HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — Hancock County now has a new way to fight teen drug use. It’s a problem officials say is growing rapidly.
24-Hour News 8 got a first look at the new “marijuana googles” at a Youth Council meeting. The Hancock County Youth Council is a group of teens from four different high schools, that works to keep other young people from drinking alcohol or doing drugs.
“It’s a huge problem in our community, underage drinking and use of substances. A lot of friends and teammates I’ve had have gotten caught and I just think it would make our community a better place if we eliminated it,” said Blair Viehweg, a Mount Vernon senior.
The teens on the council tried the goggles for themselves, so they could use them to warn other students. The goggles allow the teens to see through the eyes of someone who has been smoking, without ever lighting up themselves.
“It just blows my mind,” said Viehweg.
The students took part in a simulated driving exercise while wearing the goggles. The goggles took away the ability to see the color red, which makes tasks like seeing brake lights harder.
“It’s very important to realize that these might not be the exact results, but these are very close to exactly what some people in our community our going out and driving in,” said New Palestine Senior Keelie Baker.
Tim Retherford, with Neighborhoods Against Substance Abuse, or NASA, got the goggles for the council to use. NASA spearheaded the creation of the Hancock County Underage Drinking Task Force.
“Anytime you can do an activity — something that’s interactive with them, or something that provides education, that’s great. These actually simulate the loss of some of your cognitive functions,” said Retherford.
These teens did a simple maze without the goggles in 12 seconds. With the googles on, it took the same students four times longer. Navigating a map was nearly impossible, and none of the students could see flashing red lights or laser lights that represented a roadblock, or a child running out in the middle of the road.
“It’s definitely crazy to think that it can do something like that to you,” said Viehweg
Now, the students will take the activities to their own schools or community events with younger teens.
“I think it kind of scares them. Especially younger kids. Highschoolers they kind of look past it, but with the younger kids they see what horrible things can happen. I think it impacts them a lot because they can see how real it is,” said Viehweg.
“I hope that we can make an impact and advocate for being above the influence. That’s what we’re about here,” said Baker. “This is going on in our community and it is important that we try to put an end to driving under the influence — whether it be alcohol, marijuana, prescription pills or any kind of drug.”
NASA will use the goggles for the first time at a community event this weekend.