Synthetic Drugs

Story of grief brings anti-drug awareness to students

When the Center Grove area mother speaks to students about drug and alcohol abuse and awareness, she’s very methodical.

Jeanine Motsay asked band and choir members, honor roll students — even any avid video gamers — to stand up if they fit a category, enjoyed a certain hobby or participated in an extracurricular activity.

“If you’re an athlete, stand up,” she said to students at Franklin Community Middle School on Friday.

Before Motsay began telling the students about how synthetic drugs have changed her family forever, she asks students questions to make sure they realize her son, Sam Motsay, was just like them.

Then, she tells the students her son Sam died on Mother’s Day in 2014 after using a synthetic drug called N-Bomb.

“Sam played basketball, tenor saxophone, was an honor roll student at Center Grove High School. Sam could have been any one of you,” Motsay said to the students. Then, she pauses. “Sam was too young to die. All of you are too young to die.”

The auditorium goes silent. Now, Motsay has the undivided attention she needs to spread drug awareness to the minds before her.

“Before I tell them about Sam, I have them all stand up and that’s all fun, ‘Oh yeah, I do this’ or ‘I do that’. And then when they realize their connection with Sam, it’s tearful,” Motsay said. “I think it just drops to silence when they can connect with that.”

This week, Motsay spoke to more than 2,000 students at middle schools across Indiana, sharing her story for National Drug Fact Week. On Friday, she spoke to Franklin Community Middle School about shattering the myths on drug and alcohol abuse.

On Monday, she speaks to Center Grove parents.

Her message doesn’t end with Sam’s story. Motsay makes it a point to talk about all the lives that were impacted from her son’s death almost two years ago.

She mentions how his friends have to live with the burden of a friend dying. How Sam’s brother, Nick, doesn’t have his big brother anymore and how the individuals who sold and obtained the drugs Sam took have had their lives changed through criminal charges and jail time.

“We have more than just Sam. We have a whole group of teens that were impacted by drugs in various ways, and I think that is very important to share,” Motsay said. “This is the perfect age group to speak to, between 12 and 17 years old, it’s really where drug use and addiction starts. This is a time that is really critical for getting that information out there.”

Since her son’s death, Motsay has spoken at middle and high schools and conducted panels around the state about twice a month, trying to prevent the same tragedy from happening to someone else. She speaks to each crowd on behalf of her organization Sam’s Watch, which is focused on outreach, awareness and education efforts.

After she told her story and talked about the weekend Sam died, Motsay plays a slideshow of photos, many of which feature Sam riding his moped, playing basketball and just plain goofing around with friends. Another somber reminder of how much each student in the auditorium was similar to Sam.

Motsay then takes questions from the students and typically at least one student will tell her how sorry they are for her loss. Some even come up to the front and give Motsay a hug. Those reactions are how she knows her message is sinking in with the teenagers, she said.

“I think this subject is very prevalent in their life. I believe that everybody in this room is touched somehow by drugs and I think what I share just helps to drive it home that it’s real,” Motsay said. “That’s what I think that ‘sorry’ was about. I think that my message does come through.”

Sam’s Watch shares on drug dangers threatening teens for second year

Over 34,000 students from Indiana schools to participate with Sam’s Watch in National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week  

INDIANAPOLIS — Jeanine Motsay, president of nonprofit Sam's Watch will speak at five events for National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, which takes place Monday, Jan. 25, through Sunday, Jan. 31. Ms. Motsay will share information on drug dangers threatening young people in memory of her 16-year-old son Sam, who was killed by a dangerous synthetic hallucinogen drug, 25i-NBOMe, sold unknowingly to teens as LSD or Acid.

Sam’s Watch collaborated with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, to encourage Indiana schools to participate in the drug facts week. More than 34,000 students from Indiana schools plan to participate with Sam’s Watch in the 2016 National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. The school participation is an increase over last year when Sam’s Watch first encouraged participation in the awareness campaign, which aims to get science-based information about drugs and their effects out to teens.  For more information contact Sam’s Watch directly or go to samswatch.org.

