Categories
Addiction Adolescence Alcoholism Mental Health Parenting Prevention

Affluenza: A Disguise for Alcoholism and Substance Abuse

The news is rife with the term “Affluenza,” which was recently used as a defense for a 16-year-old Texas teen* accused of killing 4 people in a drunk driving case.carcrash Instead of jail time, he was sentenced to 10 years of probation, presenting an interesting perspective on what can happen when parents don’t set boundaries, create limits, or teach accountability. For those who don’t know, the term “Affluenza” is a term coined by John de Graaf, environmental scientist David Wann and economist Thomas H. Naylor, authors of the book Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic.

 

When speaking to John Lieberman, Director of Operations about this case, he said:

“This is a sad and horrible situation. No amount of jail time or punishment will heal the wounds or bring back the dead. The simple fact here is this: Every parent can learn from this situation. This young man was showing signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse prior to the accident. Early intervention is the most important and effective way to deal with addiction, drug abuse and “affluenza.” Parents, please take actions to stand between your children and the actions that may destroy their lives and the lives of others.

One of the most important standards of responsible treatment is accountability. Adolescents who act out may have been abused, neglected or spoiled. The issue at hand is not weather this young man should get treatment. The issue is if this recent light sentence fits the crime. I believe it is a mistake for any licensed mental health professional to make up a diagnosis; Affluenza is not a recognized diagnosis. The sad thing is that the symptoms this teen was exhibiting do relate to a defined diagnosis.”

 

The 16-year-old’s blood alcohol levels were three times the legal adult limit and the alcohol he’d consumed that fateful day had been purloined illegally. The public outrage stems from his lack of accountability and lack of his family’s accountability. According to Mary Greshem, an Atlanta psychologist, “The diagnosis for youths in such situations would be impulse control problems, and impulse control problems are seen across all socioeconomic levels in families where limits aren’t set.”

 

Soniya Luther, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University says, “There are ways in a society that we collectively shape the behavior of our kids.” For example, if parents aren’t setting boundaries for themselves and regulating their own behavior, their kids won’t either. If a parent persistently fights consequences of their negative actions, they are sending negative messages to their children about taking responsibility. The reality is, a child who never faces consequences for their actions will have increasingly larger and larger problems to deal with. A therapist once said to me, “Little people, little problems; big people, big problems,” an apropos sentiment for this situation. Ignoring negative early childhood behaviors frames the perception of a consequence-free future, where the issues will be far greater than, “No, you can’t have an extra cookie.”  Soniya Luther says, “It really speaks to the importance of attending to our children’s behavior early on. In all cases, it is our duty (sic) to step in and do the right thing. It’s not just loving our kids but putting the appropriate limits on their behavior.”

 

*We’ve chosen to eliminate the teen’s proper name due to his age, despite its release in the media.

 

Categories
Adolescence Mental Health Prevention Recovery Stress

8 Ways to Kick Stress to the Curb

Stress can be really high at this time of the year. Family reunions aren’t always easy, money can be tight, and if you are newly in recovery, the temptation to imbibe is high. The reality is, stress if everywhere no matter the time of year; it’s how we manage it that makes the most difference. Developing quality coping skills is an essential piece to managing stress. Here are 8 tools to help you manage your stress and have fun while doing it!

 

1: Create some healthy rituals: take a bath before bed, do yoga or meditation in the morning before you start your day or before you retire at night.

 

2: Get outside: take walks, go on hikes, do whatever you need to do to get some sunshine (even in December) and absorb some of that healthy Vitamin D. If going outside isn’t an option (say, you are in Maine and there’s an ice storm!), adding plants to your home or workspace can elicit a similar sense of calm and reduce stress.

 

3: Do something that is relaxing and which allows to turn off your head: do a puzzle, knit or crochet, read a book, draw, go surfing or skiing. Essentially, do something that focuses doing something with your hands or body.

