By Anjet Okeco
Pori Nate is like many 15-year olds. Stepping into his room at his parent's Jrade-district domicile, you see evidence of his passions. A synth-viol rests on its docking cradle. Slickplast posters of D.T. Spool and the Skroaches' last four tours cover each wall. His schoolpad lays unopened, because he's putting off his homework until the last minute.
Are your children safe?
What you or his parents won't find, though, is evidence of his vice.
Pori is 15, and he's a death stick abuser.
"It ain't a meg-deal," he says. "Just a pop or two a week, toppers. It's not like I'm using. It just spikens up your day, right?"
Pori Nate (not his real name) is just one of what Coruscant Health Officials estimate are millions of young drug abusers, with thousands more being lured to illicit narcotics each month. The problem is no longer contained the shadowy worlds of the undercity. Like the climbing mildew that scales the mightiest of towers, this scourge is rising not only in numbers, but in the social class of its victims.
Bored youths have found a color-drenched arcade of excitement in the lower levels, where age regulations are easily overlooked in favor of hard credit. These youths have the expendable funds, as their upper tier allowance occasionally outweigh the meager earnings of lower city dregs.
"We'd hit the alien digs most," explains Pori. "Swokes Swokes and Duros can never fig how old humans really are, so we'd get in without ever getting scanned." It was in a rough-and-tumble Chev bar that Pori met his first slythmonger.
Slythmongers are narcotics peddlers who traffic wares for disbarred pharmacists. Most have no real idea of the ingredients they're moving -– most are also strung out on their employer's wares. In the undercity, tampered pharmaceuticals are outpacing even spice as the narcotic of choice.
The current scourge of the lower level nightclubs are death sticks, treated Ixetal cilona extract that offers euphoria in exchange for a shortened life. They come in a variety of formats, all of them cylindrical, keeping with its common slang name. A hardened variety can be smoked or pulverized and then inhaled. The common liquid is ingested, often as a spike added to alcoholic drinks.
The latter is Pori's death stick of choice. "I can't tell you where I got these, ‘cause I don't want to be grilled," he says as he carefully shakes up the cylinder, agitating the mixture. Pori then opens a can of Fizzyglug and quickly pours in the concoction. "It's more of a rush with the bubbles," he notes.
Clearly addicted, Pori still harbors the illusion of control. With each successive dose, the desire for a harder reaction increases.
"It's apathy that usually drives youth to these substances, and then they become increasingly apathetic about each trip they experience," says Moleese, director of the Out From the Shadows outreach program "It's very difficult for them to shake it off without medical assistance."
Moleese stresses parental involvement for early detection of symptons. "Look carefully and see how your child's habits have changed. Where are they going at night? Where is their money going? What company are they keeping. If you, as a parent, can't readily answer these questions, then your child is already at risk."