Tuesday, Jan. 26

 9:10 a.m.: Student assembly, Hobart High School, 2211 E. 10th St., 219-942-8521

 1:30 p.m.: Student assembly, Hobart Middle School, 36 E. 8th St., 219-942-8541

Friday, Jan. 29

11:15 a.m. & 11:45 a.m.: Student Assembly, Franklin Community Middle School, 625 Grizzly Cub Dr., 317-346-8462

Monday, Feb. 1

6:30 p.m.: Parent meeting, Center Grove Middle School North, 202 N. Morgantown Rd., Greenwood, 317-885-8800

The new "Just say no to drugs"

(CNN)Sam Motsay, by all accounts, was your typical boy next door: honor roll student, basketball player, band member, devoted big brother. But on May 11, 2014, Mother's Day, he made a decision -- a decision that that took his life and shattered the future for his parents and younger brother.

"Parents tend to think, 'That's not my child. That's not my kid,' " said Jeanine Motsay, Sam's mother, in an interview. "But Sam was anybody's kid."

    The Greenwood, Indiana youth, 16, didn't have a long battle with substance abuse, his mother said. In his case, it was an initial experiment that went "terribly awry."

    Jeanine Motsay's son Sam (right) died after taking a synthetic drug.

    Sam took a synthetic drug, a hallucinogen called 25I-NBOMe (also known as 2C-I-NBOMe). It is a drug designed to imitate the high from LSD and can be so strong that a dose just the size of a few grains of salt can be enough to get high, according to this CNN investigation.

    Sam and two friends, who were all subject to random drug testing as athletes, had heard from their peers that LSD goes quickly through your body and wouldn't be detected, said Motsay. So they thought they would try it, but what they were sold instead, without them realizing it, was the synthetic drug that turned deadly, she said.

    Had Sam and his friends had information -- any at all -- about synthetic drugs that have flooded into the country in the past few years and how dangerous they can be, they might have made a very different decision nearly two years ago, she said. (Sam died; his friends survived.)

    That is why she has devoted much of the focus of her nonprofit called Sam's Watch to raising awareness in schools across the country about drugs.

    "I think education is key to prevention," said Motsay. "I mean that's where it starts."

     

     

       

      Inside New Hampshire's opioid epidemic 02:34

      Children may receive some anti-drug messaging through the D.A.R.E. program in elementary school, but research has shown that program has had no real impact on the rate of drug use.

      What children need is education during their teenage years -- in middle and high school -- when their brains are still not fully developed to assess risk and when they are presented with opportunities to try and use drugs, Motsay and many other advocates and experts I spoke with for this story say.

      "What we really want to do is get them the facts," said Motsay. "They're smart. They can take that information and they can work with it because I can guarantee you ... if we're not out there communicating with our kids, somebody else is and they're giving them this information and that's not what we want."

       

      'Shatter the myths'

       

      Last year, Motsay encouraged more than 45 schools across Indiana, which included nearly 34,000 students, to hold drug awareness events during National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week. The weeklong national initiative sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse seeks to provide teens and educators with educational resources and tools that they can use in the classroom to "shatter the myths" and address the consequences of substance abuse.

      For this year's event, beginning the week of January 25, Motsay says larger schools in Indiana have signed up to participate, 23 so far and counting, which includes over 33,000 students. One of those schools is Sam's high school, Center Grove High School, which will be holding a "SWaP Meet" -- a meeting of Sam's Watch and parents, organized by students from the National Junior Honor Society.

       

       

         

        One man's road from heroin to hope 08:21

        "We came up with this week six years ago. This is our sixth year," said Brian Marquis, public liaison officer for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, referring to the weeklong focus on drug and alcohol education in schools across the country. "The idea really is to counteract the myths about drugs and alcohol that teens get from the Internet, from television, movies (and) music."

        Hearing from people whose lives were affected by drugs, along with professionals who can discuss issues such as the science of addiction, can be extremely powerful for teenagers, Marquis said. That is why at one of the National Institute on Drug Abuse's signature events, a gathering of hundreds of high school students in Washington, D.C. later this month, Barbara Theodosiou, a mother who lost her son to drugs, will be among the speakers.

         

        Mental illness, addiction: Mother takes on 'broken system'

        "With someone like Barbara, she has the real-life experience," said Marquis. "I really think that's a difference maker."

        Theodosiou, the founder of The Addict's Mom, an online support community for mothers of addicts, plans to tell the students exactly what her son Daniel Montalbano lost out on when he started taking large quantities of cough medicine to get high at the age of 15. After countless overdoses and rehab visits, and jail time, he died at the age of 23.

