There are many different substances available that people can abuse or misuse for recreational enjoyment. While this may seem like innocuous experimentation to users, time and again there are reports in the media about overdoses, and in many cases those individuals were experienced users. What’s more, there have been an increasing number of news reports about adolescents and teens who are either hurt or killed due to their experimentation with one of the many substances available. Unfortunately, youths don’t seem to realize that these substances can very quickly become lethal, and many have ended up paying the ultimate price.
Surveys have indicated that the majority of users first experimented with drugs when they were in their teens. The statistics that are available confirm this fact while also indicating that the number of adolescents who experiment with alcohol and drugs has been steadily rising. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the substances that teens are commonly using so that parents and other adults can be conscious of whether their children are jeopardizing their own lives with these highly dangerous, chemical substances.
Although there has always been a fair amount of teenage marijuana users, studies show that the number of youths who use marijuana has continued to rise—and rapidly—over the last three decades with today’s rate of adolescent marijuana use being the highest that we’ve yet seen. Prevention efforts in schools through addiction education have been increased, but it seems that with more states legalizing medicinal and even recreational marijuana, adolescents see it as not being dangerous.
Much like marijuana, the legality of alcohol makes it seem fairly innocuous. Additionally, alcohol is typically the most accessible substances to adolescents and teens who are underage and, therefore, unable to buy alcohol on their own. In many cases, they’re able to either drink in their own homes or smuggle their parents’ alcohol out of the house to drink at parties or with their friends. This is a major contributor to the numerous fatal accidents that occur every year when teens drive under the influence. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, rates of alcohol use among youths has shown neither an increase nor a decrease, but sources have begun to consider alcohol as the real “gateway drug”.
Synthetic marijuana is exponentially more toxic and harmful than real marijuana with even one of the chemists credited with creating synthetic marijuana—for research purposes—having said he couldn’t imagine why anyone would use synthetic marijuana for recreational purposes. One thing that makes synthetic marijuana dangerous is the use of many different types of chemicals in its creation. There are countless different types and brands of synthetic marijuana with names like K2, Spice, Yucatan Fire, and Moon Rocks; and each one contains different chemicals to produce its psychoactive effects, but the psychoactive effects vary and are rather unpredictable. While marijuana isn’t considered lethal, synthetic marijuana can cause hallucinations, vomiting, paranoia, tremors and seizures, psychosis, stroke, brain damage, and death.
MDMA and ecstasy
Many people have heard of substances referred to as “club drugs”, which indicates that a substance is popularly used while in bars, clubs, concerts, festivals, raves, and other such events. The purpose of taking club drugs is typically to enhance one’s experience in some way. MDMA, which is the active ingredient in ecstasy, is one of the most well-known and popular club drugs. The effects are somewhat psychedelic in nature, but it also enhances tactile sensations, sounds, and visuals. However, taking MDMA can come with some very dangerous effects as well, including a marked increase in body temperature and significantly distorted perceptions. And unfortunately, MDMA has become increasingly popular among youths in recent years.
After alcohol, prescription pills are one of the most readily available substances for adolescents and teens. In most households, there will come a point when a family member contracts an illness or becomes injured and treatment entails a controlled substance. This means that there are many youths who can access those substances. Especially with opiates and benzodiazepines, these substances are incredibly dangerous with a very high potential for addiction. Moreover, there have been many teens to overdose on prescription drugs, especially when the pills are mixed with other drugs.
People likely recognize Dust-Off as being the brand name of aerosol spray cans of duster that are used to clean computer keyboards and other electronics. While it might seem like an unlikely object to be used as a drug, “huffing”—inhaling the chemical fumes from these aerosol cans through the nose—has become alarmingly common and is another extremely accessible substance that adolescents are using. Moreover, huffing Dust-Off and other chemicals in aerosol cans is known to cause profound brain damage and has even been linked to the deaths of a number of teens.
In recent years, there have been countless reports of people using “bath” salts to get high, becoming unpredictable and oftentimes extremely violent. Most assume that bath salts are the same as the botanical-infused salts that are actually used in the bath, but they’re actually chemically similar to a substance called khat, which is an herbal stimulant that’s known to cause delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and manic behavior. Among the drug-using crowd, bath salts are considered a cheap and accessible substance that can offer effects similar to methamphetamine, or “crystal meth”. However, that makes bath salts especially dangerous for teens and there have even been reports of teens using bath salts and dying.
Known to be significantly more powerful than morphine, fentanyl is a synthetic opiate that’s most commonly sold in the form of patches and used to treat severe chronic pain. Being so powerful, it’s incredibly common for users to overdose on fentanyl. Even more concerning is the tendency for drug dealers to add fentanyl into other drugs like heroin, making overdose even more likely. In recent years, the notorious strength of fentanyl has made these patches especially desirable on the street. And being a pharmaceutical, there are going to be many people who have received prescriptions for fentanyl patches and, therefore, have them in their homes, making them accessible to teens.
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