 

4: Use positive imagery or meditation to ground (stay connected):

 

A: Check in with your mind and body and visualize a safe space where you are rooted to the earth, and connected to your breath and body. Find an image that is soothing for you and breathe into that heart space.

 

B: Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart: breathe into your hands for a minimum of 3 cycles of 10 breaths.

 

5: Exercise: go for a run, walk, or hike. Take a spin class, or go to yoga. Get your endorphins going. You’ll be amazing at the stress relief you find!

 

6: Breathe. Take long, deep breaths. The longer your exhale, the more efficient you are at activating the parasympathetic nervous system.

Try this: breathe in for the count of 4, breathe out for the count of 5.

Do this several times. In layman’s terms, the parasympathetic nervious system is what calms you down. It is essentially the emergency medical technician of your nervous system. The best thing about the breath: It’s portable, you do it all the time, and it’s easy to use.

 

7: Have a dance party.  Put on some silly tunes and rock out in your kitchen, or living room, or wherever the mood strikes you. The goofier, the better.

 

8: Say “No.” You don’t have to always say “Yes” to someone’s request. If your plate is too full, say “No”! Creating those boundaries will lesson your stress. You can only do so much.

 

Be kind to yourself this holiday season and beyond and Kick Stress to the Curb. As the Buddha said, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”

 

Categories
Feelings Holidays Mental Health Prevention Recovery Self-Care Stress Wellness

Compassion and Kindness Over Holiday Hustling

We are neck deep in last-minute holiday madness! Traffic is catawampus, and the stores

are loud and overly crowded. I am noticing and experiencing a real hustle and bustle to get things done for the upcoming Christmas holiday, but for many of us, holidays can represent added stress and perhaps anxiety.

 

How about flipping the holiday coin, so to speak, and leaning into the recovery work you’ve been doing around stress and anxiety? Try taking a look at this holiday as an opportune time to work with your discomfort and begin to hold some internal space for it. You may begin to notice some of the other amazing things that occur during this time of year: joy, friendship, abundance, and generosity, community and togetherness.

 

Here are some thoughts on how to do this while also taking care of yourself at the same time:

 

Self-care: You need to care for yourself first before you can care for others. You can’t do anything effectively if you are pulling from an empty well. So, what does that self-care look like for you?

 

Be of service: Do one random act of kindness every day (more if you are inspired).

 

1. Buy a coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks.

 

2. Buy a homeless person a meal.

 

3. Help someone with their groceries at the market.

 

4. Volunteer at an animal shelter.

 

5. Offer to help an elderly neighbor or with their groceries.

 

6. Take a commitment at a meeting. The greeter commitment is a favorite because you get to meet new people.

 

Be kind (to yourself and to others), even when you don’t want to.

 

Practice compassion. “Sympathetic concern for the sufferings and/or misfortunes of others.” There’s a difference between pity and concern: Compassion isn’t a way to feel sorry for someone. It’s an opportunity to show care and kindness to the suffering of others.

 

These small acts of kindness and service during the holidays may actually decrease our focus on stress and anxiety created around the holiday itself. Acts of kindness and compassion facilitate connection with others and allow us to let go of some of that stress and anxiety we are holding onto. Connected action allows us to reconnect with the roots of what the holiday is really about: community, love, and togetherness.  Ironically, all that running around to get last-minute items actually makes us disconnected.

 

So, I leave you with this: a video of two 16-year-olds engaging in random acts of kindness. They dress up as superheroes, wearing tights and capes, and running around paying for people’s food, giving tips to waitresses without even ordering, helping people out when they see they’re struggling to pay for something, and feeding a homeless guy. What can you do this holiday season to practice random acts of kindness? You don’t need a cape and tights, just some willingness to be kind.

