Teens will always test boundaries. They will always push the limits, look for new experiences and rebel against the rules. These are facts of life for most teenagers, and for the most part there is nothing wrong with these kinds of behaviors. Teens are exploring and learning who they are. However, when that exploration leads to drug use or alcohol abuse, normal and healthy experimentation can turn deadly and life-changing. From addiction and overdoses to assault and legal problems, drug and alcohol use for teens is fraught with serious consequences.
Parents and other responsible adults may find it hard to believe that their teen would get involved with these activities, but any teen is susceptible to the desire to experiment and the pressure to follow the herd. For parents, being aware of the possibilities is powerful and important. If you know what is out there, you know what to look for, and teens always have something new up their sleeves. Here are just some of the latest trends in drug use that all parents need to know about:
- Concentrated THC. With marijuana legal in several states, parents are bound to be worried about easier access for teens. And it is not just marijuana that should concern parents. Concentrated forms of the main psychoactive substance in marijuana, THC, are becoming increasingly popular. Two of the most popular forms are wax, which is a waxy substance, and shatter, which looks more like toffee or colored glass. Other names include 710, honey oil, budder, BHO, dabs and black glass. They can be smoked or used in e-cigarettes and contain as much as 40 to 80 percent THC, whereas the highest grade marijuana contains around 20 percent THC. These products cause a more potent high as a result, which can be dangerous. They are also odorless, which makes them easier to hide than marijuana.
- Snorting cocaine on Facebook. Social media is often to blame for the propagation of drug fads among teen populations. Once recent trend is cocaine use among upper- and middle-class teens in Mexico. Cocaine is not new, but the way the trend is moving through this group of teens is. Like the fundraising “ice bucket challenge” for ALS, these teens are challenging each other on social media to snort cocaine, record it and show it on their social media site to challenge the next friend. This is a dangerous game and it highlights not a new drug, but a new way that doing drugs becomes trendy with teens. This is just one of many reasons parents need to be vigilant about their teens’ social media use.
- Heroin. Heroin use among teens (and all age groups) has been steadily rising over the last decade. The upward trend is not new, but it is important because it is not slowing down and it is affecting teens from the inner city to rural areas to the suburbs. No group is exempt from this harmful drug. The blame is often placed on prescription opioid drugs, which have been overprescribed in the past. With crackdowns on the prescription pills, heroin, which is a similar drug, has filled the void as a cheaper alternative. Unfortunately it has led to record numbers of overdose deaths. To protect your teen from this fate, be aware of any prescription drug abuse. It can act like a gateway to heroin use.
- Pharm parties. A pharm party may just be where your teen is first exposed to prescription drug abuse. These trendy parties are gatherings of teens to share any prescriptions they have been able to pilfer from home medicine cabinets or elsewhere and to get high. Commonly abused prescriptions include stimulants, like those used to treat ADHD, and opioid painkillers like codeine, oxycodone, meperidine, oxymorphone and others.
- Flakka. Designer drugs of all types, from bath salts to synthetic marijuana, have been trends in street drugs over the last few years. A more recent one is called flakka, or alpha-PVP. Designer drugs are those made synthetically in a laboratory. Flakka is a synthetic cathinone and is related to the substances that have been called bath salts. It is currently most prevalent in Florida but is spreading quickly to other parts of the country. These kinds of drugs are very dangerous, and flakka has been known to cause delirium, hallucinations, paranoia, suicide and heart attacks. It is also easy to take too much and overdose.
- Household highs. In addition to the street drugs and prescription drugs that teens are currently experimenting with, there are household substances that they continuously find new ways to abuse. Cough syrup is a perennial favorite, as is any inhalant that can be “huffed” or inhaled, like paint thinner or whipped cream canisters. Other trends that have arisen include drinking hand sanitizer, putting vodka in the eye socket or soaking tampons in vodka.
If you have a teen you suspect has been using any of these drugs, alcohol or any other type of substance, intervening is crucial. It is not easy to approach a teen you suspect of drug abuse, but it is important that you do to avoid serious and long-lasting consequences. If you are struggling to get your teen to stop using please seek professional help and guidance as soon as possible. With the right treatment, targeted to your teen’s needs, you can both overcome this roadblock and get back on the path to a healthy, drug-free life.