concern in northwest Florida, especially when it comes to “binge drinking” among high school and college-age students.

Part of what’s fueling underage drinking is the same as underage tobacco use: peer pressure. Manassa says the pressure to use alcohol is greater according to studies by CDAC, which places tobacco third among drugs used by teens; alcohol and marijuana are numbers one and two.

“We have programs at certain schools, where we just don’t work on these type of issues with the students, but we also work on behavioral management and some family involvement,” said Manassa. “Any parent or youth can call here at CDAC and get information about any drug that’s available.”

Manassa also reminds parents that Florida has an “Open House Party” law. It prohibits an adult from allowing possession or consumption of alcohol by individuals under the age of 21. Violations can lead to fines and jail time, along with responsibility for injuries and damages caused by the intoxication of a minor.