 

 

Categories
Addiction Prevention Substance Abuse Synthetic Drugs

Taking a Look at Krokodil–The Flesh-Eating Street Drug

We’ve done several blogs on the street drugs Molly, K2 and Spice, and now it’s time to take a look at Krokodil. Krokodil is a homemade heroin substitute birthed in a rural part of Russia. Its primary ingredient is desomorphine – a morphine derivative once used in Switzerland in the 30s under the brand name Permonid because of its effectiveness and reputation for being short-acting with a quick onset–it’s around 8-10 times more potent than morphine. The street use is far different and much more sinister.

 

Krokodil is manufactured from what is purported to be a simple synthesis of codeine combined with ingredients such as paint thinner, iodine, and red phosphorus (among other things).  Toxic city! And it’s aptly named Krokodil because its use can turn your skin black, green and/or scaly—like a crocodile. David DiSalvo at Forbes wrote that it is “Essentially a corrosive acid with opiate effects, it (sic) destroys body tissue the way battery acid eats through plastic, opening large sores that can go all the way to the bone.”  Russia is the largest consumer of heroin in the world, and Krokodil is its street-ready replacement since  heroin has become harder and harder to obtain. The extreme poverty in rural Russia and desperation for escape is fueling a dangerous addiction.

 

So far, krokodil isn’t a real threat to the US, where heroin and other street drugs are easy to come by. However, when two patients in Ohio claimed to be using the drug, and were showing signs they were suffering from the consequences of krokodil use, Dany Thekkemuriyil and Unnikrishnan Pillai, both physicians at SSM St. Mary’s Health Center in Richmond Heights, Mo, reported their findings to the American Journal of Medicine. Right now, the main issue with this particular synthetic drug relies on its prevalence in other countries.  Purportedly, the cases in the US that were initially believed to be krokodil have not been confirmed and none tested positively for desomorphane. What we are especially seeing is the International effects of a dangerous street drug borne out of poverty and hosted by severe addiction and despair. It is cause for concern from a global standpoint. This is also a great reminder to remain knowledgeable about what drugs are out there, not to encourage panic, but to arm ourselves with clearer understanding and awareness. The truth is, we need to be more aware of drug use, carry out proper disposal of medications after they are no longer needed, and begin using healthier resources to manage our stress and discomfort. There’s no need to start playing scientist to get away from our feelings.

 

Categories
Adolescence Bullying Mental Health Parenting Prevention Safety

Cyberbullying And Teens: The Facts

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’ve recently talked about text bombing and sexting, with the overlying arc being cyberbullying. It is defined as pervasive, relational aggression, also known as “covert aggression.” It is carried out via the use of electronic technology, such as cell phones, computers, and tablets by means of text messages, social media sites, and online “chatting.” For example, someone may create an online rumor by posting an embarrassing, or inflammatory image or story on social media or in an email. Because it’s online, it has the capacity to spread much faster and have a longer reach.  Cyberbullying intimidates its victims with its intent to control, isolate, shame, and instill fear.

Some forms of cyberbullying are: 

1. A person pretends to be someone else and chats or messages someone online with the intent to trick, shame, or embarrass someone else.

2. Extremely sensitive or personal information is posted and shared online.

3. Lies and gossip are maliciously posted or shared online.

4. Digitally manipulated, often pornographic images are posted or distributed without consent.

5. Online threats. These can be vague or specific.

6. Exclusion, or intensionally excluding someone from an inner or online group or site

 

Why is cyberbullying different?

 

1. There is no “off” button: this type of bullying can happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The aggressor can reach its target when they are alone, late at night, and early in the morning.

2. Images and/or messages can be posted anonymously to a wide audience, and they can be difficult to trace.

 

What can you do?

 

1. Monitor your child’s web activity. Take care to really pay attention to what sites they are using and how “connected” they are. Increase your vigilance if you notice your child is showing signs of depression, becomes withdrawn,  or suffers from low self-esteem.

2. Teach your kids to avoid environments rife with cyberbulling: Facebook, chat rooms, Snap Chat are some of the many sites out there that are breeding grounds for this behavior.