        "When you hear the story of Daniel's life, stories are extremely, extremely powerful," said Theodosiou, whom I have reported on in previous stories on the impact of addiction. "So we're going to be sharing what did it cost our family, what did it cost Daniel, what do drugs do. When I share on their level the life of a person who's not really far off from how old they are, I believe that they'll be able to relate."

         

        'I just want to educate kids'

         

        Former addict Michael DeLeon says he is committed to trying to get in front of as many middle and high school children as possible.

        He's a former prison inmate who founded the nonprofit organization Steered Straight, Inc., which aims to provide motivational messages to young people about substance abuse, gang involvement and bullying. He's also created powerful documentaries about the heroin epidemic in the United States, including "An American Epidemic" and "Kids are Dying."

        DeLeon has taken his student assembly presentation about drug awareness and prevention to middle and high schools, alternative schools, juvenile detention centers and treatment centers in 40 states so far.

        "You go into the school for 90 minutes and deliver information," said DeLeon. "It's got to be captivating. It's got to be engaging. It's got to be believable and then it's got to be entertaining."

        Based on pre- and post-presentation surveys he does with students, he can tell the message is getting through. For instance, before the presentation, about 30% of students might say they would tell their parents if their friend was doing drugs. After the presentation, that number jumps to around 70%, he said.

        Building on that success, DeLeon teamed up with two professors at Springfield College in Tampa to develop a curriculum based on the "Kids are Dying" documentary, which focuses on the heroin epidemic in New Jersey, what caused it and what can be done to solve the problem.

         

         

           

          What it's like to be an addict's mother 02:35

          The two-week drug education curriculum will be rolled out in 10 schools and facilities across the country in February. Getting schools to implement this kind of curriculum is tough, DeLeon concedes, due to the culture of testing in education today and pressures on teachers, students and schools.

          "If we can't take instruction time away from these teachers, then how do we get it in to the kids? We've got to figure it out somehow," said DeLeon. "And if we're not going to give a whole semester, let's give 10 days ... We have to give these kids this education. We just have to."

           

          What works, what doesn't

           

          In Maryland, students are required to take a health education class before graduation, which includes a unit on drugs and is usually taken in the 9th grade. In addition, in Carroll County, Maryland, every 11th and 12th grader is getting some additional education by attending assemblies, which started this school year and were created as part of a special county task force on opiates.

          Students hear from education and law enforcement officials, but also from a mother in the area who lost her son to a heroin overdose and a former female and male student who were heroin addicts and are now in recovery, said Dawn Rathgeber, assistant supervisor for health education, K-12, for the Carroll County school district.

           

           

             

            Teenage heroin use exploding in suburbs 03:42

            "We try to make it very relevant to the students, and we don't preach, 'Don't use. Don't use. Don't use,' " said Rathgeber. "What we're preaching is, 'Hey this is out here.' Of course, you want risk avoidance but we want to also promote, 'If you know someone, help them.'"

            Since the assemblies -- done in conjunction with the state's attorneys office -- started, there have been "numerous" referrals of students referring other students who need help, said Rathgeber. One school, after an assembly, received three referrals, which led to counseling for two students and treatment for another, she said. "We also have students who say, 'Look my mom's using or my dad's using. This is scaring me,' and it gives them somewhere to turn for help."

            The school district also is running a drug awareness poster contest, funded by drug forfeiture monies. The student with the winning poster at each school gets $250, with the overall county winner getting $1,000 and seeing their poster used as part of a drug education campaign.

            Instead of trying to shovel the anti-drug message down kids' throats, the goal here is providing direction, said Rathgeber.

            "What we were doing with just saying 'Abstinence, abstinence, don't do it, don't do it,' doesn't always resonate," she said.

            Theodosiou of The Addict's Mom said schools need to create environments where students feel safe talking about drugs and the topic is no longer taboo.

            "We have to say, 'It's OK, tell me the truth. Have you used drugs?' We have to stop saying, 'You can't tell me this because I'm going to judge you,' " she said. "What happens is things become more normal. The more times you hear it ... the less you are afraid to come out."

            DeLeon, the former addict turned motivational speaker, said a lot of people criticize Nancy's Reagan's 'Just Say No' campaign and say it didn't work, but he believes the message just needs some modern-day tweaking.

