Under the Umbrella – Daily Dangers: An Update on Drug Use

The idea of drug use is a scary thing for all parents. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things out there available for kids to come into contact with. With all of the needs and responsibilities of our daily lives, we know it’s not easy to stay up to date on new trends; so we are dedicating this issue of Under the Umbrella to help give you an overview. Some of these you may heard of, while others may be new to you.
  • Alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes, and marijuana continue to be popular and easily accessible for youth. “K2” or “Spice” is an herbal mixture and is sometimes referred to as synthetic marijuana. It produces a similar effect to marijuana with claims of being “natural,” though their active ingredients are synthetic compounds.
  • Prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications are also very available, it has become popular to have “skittles” parties, where medicine cabinets are raided and the pills are put into a large bowl where they are party-goers have access to them throughout the night. The contents of “skittle bowls” can include everything from medications for ADHD to sleep aids and pain killers. Obviously, mixing medications (especially those not prescribed to someone by their physician) can be dangerous or produce negative side effects, especially if mixed with alcohol. Mixing prescription cough medicine, often those that contain codeine, with soda or hard candy has also become trendy among youth.
  • You may have heard about bath salts in the news recently, they have been getting some media attention of late. Bath salts contain a synthetic, concentrated version of the chemical found in the khat plant, an amphetamine-like stimulant. Note that these are not the same as your store-bought Epsom salts; rather they are typically packaged in plastic or foil and are marked “not for human consumption.”
  • Molly (slang for molecular) refers to MDMA or Ecstasy. The difference is, that Molly can contain toxic additives. Molly falls into the hallucinogen family like LSD, PCP (phencyclidine), and psilocybin (hallucinogenic mushrooms).
  • GHB, Rohypnol, and Ketamine are more commonly known as the “date rape” drugs. These are often slipped to someone’s drink without that person knowing. They cause memory loss and may even cause someone to lose consciousness. So, if a young person were to be sexually assaulted after ingesting this drug, they may have no memory of the event.
  • Inhalants are another way kids get high. Every day household items that can be found in many homes, such as oven cleaners, gasoline, spray paints, or glue, may be used in order for a person to get high. Teens also use nitrous oxide, generally referred to as “whippets,” from canned whip cream to get high. Inhalant abuse can cause heart failure or death.
  • Heroin has made a bit of a comeback lately. It is a powerful and highly addictive substance. Another highly addictive drug is cocaine, which can raise a user’s heart rate and blood pressure to dangerous levels. It is often used as a “binge” drug, where users consume the drug several times during a session.
  • Amphetamines/methamphetamine, often shortened and referred to as meth, is a stimulant. Regular use effects how the brain works.
  • Anabolic steroids are a synthetic variation of male hormones often used by athletes to increase muscle mass and improve physical performance and appearance. Long term use can have serious health consequences, including heart and liver problems.

Children and youth may use or try drugs for all sorts of reasons. Curiosity, peer pressure, rebellion, or looking for an escape. Prolonged use of substances can lead to addiction or serious health problems, and may even be fatal. Here are a few warning signs to look for if you suspect any kind of drug use:

danger warning sign

  • Change in sleep or appetite
  • Shakes, tremors, bloodshot eyes
  • Change in typical behavior, such as skipping class or getting into trouble a school
  • Sudden change in social or extracurricular activities
  • An unexplained change in personality or attitude

This can all sound very scary – and it is. However, knowledge is very powerful and being aware of the dangers, and communicating with the children and youth you care for, can help combat drug use. The list above is certainly not comprehensive; rather we hoped to provide you with some idea of what is circulating, as well as some information about what to be aware of. We encourage you to check out the resources below for further information on drug trends and ideas on how to talk to your kids about drugs.

If you need more support or additional resources or information, you can always call us for help . . . we are here to help. Call our toll-free number, 1-800-762-8063, or email us at info@coalitionforcyf.org.

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