3. You decide what places are unsafe for your child, taking age, maturity, and other factors into consideration.

4. Arm yourself with information. Become well-versed in the ins and outs of social media sites. Get tech savvy, folks and embrace your inner geek!

5. Express the importance of keeping personal information personal and off of the Internet.

 

Unfortunately, statistics are showing an increase in cyberbulling not a decrease:

 

1. 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than 4 out of 10 say it has happened more than once.

2. 53% of kids admit having said something mean or hurtful to another person online. More than 1 in 3 have done it more than once.

3. 58% of kids have not told their parents or an adult about something mean or hurtful that happened to them online.

4. 40% of kids have had their password(s) stolen and changed by a bully.

5. Cyberbullying victims are eight times more likely to report carrying a weapon to school in the last 30 days than non-bullied teens.

6. Cyberbullying has led to at least four documented cases of teen suicide in the United States.

7. Only 15% of parents polled knew what cyberbullying was.

 

Cyberbullying isn’t going away right now; it’s an unfortunate byproduct of the increase and variability in technological tools and means of communication. We as parents and teachers need to arm ourselves with information and learn to make better, safer choices. Frankly, most kids don’t need smart phones, but they have them and as a result, they have easy access to a multitude of apps that are designed for online social activity. Some are even designed to promote anonymity or to delete messages as soon as you’ve sent them.  This is a good opportunity to have stronger, more defined boundaries and some dedicated time set aside that is technology free.

 

You can:

1. Have a no-tech zone around meal times.

2. Go on an outdoor adventure with your family that is technology free.

3. Embrace the value of direct communication. For example, call someone instead of texting.

Technology was designed to make things more efficient and interactive. It has the capacity to reach into spaces we never thought possible. Still, we must harness its dark side for the sake of safety and well-being.

Resources:

Internet Safety Project

Psych Central

Bullying Statistics

Stop Bullying.gov

Categories
Adolescence Communication Parenting Prevention Safety

What You Need to Know About Sexting

TEDxBKK – Sexting (Photo credit: isriya)

Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit photographs or messages via your cell phone.

 

The Internet is a vast, unchartered space. Technology has expanded so much that our means of communication has forever changed to include text messaging, emailing, instant messaging, video calling, and emailing. As a result, we are faced with things like sexting. One of the most troublesome things about sexting is its wide reach. A text message can circulate remarkably fast and beyond the control of its original sender.

 

A recent study has shown the following:

  • 20 percent of teenagers (22 percent of girls and 18 percent of boys) sent naked or seminude images of themselves or posted them online[1]
  • nearly one in six teens between the ages of 12 and 17 who own cell phones have received naked or nearly nude pictures via text message from someone they know.[2]

 

Notably, researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch discovered teens that sext are more likely to engage in sexual behaviors:

 

  • 28% of teens admitted to having sent a sext.
  • 76.2% of teens who were asked to sext admitted to having had sexual intercourse.
  • 68% of Girls were asked to send a sext vs 42% of boys
  • The peak age of sexting is around 16-17 years old
  • Sexting seems to decline in people 18+

 

From the perspective of the criminal justice system, teen sexting can fall under the child pornography statutes[3]. For example, a teen that takes a nude photograph of themselves has created child pornography; as soon as they hit “send” they have distributed child pornography. The significant danger lies in the fact that these images inevitably get passed around and often spread like wildfire across a school. This creates an environment rife with bullying, shaming, exclusion, and in some cases, suicide: An 18-year-old high school graduate committed suicide after a nude photo she sexted to her boyfriend was also sent to hundreds of teenagers in her school.[4]

Thus far, only 17 states have sexting laws in place.