            "If I just said no, I wouldn't be where I am today and I would have never gone to prison," he said. "So I think we have to continue to say no but we have to tell kids how to say no. We have to tell them why to say no and we have to tell them what to say yes to."

            Added Rathgeber, "If you help one student, it's worth it. The whole thing is worth it."

             

            'The only bracelet I wear'

             

            Last year, Motsay spoke at four different locations around Indiana, talking about Sam and the incomprehensible pain following his death. In December, she received a message from a parent advocate who lost his son to prescription drugs and who speaks around the state like Motsay.

            He did a small presentation at a high school and handed out bracelets and lanyards. A woman came up to him and said she didn't need a bracelet, just a lanyard. "This is the only bracelet I wear," the woman said, according to Motsay. It was a Sam's Watch bracelet.

            "You made a big difference in this young lady's life," her friend wrote her on Facebook, according to Motsay. "Pills weren't her thing, nor was heroin. She was all about the synthetics but you changed all that. You and Sam changed that one life we're always trying to change," her friend wrote her.

            "So again, you never know how what you're going to say is going to impact somebody but it can make a big difference," said Motsay, who said Sam would have been a senior this year, gearing up for graduation and likely preparing for college.

            "He's not part of that," she said, reflecting on how her younger son has reached an age and grade that Sam will never see. "Maybe it won't be so hard" a few years from now, she said, "but you never know."

            What do you think schools should be doing to educate teens about the dangers of drugs? Share your thoughts with Kelly Wallace on Twitter @kellywallacetv or CNN Parents on Facebook.

            NIDA Drugs & Health Blog: SAMs Watch: Honoring a Lost Life by Saving Others

            The NIDA Blog Team

            January 13, 2016

            Sam Motsay had lots of talent and big plans. A 16-year old honors student in Center Grove, Indiana, he also loved being an athlete and playing tenor sax in his school band. He was really into hiking, fishing, hunting, and gaming. He planned to study finance in college.

            One day in May 2014, Sam and a couple of his friends tried what they thought was LSD or acid. Sam went to bed later that evening, and the next morning he didn’t wake up. He didn’t know he had actually taken a synthetic drug calledNBOMe, or N-bomb (also known as “Smiles” or “2-5-1”). The drug killed him.

            Sounding the alarm

            Sam’s grief-stricken family had never heard of N-bomb—one of several recently-emerging synthetic or “designer” drugs—and neither had local law enforcement. In an attempt to prevent what happened to Sam from happening to others, his family formedSAMs Watch, a non-profit organization that educates young people about the dangers of N-bomb and other synthetics. They want everyone to know that this can happen to good kids who make quick decisions based on bad information, usually in social situations.

            SAMs Watch—in particular, Sam’s mother Jeanine—has spoken to community groups, given media interviews, and made public service announcements about synthetic drugs. The organization also has a Twitter feed about the evolving dangers of these drugs. In these ways his mother honors Sam’s lost potential by preventing other similar tragedies.

            And this month, SAMs Watch is teaming up with NIDA to encourage middle and high schools in Indiana and Kentucky to participate in National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM (NDAFW). (Your school can get involved in NDAFW, too; check out the resources at the link.)

            Education starts with you

            SAMs Watch is on a mission to save lives, and you can help by learning the facts about synthetic drugs. They include:

            All of these synthetic drugs have unpredictable effects, and all of them can be deadly.

            Bring the message of SAMs Watch into your community by letting other people know about the serious risks of taking synthetic drugs, and the danger of trusting anyone trying to push you to take drugs. You could really save someone’s life. 

            Sam's Watch teams with National Institute on Drug Abuse to boost National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week participation in Indiana and Kentucky schools

            INDIANAPOLIS — Sam’s Watch is collaborating with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, to encourage Indiana and Kentucky middle and high schools to participate in National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week

            Sam’s Watch is a nonprofit organization started in 2014 after 16-year-old Sam Motsay died from using a little-known synthetic drug. Sam’s Watch provides Saving Alert Messages on the evolving drug dangers threatening young people.

            “This is the second year that Sam’s Watch will be participating with the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week provides an opportunity for young people to get science-based information about drugs and their effect on the body,” said Jeanine Motsay, Sam’s mother and president of Sam’s Watch. “But that can happen only if schools participate. I urge students and parents to encourage their school leaders to participate in National Drug Facts Week. It will save lives.”

