What are the dangerous new ways teens get high? Would you know that if your teen talks about “Brown Sugar” to their friends that they are really talking about heroin? Parents, teachers and others who work with youth need to keep up with the slang, the ways that teens and tweens communicate with each other regarding drug and alcohol abuse.
The intervention of these professionals and parents is critical, since some of these drugs, nearly always unintentionally, can cause serious effects, overdoses, and even deaths.
One thing is for sure, many teenagers will do anything to get high. Some teens in Oklahoma City have even taken to using Burt’s Bee Balm on their eyelids. Oklahoma City’s Fox-25 reported on the phenomenon, saying that “Beezin’” is used in addition to a drug or alcohol high.
The burning sensation from the peppermint oil is said to keep users alert during the high by adding a tingling sensation to their eyelids.
New Ways Teens and Tweens Get High
There is an entire dictionary of drugs and drug combinations used by teens and tweens. Here are a few examples:
- Hand sanitizer gives kids a shot of 120-proof alcohol from its 63 percent ethyl alcohol contents. First, they use salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer. With a few quick swallows, you have a child who is so drunk they need to be taken to an emergency room.
- Vodka Eyeballing is a new delivery system for the same old alcohol. But, by pouring the vodka into the eye, two things happen. One, the alcohol is not processed by the liver so that the chance of alcohol poisoning is far greater and the high is far quicker. Second, the vodka can burn and scar corneas very quickly.
- Meow Meow is actually mephedrone, a powerful stimulant that’s mainly available online. The drug hit the news all over the world when a young man cut off an important body part after stabbing his mother. The case brought worldwide attention by law enforcement and politicians.
- Cheese is cheap heroin mixed with Tylenol PM. This dangerous drug combination can be had for only a few dollars, making it attractive to younger kids.
The Brain Factor
Scientists believe that in teens, the parts of the brain involved in the intellect are fully online, equal to what their adult brain will be in the future.
The parts of the brain involved in keeping emotional, impulsive responses in check, however, are still in the process reaching maturity, usually not until their mid-20s. Their brains literally demand more stimulating behavior.
The Dangers of Impulsivity
This emotional imbalance can explain the need for thrill seeking, the well-known youthful appetite for novelty, and a tendency to act on impulse — without regard for risk.
It is this emotional immaturity that provides enthusiastic soldiers for war, putting themselves in harm’s way without regard for self-preservation. It also means more young people will die in car crashes or from drug overdoses.
This emotional imbalance happens at a time when the youngsters are in peak physical condition, are as strong as they will ever be, and have the mental capacity of their coming adulthood. The tragedy is that the ages of 15 to 19 can be the most hazardous ages of all.
- The rate of death by injury is nearly 6 times that of children between 10 and 14.
- Crime rates are at the lifetime highest for males.
- Substance abuse is higher than that of other age groups.
The Temptation of Drugs from the Medicine Cabinet
In a recent article in Family Circle, Steve Pasierb, president of Partnership for a Drug-Free America stated, “The attitude among many teens is that the stuff they can get from a medicine cabinet or at the grocery store isn’t risky, isn’t addictive, and doesn’t have any downside.”
The result is double the number of teenagers have abused prescription drugs as have tried the harder drugs like cocaine or heroin, according to a survey by the Partnership.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2007 that painkiller use increased by 113 percent among young persons 15 years and older.
These kids are washing down all those pills with a potent new crop of fruit-flavored, caffeinated drinks with names like Sparks and Joose, some of which contain nearly 10 percent alcohol.
This kind of behavior points out the danger of young tweens and teens who want to try drugs and alcohol, but are afraid of the harder street drugs. Parents are the first line of defense, but if they don’t keep up with the latest trends, the kids can get around, over and under any adult charged with keeping them safe.
What if a Child is Found to be a Drug or Alcohol Abuser?
According to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, an addiction is not the only peril. A young person need not be addicted in order to be helped by drug intervention programs.
How Common is Substance Abuse in Teens?
How common is substance abuse in teens? By the time a high school senior graduates, the government estimates that:
- Nearly 70 percent will have taken at least one drink of alcohol
- About half have taken an illegal drug
- About 40 percent will have taken a prescription drug to get high
To think that one’s child could not possibly be a substance abuser is to be blind when your child may desperately need his parents or teacher to see and not look away.
Signs Indicating Abuse
Even in casual users, there are signs which can indicate that a child is abusing drugs or alcohol. These can include:
- School is less important which leads to slipping grades, incomplete homework and an attitude that indicates they care about school less than in the past.
- Those who are driving may have one or more accidents or tickets.
- The teen’s relationships with family may deteriorate.
- Friends are dropped and the teen begins friendships with a new crowd.
- Parents and teachers may notice memory impairment.
Treatment for Teens
Treatment is not always residential. In fact, the sooner a problem is detected, the easier it usually is to help a teen out of trouble and back onto their healthy life path.
Because their histories of substance abuse are so much shorter, they are less apt to feel they need help and seldom seek help on their own.
According to statistics, only 10 percent of those aged 12 to 17 actually receive needed treatment. Once substance abuse is identified, particularly when the problem is either mild or moderate, treatment can mean abstinence without further trouble.
Relapse is always a possibility, but the key is to intervene quickly, lovingly and with supportive professional help.
If the teen has a more serious problem, inpatient therapy is usually the best choice.