Here’s what you can do to prevent sexting:

  • Parents, talk to your kids in a safe, relaxed setting about the perils of sexting. Ask what they know about it. Express how you feel in a non-threatening, non-confrontational way. Create a healthy, two-way dialogue. Remember, you get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.
  • Some kids are responding to peer pressure in the form of bullying, sexual harassment—after a breakup, those images can be used as revenge. Sometimes it’s impulsive behavior or flirting. Help your child understand that it is always a poor choice.

Kids:

  • Think about the consequences of taking, sending, or forwarding a comprising photograph to someone via text. You could get suspended, expelled, kicked off of a sports team, and/or get in trouble with the law.
  • Never take photographs of yourself you wouldn’t want everyone to see (classmates, parents, teachers, employers)
  • Before hitting “send,” remember that you cannot control where this image goes. What you send to your romantic partner or friend could be forwarded to their friends and friends of friends.
  • If you forward an image of someone that is compromising, you are as responsible as the original sender. You have essentially become complicit in someone else’s criminal activity.
  • Report any nude or compromising photographs you receive on your phone to an adult you trust. Do NOT delete it. Instead, immediately get your parents, teachers, and school counselors involved.

 


[1] The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and Cosmogirl.com, “Sex and Tech: Results from a Survey of Teens and Young Adults”;https://www.thenationalcampaign.org/sextech/PDF/SexTech_Summary.pdf  

[2] John Sutter, “Survey: 15 Percent of Teens Get Sexual Text Messages”;https://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/12/15/pew.sexting.survey/index.html 

 [3] Justin W. Patchin”Summery of State Sexting Laws, https://cyberbullying.us/summary-of-state-sexting-laws/

[4] Mike Celizic, “Her Teen Committed Suicide Over Sexting”; https://www.today.com/id/29546030/#.UnvjcpTXR8s

Reference:

Teen Sexting–The Real Issue (psychology today)

Sexting: Risky Actions and Overreactions (FBI)

Cyberbullying Research Center

Categories
Adolescence Bullying Parenting Prevention Safety

What You Need to Know About Text Bombing

are you really laughing out loud? (Photo credit: MrPessimist)

The concept behind text bombing is to save time: you can send mass texts out to multiple people telling them where to meet you, et cetera. Ultimately, it was designed to be a cheap tool for efficiency. According to this latest from Huffington Post,  text bombing is the latest technological tool used by cyberbullies to go after their victims. The sender can be anonymous and the apps can be programmed to auto-send persistent, negative messages. Text bombing someone means you are sending 1000-10000 text messages to the same person in the same day, and it can go from being simply annoying to cruel. In the banal sense, one could look at text bombing as the equivalent of crank calling someone. Unfortunately, in the wrong hands, text bombing has sinister underpinnings.

 

Imagine repeatedly receiving a text message saying, “die” or “no one likes you,” in the same day.  The victim of the text bomb has to endure receiving the same hateful and/or degrading message time and time again, experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety, and even depression. Unless you have a means of blocking the text messages, there’s really no way to stop the barrage of hate. You are in a relentless technological loupe.

 

Alas, you can protect yourself!  You can download one of these spam-blocking apps, which allow you to block numbers and texts from coming in:

 

For the Android, you can use Text Bomb Defender or Anti SMS Bomber Pro.

For the iPhone, you can use NumberCop.

 

Parents, if you are worried that text bombing may be an issue for your child, look for the following:

  • A spike in the phone bill
  • Make sure your child’s phone isn’t rooted. (“Rooting an Android phone means that you give yourself, rather than Sprint/Verizon/T-Mobile/AT&T’s software, the permission to act as the administrator of the phone. New Android operating system 2.3 and higher only allows 30 SMS — texts — from the same phone at one time. Teens with rooted phones can still send thousands of texts.” – via Internet safety expert Sedgrid Lewis)
Categories
Adolescence Holidays Prevention Recovery Safety

How To Have a Safe, Sober and Fun Halloween

Happy Halloween (Photo credit: Professor Bop)