            The evidence-based health observance takes place Monday, Jan. 25, through Sunday, Jan. 31. Schools working with Sam’s Watch will receive assistance in registration, poster campaigns, assemblies and parent meetings as well as communications and education.  Sam’s Watch will select a participating school in each state to receive a monetary award to support further school activities like drug prevention and awareness. 

            Today’s announcement will be followed by Sam’s Watch outreach to schools across these states.  Any school seeking Sam’s Watch assistance to participate in National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week can contact the organization by email, info@samswatch.org, or phone, 317-223-1161, or sign up directly at the Sam’s Watch web site: http://www.samswatch.org/2016NDAFW                 

            #####

            Hoosier initiative focuses on Indiana drug dangers, encourages school awareness efforts for Red Ribbon Week®

            INDIANAPOLIS — Three organizations started by families whose children died of accidental drug overdoses are urging schools to participate in 2015 Red Ribbon Week® later this month.

            The organizations – Sam's Watch, Brady’s Hope and Overdose Lifeline Inc. – are offering speakers to schools that want to raise awareness among their students of deadly synthetic drugs, prescription drugs and heroin. Red Ribbon Week is scheduled for Oct. 23-31.

            The organizations, along with the Indianapolis office of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and state Sen. James Merritt, have created a public service announcement for use by schools at sporting events and other gatherings during Red Ribbon Week.  

            Each of the parent-led organizations also has short awareness videos available for schools:  SAMs Watch: Synthetic Drug Awareness, Brady’s Hope The Call: When Life Changes Forever, The Creation of Overdose-Lifeline and Aaron’s Law

            “When it comes to emerging synthetic drugs, deadly prescription drug use and the growing epidemic around heroin, it isn’t just about saying no to drugs, it is about saving lives from poison,” said Sam’s Watch President Jeanine Motsay. Her son Sam, a 16-year-old Center Grove High School academic honors-athlete, died when he and his friends, experimenting with drugs they thought would not be detected by a random school drug test, were sold a synthetic hallucinogen, 25i-NBOMe, as LSD.   

            Schools participating in Red Ribbon Week can register on the Sam’s Watch website with their planned participation details.  Sam’s Watch will select a participating school to receive a monetary award in recognition of its drug-awareness efforts. Any school seeking assistance to participate in Red Ribbon Week can email info@samswatch.org or phone 888-575-1015.

            #####

            U.S. Supreme Court ruling could make it harder to prosecute synthetic drug dealers in Indiana

            (June 22, 2015) — On the same day one of the men who gave her son a deadly synthetic drug pleaded guilty Jeanine Motsay is gearing up for another fight to keep synthetic drug dealers like Jordan Adamowicz behind bars.

            “There’s no taking back that the person that made the drug identified that they made it with powder of 25i nbome and mixing it with ever clear,” said Motsay.

            That lethal combination took 16-year-old Sam Motsay’s life last year. Now the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Virginia synthetic drug dealer’s conviction after ruling prosecutors must prove he knew the chemical compound he dealt and knew it was illegal to distribute them.  Indiana Senator Jim Merritt says that decision empowers the dealers and could be a blow to Indiana laws aimed at keeping synthetic drugs off the streets.

            “A retailer needs to know what they’re selling and needs to know what the world view is and we need to protect our citizens and the supreme court of the united states is not doing that now,” said Merritt, who has led the fight to keep synthetic drugs out of Hoosier’s hands, especially children.

            “The United State’s Supreme Court ruling does not protect kids, it protects retailers and I’m for protecting kids.”

            Jeanine Motsay has already loss her son and now the fight to keep other kids from doing synthetic drugs has gotten harder.

            “This just gives those criminal activities more power to move forward and threaten our youth that really concerns me about what that means to the future generation,” said Motsay.

            Merritt says the next step will be to put synthetic drugs in the same category as normal drugs so the penalties for distributing those substances are the same.

            Forum seeks to spread anti-drug message

            JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) – A forum Wednesday evening in Franklin aims to educate parents and teens about the dangers of substance abuse.

            Sam’s Watch, the non-profit created by mother Jeanine Motsay, who lost her son after he used a dangerous synthetic drug 25i-NBOMe, is hosting the event.

