High at home: how to keep it from happening to your teen

WILMINGTON, NC (WSFX) - With household items like nutmeg making headlines as ways to get high at home, parents have their hands full.

That includes Sherry DelVecchio, a Wilmington, N.C. mother who wants to protect her 14-year-old son, Nicolas, as long as she can.

DelVecchio knows Nicolas is a good kid, but she also knows it's easy for middle schoolers to experiment with all kinds of drugs without ever leaving home.

That's why she agreed to open up her house and her cabinets to a drug prevention counselor and find out what she could do better.

John Dail is part of Wilmington's Coastal Horizons Prevention Program. He agreed to walk through the DelVecchio residence and advise Sherry on any at-home highs to watch out for and how to prevent Nicolas from experimenting with drugs.

He began his inspection under the kitchen sink, where he spotted an aerosol cleaner.

"Anytime you can use an alternative to that like a spray, then that's usually going to be the best type to use," said Dail.

He said any kind of aerosol spray has potential to turn into an at-home high.

Staying in the kitchen, Dail opened up the spice cabinet.  Some teens are getting high on nutmeg, which can lead to everything from nausea to heart palpitations to a coma.

Dail said, while it's not common for teens to use nutmeg as a drug, it may be best to find an alternative for cooking.

"I'm taking this all in right now, because I need to know," said DelVecchio. "I think every parent needs to know while their child is still young, before it is too late," she said as the home walk through moved to a closet full of paint and glue.

"He's got spray thingies, you know? I'm really worried about this stuff," said DelVecchio, whose husband, Dominick, builds models.

Dail advised DelVecchio to do something that may be considered extreme to ensure that Nicolas won't be tempted to get high off the glue or paint.

"Lock it up," said Dail. "Find a little lock box or a safe and lock it up."

While teenagers continue to get creative with household highs, Dail said the top three drugs of choice are of the more traditional variety.

Alcohol, marijuana, and prescription pills, respectively, are the most popular drugs in New Hanover County and all across the United States. The DelVecchios were keeping two of the three--alcohol and prescriptions--in the kitchen.

Dail advised DelVecchio to keep a minimal amount of alcohol in the house, as opposed to buying in bulk.  He also suggested locking up the alcohol along with the family's prescriptions.

"You wouldn't want to have those out in the open like that," said Dail.

"That's something I really have to do," nodded DelVecchio.

What can parents do to keep their kids safe, aside from locking up potential problems?  Dail said they need to go back to basics.

He said sitting down for a daily family meal is his best advice, and it's something the DelVecchios are doing exactly right.

"Dinnertime is special here. We try to get dinner time every evening," said DelVecchio.

In these times, that's pretty rare, but it's about as important as it gets. It's awfully hard for your teenager to get high at home if you're right there with him, investing in his life, and showing you care.

More Drug Prevention Tips

-Encourage your teenager to play a sport (organized or pick-up) three times a week
-Help your teen find a way to stimulate his or her brain a few times a week in a fun way, outside of school
-Find a trusted role model outside of the immediate family to spend time with your teen.

If you think your teenager is getting high, you can visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse for more tips just for parents.

Copyright 2011 by WSFX. All rights reserved.