Did you know that more people drink and drive on Halloween than many other holidays?
“Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that Halloween is among one of the most deadly holidays for drunk driving. For the holiday period — from October 30 through 5:59 a.m. on November 1, 2011 — 74 people died nationwide in a crash involving a drunk driver, a 21 percent increase over the average number of drunk driving deaths per day.” via MADD

We understand that Halloween can be a trigger for some people, particularly those who are newly in recovery, so it’s important to create some guidelines and parameters with which to navigate the holiday. If you were once an enthusiastic celebrant of Halloween, doing it sober may cause you panic and despair. Don’t worry, below are some safe, and fun suggestions. Remember, if this holiday is too triggering for you, you can make it a non-event: go to a meeting, hang out with friends, and keep it simple. If it creates stress, it’s not worth it.

  • Plan something with people who are committed to being sober
  • Surround yourself with people who can hold you accountable.
  • Be honest with yourself and with those around you: talk about your triggers if you have them!
  • Don’t go to a party where you know there will be drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Create a relapse prevention plan using tools you’ve learned at Visions to create a good exit strategy if you should need one.

There are an abundance of sober activities you can do on Halloween, especially as part of the young people’s fellowship. You can:

  • Be of service to your family: take your little brother or sister out to trick or treat.
  • Have a scary movie night
  • Have a monster themed dance party
  • You can go on the Haunted Hay Ride with sober friends
  • Some fellowships may have a Halloween themed dance or event.
  • Host a sober Halloween party with spooky treats and an eerie Halloween music mix
  • Make a creepy, crawly scavenger hunt

This list can go on. I trust that you can come up with a fun sober activity! The most important thing is that you enjoy yourself, stay accountable in your recovery, and endlessly tickle that funny bone.    Embrace this new side of yourself. Being present and aware is a wonderful thing to behold!

Categories
Mental Health Prevention Recovery Self-Care

People Pleasing: It’s Time to Put Yourself First

Do you engage in people pleasing behaviors? Many people do, and they suffer as a result.  They have more stress, lower self-esteem, and less time for self-care and healing. Recovery is a breeding ground for people pleasing behaviors. The old tapes that tell you that you are not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, wise enough, pretty enough, or fill-in-the-blank begin to kick in, and people pleasing behaviors feed into it. Those tapes fuel your emotional demise.

 

Are you concerned that you won’t be liked if you disagree?

 

People pleasing behavior leads to a persistent need to keep the seas calm. People pleasers subconsciously want to be perceived as positive, generous, willing, and available. Agreeing with everyone around them doesn’t rock the boat. It also doesn’t honor one’s own perspective. This will lead to resentment, which leaves one sitting with silent rage and frustration. Internally disagreeing breeds resentment and ekes out as passive aggression: sarcasm, rude comments, or pleasantries with a side of salt.

 

The remedy? Use your voice! Speak up so you can be heard. As you find your voice, you will discover that more often than not, people will respect you for it. When our actions are determined by a false perception of the outcome, we create an environment of low self-esteem and resentment. Both are dangerous states in recovery. In other words, don’t please others at the expense of your well-being.

 

Do you rely on outside validation in order to make a decision?

 

If you find yourself saying yes because it will make you look “cool” to someone else, or “no” for the same reason, you are again creating grounds for low self-esteem, frustration, and resentment. What others say or think about you doesn’t matter; how you feel about you is most important.  Finding ways to honor yourself and your authenticity is going to be your biggest asset.

 

Boundaries? What boundaries?!

 

The desire to be liked often trumps the desire to be heard. Not having boundaries also puts you in a place to be taken advantage of. If your go-t0 answer is always “yes,” then you are setting yourself up to be overwhelmed. Do you often find yourself overcommitted? This creates stress, which can lead to other health problems like depression, heart trouble, high blood pressure, and headaches. The way to combat this is to slowly start setting some boundaries. Practice saying “No.” Practice taking care of YOUR needs before taking care of the needs of others. You are important!