            It’s called Johnson County SAFE forum, or Substance Abuse Family Education.

            Motsay says she felt it was an important discussion to have as summer break approaches.

            A panel discussion will include Indiana Sen. Jim Merritt; a member of the Indiana Attorney General Prescription Drug Task Force; Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox; Michelle McMahon of Johnson County Communities that Care; a state coordinator of Indiana Students Against Destructive Decisions; a substance abuse educator; Franklin Community Schools Athletic Director John Regas; and David Plew, a local parent advocate.

            Plew says his son died of a heroin overdose last summer, and he also is working to educate both parents and teens on the dangers of using – even just once.

            “The front line, I think today, is education and awareness. Once someone is in the throes of addiction, it’s a whole different set of circumstances you’re dealing with,” said Plew. “In my son’s case, it was heroin. You can use it one time and be addicted. Parents need to understand that, children need to understand that.”

            Plew said there are things you can do to discuss drug abuse with your children.

            “Be diligent about communication. We were very open in our family as well,” he said, of what he hopes to get across to parents. “You have to inspect, you have to be a detective.”

            It’s also important to know who their friends are.

            “Always follow up, investigate, and watch who they’re with,” Plew added.

            For Motsay, this is about making sure parents know what’s out there – and that teens know how dangerous synthetic drugs are. She says there are even more dangerous synthetics out there now, than there were a year ago when her 16-year-old son Sam, an honor student, died after taking a new synthetic drug.

            “I want parents to be equipped with that information as well, to have that dialogue,” Motsay said.

            “Get across to them they’re not invincible,” added Plew. “Choices have consequences. Some of these choices, no matter how innocent, could end their life.”

            The Johnson County SAFE forum will take place Wednesday May 20 from 7 – 8:15 p.m. at Franklin Community High School located at 2600 Cumberland Road in Franklin. Enter through door 55.

            For more information, click here.

            Sam’s Watch announces life-saving Substance Awareness Family Education event as teens head off for summer break

            Parents and teens can learn how to ensure they have a safe summer at a substance-awareness panel May 20 in Johnson County. 

            “Students will be looking for ways to kick back and relax on summer break, and we want to be sure they don’t think drugs are the way to do that,” said Jeanine Motsay, president of Sam’s Watch and the panel’s facilitator. “They need information to make wise decisions and this forum will make them and their parents aware of current drug dangers.”

            The panel discussion will include Indiana Sen. Jim Merritt; Kristi Dunigan, a member of the Indiana Attorney General Prescription Drug Task Force; Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox; Michelle McMahon of Johnson County Communities that Care; Jamie Vickery, state coordinator of Indiana Students Against Destructive Decisions; Dr. Dick Huber, a substance abuse educator; Franklin Community Schools Athletic Director John Regas; and David Plew, a local parent advocate.  

            The event is open to the public and will be held 7 - 8:15 p.m. at Franklin Community High School, 2600 Cumberland Road, Franklin. Attendees should enter through door 55 and go to the Large Instruction Room. Information will be available from the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, Indiana SADD, Johnson Memorial Hospital, Tobacco Free Johnson County, Make Good Decisions, Overdose-Lifeline, Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County, Sam’s Watch, Tara Treatment Center and more.

            Sam’s Watch is a nonprofit dedicated to teaching young people about the dangers of synthetic drugs. It was formed after Sam Motsay, a 16-year-old honors student-athlete, died on Mothers’ Day 2014 after he used a little-known synthetic drug, 25i-NBOMe. For free access to student-produced awareness videos and more information, go to samswatch.org.

            Sam’s Watch announces life-saving media series for schools as teens head off for spring break

            Middle and high school students who will be headed off to spring break need to be aware of the dangers of synthetic drugs and Sam’s Watch is offering materials to their schools to be sure the kids are. 

            Sam’s Watch is a nonprofit dedicated to teaching young people about the dangers of synthetic drugs. It was formed after Sam Motsay, a 16-year-old honors student-athlete, died on Mothers’ Day 2014 from using the synthetic drug 25i-NBOMe.

