Some teenagers are looking for ways to get high. They are finding dangerous options to push boundaries and often are not thinking about consequences. Under the influence of one drug it has been shown that teenagers are more apt to experiment with another set of drugs, oftentimes even more dangerous. In addition, children this age have a higher rate of suicide and attempted suicide.
Be aware of these substances
1. ADD and ADHD drugs
A new survey reports that 13 percent of teenagers have taken the stimulants Ritalin or Adderall when it was not prescribed for them. Many teenagers regard these drugs as a study aid, regardless of whether they have ADD or ADHD or whether or not they have a prescription for these drugs.
Some parents believe that these drugs will increase a child’s academic or testing performance, even without having ADD or ADHD. Prescription drug misuse is dangerous. Misusing or abusing these drugs can be just as harmful as street drugs. In addition, teenagers who begin misusing drugs earlier in life are more likely to struggle with substance abuse later in life.
2. K2/spice/synthetic marijuana
These terms refer to a wide variety of herbal mixtures that produce experiences similar to marijuana and are marketed as “safe” and legal alternatives to marijuana. The products are purchased in a convenience store or a “head” shop, labeled “not for human consumption” and contain both shredded plant materials and chemical additives that cause a mind-altering high.
While the original formula for spice was banned, the manufacturers have re-engineered the drug and continued to sell it. It looks like incense or potpourri. Because this drug can be made in a number of different formulations, it is quite dangerous. Often these substances have not been tested on humans, and are mixed with over-the-counter and prescription medications.
3. Opiods (prescription pain killers)
Misuse and abuse of prescription pain killers by teenagers is becoming more common. Twenty-four percent of teenagers recently surveyed report that they have misused or abused a prescription drug once in their lifetime, which is a 33 percent increase over five years ago.
Teenagers often believe their parents don’t care about this behavior as much as using street drugs. Painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet are manufactured to react on the nervous system in the same way as drugs derived from the opium poppy, like heroin. These drugs are very addictive. Many teenagers don’t know the how dangerous these drugs are because they believe if a doctor prescribes these medications, then they must be safe.
4. Bath salts
Ingredients in this drug were recently banned by a federal law. However, it is simple enough to tweak the recipe and sell it under a different formulation. Bath salts are comprised of a number of harmful, synthetic chemicals, most often MDPV. They’re easy to buy and very addictive. Teenagers don’t think they are harmful because the ingredient names aren’t familiar and easily purchased on the Internet.
The average age for boys to try alcohol is 11 and for girls it is 13. By the end of high school, 72 percent of teenagers have consumed alcohol (not just tried it). Teens who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life.
The three leading causes of death for 15 to 24 year olds are automobile crashes, homicides and suicides — alcohol is a leading factor in all three. Alcohol is responsible for most drug-related deaths in the teenage population.
Talk to your children
Education about the dangers of this type of abuse must start at a young age. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to help children make healthy choices.
- David Gummin, MD, medical director, Wisconsin Poison Center
The Wisconsin Poison Center is a program run by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. The poison center provides 24-hour, toll-free poison information for all individuals in Wisconsin. For any poison emergency, call (800) 222-1222.