 

Is “I’m sorry” your go-to response?

 

Someone bumps into you, but you say, “I’m sorry.” You trip over a crack in the ground, and you say, “I’m sorry.” This is a common phrase found amongst those who are prone to people pleasing and it stems from a couple of things: Low self-esteem, a desire to please others, and a disregard for oneself. I used to be guilty of overusing this phrase, and have since stopped. First I noticed when I would say it. Then I began to stop myself before I said it. And now, if it slips out, I audibly correct myself. “Actually, I am not sorry that you ran into me!” Creating firm boundaries does a couple of things: it is a way of protecting ourselves, it is a form of respect for others, and ourselves, and it is a form of self-care. Being human is messy; we don’t have to live our lives apologizing for it. A well-placed “excuse me” is sufficient.

 

Is someone else’s welfare always more important than your own?

 

Sacrificing yourself at the cost of helping someone else is par for the course for most folks who people please.  Pushing yourself to the point of too much stress compromises your nervous system and makes you feel overwhelmed, tired, depressed, and frustrated. Remember the analogy you are given on flights:
In case of an emergency, give yourself oxygen first, and THEN help those around you. We are no good to anyone when we are depleted.

21 Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser – PsychCentral

Are You a People Pleaser? – Psychology Today

Categories
Addiction Prevention Synthetic Drugs

In the News: Synthetic Marijuana aka Crazy Clown

Crazy Clown (Photo credit: yewenyi)

Synthetic Marijuana is back in the news, this time under the names “Crazy Clown” or “Herbal Madness Incense.” Eight teens and young adults were sent to the hospital in Georgia this weekend because of the effects of this drug. The CDC is investigating this latest designer drug incarnation and has issued a warning. The use of synthetic marijuana is incredibly dangerous and presents a growing public health concern. According to the CDC:

Sixteen cases of synthetic cannabinoid-related acute kidney injury occurred in six states in 2012. Synthetic cannabinoids, which are sold in smoke shops and convenience stores under names like ‘synthetic marijuana,’ ‘Spice,’ ‘K2,’ or ‘herbal incense,’ are designer drugs dissolved in solvent, applied to plant material, and smoked. These psychoactive drugs can have a significant effect on mood or behavior, but also carry the risk of unpredictable toxicity. The growing use of synthetic cannabinoid products is an emerging public health concern. The sixteen cases reported in this study developed kidney damage after smoking synthetic cannabinoid products. In seven of the cases, analyses of the products or blood or urine samples found a unique cannabinoid called XLR-11. These products are often sold as incense and labeled “Not for Human Consumption.” Despite the labeling, individuals use the products as an alternative to marijuana use.  There is a risk that some cannabinoid compounds may be toxic and the health effects may not be easily predictable because of what is still unknown about the products. However, it is important that clinicians, scientists, public health officials, and law enforcement are alerted about the emerging adverse health effects from synthetic drug use.”

Symptoms from the use of this latest version of synthetic marijuana include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry Mouth
  • Weakness
  • Cardiac Problems
  • Paralysis

We’ve written about Spice, K2, Cloud Nine, bath salts, and all other incarnations of these designer drugs before. They are enticing, especially to teens and young adults looking for a cheap, quick high.  Because these drugs are easily obtained at liquor stores and convenience marts, their often innocuous packaging makes them seem harmless or just “fun.”

 

For now, the active ingredient is unknown, but we know that it is highly dangerous. One of the most troublesome issues regarding synthetic marijuana is the ever-changing ingredients: As soon as one ingredient is banned, it morphs into something new, creating a maelstrom of issues for law enforcement, medical professionals, and the CDC. Usually new synthetic marijuana is discovered because of an increase in ER visits. This stuff is lethal. What looks like a cheap, easy high is more often a fast-track ride to the hospital. It’s not worth it.