            Sam’s Watch will provide an audio public service announcement, a series of videos including a documentary and free evidence-based drug-awareness materials to schools that request the resources. To receive the materials, a school representative should contact Sam’s Watch by phone at 888-575-1015, email at jeanine@samswatch.org or online at www.samswatch.org/take-action/.  The one-minute PSA “Know Now” was designed as an audio-only medium to be used during a school’s regularly scheduled announcements or at hall passing time between classes. The five-minute video “Synthetic Drugs - Community Stops Drug Use” and a seven-minute video “Synthetic Drugs (Extended Edition)” were created by two Kansas City high school students with interviews from law enforcement, a toxicology expert and Sam Motsay’s mother, Jeanine.  The 15-minute documentary, called “The Power of Choice,” was created by three Indianapolis-area high school seniors who chose to make the video to spread awareness about synthetic drugs in memory of Sam. All three videos are for schools to choose from for student assemblies and class activities.  Sam’s Watch encourages schools to share the PSA, videos and documentary links with parents as well as their communities.

            “Students on spring break – especially those who are traveling with friends - may be looking for ways to kick back and relax,” said Jeanine Motsay, Sam’s mother and president of Sam’s Watch. “They need to know that using synthetic drugs is not the way to have a good time. They need information to make wise decisions, and these materials will provide that awareness.”

            Sam’s Watch also will connect schools with additional information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the federal agency that stimulates most of the world’s research on drug use and addiction.  

            Ind. mom fights for tougher synthetic drug laws

            INDIANAPOLIS - A central Indiana mother is closer to reaching her goal in the fight against synthetic drugs, but she still faces one major hurdle.

            Jeanine Motsay is a mother on a mission. She has called on state lawmakers in the House to approve legislation that would list specific substances that have been declared synthetic drugs. 

            Motsay’s 16-year-old son Sam was found dead after using a synthetic drug known as N-bomb.

            PREVIOUS | Teen found dead in Johnson County home  | What is 'N-bomb'? Drug stirs concern after Indiana death

            The death of the student athlete last May prompted his family to push for legislation that would make it tougher to sell synthetic drugs in Indiana.

            Motsay expects lawmakers in the House to help make it a law.

            "I think this is an easy shot. I think it is easy to say let’s do it, because it’s that simple. It protects our young people, there’s no question about it,” Motsay said.

            “We will continue because there will always be someone out there trying to evade the law. We need flexibility in the law and the pharmacy board can offer us that along with these transparent rules where everybody knows what is against the law,” said Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis.

            The bill sponsored by Merritt, Senate Bill 93 , passed the Senate unanimously on Tuesday, so it is now up to the House to vote on his plan.

            Gov. Mike Pence declared Thursday as Participation Recognition Day to encourage parents, teens and schools to talk about drug awareness in honor of Sam Motsay.

            Franklin High School to start testing for synthetic drugs

            FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) – A Johnson County high school is preparing to start testing students for synthetic drugs.

            Franklin Community High School is able to expand the scope of their testing to include synthetic drugs and the number of students that they can test thanks to grant money.

            The Director of Athletics for Franklin Community Schools, John Regas, says the goal is to build awareness letting students know that drugs will not be tolerated on campus.

            “We’re not looking to get kids in trouble and catch a bunch of kids. That’s actually not what we’re trying to do,” said Regas.

            The high school was recently approved for grant money. Around $4,700 will be used to help pay for the new testing. The policy will affect anywhere between 600 to 900 students.

            Students driving to school, active in sports, inter-scholastic, or co-curricular activities like choir and band will be subjected to random testing.

            “We have a random number generator that’s done and it selects students based upon on a random number that they’re assigned to and those students get tested,” said Regas.

            However, Regas says if faculty or staff have reason to believe that a student may be under the influence of drugs, then he or she will be subjected as well.

            The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office supports the measure.

            “Last Mother’s Day, I went to a residence in Greenwood to notify a mother and a step-father that their 16-year-old son had died overnight from a drug called N-Bomb,” said Sheriff Doug Cox, from Johnson County sheriff’s office.

            The tragedy of losing Samuel Motsay in the community is not only pushing schools, but also law enforcement to find a solution to combat synthetic drugs.

            “In a lot of cases you find younger kids whose brain hasn’t developed yet,” said Cox. “They’re going to try to find ways to defeat the system so I give credit to Franklin.”

            School officials have not formally notified students of the testing yet, but say they will start testing students later this month.

            The new testing will cost the school $100 compared to $25.