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Addiction Prevention Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic Drugs: Elusive and Troubling

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One thing’s for sure: teens are curious. And we’d be remiss in forgetting their quintessential stubbornness and hints of recklessness, which, of course, feeds their curiosity. Now with the surge of synthetic drugs on the market, coupled with the fact that most parents don’t know much about them, the curiosity factor is heightened. Sure, parents can wax poetic about the drugs of their time: marijuana, methamphetamines, psychedelics, cocaine, and pills. But when it comes to synthetic drugs like K2 or Spice or the mythos of Bath Salts, parents and teachers alike are as baffled as the authorities.

We’ve been writing about synthetic drugs over the past two years, understanding the heat has been on to place bans on these drugs across the country. The difficulty has been the FDA is up against fluctuating drug formulas and irregular chemical components in the drugs themselves, making regulation difficult and elusive. Finally, on July 9, 2012, President Obama signed legislation banning synthetic drugs. The law bans any known chemicals used to make K2, Spice, and bath salts. The trick will be for the FDA to stay one or two steps ahead of the synthetic chemists, because as one formula is banned, a new one is cooking in someone’s garage.

However, it’s not just the FDA that to needs to stay a step ahead of synthetic drugs; it’s parents as well. Synthetic drugs are easily concealed and available everywhere from online sources to the local convenient store. The reality is, some of these chemicals are so new, they’re off the radar entirely and which increases user vulnerability. What may seem like a fun party idea to an adolescent,  synthetic drug use can easily ricochet into a psychotic episode and a visit to the ER. This is serious. Recently, the National Institute on Drug Abuse released information which indicated one in nine high-school kids had used synthetic drugs.  Talk to your kids, and stay informed–not only regarding their lives, but the social minefields they have to navigate on a regular basis.

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Addiction Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic Doesn’t Mean Safe

Sometimes marketed as incense or an herbal smoking blend, synthetic marijuana is readily available for teens via the internet and some drug paraphernalia shops.  Rather than banning the products themselves (Spice, K2, Blaze, and Red X Dawn), the FDA is seeking to ban the 5 chemicals used to create the herbal blends. The FDA wants to place the chemicals in the same category as heroin and cocaine, due to increased reports of  seizures, dependency of poison centers, hallucinations, hospitals, and law enforcement as a result of its use.

Synthetic or not, it’s still a drug, and it still has the potential to contribute to one’s addiction issues. Sprayed with psychotropic chemicals, this herbal and spice mixture is touted as providing users with an elevated, meditative state, similar to the effect found with marijuana use. However, instead of the alleged mellow effects sought by its users, the statistics show high reports of heightened blood pressure, high levels of anxiety, seizures, nausea, severe agitation, and hallucinations.  While more testing is needed, findings suggest this drug is effecting not only the cardiovascular system, but also the central nervous system of its users. In plain speak: it’s dangerous.

Are you worried your kid might be using? If so, you might want to look for dried herbs in unlikely places…their room, for instance, or their backpacks. What does a teen really want with something that looks like oregano, right? You can also look for some of these physical signs:

  • Agitation
  • Pale appearance
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion.

It’s good the FDA is taking a stance on this–between the ease of availability and the implication of harmlessness, we place our kids and ourselves at heightened risk for the long-term, negative effects of yet another drug.