The Forsyth Conference Center at Lanier Technical College was filled to the brim Monday with hundreds of local residents, community leaders and representatives from law enforcement agencies and outreach organizations, all gathered to have a conversation about the current state of drug use and abuse in Forsyth County.
The event was the ninth Forsyth County Drug Summit and featured a panel of speakers, including Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman, Georgia Bureau of Investigations representative Deneen Kilcrease, Central High School Principal Mitch Young, Lambert High School Principal Gary Davison and others.
The focus of the night: getting parents and local residents information about drugs that are commonly used in Forsyth County and give them a forum to ask questions of experts who know the harsh realities of the drug world.
Deneen Kilcrease, a representative of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations spoke at length to the crowd about trends in drug use the GBI has seen, saying that currently the top three drugs used in Georgia, aside from marijuana, are methamphetamine, cocaine, and opiates like heroin, oxycodone and hydrocodone.
“Drugs, just like everything else go in and out of style,” Kilcrease said.
She said that currently agencies are seeing an increase in the use and sale of an extremely dangerous opioid drug called Fentanyl. According to her, Fentanyl is highly addictive and can be absorbed via the skin.
She showed the crowd pictures of a large-scale drug bust that was carried out in Atlanta that netted large quantities of Fentanyl.
“In 2012 no one knew what fentanyl was. This year we are on track to hit 100 cases of seized fentanyl. And that’s just the ones we seize,” Kilcrease said.
Beyond pictures projected on a screen, the crowd also had the opportunity to see and handle a large variety of drugs and drug paraphernalia provided by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit, with information on how each is used and the effect it has on the body.
“Essentially the table here is to open up the eyes of parents,” said Forsyth County Sheriff Deputy Matt Foster.
“We have drug paraphernalia that parents can expect to see with teenagers, because that’s when drug problems start in school-aged kids,” he said.
On the table that Foster and other deputies were manning, was a variety of glass pipes, bongs, and makeshift smoking objects, as well as needles, syringes and the paraphernalia of other hard drugs.
In addition, deputies also set up a mock bedroom to show parents the number of different hiding places that kids can use to hide and store drugs, as well as warning signs to look for in the home that drug use is taking place.
“It’s usually not going to be obvious that kids are going to have laying out in plain view, so other things they can look for that go with drugs. Things that go along with drugs,” Foster said.
Foster said that getting out in the community and introducing people to what drugs are and the warning signs is one of the best tools law enforcement can use in the fight against drug use.
“One of the biggest things we can do is educate people to the drug problem that we have, by informing parents what to look for and what to expect if their child is using drugs,” he said.